Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pumpkinhead Keyblade Prop Build - Kingdom Hearts I - Part Three

Here it is at last, Part Three!  This will cover the construction process from mold making through project completion.  Part Two left off with the Keyblade components looking something like this.  (Ignore the weights in the background, I am still organizing the workshop!)

The parts were too fragile and too heavy for the finished prop, so copies needed to be cast in resin.  I chose to use Mold Max 30 to make the molds.  A gram scale was required to measure out the correct amounts of Part A and Part B.  I was able to get away without degassing the silicone, since I suffer from an acute lack of a degassing chamber.  What bubbles did form in the silicone did not have an effect on the final castings.  My first step was to build the mold enclosures.  I used ready made enclosures where possible and made the rest out of foamcore with hot glue as caulking.

Some molds were simple one part molds, some were two part molds.  Make sure to apply enough mold release before pouring the second half!!!

Smooth-Cast 320 made for a great quick curing resin that was both lightweight and durable.  I was very happy with the first castings.

There were actually quite a few small pieces in this build.

For the larger pieces I first tried to make a brush on mold with Mold Max Stroke.  I completely messed this process up by not making the silicone layer thick enough.  I ended up having to cut my losses and re-make the molds using more Mold Max 30.  It turned out to be a much better choice for my application, but less cost effective.  Here are the brush on molds with their fiberglass jackets that had to be scrapped. 

They were not a complete loss, I was able to cut up the old silicone and put those chunks into the new molds as space fillers (after all, this silicone not cheap.)

Silicone pie anyone?  Anyway, the new Mold Max 30 molds turned out much much better.

To cast from these it was just a matter of sandwiching the mold halves between two boards and strapping them together.

To support the ward I inserted a threaded metal rod into the mold before adding resin, this made for an easy way to attach the ward to the main blade shaft.

With all of the castings finished I was able to start cleanup and assembly.

Taking a page straight out of a Warhammer guidebook, I pinned many of the pieces in place before adding epoxy.

The handle was wrapped in leather.  It was my first time wrapping a handle in leather, though ironically I have plaited many handles in para-cord when I was making whips.  One would think that a simple wrap would be much easier, but it did pose a few challenges.

After a bit of painting with some enamel the Keyblade was ready for the client!

Thanks for reading!  Keep an eye out for some costume write ups in the next few weeks!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pumpkinhead Keyblade Prop Build - Kingdom Hearts I - Part Two

It has been about two weeks and the work on the Keyblade is nearly done.  All major fabrication is finished, all that is really left is to sand, Bondo, and prep the work pieces for the mold making process.  All of that will be covered in Part Three.  Every project is a learning process for me in some way.  There is always some new technique to learn or an old one to refine.  The biggest lesson I learned is to not use expanding foam the way I did.  I thought I was going to be saving myself from wasting Apoxie Sculpt but I ended up just making a bigger mess for myself to clean up down the road.  Turns out those little tubs of Apoxie Sculpt go quite a bit further than one would think.

My original thought with the expanding foam was to sparingly use it to bulk out those parts that needed to be covered in Apoxie Sculpt.  I knew I would have to grind down the foam quite a bit to get it into a workable shape for the Apoxie Sculpt.  This caused an unforeseen problem that I will explain later.  Needless to say I used the foam on only one side of the bat blade, and quickly stopped using it.

The key I found to applying Apoxie Sculpt was patience and water.  Water allows for easy smoothing of the material, and the better I apply it now, the less work I will have to do later on with the Dremel and sandpaper.

With the bat blade curing it was time to construct the hilt.  It used the same styrene and Apoxie Sculpt technique.

Now to assemble the puzzle with no instructions!

From here I applied Apoxie Sculpt first to the webbing of the cross guard and then added the ribbing.

The Keyblade has some small fittings on both ends of the main shaft.  I constructed these out of styrene as well.

It turns out that calculating the angle at which to bevel cut the side of a pyramid is no trivial matter.  Coincidentally the angle is most certainly not 45 degrees.  These carefully cut pieces had to be scrapped and I had to use a trustier method.

Here is the completed piece.

The last pieces to be constructed were the pumpkin key chain itself and Jack Skellington's face.  Now I am not a sculptor so I had to rely on the scroll saw to clean up the sculpted detail I made when applying the modeling compound.

Here I prepped the pumpkin for the pierce cuts on the scroll saw.  Pilot holes had to be drilled to allow the thin scroll saw blade to be threaded through the work piece.  Having pinned scroll saw blades allowed me to consistently re-tension for each cut and avoid blade breakage.  (As a side note, the pilot holes made the work pieces look rather silly.)

I used a paper template to transfer the eye markings onto the head.  It just took a bit of spare primer and voila, the eyes were transferred.  They were cut out just like the detail on the pumpkin.

After some priming the pieces were looking like they were almost ready for the molds.

I went ahead an primed the bat blade to see what sort of sanding and Bondo work I would need to do on it. 

Here is where you can really see where the expanding foam caused its problems.  I suppose I did not sand it down far enough before applying the Apoxie Sculpt.  Because of that it started to show through once I started to try to sand the Apoxie Sculpt smooth.

This should be fairly easy to fix with some bondo.  Thankfully this sort of pitting was not as bad as it could have been.  Here you can seen the smooth finish that I am going for. Once the piece is smooth enough, it will be ready for a mold.

That's all for Part Two.  Keep your eyes out for Part Three where I will be finishing the project.  Contact me at if you are interested in purchasing a resin kit, a finished Keyblade, or would like to commission a custom prop.  See you in Part Three!