Thursday, July 22, 2010

Olifant Update

I've finished the ears and attached the tusk canisters to the Olifant mask. I've been waiting for my order of custom tinted black neoprene to arrive, only to find out that after traveling across the country the pails began to leak, and FedEx refused to deliver them. So now I'm awaiting the arrival of the new shipment, at which time I will cast the trunk hose.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tauruscat: Insulators

When last we visited the making of the Tauruscat thinking cap I had constructed the crest lenses. That was almost three months ago. Yes, I've been bad and was ignoring this project for others. Don't ask me why.

At any rate, I have done some more work on it over the last few days, and here is what I made. These are the connectors that sit atop the crest, and attach to the hoses. I fabricated two of them as shown above.

Then I molded them, cast eleven of them in black, and sandblasted them to remove the sheen (which turns them gray).

After antiquing them a rust color I put them (except for the front one) in place on the helmet crest. I'm calling them insulators cause that's what they look like to me, the kind that are mounted on telephone poles.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Making Imitation Ivory Buttons

Here is another tutorial that I wrote back in 2006.

I needed ½” diameter carved “ivory” buttons as decorative elements on a Rus Viking helmet (shown above), and this is one way to make very nice ones.

I started with Sculpey polymer clay and built a little blob on the end of a short 1” diameter wooden dowel. The dowel gave me something to hold onto while I sculpted, and also started me off with a round base. I knew I was going to shrink the 1” diameter down to half that size, so I didn’t have to make the sculpt very detailed. I sculpted a little Viking face with big eyes, a simple helm and a big moustache.

Next I hot glued the dowel down onto a board, and hot glued a small paper cup around it with the end cut out. Then I mixed up silicone rubber and poured it into the cup to make a mold of the face.

After the rubber had cured, I cast the face button in a shrinking material called Hydroshrink™. It is available through The Compleat Sculptor . Hydroshrink is a urethane compound that you mix with water, and shrinks uniformly to about half size as the water evaporates. I placed the Hydroshrink casting in a warm place, and waited several days for it to shrink to my desired size of ½” diameter. It took three days.

I then molded it again in the silicone rubber. After curing I cast out several parts in a fast cast urethane TC-808 available from BJB Enterprises . These castings I sanded flat on the back to the exact size and shape that I was after. Then I glued on a stem to make it into a button without having the thread show from the front. At this point the button face is .5” diameter by about .3” deep, and the stem is .3” diameter and about .3” in length (it will be shortened as a button).

I molded these pieces yet again to get my final production molds. I then cast as many as I needed (in my case 24) in the TC-808 (which is a white urethane resin) and a very small amount of yellow brown dye to get my ivory color. Alternately I could have added ivory alkyd pigment or paint.

My challenge for these buttons was that the stem could only be .1” long where they set into the leather helmet. To accomplish this I drilled a 1/16” hole through the stem as close to the back of the button as I could. I then sanded down the stem from .3” to .1” on a power sander.

At this point the only thing left to do was to antique the buttons so that they looked aged. For this I used Jel’d brand wood stain by Wood Kote in the Fruitwood color.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Elevated Shoes

The following is a tutorial I wrote four years ago on constructing elevated shoes.

This is a good way to add eight inches to the height of a costume. I built them to become a tall wizard for halloween. The concept is simple. Glue four layers of two inch thick foam to the bottom of a pair of boots. Cover it all with fiberglass. The foam/fiberglass combination is both lightweight and strong. Add a rubber sole and two lateral steel bars for support and you will soon be standing--and walking--eight inches taller than you actually are.

Start with an old pair of boots that fit--I bought mine at a thrift store. Buy a sheet of R-Max insulation. It is designed for insulating building walls, and comes 2” thick with aluminum foil coverings. It is a urethane foam that is rigid but lightweight. Trace the boot sole onto the R-Max and cut out four layers for each boot. I used a bandsaw. Shape the upper layer to fit under the boot sole fairly closely. Glue it onto the boot using hot melt glue. Glue on two more layers that are full thickness. Add a fourth bottom layer on which you round off the heel and the toe..

