How to Build a Carousel (cont.)

Milo carving a horse

Milo is carving the foam horse.

Ken and Betsy are sanding the fiberglass covered kangaroo.

The next step, carving the blocky foam figure, is Milo's favorite part. He follows the details of the drawing exactly, adding eyes and smiles, plus some texture and details of the body. The most challenging part is unifying the figures by making them all soft and bulbous, yet bringing out each figure's unique character and staying true to the drawing on which it's based. The soft foam carves easily with a utility knife and the surface can be smoothed with sandpaper. The dust is poisonous to inhale, so Milo must wear a dust mask.

The foam is covered with fiberglass to make it super hard and durable. This is the beginning the nastiest part of making the carousel. The fiberglass itself is in the form of short, white hairs. These are mixed a very toxic and smelly liquid resin and pushed onto the surface of the figures. Ethan and Ken and Betsy help with this part, because the resin hardens quickly. Everyone in the shop wears coveralls, galoshes, boots and powerful gas masks to filter the poisonous fumes from the air. They look like something from another planet!

Three layers of fiberglass are applied and the surface of the figure gets very bumpy. The crew then must use electric grinders to smooth the surface. Applying fiberglass and grinding is hard, dirty, boring work so the crew plays lots of great music on the stereo to help make the time pass.

Ethan is grinding the fiberglass figure.