Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spell Bookshelf

Got a little more finished on my Harry Potter themed bookshelf. I still have to age the entire bookshelf and add some more books, but so far its coming out alright. I also etched my first Harry Potter themed Potion bottle which contains the venom of a Basilisk. I figured the death eater mark would be very fitting on that bottle, so I used that design for the logo portion. Still a long way to go, but so far it's been darn near free! The bookshelf my brother no longer wanted, the books are made from cardboard I scrounged from work, and I have enough empty bottles to almost start a recycling center!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Expecto Patronum...

For many years, I've been debating on making a display for work in May for The Children's Miracle Network. Every May, Costco sells balloons to members and Costco will match the donations up to a certain percentage. I always donate a small monetary amount every year, but I've been stuck at how to use my hobby to help make a display. My passion for ghost, ghouls and goblins are definitely a tad bit too dark to use for a children oriented display. I've had dreams of making a mock pirate ship with firing cannons and the full size bucky's I have, but I think even that may be a bit too much for some parents tastes.

So I think I'm going to spend the next few months making props from Harry Potter because with the last movie installment coming out this July, I think this would be a perfect opportunity to do something I love, showcase some of my work, and do it all for a good cause. I'm pushing ideas around in my head and I think I'm going to make a facade of shops seen in Diagon Alley from the films. This way I can use some of my Halloween props that may be a little too dark as detail in the shop windows instead of the main props. Over this Halloween season, I've amassed some wiper motors, transformers and some air cylinders, so I want to make the window scenes automated which will push me into unexplored territory! I've had limited experience using PVC pipe and sprinkler solenoids which I've been told is not the hot tip, and I do have a Scary Terry audio controlled servo to control the movement of a skeleton skull.

I have to sit down and draw out some blueprints, something I always fail to do because I love jumping into the build process, but something of this nature is going to take careful planning! The only thing I have attempted of this nature was I once built a full size booth for work to house a table and I was surprised they let me make cemetery pillars and PVC fence to decorate the area, I lucked out because the event was scheduled for October, so the Halloween aspect fit in. Costco was pushing American Express at the time, so I remember bringing in a full size coffin with a skeleton holding a tombstone that said  something like American Express is dying to tell you about all it's benefits and programs that Costco members receive. Unfortunately, I did not have a digital camera at the time and this was by far one of the coolest displays I've made and the *only* picture I have is right after I finished painting the pillars (which had working pumps to spit water out of the skulls mouth). I made four huge pillars and 6ft PVC pipe fence to block of the sides and back, and I even made a wood cemetery arch sign saying Coleman Cemetery for the front because our store is located on Coleman ave. All and all it was a hit and I had a ton of fun making everything. 

True to my nature of building props before making a layout or plan, I spent last week making a filler prop to stand outside one of the fake shops doors.. My brother gave me a bookshelf he picked up at a drugstore that he no longer wanted and I immediately thought of aging the shelf and making some cool decrepit looking books to adorn the bare shelfs. So my first Harry Potter prop is in the process and I'm thinking I'm going to use one of the wiper motors and design a cam, so I can have a shelf or two have books that move in and out on their own. The books I made for darn near free, I took a bunch of cardboard sheets from work that get placed in between pallet layers and I cut them to different sizes and shape. I used some craft foam for the splines, and then got some paper towels and used some water to get the paper towels to stick to the cardboard. Then I used Modge Podge on everything, and after drying I painted them all different colors using acrylic paint left over from other projects.

I'm going to make a solid effort at getting a mock up of the entire scene drawn up by hand, or maybe with Google Sketch up since my drawing skills solidly lack! I already have so many ideas running in my head, I can't wait to start doing the details that will bring all the shops to life. I can already use Dave Lowe's following eye portrait tutorial and his morphing photo tutorial to replicate some Harry Potteresque props! The hard part will be constructing the facades which I want to be the focal point, but more on that later! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One.. two.. Freddy's coming for you!

I decided to try my hand at some metal work and fashion a glove based of Freddy's weapon of choice in the Nightmare on Elm street series. Other than crafting a desk lamp from copper and soldering the joints, I haven't cut metal or tried to make anything out of it, so this prop was a learning experience. The template was traced onto a .22 gauge steel sheet and I cut it using aviation snips I happened to have in the garage. I also ordered some rivets that were a bit closer to the screen version, but I didn't want to wait for them to arrive, so I picked up some pop rivets for the joints on this glove.

