Monday, May 11, 2015

Hey, Look! It's a Post!

Over on Instagram, they have this wonderful world of craft swaps and I've clearly lost my mind, because I joined approximately 12 billion of them. Or 12. Whatever. The one coming up next is the #doctorwhocraftswap2015 and there is some incredible work out there. I highly suggest perusing that hashtag on IG, because these people get creative AF. Here's some of the work I'm sending off come June 1.
I mean, seriously. Look at that adorable face. I almost wish I'd made this for myself. Who doesn't need an adipose kitchen towel!?

I actually didn't like this piece at first, but it grew on me and now I don't want to send it off. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cosplay: Zoidberg Mark 2 Mask Part 2

Greetings again. It has been quite a busy week between the mask and work, but some serious progress has been made.

Things I used for this part of the mask:
Drywall patch
Rotary tools
Rough and Medium grit sandpaper
Spray paint primer/paints/sealer
Latex rubber
Acrylic paint

When we last met, I showed how the mask was drying and waiting for me at home. When I got back, it still wasn't totally dry, so I was unable to patch up the face right away, a setback of about half a day since I needed sleep. I was, however, able to apply another layer of patch on the rest of the mask so at least I salvaged part of it.

You can still see the damp spots on the chin/neck guard.

I started finding that if I slathered the patch on, it would make it easier for me to sand it down afterwards. I highly recommend getting a can of compressed air. I got a little light headed from trying to blow the sanded off dust out.

When I awoke, the patch material had dried and the face had dried enough so I could attempt sanding. I took the rough grit sandpaper and got what I could on the face. Then I took my rotary tool and cleaned up the eye holes and gave them a gentle slow instead inward instead of a sudden stop. This is to A) help me see out of the bottom, and B) help hide how imperfect the circles are. I finished up by using my medium grit sand paper on the rest of the mask.

I couldn't get the eyes to stop being so wall eyed. I know he is a bit, but this is too much. 

From here I filled the face in with patch material and played the waiting game.

Rather ghoulish...

While I was waiting for the patch to dry, I decided it was time to work a bit on the eyes. I had picked up some Krylon spray paints at the craft store along with some other supplies I'll mention later. I took the eyes outside and sprayed the primer on both, giving them a bit of a heavy coat to cover up the green. 

I had to use a pen to pick them up so they wouldn't stick to the paper.

I also gave the back of the mask a test spray. The bad part about white on white primer is that you can't really tell if you're painting the mask properly. This paint dries pretty quickly, so I brought the eyes and mask inside. This made the apartment stink and me feel a bit light headed. I ended up taking a nap while everything dried. (awesome plan btw)

A few hours later, things were starting to work out. Before I started the next part, I decided to see how everything would look, which means I needed tentacles. I had bought a pair of gloves from Lowe's that were coated in PVC so I figured it would look really good once painted later. I cut the middle and ring fingers from both gloves and taped them together, much like I had down with the Mark 1 mask.

Not to shabby! Totally could go with the blue alternate universe Zoidberg if I hadn't sunk this much money into red.

I stuffed some cotton balls down each finger to hold the shape. The only tape I had was packing tape and I could tell it wouldn't hold the gloves together. I decided to take the latex rubber I had bought from the craft store and fill in the seam on the front to bind the two gloves together until I could paint. Latex rubber contains ammonia so if you can, use it outside or ventilate your workspace. It gets really smelly.


While that dries, thin coats take like 8-10 min, thick coats can take hours, it was time to sand the face.

As you can see, there were a few blemishes that I would need to take care of. Not all of them could be just sanded down as it would create an uneven surface. So I decided to do some spot repairs.

Tell me I'm pretty, Mommy!

While this was drying, it was now time to paint the tentacles. The main problem here is the tentacles are floppy and I want to be able to kind of pose them in certain shots. This eliminates most paints as they will crack when bent. However, I read many articles on mixing acrylic paint with latex rubber. The two will bind and create a flexible coat. The only down side is I couldn't find a red that matched the one I had bought. My friend suggested adding just a minor amount of black to the mix to darken it. I did just that in a small amount and went to town.

This color was waaaaay too dark for what I wanted, but the fingers all moved and no cracks in the paint. I was frustrated, but decided to just worry about that later.

