Saturday, June 15, 2019

June 2019 UFO Sightings in the Workshop

As usual, I'm running behind on bloggage.  As usual, I've been overwhelmed with works in progress and failing to take the time to properly document builds when they're done.  So to hopefully keep your interest while I get around to actually writing something interesting, here's a shotgun blast of photos of UnFinished Objects scattered around the workshop lately.

A while back I acquired a vinyl cutter (finally) and after dragging the box around the shop for a few months, we finally decided to assemble it.  The main problem is that it was just a bit too big to keep it from being in the way wherever it went.  To solve this, we cleared out space under one of the benches:
Bench Clearing
Nobody thought to actually check the assembled dimensions of the new machine though.

In the end, I went ahead and removed the last four feet of work bench, cut it down on the table saw to make it narrower, and reinstalled it a bit higher so the vinyl cutter could fit underneath.  The newly narrow section of the bench makes an ideal shelf for three of the 3D printers and their high-tech, custom-fitted dust covers (which look strikingly similar to cardboard boxes):
13 June Progress 0007

Now I can make all the stickers I could ever need.

Since a bunch of stuff had been wedged under that forgotten corner of the bench over the past few years, it means that much of the shop has become unusually cluttered for a moment.  In the midst of all that are scenes like this:
13 June Progress 0008

And an array of nearly-finished things;
13 June Progress 0005

One highlight is my Sidon Ithano helmet:
13 June Progress 0004

This guy was a minor character who appears briefly in a scene in Star Wars Episode 7.  It's a silly project for me to take on, but for some reason I really want to make the rest of his costume.  The helmet and coveralls combo just isn't cutting it:
Sidon Helmet Fitting 2

On the subject of frivolous builds, the other day I got this helmet kit from a fellow maker:
Grrrrr....

Here it is all painted and weathered and awaiting eye lenses:
13 June Progress 0003

I've also set up a spray booth again, so I've been finalizing the prep work on everything that's been sitting around waiting to get shiny:
Blasters Assembled and Filled

That'll include this lady:
Rigging Test 1

In other news, I'm about ready to mold this beauty:
Morita Gloss Coat

And I've been printing out the pieces of the Widowmaker's rifle from Overwatch:
Widowmaker Rifle Parts Printed

Fully-extended it becomes somewhat huge:
Rifle Test Fit 1
If you need to print your own for some reason, you can download it here: LINK.

Somewhere on the backburner there's still this beast:
Minigun In Need of Barrels
I just need to make the ammo belt carrier and come up with a lightweight, speedy plan to mkae the barrels.

Then there's the ever-present Warhammer 40k thing in progress:
Auspex Parts Printed

I've also got a few other silly things we're tinkering with.  This will make more sense soon:
Wonder Womandalorian Parts in Progress

So will this:
Batmando Belt

In the meantime, we're grinding through the prep work on a whole platoon of Combat Garden Gnomes in progress:
Gnome Prep

Which you can currently order at thorssoli.etsy.com.


So that's a whole bunch of work in progress.  Stay tuned for the eventual blog article about finished things...

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Bay Area Maker Faire, Coming Up Fast

So it looks like I'll once again be putting on a massive display of props and costumes at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo from May 17th to 19th.

If you weren't there last year, or you somehow didn't manage to see my display, here's just some of what you missed:
Booth Crew

Two Big New Things

ED Wide Angle

That was last year.

This year we'll be bringing back many of the old standbys as well as a few new things.  Here's a quick teaser of one of the current works in progress:
Test fitting

More details to follow on this particular quick and dirty project.

On top of that, on Sunday I'll be one of the judges for the The Second Annual Maker Faire Prop Contest.  You can read more about the contest here: LINK

Need some ideas to help you get ready, the best thing you can possibly have on your workbench is a copy of my how-to book, Make: Props and Costume Armor.  Get yours here: LINK.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Building Captain Phasma Part 3: Rigging

If you're just now tuning in, you may not know that ever since her first appearance in a trailer for Star Wars, Episode VII, I've been slowly tinkering with a Captain Phasma costume.  You can read about the first two parts of the build here:

Part 1: the Helmet
Part 2: the Armor

That pretty much covers the making of all of the hard parts.  But now it's time to make all of the pieces that hold it all together and make it wearable like so:


For more information on how it all goes together, read on...


Monday, February 18, 2019

Building Captain Phasma Part 2: the Armor

So a couple or three years ago I made a replica of Captain Phasma's helmet.  Here's how it came out:
Finished Phasma Helm Front Right

Finished Phasma Helm Closeup

Now I'm almost done with the rest of the armor.  At this point I've completed everything but the painting and rigging.  It looks like so:
Phasma Rigging progress

To see how it was made, read on...

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Desktop Statuette for Fundemonium

A while back I made a series of lighted signs to point out the various departments inside a local toy and hobby store called Fundemonium.  It seems as though things have been going well for them and now they're relocating the entire store to a larger facility a little further up the road.

Along the way, the owners asked me to build a smallish statue of their mascot character, the Funbot, that could be given out to folks who stood out while helping with the move.  The end result: I made them five of these little guys:
Finished Funbot 001

Here's one outside the store itself:
Finished Funbot 003


To see how they were made, read on...


