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I make toys for kids who don't want to grow up. I'm on the lookout for new projects. If you're interested in commissioning me to build something ridiculous, shoot me an email.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Help Me Choose the Next Pose for Combat Garden Gnomes

I'm finally getting caught up on a couple of other projects, so it's time to start sculpting the next variation of my Combat Garden Gnomes.  Here's the options I'm considering:

To weigh in, look for the poll in the upper left side of this page and cast your vote.  Voting ends in the middle of July.  I should be ready to start sculpting by then.

In the meantime, if you'd like to pick up one of the existing poses, you can see what I have in stock by visiting my Etsy shop at http://etsy.com/shop/thorssoli.

If you've got other suggestions, please add them in the comments section.

Building Agent Washington

By now I've made a lot of Halo 3 Spartan costumes.

Since I've been working on an Agent Maine costume, I figured I might as well go ahead and build Agent Washington to keep him in check.  Fortunately, this is just a matter of pulling more pieces out of the molds and cranking out another suit with a different paintjob.

Here's what the finished costume looked like:
Wash and the Thunderbird
While I've posted quite a bit about building the Halo armor, I've never taken the time to go over the steps involved in taking the whole pile of cast resin parts and turning them into a fully wearable suit.  

If you're interested in seeing the complete assembly process, read on...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Andrei the CPU Slayer

A while back I was contacted by one of my repeat gnome customers with a proposal.  He manages a troubleshooting team at Facebook headquarters and wanted a small desktop statue to commemorate the achievement of one of his subordinates.  It turns out that they were upgrading some aspect of the login system (something that you'd never notice as a user of the site) and kept finding a glitch at odd intervals in the new system.

After weeks of grueling, mind-numbing searching, the problem was finally isolated.  Somewhere in a server farm in Portland, Oregon was one faulty CPU chip that was the source of the problem.  Once it was swapped out, the problem was solved and the upgrades were made and the countless users of Facebook continued unawares.

This is Andrei, the guy that made it possible:

Having identified a few of his key identifying features, the next thing was to decide on a pose.  I cranked out a handful of thumbnail sketches.  This is the one they decided on:
Thumbnail Sketch

For me, the most difficult part of sculpting a human figure is getting the right proportions.  In this case, I cheated a bit by using an artist's mannequin as a base:

After breaking all of the joints and gluing them solidly in the proper pose, I built up a layer of "Magic Sculpt," an epoxy-based sculpting material.  Another brand name for this product is "Apoxie Sculpt."

In any case, here's the rough sculpt after it was built up:

Magic Sculpt is a pretty messy material to work with, but once it cures it becomes rock hard.  At this point, it can be carved, sanded, drilled, machined, and altered in a variety of ways.  After fine-tuning the details of the sculpt, I added some glasses made of small brass rod and a ninja sword that was originally intended for use as a keychain.  Then I gave it a coat of satin black paint:

In between painting the different colored details, I also went ahead and mitered the corners and trimmed up the edges with some nicely stained oak:

Once the paint was dry, all that was left was to install the offending CPU chip (and two more that the real Andrei had discovered while I was sculpting the statue Andrei).

The statue was presented to Andrei shortly after I finished it.  Then, about a week later, I was invited to come down to their headquarters, meet the guy I'd sculpted, and take a tour of their headquarters.  Shawnon joined me and, because it was a nice day, it didn't take much encouraging to get her to drive topless:

Finding the Facebook headquarters proved rather easy:
Facebook Main Entrance

I didn't get a chance to take a lot of pictures inside the actual campus itself.  Mostly because I was busy gawking at the facility.  The main concourse that runs down the center of it is like some Disneyland version of Anytown USA with a variety of restaurants and coffee shops scattered all along it.  The best part, all of the food and refreshments are provided to the employees for free.

The entire campus is completely plastered with artwork on every surface that can support it.  Here I am with Andrei in front of the My Little Pony characters painted all along the length of one wall in his office.

Shawnon got a kick out of them too:

Here's another shot of the two of us in front of one of the other paintings:

The last step before leaving was to graffiti our signatures on the wall with everyone else's:

I signed it on the corner at about knee level.  

Shawnon ended up on top.*

Good times.

*Because she's tall enough to reach.  I don't know what you were thinking.