From there, the patch dried, I sanded the face and got it to about where I wanted it. Then I took the helmet outside and primed the face/top of the mask. I took some of the red as well and painted the back to see how it held. I left the mask outside to dry, no fume induced sleep this time. Although it was 4 am, and I forgot to take photos.

I woke up later that afternoon and decided to try something new for the tentacles. I figured if I put some latex rubber down and then spray painted over it, maybe the latex would hold the paint together. I left this out to dry and then started painting the mask. I knew I would have to do a few coats so I wouldn't be having my paint run down while drying.

The color was varied, but overall I really like the look of it. A few more coats and it would be ready for completion. The tentacles, however, were a different story.

Of course my idea of spray painting over rubber didn't work. It cracked and looked like crap, though the color was right. The good thing about painting with latex rubber, is that when things go south, you can rip it all off and start over. I left the mask to dry and headed to work to get more paint containers with a new idea in mind. 

For my third test, I thought that if I sprayed the paint into a small cup and mixed it with latex, it would get the color I needed. I did that, but noticed it started to gel up so I tried to thin it with some water. The result was a very clumpy paint with specks all in it.

Looks horrible

I thought that by mixing water, I had caused the spray paint to break down. So I stripped down my mistake and took my gloves and paints with me to work to try again, only without water.

Trial 4 didn't go nearly as planned either. Turns out you need a water based paint to mix well with latex rubber. The color looked good, but I couldn't paint with it, as much as glop it on and hope for the best. It took a lot of work to strip that down. I came home knowing I'd have to go back to the craft store for a different color paint.

In the meantime, I was reveling in my helmet, sans tentacles.

From here I sprayed the eyes with a glossy crystal clear spray to try to seal in the paint.

I tried one more time mixing up the previous paint I had purchased, only this time without the black, to see if maybe I could luck out. I set it outside to dry while I took a nap. The result was not too favorable.

It looked close in low light settings, but it was not what I needed. Also I had noticed that the tentacles were too loose. I stuffed more cotton inside and went to the craft store with a friend. We decided on a color, I gathered my supplies and went off to work, ready to paint in my down time.

I mixed up the latex and the new paint and applied it to the back of the tentacles to see if it would work. It looked bright enough and what I was looking for. After the first coat, I put them in a blanket warmer set at 115 degrees for about 15 min to speed up the drying process. After 2 coats on the back and 1 on the front, I finally had my tentacles.

They're still a little dark, but I'll compare them to the mask when I get home. I might go and by a brighter red still and see if I can match, but if they're close, I won't mess with it. While doing my last coat, I decided that there was too much cotton inside the tentacles so I ended up removing all of it. They still have their shape and are more flexible. I may put a few pieces in before mounting it to the mask, but I'll wait to decide on that.

What remains of my mask?

I need to mount the tentacles on the mask itself, apply some pulp to smooth over the area where the top flap is secured to the mask. Sand and paint that area. Attach the eyes and secure them in place with glue. I think this mask will be done and ready for packing by Sunday!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cosplay: Zoidberg Mark 2 Mask Part 1

So most of the people who know all know that I go to various conventions. I started dressing up with Dragon*Con (as it was known as the time) in 2011. I bit off a bit more than I could chew and did General 21 from Venture Brothers. It was decent and got some love. That sparked my interest in doing other things. The following year, the idea crept in my head to do Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama. I found a decent tutorial on how to make one out of duct tape. It wasn't bad. I debuted it at ECCC 2013 and modified it a bit for DC 2013.

As you could imagine, the downside to using duct tape was the general look of it, the fact it got dented easily, and of course, the heat. It was blazingly hot inside, especially in Atlanta. I could only wear it for about 30-45 min without needing a breather, even with ventilation patches put in on the sides.

Some friends and I were talking this year about bringing Dr Z back for DC and one of them suggested I use paper mache as a medium. It seemed an interesting challenge. I'm not an extremely crafty person, but it seemed pretty straight forward.

After scouring the internet, I found a website that gave me a pretty good idea of where to start. This website is where I got the instructions on where to start. For this part of the new mask, I needed the following:

Thin cardboard, like beer boxes or cereal boxes.
Hot glue
Elmer's glue
Paper mache pulp
Rotary tools
Drywall patching material

To begin, I cut the cardboard I had into strips about an inch and a half wide and 18 inches long. I cut a few strips to be around 10 inches long as well, as these would be vertical connections.

