The Umbrella Challenge: Part 2 – Construction

Over the course of this experiment I have learned many things. You will always forget something critical, some people just won’t get what you’re doing, cork gets EVERYWHERE. I’ve learned that walking from the shop carrying two clothes dryers two brooms and two bags of shopping is harder than any other aspect of the building. I have learned that sellotape is slippery, the joy that comes from getting to say “reverse engineered” and, most controversially of all, that “MORE BLUETAC” is often not the solution. I’ve learned about perseverence, the power of a hackneyed solution, and the power we have to overcome any challenge.

More than that though I have learned how to build an umbrella.



Where the magic begins

I used:-

2 corks

2 clothes horses

2 shower curtains

1 broom

6 metres of copper wire



My first step was to take one of the corks and drill through them. Only dick’s have drills, so I stuck a knife through the cork then twisted it a bunch until the hole was made. If you’re going to try this, I found it helped to wrap the cork in sellotape first so that the tape absorbed some of the tension and stopped the cork from breaking. I drilled through one of the corks fully, and halfway through the other.


Snapping the spokes off the clothes horses, I attached wire to the spokes and then threaded another wire through them, and tied this off around the cork, creating the six spokes that would become the dome of the umbrella.

I repeated this process with the fully hollow cork using spokes half the length, and attached these to the main spokes at a poiunt 6 inches from the centre, using sellotape and blutack.

I then thread the broom handle through the two corks and secured the cork dome with superglue, leaving the other cork free to slide up and down the handle and operate the mechanism.


It’s ok to be impressed

The idea was to attatch the shower curtain tightly enough to not give the spokes room to move from side to side, but I couldn’t manage to get this right with the shower curtain, so I cut the bottom half off a water bottle and cut six strips out of it to act as tracks for the spokes, using more superglue to stick it to the dome cork.

I placed the whole mechanism upside down on the shower curtains, double layered for thickness, and tied the edges around the spokes. A little more superglue and blutack and the the sheets were attached.


It was then that I realised I’m completely forgotten something. The locking mechanism. I hadn’t planned anything that was going to keep the cork up while the brolly was being used. On the brolly I FUCKING REVERSE ENGINEERED WOOH it was a lock stuck to the pole that slid down and popped out under the cork to keep it in place. I didn’t like my chances of recreating that using my broom handle and cork, so instead I just attached a metal hook to the cork dome that dangled down and hooked onto the spoke. This is inelegent and rubbish but without restarting the whole thing it was the best I could do.

Finally I used the trimmings of the shower curtains to make flower petals and made decorative flowers for the outside of the brolly.


When the time comes to present this, I will describe these flowers as “rustic”.

Of course the whole thing is horribly unstable and will almost definitely implode at a gust of wind, but if you were expecting anything else from this whole thing you were always going to be disappointed. But thank you for thinking I am someone who actually has a skillset that isn’t steeped in the word “ridiculous”.

Final cost of production, £9.34. Order now to avoid disappointment.


~ by Sandy Nicholson on December 23, 2012.

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