Thursday, November 14, 2013

Crazyleg build Pt 1

Epic costume requires epic preparation, as they say, and late last year I decided to embark on the most difficult thing I'd ever built: stilts.

I've always been fascinated by digitigrade legs. Their shape and form have sort of been a partial obsession for me from the day I saw my first anthromorph drawing.
I'll admit, I am not much of an engineer and such stuff can have fairly dangerous outcomes when attempted by people who don't really know what they're doing. So following a build put online by another maker, I've decided to follow the design as close as I could for safety's sake.

As a result, the whole thing ended up fairly expensive but I think I'll be satisfied with the build once it's done (I hope) as I'm making it as part of a Shadowrun character costume that I've had in mind for quite some time now.

After months of waiting, gathering materials and doing research (special thanks to the fursuiting community for tackling many of the major issues involved in figuring out such legs) I set to work.

The stuff I ended up needing:
Heaps of aluminium flats, steel tubes, a large quantity of bolts, two sintra boards (6mm), nylon webbing and tri-guides/glides, aircraft cable, turncables and a big handful of washers.

Finding the components wasn't easy, considering the local market for small metal purchases is terrible. That and having metric system bolts vs American standard system bolts wasn't a walk in the park either. Some bits I had to order online from specialty metal stores, alongside the majority of bolts and nuts I'm using due to not being able to source for strong bolts locally.
Like these tubes! Always remember to check for WALL THICKNESS when buying tubes. The size can be right but if the tube wall is too thick, yer f*kd!
Most of the bolts I found were class 8.8 at their strongest, or more commonly Grade 2 which was good enough for standard applications but we needed something strong enough to be stood on by a grown human being.

Class 8.8 = Grade 5 bolts (strong but not strong enough!)

I was not willing to risk it at all and went ahead to get Grade 8 bolts from

I also got my aluminium C-channels and metal tubes from

My buckles and nylon webbing from

Now on to the show:

While I was waiting for my metals and bolts to arrive, we decided to get working on the sintra first.

My dad was over for the weekend and he had agreed to help out a bit so he brought his jigsaw along with him.

Cutting them with the jigsaw was like plowing a hot knife through butter, and we had chopped up the whole lot in no time. We then drilled holes in the appropriate spots so they can be mounted onto the aluminium frame later down. From there I proceeded to sand down the sides to get rid of all the rough edges. Rough spots are easily sanded down due to the nature of sintra, so they were pretty easy to handle overall.

Kinda looks like a toilet seat, that.
Next was forming them up with my trusty Skil heatgun.
The sintra pieces are meant to go around your thighs and lower legs to provide support, and thus need to be molded to your own legs. Getting them molded is simple business, just had to heat up the inner parts of the sintra and press them down on the appropriate areas to get the shape, holding them down for a couple of minutes to let them set.
Here's a finished piece.
I decided to sand it in a little more just to get the bits that re-roughened up when I bent them. Overall I'm quite happy with how they turned out; and hopefully I can mount them and get to painting soon!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Approaches!

With Halloween just around the corner, everyone is getting busy with new projects and slapdash halloween costumes in time for the holidays.
I've noticed a significant amount of extra traffic in the general direction of my dragon horns tutorial so thank you ^_^ I hope your projects go well!

As for me, it's been a busy year (hence the lack of postings) but the costuming never ends, oh no.

At the moment I have a few projects going on simultaneously, some for Comic Fiesta 2013 and others for people and such, and of course one for this year's halloween.
Ugh, maybe a little more work than I can handle.
I don't typically celebrate because where I am, it's not a massive holiday where kids go treat or treating and the adults go get wasted in their sexy costumes. Well, most of the time anyway <.<  at any rate, this year I am doing a followup on the dragon horns and some other bits of costume that can go along with it, so stay tuned for photos and possibly an updated tutorial :)

Taryn out.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Wizard Staff Repair!

About two years ago I built a simple custom wizard staff for one of my Ragnarok Online cosplaying buds.The first build wasn't all that great, it was a real last minute thing considering we had less than a month to do it from scratch and since said person was on their finals or something (I think) I had to do most of the build myself.

It was primarily composed of a PVC pipe, a few layers of strategically placed foam and mounting board as well as a generous helping of epoxy clay to strengthen it up near the base.The build had inherent problems like the head drooped to one side a little and it tended to scarily flop about when handled roughly; but thankfully it survived that convention just fine.

As time went by the already haphazard build was getting slightly damaged on the head section and he also requested that I make the staff collapsible when I get to fixing it.
Basically what needed to be replaced was the staff itself, since the original one was a plastic pipe it had bent out of shape over the course of the year in storage, so we cut it off and set about making a new connector for the head of the staff.

