The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Prepping a paper crane car: Art Car Club folds a thousand paper cranes into existence

Ashley Park
Member Zachary Barnett experiments with waterproof paper. He pours water onto a paper crane sprayed with varnish.

With a passionate hope of raising awareness for leukemia, the Art Car Club is adorning a car with 2,000 orange paper cranes.

In order to participate in the Orange Show’s 2024 Houston Art Car Parade & Festival, around 12 Art Car Club members have been meeting every Tuesday and Thursday since Jan. 25.

On Feb. 2, previous winners of the Orange Show Parade in 2022 visited the campus to showcase their car of a fiery bird, named “Rising Strong.” The Waters family explained the various materials used to construct a durable long-lasting car as well as elemental design advice to be successful in the parade.

Art Car Club members stand in front of an example. The Waters Family brought their art car as a model. (Ashley Park)

Since the Orange Show offers $1,000 in awards and prizes, if they win, the Art Car Club plans to donate the money to hospitals centered around leukemia as well as use it for funding more art car projects.

Story continues below advertisement

During the first two sessions, members sanded the car’s surface to create a supporting foundation for the next phase of welding. One obstacle the club faced was the lack of sustainability through the paper crane design.

“Folding these cranes out of paper wouldn’t be weatherproof for the parade,” co-president and sophomore Cathryn Vera said. “We’d have to figure out another way to implement the tiny paper cranes into the project.”

However, after researching alternative strategies, the club tested two solutions to make the paper waterproof: clear silicon mixed in mineral spirits or varnish. Even five coats of the mineral spirits solution couldn’t keep the origami paper dry. On the other hand, only one coat of varnish kept the paper completely waterproof. The only downside was the drying time of around 30 minutes compared to around three minutes for the first solution.

Additionally, in order to fit the car in the 8 feet 2 inch garage, a skeleton will be built as a base and the crane components will be attached on top.

Art Car Club was previously a club at Bellaire, so co-president and sophomore Aria Jin said she felt excited about restarting this club again and is confident about the current state the building process is in.

“I’m feeling better than before because three months ago, we had our car just sitting in the garage,” Jin said. “We have so many people, even though it’s a small club.”

All of the participants were looking forward to taking the next steps. Member and sophomore Liyan Feng was inspired by the Art Car Club’s unique vision and said he hopes to make a significant contribution to the car among the other members.

Co-president and sophomore Cathryn Vera holds up a wooden plank onto the car. This imitates part of the crane’s design. (Ashley Park)

“Well, [Art Car Club] is sort of a mix between fine art and engineering, so I like the combination,” Feng said. “I wanted to actually build something that was bigger and moves.”

Similarly, member and sophomore Jay Krane said he enjoys coming up with new ideas that can potentially work and be executed.

“I’m looking forward to the parade and actually building the car,” Krane said. “I think that’s going to be fun and exciting to put our ideas from paper onto the actual car.”

Having always loved the Orange Show Parade, club sponsor Sandra Wallace said she was thrilled to sponsor the Art Car Club, after frequently sharing pictures and experiences of it to her students.

“I love that it’s just a celebration of diversity where everything goes and you can let your creativity fly and your weird fly,” Wallace said.

Having never constructed an art car before, Wallace said she is excited to see the process of building.

“I get to see going from the design phase to the building phase. And I get to watch my students be creative and try things while watching them fail and learn from them,” Wallace said. “I just want to see how the car evolves and how the club comes together in their shared experience.”

Members collaborate on the car’s design. They sketch out the wings, head and angles of the foundation. (Ashley Park)

As the Educational Coordinator for the Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts, Rebecca Bass offered to mentor and help the Art Car Club through her past decades of experience. From 1994 to 2001, Bass taught at Bellaire and aided with six cars.

“I have built 37 art cars with kids in HISD since 1989,” Bass said. “And this year, working with the Orange Show, I was able to get 10 cars donated by Chris Gillman from the Gillman Automotive Group.”

Throughout this year, Bass is able to work with 10 cars at 10 different schools, such as Madison High School, Westbury High School and Sharpstown High School–all of which had the rare opportunity to design a car. She hopes the members can accomplish an end result they are proud of.

“It’s not just about the car,” Bass said. “It’s about the community that you build, the decisions that you’re making and the fun that you have. You have this great after-school program and then before you know it, you’re in a parade with 350,000 people cheering you on.”

To get involved, join Art Car Club’s Remind @bhsartcar or follow it on Instagram @bhs.artcar.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Three Penny Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *