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! 

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