Main Project Final Report Part 2: Dummy Roping Calf

To be a good calf roper, it takes hours and hours of practice on a dummy. Seeing that I am not a good calf roper, I wanted to build something to practice on so I can become a casually skilled roper. With that in mind, I decided to create something that would be a fun leisure activity for me, as well as look cool in my backyard.

My final product came out very close to what I had planned originally. I hit some small road bumps, but I was able to move over them, and in some cases I think they even made the project better. I knew I wanted a colorful, pop aesthetic using paint splatter. I also decided to combine this with CU colors, while still leaving this unfinished enough that it could be kept outside and fall in to the western aesthetic.

I think the largest problem I ran in to was painting. I learned that PVC pipe does not do a good job of holding paint. But I knew there was no way I could just ditch my plan to color it and just use ugly white PVC. Luckily, I found a special spray paint and method that would allow the paint to bond to the polyurethane plastic in PVC. I think this made it turn out better, because the spray paint I used had a certain gloss and shine to it, and this helped the color to really pop.

The shine of the black spray paint


In the end, I was able to take 20 feet of PVC pipe and about 10 couplers, and assemble them together to give it structure like a calf. I think the structure was just as important as the painting. I took subtle steps to make sure it didn’t just look like a heap of sticks. For the top part of the calf, I used 45 degree couplers instead of 90 degree couplers. This gave it a very subtle but certain structure to look like the back of an animal.

Two 45 degree couplers kept it from looking too boxy


I thought the expo was a success for me. People seemed to enjoy my project, and thought that it was a fun idea. I certainly had fun practicing my roping for demonstration purposes. I also think that I had one of the bigger projects in the class. Having a CU colored project at a CU also helped to draw people in.

This class helped me to appreciate how important form is along with function. If I had made this project and just made it poorly put together white PVC, it would have been a throwaway item. But now I can keep it in my backyard and brag about it. I also noticed so many other projects that would have been pointless if they were just about function. Since the focus was on aesthetic, they got creative and turned them in to beautiful works of art. When designing, I will always remember to think about how the product looks.

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Katherine Yarnell
    May 6, 2017 1:45 pm

    This turned out great! It’s cool that you made something that you will use and that will help you on improving your roping skill! I like the CU aesthetic. I really like that you demonstrated it’s use at the expo, that was very interesting to watch. It all came together really well, great job!

  • Oksana Schuppan
    May 5, 2017 9:32 pm

    This design is so cool! I love how you took a hobby and made something of use. Also, I was fascinated by how costly calf-roping dummies can be online. You could make a fortune making and selling these now that you have solidified an efficient process. Love the splatter paint and CU color aesthetic. Very engaging presentation too! Fantastic work!

  • Avery Anderson
    May 5, 2017 4:15 pm

    You got quite the reaction at expo when you were showing off the functionality of your product and your roping skills. Its awesome that you took this opportunity for a project and made into something you can use and hone your roping skills with. I do have a question as far as the design is concerned. I know that roping is typically done from horseback, so you’re off the ground a bit when throwing the rope. Was this made taking that into consideration? That is, is the position of the model’s head the same distance down from your point of view while standing as a real cow’s head would be from your head while riding?


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