Show Jumping Marble Maze

by Andy Slater

I hate marble mazes, however I flatly refuse to put one down until I've managed to complete it. Then of course if another member of the family should better my time and challenge me to beat it...

This design, rather than being a simple maze, is based on the theme of show jumping. The marble is the horse and not only do you have to guide it around the required course but you have to jump the fences as well!

I began by cutting a sheet of 10mm polystyrol in half and then glued the halves together to make a 20mm sheet. Then I looked on-line for some information on show jumping and found a course design on Wikipedia. I sketched this onto the foam with a black marker pen.

The arms on the Hot Wire Foam Factory Sculpting tool can be moved inwards such that the wire is loose and can then be bent to shape. I bent it as shown and used it to cut a channel big enough for the marble to sit in.

Some sanding and testing was required in order to ensure that the marble wouldn't get stuck in a rut. I did not want it to run too smoothly because the marble can be persuaded to overcome small irregularities by druming on the underside of the foam with your fingers. However, players shouldn't have to 'drum' so hard that the marble is likely to fly out of the track.

The next step was to engrave notches for the fences which I made from 1" lengths of cocktail stick. A stick was placed on the foam at each position and pressed lightly to mark the foam's surface. Then I used the Hot Wire Foam Factory Engraving Tool to cut the notches. Note that the notches should be cut to a depth that it at least equal to the depth of the marble track. The idea is that the fences will create a small hurdle that players need to take a run at. Thus they need to be low enough that the marble will be able to run over them.

With the notches cut I sanded the whole thing to key the smooth surfaces of the foam to accept paint. I then applied a couple of coats of Hobby's poster paint. When the paint was dry I smeared on some PVA glue with my finger and sprinkled static grass over it. This needs to be done an area at a time in order to get a neat coating. Most of the paint will be hidden but it helps to have it there so that no white foam shows through the grass.

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