Different Ways to Make Models of the Earth

Written by lauren vork
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Different Ways to Make Models of the Earth
Many people keep globes in their home as decoration. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Creating a homemade model of the earth may be an artistic venture, a scientific pursuit or a study in geography. Making an earth model is challenging from both a two-dimensional and three-dimensional standpoint. Meanwhile, with such an oft-created subject, you may be seeking something a little more unusual in your approach to the model. Consider a variety of different ways to make an earth model, whether you're planning a simple artistic representation or an accurate globe map.

Painted Ball

Use a blue playground ball for a quick, simple earth model with a good shape and attractive look. Paint on the ball using acrylic paint. If you like, outline your design using a grease pencil or white make-up pencil (you can wipe it away as you make mistakes). Designate the seam and nozzle ends of the ball as the north and south poles and use these as space references; start by drafting an equator for greater accuracy. This is a good project if you're more interested in the two-dimensional and colour art aspects of building an earth model, rather than the moulding and sculpting.

Clay and Wood

Purchase a wooden orb from the wood pieces section of a craft store, or use an old croquet ball (though you may need to remove the original paint with paint stripper if it's chipping). Coat the surface of the ball with air-dry clay of any kind to build the continents and give them dimension. Sculpt some texture for areas such as mountain ranges, major bodies of water and ice ridges. Use a physical map or textured globe as a reference. Let the clay dry, then paint with acrylic.

Map Globe

Nearly all flat maps of the earth create major distortion from the accurate size and shape ratios of the real globe, with the exception of the Goode projection map. Maps built on this model look like what the surface of the world would look like if peeled off the globe like an orange peel and spread out on a flat surface. Cut out a paper Goode map and use it to build a hollow paper model of the globe with tape or glue, or wrap it around a round object. This is a good project for demonstrating the problems of map distortion in our understanding of world geography.

Polystyrene and Pins

Purchase a closed-cell (smooth surface) polystyrene ball from a craft store along with a lot of sewing pins with green and blue round, plastic heads. Draw the continents on the foam ball in pencil. Insert the pins into the surface of the polystyrene, pushing them in until only their heads are exposed. Fill the continents with green pins and the oceans and seas with blue ones, creating a mosaic effect. For a variation on this craft, use glue and seed beads rather than pins.

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