Tag Archives: Construction

Lighting Solutions: DIY Lightbox/ Ikea Hack


There comes a time in every bloggers life when simply taking photographs just won’t due, especially when you’ve spent hours meticulously perfecting a particular craft only to have it blurred out in photographs. This revelation came in January for me. Stefan had just received the Star Wars Imperial Assault board game and would soon receive Cthulhu Wars, which came with amazingly detailed figurines all just waiting to be painted. He spent hours setting up layers, working on toning, highlighting, and shadows, and was simply just doing some amazing work with some impromptu paints and spare time. Continue reading Lighting Solutions: DIY Lightbox/ Ikea Hack

Dragon Queen Bodice Construction Part 1


This post discusses the construction of the front bodice scalemail plate, and work on contractions. Please note, that the current scalemail plate is being held together with giant rings as it has been more convenient for testing, modeling, and fitting.


Contraction work


I knew from the start of my project that I did not want a clunky, unfit bodice as I feared it would look sloppy and unfinished, in addition, I also wanted the bodice to be more like “skin” and less like armor. A tighter fit, I reasoned, would not only look more attractive, but by staying closer to my body, and even resting on my hips, it would possibly help with weight distribution to the top. During my initial research as to when to implement tailoring, I came across several forums (listed below in resources) which discussed the process of tailoring through contraction, but there was no definitive conclusion on the best time to implement contractions. Some comments pointed out that if you know where the contractions would be, it is easier to put contractions in as you went, while others recognized that it wasn’t much harder to include contractions after the piece had already been created. There seems to be a difference, however, in large scalemail and small scalemail, and there seems to be more repercussions for post construction contractions with the small scale.

So with no conclusive decision on when to implement the contractions I decided to research where the contractions should be implemented. I did not have much luck here either in specifics, but Continue reading Dragon Queen Bodice Construction Part 1

Dragon Queen Scalemail Shoulders


 Since our full scalemail order arrived in the mail, I have temporarily suspended work on the horns, and began construction the bodice for my costume. Although excitement is the primary reason for temporarily leaving work on the horns, equally to blame is the fact that the scalemail is much cleaner (in terms of workspace upkeep) and easier to work on at a moment’s notice, in addition to the fact that I might have to create a replacement for the horn I botched during sculpting, and I’m possibly delaying the inevitable. Although seemingly more straight forward, the scalemail has been equally challenging in its own medium, and there are an equal amount of assembly questions to address in the near future.

For now, however, I have been simply creating basic shapes that presented themselves during my initial diamond (100 scalemail) trial. Pleased by the diamond shape on the shoulders, I decided to incorporate dual diamond shoulder sleeves/ caps, into my design. This section would not only be the easiest to complete first, as there was no technical skill involved in creating the shapes, but it was also a necessary step for transitioning into the chest/ breast area, which Continue reading Dragon Queen Scalemail Shoulders

Dragon Queen Horn Construction Pt 1


Part 1: Design, construction, & carving (APR 6-9)

Construction- not yet refined
Construction- not yet refined


For the horn construction, we used 7- 5” wide x 12” long (.5” thick) construction foam that we had in the house from a previous project. In retrospect, I would absolutely recommend a thicker foam, as the more parts you have to glue together, the more that might come apart when pulling and prying pieces off. For the adhesive, we tried four types of house adhesive (because we had a lot around and it wouldn’t cost us more money) to see what held the best, which included Hot Glue, Tack Glue, Elmer’s Glue, and Rubber cements. During our initial glue tests, we were looking for good strength in the bonding, the ease in which our tools cut through the glue, and the rate at which glue dried (the sooner the better for us). For our initial tests, we glued together 4 small planks of construction foam, and actually found hot glue held surprisingly well, was capable of being cut through relatively easily, and was ready to be cut within minutes. We were initially concerned with the hot glue melting the Continue reading Dragon Queen Horn Construction Pt 1

My First Real Sword: Part 2

My custom aluminum pommel needed a bit more texture and something was needed to cover the preexisting hole in its side so I decided to design a little dragon emblem. 22 gauge aluminum sheet metal was cut using a Jeweler’s Saw fit with a 2/0 blade. I original gathered all my sheet metal tools in prep for my next project of steel gauntlets which is still in the design phase. I knew I’d need some sheet metal shears but I discovered the jewelers saw and how it could create the small details I wanted without distorting the sheet metal in the way that snips tend to. One of resources that helped guide me was from Rings & Things: Tips for sawing sheet metal with a jeweler’s saw.

