As many of you may know, we recently took on a project that, for us, was very ambitious. It involved learning a whole bunch of new skills and doing things we have never done before. Expanding our technical and creative skills is one of the best and most challenging parts of this crazy cosplay world we share.
When we started this project we knew it would be a challenge, and it was. However, we were once again reminded just how fantastic, helpful and supportive the cosplay community as a whole, and our group of cosplay friends/colleagues in particular, truly are. So we would like to take a moment to thank some of the many folks who helped us not only create our Zer0 helmet, but learn a whole bunch of neat stuff!
First we have to thank Ben’s Nerdery for his help. Courtney had been sculpting the helmet but it got damaged during our many moves this year. Ben stepped up and offered to help us get a hold of a 3D version, sized to Courtney’s head. We then used this as a base for our project. It still needed to be assembled (6 separate pieces), sanded, bondo’d, sanded, bondo’d, sanded….you get the idea, but it was a great base to work off of. I am proud to say I am no longer a bondo-virgin, lol.
Next we want to thank Bill Doran, from Punished Props. Bill was our sounding board all through this adventure. Whenever we had a question, or an idea on how we might do something, we could shoot Bill a message. He was always happy to do his best to answer, make suggestions, or point us in the right direction (which was often times pointing towards Harrison Krix, lol).
One of the things we needed to do for the helmet project was vacuum form the visor. For this we actually had to build a vacuum form machine first! Thanks to Xrobots.co.UK for his great tutorial.Using his design, plus a few modifications, we now have a working machine! We also want to thank Erin Hannah and the folks at Foam Corps for being a sounding board when we had questions during our build, even though their machine is a MONSTER compared to ours! One of the stumbling blocks we came up against was getting the plastic hot enough to form the helmet, which was quite a large buck to form. Harrison Krix, of Volpin Props, was the real key to us getting a successful visor pull. During a Google Hangout with several other prop makers, Harrison saw we were having a problem getting the plastic hot enough to pull. After talking to him for a few minutes he suggested creating a shield to help trap the heat and warm the plastic from the top as well as the bottom. That was the final little bit we needed to get it to work, and our very first visor pull was a success!
The next part of the project was to actually mold and cast the helmet. Again, something we had never done before! The only thing we had ever cast was Courtney’s head! After much research online, hours spent combing over Smooth-On’s website, we jumped right in with both feet. Harrison’s tutorial on how he molded his Daft Punk helmets was also very educational and was constantly referenced. Molding the helmet during another “Friday Night Freak Out” Google Hangout was the best! With the ongoing advice and tips from Jane Justice and David Carpenter of Evil FX Props, Courtney and I created our very first mold! It was both scary and exhilarating. Tips on slush casting the helmet were also garnered from the above folks, as well as repeated viewing of Volpin’s “My Drunk Workshop-Sloshed Casting” video. We were very lucky to get a workable helmet from our very first attempt. Is it perfect? Hardly! But for a first attempt, and having only 2 days left before leaving for Dragon*Con….it’s perfectly fine!
Throughout all of this, our good friend Lee Camara, from Fev!, was there for us. Almost every Google Hangout would find Lee joining and hanging with us (sometimes for 14 hours, lol), offering advice, making us laugh, getting drunk with us, and bonding with Jay over old time video games.
So to all those folks we mentioned (and any we forgot!), we say THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
Having the helmet ready for Dragon*Con, and getting to share the completed project with all of our friends was amazing! And getting compliments on the helmet from those talented friends…..priceless!