Sunday, July 23, 2017

Boulder Costume

One of the big pieces I'm making is a boulder costume for one of my lovely Halloween actors.  The dinosaur and lab tech was such a hit last year, I decided to try again.  And what makes sense for Indiana Jones?  No, the Kali Ma priest was too scary.  Instead?  The boulder that chases Indiana Jones!  Arguably the first "oh !@#$" moments from the first movie.

So where to begin?  I got a lot of inspiration from Adam Savage's Totoro costume for ideas about framing--just less oval and more spherical.  After a little trial and error (aka, getting materials online, then realizing they definitely would not work) I found some light irrigation tubing down at my local home depot.  I got 100 feet for about $11, so the price was perfect.  I had a leftover construction hat from making gargoyles a few years back (I think they're under $10 at home depot again) and started.  To make the hoops, I did a little math to figure out the circumference with the largest hoop being 5' in diameter (so about 15' around).  To put them together at first I tried just duct tape, but there was always a bend because the tubing is (perfectly for my purposes) meant to be fairly rigid.  So I cut a small piece (under 5 inches) and slit it on the curved edge.  This piece could be curled in on itself a bit to fit back into either side of the tubes, but rigid enough that it reinforced curve of the tubing.  Then lots of duct tape was applied to keep it in place (though it didn't need it that much).

The next part was/is/continues to be the hardest.  I don't have a mechanism like Adam Savage to hold everything in place as I tape the rings to each other.  I tried the spacers, but they somewhat fell apart.  So I've been using one to partially mark the distance between rings with some success.  I may have to make more rings--but I have plenty tubing left, even after making seven hoops of various sizes.  I made a small hoop that would just barely fit over the construction hat that then got taped to it.  I've only got three rings on so far, but it's already taking shape--I might just have to have a second person at some point to holdup the rings while I tape them in the right place.

On the fabric/slipcover end of things, I'm planning on dyeing some white muslin gray and using cheesecloth as a window for the wearer to see out of.  Still pricing cheesecloth, and watching Joann's coupons for a good time to get muslin.

Apparently my mom had a coat rack!  Which I sto...erm...borrowed for boulder costume making purposes.  The hat fits perfectly atop it and makes putting on the lower rings much easier.  I may need to space out the next couple of hoops further--there needs to be a fairly large viewing window for the wearer to see out of and currently it's more like a very slim slit that allows you to kind of not stumble.  *sigh* Stupid practical things like walking and physics are so inconvenient!

Finished the basic frame.  Some adjustments need to be made with the hat--I think it's just way too heavy, but I have plans/sketches for a harness that sits on the shoulders and takes the weight off the head.  But the hat has been useful for actually building the basic frame.  So not a waste or anything.And yes, it turned out a little more oval than a proper spherical boulder...but I always knew that was a possibility.  Sometimes you have to go with what you're able to make at the time.  

Stopped at Joann's and picked up several important elements.  First up--the muslin.  After some (hopefully accurate) math, I figured out that with panels of about 2.5 yards,  I needed a good 12.5 yards to cover the whole thing.  So I ended up with 11 yards of solid muslin, and 1.5 yards of some more see through tulle.  The plan is to make the slip cover, and then dye everything.  Also, I'm planning on sewing it in a kind of drawstring bag kind of style so that towards the bottom, there will be a drawstring that can be pulled tight.  I'm also working on the harness at the moment, but Natalie will be coming over next week and we'll have a proper fitting.  At the moment it's a little...precarious.  More plans and pics to follow.

Have been working on the harness and wanted to show my work a bit.  So I ended up using quite a few parts.  Lots of pvc pipe--I used 1/2 inch, just because that's usually what I have the most of and usually have extra parts hanging around--makes things easier when doing random projects. The measurements will change with the frame of the person being fitted for it, though the joints will be the same.
So I used:
4 Side outlet elbow joints SSS
8 Tee joints SSS
Half a pool noodle--definitely mandatory for comfort.


Yay!  Much progress.  Ditched the hat, as it was putting just waaaay too much weight on the head--and this was without the to be added fabric.  So yeah, necessary to switch to a shoulder harness.  I looked at a couple of different material possibilities, but ultimately decided to go with what was already in my wheelhouse--pvc and pool noodles.  Perhaps not the most ideal shape/materials for the project--but sometimes working with what you know is a factor.  And then my lovely boulder actor, Natalie, came over and we adjusted the harness down to her teeny tiny frame.  I had built it with my much larger frame so that I could prototype if it would even function how I wanted it to--it did--but I knew that it would fall off Natalie's much smaller frame.  So there was a lot of putting it on, taking off an inch, trying it back on again, taking another inch off, etc.  Natalie was very patient through this process, and we finally got the harness to where it was comfortable for her.  Also gave her some front handles to hold the harness in place, which was fairly important.  We then took the costume out onto the driveway for a real test run and had her walk/run/chase imaginary trick-or-treaters, down the driveway.  At the moment, the tubing sways quite a bit, but I think once there's some heavier fabric on there, it'll cut that down.  The bottom of the sphere hits her at around her knees which, while not super ideal, I'd rather have her be comfortable in walking.  So we'll just have to make sure she wears black pants/leggings and shoes so that hopefully her legs will mostly disappear.  Natalie deemed it okay to walk in, which is the most important thing.  We'll have to do another test run once I finish the slipcover and make sure there's plenty of visibility to walk around in without tripping.

I've got much of the slipcover finished.  It consists of 5 panels, one of which needs to have a window for Natalie to see through.  I did a little testing of fabric with the dye to see which would take the dye the easiest.  The answer--none of them.  So now I'm thinking of going straight to the gray tulle and bypassing an attempt to dye it.  The dye washes off anything not cotton, so I might as well start with something close to the color I want anyways.  I also tried cheesecloth with similar results--it took the dye a bit better, but not by much.  So a Joann's trip is in my future in order to finish the slipcover.  On the upside, I did get the other 4 panels sewn together, and while it might need a bit of adjustment, a tuck here and there, I think it's shaping up pretty well.  

I've got the final panel all finished!  Yay!  I also finished the drawstring at the bottom so that the bottom can be properly shaped.  All that's left to do is dye it the right shade, and I've been delaying that a bit until our new water heater is installed.  I sense I'm going to want readily available hot water if my hands accidentally get some dye on them.  So still much testing to do and probably tweaking, but the bulk of it is there.  

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