Upcycling Progress: Pioneer Primitive Newton Cradle

Idea Summary

My upcycling project idea is to make a Newton’s Cradle with the aesthetic of ‘Pioneer Primitive’. This aesthetic is similar to a ‘Wild West’ aesthetic, but with a heavier emphasis on unfinished, raw, organic materials. Additionally, it follows what some may be familiar with as ‘mountain man’ construction. This includes the use of materials as said before, but with an especially heavy emphasis on knots and simple survival structure aesthetics. I chose this because I am experienced with knots and the outdoors, as well as I like the somewhat ironic combination of the aesthetic and the design. Below is an AI generated concept from Canva:

MagicMedia generated concept

So far I have completed most of my material sourcing. To start, I searched for spherical rocks that I could use in my design. I initially focused on simply gathering as many as possible, then I selected the rocks which I felt were the most similar in size, and of satisfactory sphericality. I did not give much care to the color or texture of the rocks, as I believe having variety here will actually benefit the aesthetic of the project. Below is a picture of my current rock selection.

Next, I began searching for acceptable sticks. As outlined in my previous post, there are actually quite a good amount of criteria for sticks I will be able to use, and somewhat of a narrow margin for what is acceptable. I needed to find sticks which were thin enough to be worked with and tied together, but were still large enough to have significant strength. These sticks needed to be stiff enough to not bend under load, but not so stiff they were brittle and snap. And, finally, the sticks needed to be long enough to be useful. This process was in some ways more challenging than the rock searching. Below is a picture of the sticks I found.

The last component I needed to find was the twine, string, or rope to be used to hold everything together. For this, I decided to use some spare paracord. While paracord by itself is too thick and would not fit the aesthetic at all due to its bright colors, the inner fibers can be used instead. By cutting the rope at both ends, fraying, and pulling the different internals out, the desired string can be taken. This will be of a more useufl size as well as fit the aesthetic better. Some pictures of the paracord are below:


My plan moving forward on this project is to begin rope disassembly as soon as possible, and begin experimenting with knots and assembly of the frame. I think what I want to do is assemble the sides of the frame individually, using triangular cross braces, then attach those together at the base with perpendicular and triangular braces. Once the frame is completely made, I want to make individual rock harnesses, then attach the rocks to the frame. If the frame cannot stand on its own, then I will (secretly) use super glue to help.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hey Peter,

    I love you idea of just probably the most common materials just found outside on the ground to make something interesting that includes motion. good luck with the knots!

  • Peter, this aesthetic is absolutely amazing, It reminds me a lot about the style of the cartoon The Flintstones, using modern ideas in a primitive material bounded world. I can see some big time cave man boss sitting at his desk twiddling his thumbs while the newton cradle smacks back and forth. I’m excited to see how it turns out!!

  • Dylan Breglio
    February 9, 2024 5:10 pm

    Hi Peter,
    I really like your project choice, I think the irony of making a Newton’s cradle with the aesthetic of ‘Pioneer Primitive’ will especially make your project stand out. I’m interested to know if you’ve begun laying out the framework for the Newton’s cradle; my initial thoughts are that you will need more sticks than you currently have. Additionally, have you had any thoughts on how you plan to attach the rocks to the string? I believe in most Newton’s cradles, they have the string run through an eye-hole attached to the hole, so I’m curious if you plan to simply glue the string to the rocks, or if you have a plan to drill holes through the rock, which you will run the string though. Either way, I’m excited to see your final product!

  • I like this aesthetic a lot and that AI-generated concept is super cool. I like that you recognized that the paracord does not fit your aesthetic, but still found a way to incorporate it into your project. I don’t have any critiques, but I think it would look nice if the coloring of the rocks were similar and the coloring of the sticks were similar.


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