A great help came from Polly in the comments section when I got confused about which blade size of the dozen or so sizes would work best for my different applications:

Forme d’Art blades:
Size #0 – 53.5 teeth per inch – Use with 18g to 22g metal
Size #1 – 51 teeth per inch – Use with 18g to 22g metal
Size #2 – 43 teeth per inch – Use with 16g to 18g metal
Size #2/0 – 56 teeth per inch – Use with 20g to 22g metal
Size #3/0 – 61 teeth per inch – Use with 22g metal
Size #4/0 – 66 teeth per inch – Use with 22g metal
Size #6/0 – 76 teeth per inch – Use with 24g metal

In both brands, more teeth = finer blade.
So if you’re doing fancy cuts with lots of wiggles and switchbacks, get the finer blade that’s recommended for your preferred sheet gauge. But if you’re doing simple straight cuts, the more generic size #0, #1 or #2 blade works fine.

After drawing up a pattern and gluing it to the sheet I got right to cutting.

Pommel emblem
Dragon emblem sawing in progress

After a bit of fussing with the saw to figure how sharp of and angle I could cut with the saw it turned into a simple task of keeping my sawing motions smooth as to not break the blade.

The Result after adding a indent for the eye mark:

Pommel emblem B
Fully cut out Dragon emblem

Iwanted the brand new emblem to not look so new to better match the age of the sword at whole so I used a bit of acrylic paint and some dry brushing to add a bit a real life experience to it after I filed down and rounded the edges.

Pommel emblem weathering
Pommel emblem ready for weathering

<< Go to My First Real Sword Part 1

My First Real Sword

sword original


I am now the proud owner of my very own two handed sword. No more running around the back yard with a red sheet secured to my back with two stick lashed together as my mighty Excalibur.

I was able to take this off the hands of an local  individual on Craigslist for a low $25. Its a bit beaten up, the blade is spotted with rust, mini nicks, and the metal has dulled from sitting unused and un-oiled for some extended period of time. Time to put a bit of life into it!

Since this is a cheaper stage prop sword it is assembled with a top screw so disassembling it was rather simple. After about 2 hours of sanding, buffing and polishing the blade to return its clean shine the first thing that needed a change was the handle. Holding this thing feels like I’m holding a baseball bat at the wrong end so the handle diameter needs to be reduced so I can later add a nice leather wrap to it. This will be a job for my Dremel since my dreams of a lathe have yet to be fully realized.

Dissembled sword with polished blade and thinner handle


After reassembling it I feel that the pommel was also oversized and a bit odd looking. I cant just modify this piece since its a hollow bronze cast object that can be ruduced in size by removing material.  I do have some extra 2″ diameter aluminum bar stock from another project around that I can hack saw my way through and see if it work aesthetically.

Sword - Pommel Cut


After an upgrade from a coping saw to a proper hack saw and a bit of machine oil to prevent the blade from binding I was able to remove an piece of the aluminum bar stock to become my new pommel. Unfortunately the end that i cut off the larger stock which had a diameter previously reduced, which I felt was a better size, had a hole in the center which I will need to find a way to hide later. The next step is to drill a hole through to accept the blades threaded end. This will be done with a hand drill as I’m yet to find room or funds for a drill press at the time.

 Go to My Real Sword Part 2 >>





Sul Sul! [Hello!] DIY Sims 3 Plumbob

For a quick and easy costume



In 2011 I had found myself in a sticky Halloween situation. I was in the middle of my term at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (distance ed), and I was preparing to go to Champaign, IL for a four-day required trip to campus one week prior to Halloween. Thinking that I was not going to be celebrating Halloween  because of my workload, the trip, and no party plans, I had not prepared a costume, although Stefan had been preparing to go to work as an Aperature Scientist for quite some time. So, when the invitation to a Halloween party came from some friends, I was torn as to whether to attend. On the one hand I wanted a break from school and a chance to socialize, but on the other hand, I was not prepared, and I had no clue what I should dress as being that my preparation time was limited. Giving the thought some consideration prior to my trip, I came up with the ingenious plan of going as a character from my all time favorite video game (at least the one I play most frequently, and I’m pretty sure I was playing it at the time I thought of my costume), the Sims (at the time it was 3), which would be not only incredibly easy to construct, but would also tie into Stefan’s video game themed costume.

The premise of the costume was quite simple, as I was going to go as myself just as a Sim. So the most essential part of the cThe_Sims_Plumbob_Papercraft_by_killero94 (545x800)ostume would have to be the iconic Plumbob that glows over the Sims heads. Originally I was planning on creating one myself with just green paper, but while searching around on the internet I actually found an amazing rendition of the Plumbob by Deviant Artist Killero94, who had created one and allowed users to download the image for their own use. Having this design, I was able to get more creative, and I decided that I would try to take my costume one step further and get the plumbob to glow. Continue reading Sul Sul! [Hello!] DIY Sims 3 Plumbob