I’m an innovation researcher and practitioner by trade and find that the more I work in the digital virtual world, the more I feel the need to create things with my hands in the real physical world. Something about physical creation grounds and recharges me. My latest “real world” creative output has been a “Plastic Army Men Fruit Bowl”.

I made the bowl very easily and cheaply. I bought several bags of army men and a metal mixing bowl and used a DIY heat gun to carefully melt and fuse each army man to the next. Once I’d built them up into the right shape, I varnished it with 2:1 PVA glue to water.

I try to create artwork that subverts popular cultural meaning and challenges the viewer to re-assess their own understanding of the signs and symbols from high and low art forms that make up our every day visual experiences. In this instance I took a contrasting, highly-loaded political symbol (soldiers for children made from oil) in low art form as cheap toys and subverted their meaning into a high-art decorative form, as an every day functional object – a delicate organic fruit bowl.


More info: Instructables

Finished Plastic Army Men Fruit Bowl

Your very own culturally subversive plastic army men fruit bowl.

You will need

Is is very simple to make. You need only two bags of army men, a heat gun and a metal mixing bowl.

Army guys ready for melting


Be careful, hot melted plastic is toxic, so do this outside on a breezy day!

Lay out the first men


Lay the first men out in the bowl and start heating them up (around 10-15 seconds should do).

Add more men

Once the first layer is melted together, add more men and melt them together.

Continue building up men


Keep building up the men and tilt the bowl if needed whilst heating to stop them tumbling down.

Make sure they are well melted

Once completed, look carefully for weak points particularly with arms and legs. If necessary get more men and melt them in between to make strong melted connections.

Remove from bowl


As the men cool down they will contract and naturally pull themselves away from the metal tin for easy removal.

PVA glue varnish (optional)

Mix 2:1 PVA glue with water and add two coats to give a nice glossy varnish if desired.

Find some fruit

Bung in some fruit and enjoy! It is best to use fruit with skins, as some people have pointed out that PVA can be mildly toxic if ingested. You can also place a glass bowl inside the army men if you’re worried about it.


Some men stick out from the rest

Some men are totally disfigured but others like this one remain pretty much in tact.

Use fruit with skins

Thanks for looking and I hope you enjoy making one for yourself. Please post photos if you do.