Thursday, May 23, 2019

Playing With Fire

     I am so tired. The end of the school year is very hard. The schedule is messed up because of MCAS, senior activities, early release days and anything and everything that can cause a disruption really. The kids feel like they are done, most of the teachers feel like they are done, but also rushed because there is so much to do at the end of the year. We have 15 days of school left in total. But who's counting?
     So my super crazy busy time of year is coming to an end soon. Next Wednesday is the unified track state finals. Sadly, no one from Ludlow qualified for individual events this year. So we are going just to do the relays. It will be a long ride and a long day for a couple of races. But it's another chance to run, another chance to see our friends from other teams and also another chance to cheer each other on. After Wednesday I go back to regular school hours (so out at 1:55) and I should have more time to work on dolls. Good, Breyerfest is coming. I am not attending as usual, but my dolls will be there!
    Anyway, I am super tired so I decided it was a good day to play with fire. Anna Blackburn ordered a knight, in full armor. I have made armor before, but never full armor. Also, Anna doesn't order boring dolls! At least not often. So while I have done a bit of armor and I know the process, full armor takes some thinking about. Anna sent a couple of photos and gave me the OK for "inspired by" which does make things easier. I found a photo mashup of all of the different piece of armor as they are being put on. So I made a reference collage to help me as I worked.

     For anyone who has been reading my blog for a bit knows, I learned on Youtube that you can make doll-scale armor out of craft foam. I shared a bit more about that when I made Jackie's Link doll. The first thing I needed to do was start cutting out some piece. I have no patterns for armor so I used a doll and cut and trimmed each piece until it fit on the doll. Then I traced it out so I had a duplicate for the other leg/arm. I also marked all of them on the inside with what part they are. Not the proper name of the piece of armor, but the name of the body part they go on. No confusion that way.

     Next it was time to play with fire. The "big secret" of making craft foam into doll armor is fire. You need to heat up the foam. Then you can shape it a bit and when it cools it will (should) hold it's shape. The more you heat it the thinner and harder it will get. At least according to the video. I have found it only gets just so thin and then it doesn't matter how much you heat it, it won't get thinner but you might burn a hole in it. 
   After you heat the foam you need to shape it. If you try this, be careful, it can be super hot! It is not a fun time touching bare skin with molten craft foam. It doesn't often get melty hot, but it sometimes does and it can and will burn you. Anyway, heat the foam and very carefully shape it around the body part you want it to go on. I start by laying the foam on the table and rolling it a bit with my carbide scraper, once it has been worked and cooled for a few seconds it's usually safe to touch. 
     If it's not thinned enough, firm enough, or the edges have not been flattened enough, heat it up again and work it some more. 
      Making armor out of craft foam can take awhile.
     Just keep heating and shaping until you have the pieces the way you want them to be. The patience and time put in is worth it. 
     Once you have your pieces shaped and ready it's time for paint. Obviously this is not every piece I will need to make a full suit of armor. This was all I could mentally handle working on today. 
     The next step is to paint the foam pieces with a dark color paint. This will add a good base for the metallic paint and also acts as a primer on the foam. I get very messy when I paint armor.
    The next step is to start with layers of metallic paint. Technically you can use any color but I like silver. And silver over black is very nice in my opinion. This is two coats in and the pieces of foam are already starting to look like metal. I want to put another coat or two of paint on all the pieces to make them a bit more silver. But I think this is a good start. 

     With what I managed to get done today I have up to the thighs covered, other than the knees. I will need to make some long underwear (sort of) for under the armor because there are parts on a knight where there is no armor. And having plastic skin showing is not a great idea. So I will make some black breeches and a shirt tomorrow and then I can start getting him dressed. I have sort of an idea for the knees but I might need to do a bit of rethinking once I actually get into things. I have never done a doll like this before so there will be some trial and error. But it will certainly be interesting. 


GJ Berg said...

Adam Savage (Mythbusters) on YouTube ("Adam Savage's Tested") did a 11 part series of master craftsman armorer Terry English (by appointment to HRH QEII, etc.) making a suit of armor. (His trick is to use aluminum not heavy metal.) Shots including a lot of the intricate parts. (One of Adam's pre-requiste assignments was to cut and shape all the metal pieces for the gauntlet fingers.)

He made over 100 suits of armor for the Excalibur movie. And has restored pieces for the British crown/royals.

Here's part one:

ShamrockFarmsInc. said...

LOVE this and learning about new ideas/techniques. I used to create “leather” (for papercrafting embellishments) using heated craft foam but used a heat gun and tweezers as opposed to an open flame. Can’t wait to see this armor and will check out the Adam Savage/Mythbusters thing.

timaru star ii said...

I've rarely seen so much detail on model armour-making: and this while you're tired. You seem to have the recover-while-blogging down.