Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cape Trimming Finished, First Test Fit

I'm going to consolidate a few days worth of updates into one post, as I have neglected to update the blog over the weekend.

The other day, I started off trimming the edge of the cape. Realistically, this is something I should have been able to take care of in one sitting, but it's REALLY tiring and meticulous work. I found that I have to sit right underneath a really bright light, with the fabric facing a certain way in order to be able to see my cut line clearly.

This first picture shows the entirety of the outer curve trimmed up. It came out really nicely. I might have done better to cut it with a blade, or even a wheel, but that would have proven problematic as I don't have a giant flat surface upon which to do it.

The next task was to cut the straight lines that make up the front slit of the cape. This too was very painstaking work. As of this picture, I had finished one of the two sides.

Finally, tonight I finished up the second side of the front, and even cut out the neck hole. I was bold enough to throw the thing over my shoulders to see how it felt. It felt good! I decided to take a little self portrait.

The picture shows very little detail, and that is pretty much on purpose. And yes, I'm wearing sweat pants. I'm sure that years from now, this picture will be viewed out of context and poked fun of. But hey, isn't that what the internet is all about. It could be worse. I could be the Tron Guy.

One thing I was really worried about is the weight of the cape. Overall, I believe mine is heavier than the screen used ones. I laid in a few too many layers of latex in order to achieve a certain opacity. I think I overdid it. I was worried that this would impact my ability to make the thing stay on the suit properly. BUT, when I heaved it up over my shoulders, I realized all my fears were unfounded. For some strange reason, almost the entire weight of the cape rests on the neck, shoulders and trapezius muscles. And on the back of the neck. It is in these EXACT locations that all of the adhesion points are. So I guess the costume makers actually knew what they were doing! I kid, of course, as it is OBVIOUS they knew what they were doing. My fears of having to build some kind of internal harness to hold onto the cape may not be realized. I think this cape will hold onto the suit in the same way the ones in the movie did, which is great news.

I still have a little bit of edging work to do on the cape, and then it will be time to actually sew it up. For that, I will need a sewing machine. Well, a NEW sewing machine, as my old one is not heavy duty enough to handle it. So it is off to ebay I go!

Anyhow, very proud day over here now that I actually have something to show as far as the cape goes. Good stuff!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cape Trimming Begins

Last night I started the process of cleaning up the edges of the cape. I finally got it out of the mold, and well, it looks pretty nice. Granted, in this picture, it looks like a pile of fabric sitting on the floor, but trust me... it's nice!

Here is a close up shot of the edge of the cape. You can see the rough edge, where the latex went over the edge of the mold.

And here, I've started trimming. My first pass was to cut away all the excess material, just so I would have less to hassle with when I go in for a close edge trimming.

Overall, the cape feels very nice. It's a little bit heavier than I had hoped, and this has me thinking ahead to how I am going to attach it to the suit. I know how the screen used capes were attached, but they were also a lot lighter. This is due to the fact that I probably layered on more latex than I needed to. Remember kids, this is just a test cape. The idea here is to learn lessons and then apply them to the next cape, which should be a lot better.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Arkham Asylum Batarang

*** Oct 2011 Update ***
If you're into Arkham Asylum or Arkham City props, check out a build I'm working on right now, Batmans Grapple Gun.

Grapple Gun Build

*** End update ***

I kinda got a bug up in me lately about Batman weapons, so I did a little huting around and found one of these on ebay:

This was part of the "deluxe" packaging for the Batman Arkham Asylum video game. While I don't play video games, I did think this was a pretty cool interpretation of the batarang.

While not the highest quality of pieces, I find it quite nice. It's injection molded plastic, and has a weird faux scratch surface, I assume to resemble battle damage.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cape Attachment Finished

Tonight I put the finishing touches on attaching the inner fabric to the outer shell on my first cape. I only tonight realized just how LONG it has been since I have been working on this first cape. I have GOT to step it up!

With the layup complete, I will give it a day to dry, then pull it out and see how it looks.

The next step is to find a sewing machine that will be powerful enough to sew it together the way I need it done. That will be interesting.

Superman Crystals!

I have a couple of REALLY great new additions to the prop collection to write about today, courtesy of a fellow collector and enthusiast who goes by the name "hydin" on the interwebx.

The first item for your consideration, which can easily be filed under "Wanted one since I was six years old" is a green "Fortress Builder" crystal as seen in the Richard Donner Superman films.

I have written on my blog and on my website in the past about how MOST of my online purchases tend to disappoint me. Not that they are not wonderful, or well made. Most of the things I purchase are both wonderful and well made. But they all tend to have a flaw or two that totally throw me off, and while it doesn't totally RUIN the purchase for me, it detracts from it. Well, this green crystal falls into the category of something that does NOT disappoint! It's just so wonderful and perfect, it's almost silly. The crystal is flawless, and really well polished. I cannot say for sure that the shape is dead on accurate to the screen used ones, as I have not done a side by side examination. But I can tell you for sure that it looks like a Donner crystal to me. Really excellent work Hydin! We collectors owe you a debt of gratitude for going to the trouble to have these made to the exacting specifications that you pursued.