I definitely need to find a better way to cut the blades because using cut off wheels and a Dremel is not cutting it! I might break down and by down a grinder when I decide to make another one! Here is a video of the articulation of the fingers and the finished glove. I'm happy with it. It doesn't look screen accurate, but I did learn a lot and I look forward to making more items out of metal, brass, or copper. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas Bench!

Decided to make my Mom a special present for Christmas. This is one of very few projects I've done that does not have some sort of macabre background. I've been known to put skulls and crossbones on the back of our families Christmas cards when I was elected to make them on the computer.. I thought they were awesome and so did everyone else until they turned it over and there was a Halloween play on the Hallmark greeting card message on the back!

My mom has always loved snowmen and she has a vast selection of snowmen she's picked up over the years, so I decided this would be an excellent project that would let me dabble in painting, and it would serve as an awesome gift for an awesome mom!

The bench turned out better than I expected and it is a full usable bench! I had several relatives fighting over it and I'm kinda bummed I only made one because I would have kindly sold them the remaining benches to fund future projects, bah humbug! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Grail Tablet

Inspired by Dave Lowe's Sankara Stones, I decided to spend a lazy Tuesday watching the original Indiana Jones Trilogy while doing a movie related prop! I should have stuck to the Sankara Stones, but I wanted to try my hand at the Grail tablet! Three Tuesdays and many hours later, I now have a "loose" interpretation of the Grail tablet as seen in the Last Crusade!

I was originally going to get a screen capture of the Grail tablet and spend probably the duration of all three films making a template on the computer, but I figured someone had already done the legwork, so a quest begun to find a usable template! I ran into Indy Quest and started looking at some of their amazing props! I was in luck because they had a readily available PDF file created by Cipricus! I was ecstatic and I ran out side to cut a chunk of foam! This is where my problems started! The template was designed on A4 paper which of course is the international standard for everyone but us Yankees! So after cutting out the borders meticulously I noticed when piecing the pages back together the letters did not match up! A4 paper is a little taller than letter size, so as I quick fix I ran to Staples and bought some Legal size paper which is bigger than A4 in height and width! This fix still did not work quite right, so I pieced it together the best I could and I drew in some of the remaining characters.

I taped the pieces of paper together and put some carbon paper underneath the template! I used a few small nails to hold the template and carbon paper into place! One I traced over everything, I got out my dremel and started carving into the foam. Tedious is the best and only word that comes to mind when I was doing this step!

After I had carved out everything, I decided to cut the foam to a rough shape! I also added some wood filler to hide the line in the styrofoam! This would have probably be done easier prior to marking the template, but I did try and get the line above all my text.

I used some sandpaper and a knife to gouge the ends of the styrofoam and make it look more rock like. After I was happy with the shape I did my base coat of paint in Drylock ( it is a masonry paint sealer that contains sand inside it so it makes a lovely texture ) I then painted the letters black. Don't worry about being messy! Just fill in all the letters and don't worry about over spray because on the final coat you can use a paint roller and it doesn't get in the recessed black writing if you're careful!

I noted I had a "loose" interpretation of the Grail prop because much to my dismay during the tracing process I was watching the Last Crusade and I noticed the differences compared to the movie prop right away. It had been awhile since I had last seen Indiana Jones and I never studied the Grail closely, so once I found the template I figured it would be slightly closer to the movie! Oh well! I'm sure most people won't notice right away, hehe!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Nightmare Before Christmas

My obsession for Halloween and the macabre are not limited to the month of October, but one month I usually refrain from decorating ghastly for is Christmas. This year was different because my Girlfriend is a huge fan of  a Nightmare Before Christmas! While I do not have too many Nightmare Before Christmas props (yet) I did make a few in the limited time I had to make her Christmas present. I made her a wood box that mimicked the Christmas/Halloween boxes as seen in the movie. I also made a few skeletons using clay and wood and a wooden cutout of Zero to put inside a Christmas wreath.

I pulled out as many Halloween decorations I had that I figured would fit and this is the setup she walked into on Christmas Eve. The full size skeleton has a Scary Terry servo in the skull, so the jaws move with the sound of music. I was playing the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack from Disneyland the entire night.