I took 2 strips and glued them to make a ring around my forehead that would be roomy later. I made a second ring around my chin that was about the same size. You might be able to see my error already, but we will get to that later. On the top ring, I took one of the strips and connected the front to the back to make the dome. I added more make a sturdier top. Then I took some of my shorter strips and connected the top ring to the bottom ring to make up the bare skeleton of the mask.

I'll admit that I should have used shorter strips for the dome, especially when you see it later. From here I took more of the long strips and started gluing them around the mask to form what would be bottom of the mask.

I added more strips to the dome area to make it easier for to fill it in later.

The hardest part of this was bending the cardboard to fit in between the dome strips. As you can see, it pushed the entire thing up making it more conehead-esque. I also added a neck piece that will extend down into my scrubs to help hide my beard. I found this out last year that no one wants a Zoidberg with a scraggly neck beard.

Now from this point, there were quite a few gaps in the cardboard, and I was afraid the paper mache pulp would leak through. It was also a bit flimsy so I followed the next steps and added 3 layers of paper mache over the bottom layers and 2 layers to the dome.

Thank you Texas summers for cutting down on my drying times.

I neglected to cut out eye holes before doing the paper mache, a step that I would mildly regret later. After the 3rd coat was dry, I found 2 boxes of paper mache pulp and mixed 1 of them together. The consistency was a bit thicker than it should have been. I applied a liberal layer around the back of the mask and the dome area. I left the eyes and neck area unfinished, the eyes because I needed to cut out the holes and the neck because I ran out of material. The thicker pulp made it difficult to smooth out while wet. Once it was dry, I finally did a test fitting. When making the mask, I forgot to take into account that my nose sticks out. This caused it to be wedged inside. I decided it would be ok and not to cut out a notch for my nose.  I tried sanding all the rough patches. Over a few days, I didn't think I'd be able to make it smooth and considered giving up.

After a few days, I decided to carry on and work on the next part, the eyeballs. In my previous mask, I used table tennis balls, but I knew they would be too small for this larger mask. I considered tennis balls, but settled on racquetballs because I wouldn't have to skin them.
Such a rough looking mask...

The hard part would be cutting them in half. I tried using my rotary tool to do it, but it resulted in broken cutting wheels and an uneven cut. I then "borrowed" a scalpel from work and used it to cut one in half. It worked out really well. I used a drill to bore out the eye holes. Then I took my rotary tool and slowly widened the holes so I could see out of them.

FYI, racquetballs are thick and it stinks when you sand holes into them. I recommend doing this outside. You will get weird looks from neighbors.

Using the halves as a template, I traced a circle so I could fit the eyes appropriately. I used the rotary tool to cut into the mask, which was difficult as there were a few areas with a lot of cardboard and glue. Finally I made a large enough hole to fit a drum sander from my rotary tool inside and slowly widened the hole to fit the eyes.

I accidentally cut the eye holes at different heights, which resulted in a wonky looking mask. I widened the right hole to be higher and match the left, but it left a small gap under the eye. While testing my vision, I realized I wouldn't be able to use the eye holes accurately. That is when I noticed that the gap under the right eye let me see more of what was around me. I decided to do the same thing on the left side so I could see without tripping over other con goers.

I suddenly had renewed interest in finishing the mask. Apparently I had missed the part in the instructions about using drywall patching material. I started using the DAP to fill in the rough areas.

First coat before I went to work

I wasn't able to cover the entire mask as I had to leave to work, but I brought it with me to work on during my lunch break. When it was dry, I sanded it down and realized I had a lot of gaps still to fill in. I put a second coat and continued over to the untouched side.

It's really starting to take shape

I was a bit sad that it wasn't dry until it was time to go home. I sanded it quickly at work, and still noticed some rough areas. Once I got home I took my time and sanded some of these rough patches out. 

Then it was time to fill in the vacant areas with paper mache pulp. I mixed a small batch using the second box, this time making the mixture thinner by adding more water. This made the mix easier to smooth out.

I left the mask at home to dry while I went to work.

That's the stage we are at now. My plans are to sand it when I get home, use the rotary tool to sand out the eyeholes again and round out the edge of the mask. After sanding, I'll add more DAP patch to smooth out the face. Finally I'll add the eyes and secure them using hot glue. Stay tuned!