The post-Dragon Con breakdown

Dragon Con has now come and gone, and as is custom, most of the hotels are already full again. There was a myriad of issues that sprung up over the course of the con, between construction, hotels overbooking and some con-goers behaving incredibly badly, but I still vastly enjoyed it. I’ll probably create a more complete rundown this weekend, but for now I wanted to talk about the work I do for the Superhero Costuming Forum.

Years ago, I was invited to the SCF by its founder, Allen Hansard while dressed in my X-Factor Siryn costume. It was a blissfully low-drama community genuinely focused on improving the craft and encouraging new members. I love the SCF. I have made more lasting friends from the community than any other that I have been a part of, whether for costuming, creation or academic.

Of the many things the SCF does, one of the most well known is the organization of the giant Marvel and DC costuming photoshoots. They are the largest of their kind anywhere, and we draw literally hundreds of costumers to each shoot. They’re massive, fun and the most visible of all of the photoshoots at Dragon Con. We also draw the attention of convention guests…like this guy whose movies you maaaay know:


Thanks to the work by our friends at Beat Down Boogie, Contagious Media, Acksonl and our myriad of incredibly talented photographers, folks around the world have seen the incredible work and love of the craft from superhero costumers (amongst many others). It’s a labor of love, costuming, and I love that we can gather so many people full of talent and passion together to get these great photos and videos.

The behind the scenes of organizing these shoots is a lot more massive than most people imagine. Finding locations, working with other groups to make sure scheduling works, finding reliable photographers and videographers, getting the word out to various costuming groups, arranging special guest visits, establishing rules and safety procedures, and working directly with the con takes quite a bit of time, and for really big shoots, the work starts as much as a year out from the event. For the last several years, the giant Marvel and DC shoots were arranged by this guy:

10603508_10154623070145226_6653986850162564337_n1©AngryDogStudios

Allen Hansard, the a**hole who has been at the forefront of making these shoots happen (and what a perfect costume, right?). I’ve seen first hand how much work goes into these things, as I’ve been assisting with subgroups and eventually becoming co-director over the last several years. Its stressful, deceptively difficult and affects how much con he actually gets to experience. Between setup, the shoot itself and breakdown, Saturday and Sunday from about 2:30 until 6:00pm are spent outside in Atlanta heat making sure the shoot runs. It’s pretty rough, and often he doesn’t even wear a costume for it nowadays. He’s taken time out of his own costuming to make sure others can have these giant photo opportunities and network with other costumers and just have a fun time.

Well, as of this year, Allen has retired from the big shoots. He’ll still be directing smaller shoots, but this will give him more freedom to costume and focus on other things, like running our forum. He’s passed the megaphone and reins to me, and beginning next year, I’ll be in charge of the giant shoots. What will this mean for my propmaking? Probably not much, I’ll just have less work in the studio as Dragon Con looms, but I wanted to share this other aspect of costuming that I do. I have some big shoes to fill, and I’m not sure I can top what we achieved this year, but I know I’ll do my damnedest.

So, thank you, Allen and The SCF for trusting me with this beast, and I look forward to seeing everyone again next Dragon Con.

Pat Loika©PatLoika

Moving! Commissions! Stuff to come!

Some of you may have noticed that the site has been pretty barren as of late. Over the last few months I completed my final classes for my Masters program and my Husband and I moved to a new city. We are finally mostly settled in, and the studio is back in working order again! I have also completed the bulk of my 2014 commissions, which means that slots will become available again as the year progresses. I am opening one slot for a custom commission for now, and will open slots for previously completed commissions on a case by case basis in the meantime. I will not be taking on any commissions for Megaman armor, Vanille’s staff or Automail for the time being.

Also, if you are looking for some of my jewelry pieces, swing by my Etsy shop! I’ll be adding new pieces over the next month or so as well, so stay tuned!

Right now it’s mad DragonCon prep time, but once September rolls around, look forward to new tutorials, more projects and more crafting topic posts!

Loki Scepter v 2.0 – Step by Step

At long last it’s time to post this bad boy. I decided shortly after the first attempt at this piece that I could create something more accurate and easier to assemble with a bit more prototyping work and better molds. This continues from the process I used to create version 1.0 of the scepter.

04 - m5g3uwkFirstly, some of the issues I had with the first design. The bigges issue in the form was that the angle where the shaft met the head was much too acute and the assembly point there was crappy and not flush. Secondly, the backplate on the head where I hid the battery slot was the wrong shape, has a hard to use mold and, again, needed better assembly posts. The head also had an unnecessary detail which appeared on the spear length, but not the scepter. Finally, I wasn’t happy with the strength of the LED in the gem or the weathering of the gem.


01 - 848oSNgWhere I started. I first ran casts from the 1.0 molds, which were done in a tin cure silicone and, sadly, had already started to deform. You can see here how lines are uneven, there’s obvious ridges where the mold seams no longer match and there’s divots and hills on the surface. I ultimately decided to take the original prototype, assemble it fully with the blades and cast it as one piece. I had originally intended to cast the gold parts with cold cast powder as well as the silver, which was the reason for the multiple molds. However, I didn’t like the finish of the gold as a cold cast and the post-cast assembly of blades to head was weaker than it could have been had I just cast it all as one. So one piece was just the way to go here.


05 - fmDP4IsI also needed a better assembly point for where the shaft fits into the back of the head. I trimmed down the shaft cast I got from the 1.0 mold to match the lines of the back of the head. I then inserted a pvc pipe buck and filled the gaps with bondo.


06 - qDW2n0TThe pipe fits the slot in the head perfectly, and the shaft lines match perfectly flush with the curves of the head. This was the most time consuming part of the whole re-build before the molding honestly.