Sunday, February 3, 2019

Space Pencils Piss Me Off

A while back I was scrolling through my newsfeed when I'd noticed a friend of mine has shared this image:
Logic, Memes, and Nasa: Logic:
 NASA discovered that ballpoint pens would not work in zero gravity
 To combat the problem, NASA sclentists spent a decade and
 $12 billion to develop a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down,
 underwater.on almost any surface including glass and at temp-
 -eratures ranging from below freezingtto300 degrees Celsius
 CCCP
 The Russians used a pencil.
"LOL," he'd captioned it.

Clearly, we can all agree that rocket scientists are morons and pretty much anybody with more common sense than a turnip would do a better job of running NASA.  


Pencils!  It's so simple!  Stupid scientists and their Ph.D.'s.

But here's the thing: pencil lead is graphite.  Sharpening a pencil in zero gravity (or even writing with one) will release tiny bits of graphite into the atmosphere.  Graphite is both conductive and flammable.  So when tiny bits of it decide to find their way into the relay-based electrical systems or mix with the oxygen-rich atmosphere trapped inside an early spacecraft, you can imagine how it might just maybe cause a few problems. 

Maybe the space pen was why we had relatively few American astronaut casualties while the Russians were blowing up cosmonauts like it was a national pastime.* 

Maybe, just maybe, rocket scientists are smarter than smug internet idiots sharing snide memes.  It's possible that the rest of us should stop trying to be snarky and acknowledge the fact that smarter people are smarter than us.  It turns out that years spent studying a problem make you better equipped to solve it than someone who's just seeing it for the first time.

In short, experts are experts for a reason and not all opinions have equal merit.

But let's take things a step further.

Doing even a tiny bit of research, it turns out there's a few factual errors in this meme.  First, NASA started off using pencils in space too because hey, American space engineers are at least as smart as Russian space engineers.  Then the folks at the Fisher Pen Company saw an opportunity.  The company invested $1million of its own dollars (and much less than a decade) developing a pen that would work in zero gravity.  They also developed a gel-based ink that would work in extreme temperatures and underwater.  Then they sold those pens to NASA.

After exhaustively testing the pen in-house, NASA began using it on all space missions beginning in 1967.  In February 1968, NASA ordered 400 Fisher space pens for the Apollo program. A year later, the Soviets ordered 100 pens and 1,000 ink cartridges for use on the Soyuz missions.  Both NASA and the Soviet space agency received the same 40 percent discount for buying their pens in bulk. They both paid $2.39 per pen instead of $3.98.

Fisher Pen Company then used this little success story to market the hell out of those pens.  You can still buy them to this day.  
After a few minor improvements, a newer model was used in the Space Shuttle missions.  Now they make several different versions in a variety of colors.  Here's a link where you can get yourself the exact same model I carried with me all through my Afghanistan deployment and still carry to this day: LINK  

So this whole episode isn't a story about how rocket scientists are stupid.  Instead, it's a story about why America won the Cold War through industry, capitalism, and innovation.  


But the real lesson?  Get your memes right and stop sharing stupid.

*I realize pencils probably weren't responsible for dead cosmonauts and there were plenty of casualties in the US space program.  This is a common side effect of pushing the limits of your technology to the bleeding edge in pursuit of knowledge and greatness.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

January 2019 UFO Sightings in the Workshop

I've always got a lot of irons in the fire.  This means that it tends to be a long time between project updates if I even get to them at all.  I worry that anybody reading my blog might get the idea that I've disappeared or at least quit building things. 

So to quell that notion, here's a quick roundup of UnFinished Objects currently rolling around in the workshop...

First, there's my 3D printed Samus Aran helmet is just about ready to mold:

Samus Helmet in Gloss Lightish Red

Locus armor has been getting a lot of progress:
A little Snug
All of the printed parts have been printed.  Most of the carved parts have been carved.  I just need to do a ton of prep work and mold everything so I can make it sturdy, lightweight, and wearable.


On another bench, I have the beginnings of a custom team of Mandalorians:
Helmets Trimmed

As part of that project, a few days back I printed and assembled the beginnings of a shrimp fork:
Shrimp Fork

On an unrelated note, I also printed up the helmet for "grenade face," one of the Knights of Ren for no good reason:
Printed TOo Big

The War Machine armor keeps finding its way back to the backburner, but it will be finished this year:
Dust Collectors



There's more stuff in progress, but this is just the top of the current pile.

Friday, January 18, 2019

2018, the Year in Review

Holy Hell, what a ride! 

2018 found me in five different states, attending multiple conventions, driving, flying, and sailing countless miles, meeting new people, and building tons of cool stuff.  

Somewhere along the way I decided that this year I need to actually get out of my little workshop cave and go to some of the conventions where a lot of my work ends up anyway.  Early on my crew and I started making plans to attend at least a handful.  Why not?

Along the way I've been making a concerted effort to get away from the shop more often to be more sociable.  So there's also been a lot more interesting nights out.  Much of which have me finding pics on my phone that I can't explain the morning after.  Case in point:
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

Anyhow, read on for a rough timeline...