I had done a custom action figure of more realistic Samhain from real Ghostbusters back in August, and decided I wanted either a lifesized halloween prop, or a wearable costume for halloween this year.
Here's what the action figure looks like.
Here I'm cutting rings out of 3/4" insulation foam so I can make a hollow capped cylinder. The "patterns" are a christmas tree base, and various rubbermaid lids. I started out cutting these out with a hot knife from harbor freight, whch someone recommended.
It was a huge mess, and left a hard crusty edge that would prove to be hard to work on.
I finally switched back to my proton pack building method using a jigsaw and it worked wonders. I use a thin scroll blade, and my almost 20 year old kmart $12 jigsaw.
Here's my "cake" the nasty edges were cut with that ill recommended harbor freight hot knife. A jigsaw works faster, is more accurate, and doesn't leave an unworkable hard melted plastic edge. Glad I switched to it.
I'm starting to shape with an electric knife now. You can see nasty harder gorilla glue edges. Bad choice for glue someone else recommended. I should gorilla glue his balls for that advise. You can also see the major headache the hot knife caused when cutting, compared with the very clean cuts from my jigsaw.
I realize that the thing won't be tall enough to wear, and I can't get the proper shape without another layer of foam added.
Here I'm rounding it down with the rest.
here I'm pencilling in the face... and you can see those nasty hard plastic melted foam bits still, that are hard to work with.
More shaping.. I wasn't happy with the overall shape yet. I'm using a orbital sander, and electric knife at this point, and its finally shaping up more like the smaller version.
You can see some of the electric knife slices in this pic, as I continue to try to duplicate the shape from the smaller one. They are easy to smooth out with the orbital sander, but you have to be wearing goggles and a breathing filter, otherwise you get the foam dust in your eyes, and that stuff is very toxic, so you don't want to be breathing it in.
I'm getting ready to carve the face. weapons of choice? Orbital sander, and dremel with an oblong rounded grinding bit. Most of the sanding time, I've been wearing goggles and a breathing mask, and this makes seeing and working on things harder.
Starting to lay in the face shapes, and more drawn on details.
At this point, I'm feeling pretty stoked, as things are shaping up well. its easy.. far too easy.
And even better. I might actually be able to pull this off!
And then disaster strikes. A bee starts hanging around right in front of my face, and I can't blow him away because of the filter mask. I move slightly to avoid him, and Bam! I gouge out on of the eyes. Dammit!
I keep working anyway, not sure what to do about that gouge. Here I'm starting to work on the mouth, and feeling like a dentist.
I'm working mostly on the good eye and mouth, not wanting to even look at the messed up one. At this point I realize I'm on my 2 foot glasses, and need to switch to my closeup vision ones. I miss being able to see well all the time. 8(
I finally start working on the messed up eye, and its not as bad as I feared it was.
I start adding wood putty to create a harder exterior shell, and also to smooth everything out. This foam doesn't sand as well as the blue stuff I had in the past.
More dental work. Working on the mouth is hard, because the dremel griding bit shaft is short, and the end of the dremel gouges out the lips. (You can see one gouge puttied.) I'm considering cutting the teeth out completely, and doing them separately, and then glueing them in. That would be best, BUT if I can avoid that additional work, I will.
I also realize I really need the bright daylight to see edges, and to smooth things out.
I realize I completely forgot the cheekbones, google, and come up with a solution. Ultimate Paper Mache Clay. (You can google it.) it it cheap, cures almost as light weight as the foam, but is also almost like rock, and can be sanded and drilled. Woot!
Here you can see the cheekbones sculpted, and repair to that bad eye. I'm hoping this stuff works out well, because if not, I'm screwed.
The PaperMache clay cures rock solid, and while hard, it can be sanded, and ground down with the dremel, so all is still well.
Everything is now getting coated in wood putty and then sanded. The wood putty sands very smoothly and easily.
This starts the process of fill/sand/fill hell for hours!
Sand/fill/sand/fill/sand... someone just kill me please!
More sanding.. its starting to sand back to the original intended sculpting. The porch light makes it look orange in the pic, which tickles me, because I have a kind of preview of the final appearance.
Now I start adding a few coats of gesso, mixed up from the same ingrediants as the clay. Its cheap, and leaves a harder exterior skin.
More Gesso layers... and Marci (my wife) is now working on the costume/outfit.
MOAR Gesso.. and we are argueing how to make the collar stand up, and how to wear it. Such fun while waiting for gesso to dry. She has ideas on how things might work, but I know exactly how I want to have things done.
Thats what happens when you enlist cheap labor.
I completly forgot to document woring on his stem. its larger than it should be, but I like the sculpt so much, I'm keeping it. To glue the layers of this, I used elmer's spray glue. It was a dream, and I wish to GOD I'd used to to glue the original main layers together.
I went from glueing to done sculpting in about a hour or two, and about a foot of foam powder. I sculpted this using brass wire dremel wheels. They gave me a wooden finished sculpted surface, and evaporated the foam like a laser beam. I wore two out completely doing this.
And the stem back.. it goes from foam to gesso, since it needs no sanding. Oh, Look! Arron's has a hot looking girl on sale for only $69.99!
Here's the stem on the head. Yeah a bit large, but I love it.
And another. I am making it removable, so I can replace it if the size really bugs me, or if I ever get the incentive to try to mold it up and sell reproductions.
The cowl and outfit are now mainly done, so we can test fit everything to see what we have.
OMG! It actually looks alot like how I intended! Shock surprise! I still don't have foam inside the head to keep it in place yet when worn, and I still need to tatter all the outfit, but with the help of my loving and patient wife (Yeah, Riiiight!) we are pulling this off. Not bad for a week's work!
Sam's stem gets to be the spray color guenea pig, and passes with flying colors! This is way too dark, but it gives me a base coat to work off. Its also way too glossy.
Sam gets his first coat of house paint! Actually several, since I have a breeze, and its warm. By the time I get all the way around, its almost time got a second coat. He'll get additional color interest after enough coats of house paint to give him a plastic skin.
Our original plans were to have him done just in October, but then we got the idea of debuting him at Horror Weekend in Gatlinburg. There was just no way I'd have everything completed in time, even after working the week like a maniac, so we shelved that idea and just decided to enjoy the con, and finish this up for other halloween season events.
I'm still not happy with the cowl, and might see if I can make a rigid one from cardboard covered in the same fabric and monster mud. The only problem with that as a costume part, is our car is small, and it might not fit well inside, however it could still be used as a static halloween prop. I'll build a PVC pipe armature for that this week.
In addition to Sam's outfit, I'm adding some of those plastic walmart chains laced with el wire, and the story on them is they are some new fangled thing Egon came up with to contain Sam so he can be displayed safely.
I KNOW kids will ask how he got out, and this gives us a backstory excuse.
The orange house paint base is complete, and gves this a tough plastic waterproof skin. Now I'm adding some initial rattle can color variation, that will be followed up by hand painting. I'l have to knock back the gloss with some fine sandpaper, because even though its only satin paint, it looks too glossy to me.