First we went to the hardware store to get a new handle for the staff. This part was easy because the store already had ready made broom handles that were already sanded so we went with one of those. Then we got ourselves a pair of plastic pipe connectors that already fit the stick (because again, short on time and convenience) so the top can be unscrewed for easy transport and storage. 

The new connectors fit very nicely but I had issues with how it looked. The staff's general look was fairly organic and I didn't like how angular the connectors were, so we set to work again. I also decided to reinforce the head itself with a layer of epoxy to strengthen it and stop it from wobbling so much, and gave what was left of the old connection a sanding.
After nailing down the respective connectors to the two separate pieces (one for the head and another for the staff itself) I cut a piece of thick leftover EVA foam and glued it to the bottom of the lower connector to provide some shape. When it dried I slapped on some epoxy clay and water smoothed it until I was happy with the distribution. I let it dry for a few hours till it was safe to touch before I got to the plastic connections themselves. 

Being fairly angular they stuck out a fair bit on the staff, and using a rotary tool I had borrowed from another builder friend I shaved most of the angles off both connectors for a more organic feel
The top and the bottom again were given a wet sanding and another couple of layers of epoxy clay to cover the exposed sections and generally make it smoother. This part was quite messy because dealing with wet clay is already messy as hell, combine it with having to do it with a five-plus foot long stick didn't make it any easier.

I don't have an intermediate photo of where we finished it up and painted it all but the result was pretty good. We used a fair helping of Pewter Rub N Buff (polished later) on the handle and I touched up the head with it too; to blend in  the newly epoxy hardened bits. The base of the staff was given two coats of coppery acrylic paint. When that was done we sealed the whole lot with a sealer to keep all the hard work from getting damaged. Overall the repair process took about a week of time, and the painting/drying on it's own took an extra three-ish days.

Both of us were quite satisfied that it was now sturdier and no longer had to bang the roof of my car when he was hitching a ride with me, but its a pity that the paint was so reflective it showed up as white in almost every photo.
If I were to bother the design anymore after this point it would likely be to add a bit of decoration to the entire staff to make it feel more mystical or something, but that's likely gonna be another fix for another year.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dat hilt

It's been a few months since I actually finished up putting on the decals and painting the sword. Here's more or less what it looks like now. 
Not that great I know, but since it's had a VERY long time to dry after the whole paint and polish process, I think it's ready for a second coat. The blade came out very nice though it's not pictured. It had a really good metallic sheen to it, with a bit of a mirrored effect. Not as great as what you get from shiny chrome automotive paint but it had staying power.

I still feel the middle part of the hilt is a little bare though, but having a square design like that its rather hard to factor in any organic designs. The tape is still holding on fairly well but it took a bit of damage at the con and is peeling a bit at the top. I'm contemplating changing it to a faux leather wrap but am doubting the strength of it's hold. But that would be a modification for another time I guess.

I'm not quite done geeking out at the paint job ^^

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quick DIY Journal

I don't typically enjoy doing rush jobs. For one I'm never satisfied with the end product but when someone asks for your help to craft something for a college final project it's rather hard to say no.

For this one I was asked to handmake a journal-come-photo album for said person. I had approximately a night and a half to do it all so I didn't take that many pictures along the way. I've done handmade bound books for BJD sized things before, so it was simply a matter of applying the same things at a bigger scale.

I started off with maybe 24 pieces of A4 paper all folded into half. I think we ended up with a little extra but I don't remember the final page count. We split the amount into half and stabbed holes into the area which would be the spine and had them sewn together to make the binding. After that I had applied glue to the spine area so it'll hold (its a blend of PVA glues) and left it to dry overnight.
In the mean time, I got to the cover. Normally I'd use cloth for the cover or wrapping paper because it's simply more malleable but I was supplied with this thicker paper with a texture so I just went with it. The cover is essentially just this and some mounting board for strength. I also folded and glued it in with the same PVA glue because it was fairly light (and I didn't expect people to be banging it around) and then flattened it to dry overnight as well.
 Then there was the matter of the spine itself. I had forgotten that you're supposed to put in the spine first before gluing up the cover (silly me and my lack of practice) so we ended up doing it the other way around, where we'd glue the spine ON the cover instead. Frankly I wouldn't recommend doing this either because its honestly not very strong but there wasn't time to try again with a new book =\
Before gluing it on, I had sewn the sides of the spine's fabric (used darker thread at request) but since I kinda suck at handsewing it ended up looking kinda ugly. And it turns out our initial measurements for the spine and the cover was totally wrong too, it had bits jutting out at the bottom. But since we were running out of time and the person who wanted it was okay with the bit at the bottom (it wouldn't affect the grading) we just went with it.
Here's the end product. It's not bad for a rush job but it's not something I'd like to try again given the timeframe I had. We spent the next hour or so painting frames into the inside of the book with paint (it was a pain as well, because the paper wasn't thick enough to handle markers) but overall the 'commissioner' was quite satisfied with the results.