Up next is the equally satisfying Superman Returns style crystal. If I recall correctly, this one is modelled after the "hero" crystal that Lex Luthor is seen handling while in the basement of his recently acquired mansion.

I think my ONLY nit for this piece is on the very tips of the crystals. They are not super sharp and pointed, but instead appear to have been filed off. Granted, for safety purposes, ths was probably the right choice. But I cannot help but wonder if the tips somehow snapped off during shipping or something else like that? The tips seem to be polished smooth, so I'm inclined to believe it was a deliberate choice.

STILL, I am extremely happy with this piece. It is, like the Donner crystal, a flawlessly executed piece of Superman awesomeness.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cape Glue-Up

I am in the process of attaching the fabric to the latex outer shell of the cape. As of tonight, I'm about half way done.

Fortunately, I am writing this cape off as a "test" cape, which is good because already a number of lessons have been learned. I need to come up with some system for keeping the fabric in place while I'm brushing on the latex so that it doesn't get caught up in it before drying.

Yes, lots to think about for the next one. I still think this one will turn out good, but there will need to be improvement on cape 2.0

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wrinkles! I Hate Me Some Wrinkles!

And by wrinkles, I mean creases.

My current dilemma I am working through involves the big honkin' crease that runs the entire length of the fabric I recently acquired for my test cape. I've tried ironing it, tried steaming it, tried washing it and tumble drying it.

And it wasn't until I asked a friend of mine that I came up with a possible solution: STARCH! Yup, garden variety spray on starch. Picked some up at Target yesterday. I will attempt to starch out the crease later tonight.

If it works, I am going to move quickly to get the fabric attached to the outer shell. If all goes well, I will need a new sewing machine shortly, one that can handle thick fabrics. Once I get that, it should be a very quick process to sew the cape up and have something ready to wear.

And while this first cape will not be perfect, it will be VERY nice. It won't have the ombre on it, and I know there are some flaws in the outer shell around the edges, but other than that, I think it will be very nice. To the untrained eye, I think it will appear to be a dead on match.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Decent Cape Fabric Arrives

The big news for today's blog entry is that I have found some fabric that is quite suitable for my first test cape.

It is by no means perfect. But the color is very nice, though not a dead on match. It's a nice, bold, vibrant red. Naturally, you cannot tell this from the pictures, but it is. You'll have to trust me. It's also 74" wide, which gives me plenty of wiggle room on doing the cape layup.

The texture is also decent. While not an exact match to the screen used cape, it's close. It has a similar style to the weave, and it is thick. It has a very soft "hand", as per the website, which is cool. It's probably a little heavier than I would like, and theres a bit more stretch to it than would be optimal, but if this ends up being the final fabric I use, I'm pretty happy with it.

For the record, here is the link to the fabric on Because it's not an exact match, I dont' really feel like I'm telling tales out of school.

Of course, I'm excited now, but it wasn't until I did some tests to make sure it was going to work. I cut up a couple little pieces, and did an adhesion test with the edge of the cape. The fabric has two very different qualities on either side, and I wanted to see which one would stick the best.

One worked better than the other, so now I know which direction to go with it. Cool beans. The fabric at this very moment is in the washing machine. There was a big crease down the middle of it from the way it came off the bolt, so I am washing it in hot, and will then spin dry it in order to get it out. I tried ironing it before that, and it didn't work.

And time for a little product placement! I accidentally spilled a TINY drop of So-Strong urethane pigments on my carpet, and in my attempt to blot it up, ended up with like a six by six inch red smudge on my carpet. I then followed up with a drop of black a week later. Nice! I went to target and picked up some carpet cleaner, and the stuff worked like MAGIC! I highly recommend this product!

You can sort of see a slightly faded pink smear below the can. That used to be a GIANT smudge of dark red. I need to do one more pass at it, but I have faith. Where's that dude Billy Mays when you need him??

And in slightly less impressive news, my shipment from Smooth-On showed up the other day, so now I can complete my latest pour of the chest emblem. Just a tiny touch up.

Overall, I still get a very giddy feeling when I crank out a chest emblem or a belt. After SOOOO much leg work, prep, research, and just plain sweat, it's really a giant relieve and very satisfying to see them come out so well.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Boot Stamping

Many moons ago, I made THIS POST about the boot progress. What excited me most was the leather stamping they had done. I sent the company in Argentina (who has yet to return my recent emails asking for either a progress update or a refund, by the way. NOT cool) a cad file, and next thing I knew, they had that leather stamped out. I was stunned.

So now that I'm pursuing different options with the boots, I find myself needing to make that stamped leather myself. What I thought would be a complicated and expensive process turns out to be much easier than I suspected. I guess it's an etching process that is used to make those stamps, so it's pretty easy, very precise, and not very expensive. So for a couple hundred bucks, I can get a stamp made that will stamp out the pattern onto a correctly sized piece of leather for the boot. That is great news.

I've already found a place on the web that has offered to do it for me at a very reasonable price, and has approved my artwork for it.

All I need to do now is get a final look at a real pair of boots so that I can figure out how big it needs to be. I also believe that there is ANOTHER stamped pattern on a different panel on the boot, so I will need to get a stamp made for that too.

Overall, I'm very pleased with these discoveries, and to find that it's well within budget.

Not that this project has a budget, but you know what I mean.