07 - 809HmAwAnd here you can see the newly assembled head. The reason the extra piece is still here is that I did not want to have two head molds. I’m still finishing up the full spear version, and this way I can use one mold for both lengths, and simply cut off the part for the scepter. After this, both pieces were given a healthy dose of line checking, spot filling and smoothing to prep them for molding.


08 - YQL4mtKThe pre-mold prototypes as they disassemble, along with the old version of the backplate cover. I later decided to re-prototype and mold this, more on that later. The ruler is a standard 18″.


09 - B3cCuwvAnd a bonus look at how the spear length breaks down. It has since then also gotten an assembly buck like the scepter length. This is how you fit a 6+ foot spear into a suitcase.


10 - TmJcKq7Mold time! This time around I decided to make a 2 part box mold. At first I naively made the mold in a gatorboard box, not realizing just how heavy the bugger would be once full of silicone and resin. We live and learn. First I set up the prototype in plastalina clay with an overabundance of registration keys and just the right number of flow channels fortunately. Next box mold I will make my dam walls wider, these can have trouble locking.


11 - gqK2foPAfter I poured silicone in the first side, I flipped it over and carefully removed the clay while leaving the prototype. Then slathered the already set silicone in sealant and poured the second side. Not bad for my first box mold!


12 - HpHSx0fFor the staff, I still went with a glove mold (something I’ll be changing soon) but with better registration keys for the mother mold. This has been alright for a few runs, but in the future I’ll be re-doing this as a box mold as well. It’s a nightmare to get this to set up right, and required 25 very carefully placed sewing pins to seal up. Leaking resin has already killed one mother mold.


13 - 9uofDR9A shot of the box mold box! This was built in pine, and has a cap that is screwed in place each pour, to ensure sealing and support as I pour. The box mold weight 22 pounds when full of resin. You can also see here the mother mold that was destroyed by a leaking pour on the shaft and its replacement.


14 - TLvp5yIDespite problems, the casts of the new shaft are nice and clean.


15 - Vp60ZTyAs are the head casts! The flashing is manageable and the cold cast is very clean. This was a quick 10 second polish to test the cold cast aluminum.


20 - Lqr2aeuBut, much resin had to die for this learning process. I had many leaks in both molds before I got the process down. Only two of these heads and three of the shafts were workable.


19 - ylB7GqmBut the trial and error was worth it. Here is one of these good cast sets next to the prototypes.


18 - MOEFJokTrimming the extraneous part takes very little time as well, and not having to epoxy ever blade into the head saves a load of time and makes for a much more stable prop.


17 - 5HKaeSdThe shaft now sits at a much better angle and makes for a much more stable assembly. With solid resin at the assembly buck, the connection point is solid and doesn’t have to be babied nearly as much as v 1.0.


22 - cvWEDuD

After trimming flashing and smoothing out any imperfections in the casts, the blades were masked off and the rest got several coats of primer and then several gold coats. I also cast up all of the additional hardware that attaches near the gem. These are now ready to be polished and weathered.


23 - tO0BEGe

The old backplate turned out to be the wrong shape and was a pain to cast to boot, so I whipped up a new prototype. I cut out a piece of sintra into the new shape, rounded the edged and gave the leading edge a bit of a lip and molded that as a flat mold. I then ran a resin cast, and once the resin had hardened up to a solid but still pliable state, pulled it out of the mold. I took one of the crappier head casts and filled the battery void with clay as a base for shaping these. The resin was taped down around this with painters tape and allowed to completely finish hardening. The longer lower points of this new backplate create tension that holds the plate onto the head on their own. To keep the plate on in the right place longitudinally, I made a quick post in epoxie sculpt which fits into a hole inside the battery void. To change the batteries, just slide the backplate back about a centimeter and pull it upwards, then slide forward to reveal the battery void. The assembly screw attaching shaft to head is also hidden here.


24 - M207eJm

In v 1.0, I used one 3mm standard LED. This time around I opted for a 5mm superflux 4 chip LED. These are much brighter and diffuse light to a much wider angle. I embedded one of these bad boys directly into the clear resin as I cast the gem.


25 - WgcFvgh

And here’s how much brighter this is in the new, unweathered gems. You also get a glimpse of how I keep track of orders that involve lots of different parts and steps to complete.


26 - GYVWKFVAnd here is the gem after some simple weathering with acrylic paint and several coats of protective polyurethane. It looks like a nebula.


28 - gN1p4gq

Speaking of weathering, here is the difference it makes. I used cheapo acrylic paint in brown and black for this. The blades have a strange, acid etched look in the film, so I used a spray bottle filled with a mix of black paint and rubbing alcohol to achieve that. The gold areas got a typical combination of washes and sponge dabbing in black and brown. The whole piece was then given several coats of polyurethane clear coat.


LokiNew-01 And the final result. I know this prop like it’s my child at this point. I could likely blind-sculpt it in clay. It is the first of my works that will have a place of pride on my wall, and I can’t help but feel good when I look at it.

This familiarity and pride made Captain America: The Winter Soldier even better for me. Do stay for the mid-credits scene.


Loki Scepter Version 2.0 – Complete!

After months of work re-tweaking, I’ve finished the new version of the scepter. I reworked many of the forms and lines and removed some elements that were there in error last time, re-did the assembly method for a better looking, more sturdy assembly with better access to the battery pack and changed the finish for something more durable long-term.
I’m also working very hard on improving my prop photography skills.

I will not be taking any commissions for these at the moment (all commission slots are closed). Once I finish what I currently have on order, I will open commissions again. I’ll make a post as soon as that happens.

LokiPreview

LokiNew-01LokiNew-03

LokiNew-02

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