In normal walking your foot flexes as you walk and your toes bend. In this elevated shoe everything is rigid, so you need to round off the toe to make walking easier. Same for the heel, although not as much as the toe. Cover the outside of the foam with two layers of fiberglass, continuing up onto the sides of the boots. The foam by itself will simply break apart once you start walking on it. The fiberglass will hold it all together.

Carefully walk in the boots to check the roundness of the toe and heel. Once you have them shaped how you like them, glue on a piece of sheet rubber to act as a sole and to protect the foam from breaking on the bottom.

Now you will need to add lateral supports to keep your ankles from bending sideways and potentially seriously injurying yourself. They need to be strong enough not to bend. I used a shelf standard--the kind that is shaped like a ‘U’ and has slots in it to hold the shelf brackets. They are available at hardware stores. You can hacksaw them to the proper length which is just below the knee.

Attach the lateral supports to the boot by means of two bolts running horizontally from side to side through each boot in two places (see diagram). Fasten them with washers and nuts. Rivet on a nylon or leather strap and buckle near the top to hold the lateral supports closely to your calf.

It's a little scary at first until you get used to it, but you can become quite comfortable walking in the elevated shoes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Olifant: Tusk Completed

The first tusk/canister is now complete, and is shown below on the right. The piece on the left is the casting with the aluminum powder straight out of the mold.

To finish it I sanded, buffed and polished it, then gave it a coating of antiquing. After it dried I screwed in the eight black steel bolts, and attached the coiled wire thingamajiggy on the right. Now it kind of looks like a bomb!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ladies Bridal Top Hat

I was thinking of making a ladies bridal top hat when it occurred to me that I could do some fancy filigree cut outs on the crown. This is what I came up with.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Olifant: Trunk Fabrication

Pachydermos' trunk was a commercial vacuum cleaner hose that I covered in lambskin wrapped with waxed thread. I like it a lot, but I was thinking how cool it would be if I could build the trunk from scratch. I've decided that neoprene would be an ideal material to make a corrugated hose from (needed for the trunk to bend smoothly), and that is a material I can buy and cast into a plaster mold.

I thought and thought about how to make a steamy corrugated hose, and didn't really come up with much that would still allow it to bend easily, so I decided to put more emphasis on it graduating from a larger diameter to a smaller. After some experimenting I came up with the model above built from laser cut acrylic sheet mounted on a bolt.

To smooth out the surface and to fill in the cracks I've coated it with urethane resin, letting it build up in the recesses.

Over that I've brushed a layer of casting latex, which will make it easier to free from the rigid plaster mold, because it will have a little give.

And here I've started laying plasticine against the bottom half of the model to form one of the two mold halves. Next step will be to pour plaster over the top half.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Olifant: Tusk, Take 2

While going through my collection of yard sale finds, I came across the flashlight shown below. I bought it because I loved its Buck Rogers futuristic look.

Since I've been working on the new Olifant tusk canister, it ocurred to me that the missile end could make a good finial for such a canister. And as I wasn't feeling all tingly inside about the versison I had been working on I decided to begin again with the flashlight as my starting point.

After molding the flashlight in RTV silicone and casting it in urethane resin, I cut out a series of acrylic discs and stacked them around the "missile".

The flashlight has nine vertical grooves spaced evenly around its circumference except for one place, which is wider than the other eight. I decided to add a piece of hardware there above the discs, bigger than the other eight screws which will be added to each finished casting. Then I coated the acrylic discs with urethane resin to seal them and smooth them out so that the canister will rotocast more easily (that's the white stuff in the picture above).

As it was difficult to see what I really had with the white and black and gray all contrasting, I sprayed a coat of white sandable primer, which makes it much easier to view.