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For science! - Tactical Ninja

Jul. 17th, 2013

09:32 am - For science!

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I've decided that now I there's time, I might as well add a few finishing details to the apostate mage costume I made at high speed the other day. Things like, piping on the train of the dress to match that of the tunic, eyelets for the thong that holds the tunic closed to stop it from gaping when I sit, and a dagger. Because all mages carry a dagger (I think some of them might be invisible, but trust me on this).

Thing is, one cannot generally go about in public carrying a dagger that can actually be used as a weapon. I've had a few people talk to me about making LARP-safe weapons, and I know that a lot of cons won't allow even carved wooden weapons because you can hurt people with them. Luckily, the internet is full of methods for making non-deadly but realistic-looking daggers, swords and the like. I wasn't sure which method would work best for me, so I'm trying two different ones. For science!


The first method is based on LARP guidelines, and involves polyethylene camping foam (a double mat costs $16.99 at the Warehouse), a stick, a very sharp craft knife, and Ados F2. First, cut your foam to shape with scissors:



Cut a narrow channel for the stick (the stick is for support so it isn't all bendy and ridiculous) and coat both bits with contact glue.



Wait 15 minutes. No, actually wait that long. Cheating on this bit can result in delamination, and nobody wants that. Then stick the stick in the channel and carefully align the two sides, then clamp it nice and evenly, and wait 12 hours. You probably don't have to wait this long, but I'm a grownup these days with associated delayed gratification skills (sometimes) and I'd rather wait than have the whole thing fall apart when I take the clamps off.



This process was pretty easy. The hard bit was aligning the two sides along the stick so it sat nicely in the channel, and the glue is a bit stinky. I still have to put the handguard on, which is another glue/clamp process, and then I'll have a blank to carve into shape.

Then there was the expanding foam method. This is based on a tutorial on this site. The thing about expanding foam is that once it's set it retains its shape quite well, and you can carve it into anything and paper mache over the top. You can make really big things and they're lightweight.

So, first make a cardboard base shape:



Then go outside because aerosol (which, incidentally, was $15.99 at Bunnings, so a comparable cost):



Then, spray a bunch of the stuff onto the cardboard shape. Realise that it's a bit sloppy and heavy when half of it falls off and makes a giant sticky mess on everything it touches. Call for help. Scrape up as much as possible, leave the rest to set so you can clean it up later, go back to trying to get this stuff to stick to your stick. Eventually realise that it probably would have been better to do one side at a time, and carefully build the layers up till you end up with something that looks like this:



Wait 12-24 hours. In my case, it'll be 24 because better safe than sorry, eh? Also, it'll take me that long to get the residual stuff off my hands and, well.. everywhere else it went.

So now I'm in a position where I have two dagger blanks ready for carving. The polyethylene foam took a bit more work to get to that point, but it was WAY less messy and will produce way less waste. Also, I have a lot of camping mat left, which will go towards the Giant Sword of Overcompensation, and probably also another project that popped into my head yesterday, in which I shall have to learn moulding techniques. So anyway, so far the camping foam is winning. The expanding foam is very messy and also, if you don't use the whole can the stuff sets inside the nozzle in less than 10 minutes. I had a bunch left over after making the dagger blank, so now I have this thing:



Dr Wheel thinks I should paint it brown and make the world's largest fake dog poo. I was thinking maybe I could carve a thing for the top of a staff out of it. Or perhaps make a golden apple as an apology gift to Dr Wheel for making a mess and stinking the house out. We shall see.

I was toying with the idea of using this stuff for Yorick's horns because it'd make them pretty lightweight, but oh god it's a nightmare to clean up and I'm not sure how I feel about using aerosols and tins that you just chuck out when you're done. It seems very wasteful. I think the deal would be to make sure you have exactly the amount of work to do as you'll need expanding foam, and do a whole lot at once. Or maybe if it came in smaller cans?

Anyway, I'll let you know what conclusion I reach after I've done the carving. Because I know you're all dying to know...


Meanwhile, you know how yesterday I mentioned that the NZ government has just brought in policy to drug test beneficiaries? I should be clear about this - they say they aren't testing all beneficiaries - "it only applies to those with a work expectation attached to their benefit and only for jobs requiring drug tests."

So, um, that means pretty much everybody, given that the government is also supporting an employment environment in which drug testing is becoming increasingly common, and that they just placed work expectations on both domestic purposes benefits and sickness benefits.

Anyway, what I didn't know was that they are also making the beneficiaries pay for the tests themselves. Here's more from the horse's mouth.

So next time you see something about the bullshit that goes on in the US and think to yourself, "At least it's not that bad here", think again. It's worse.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:July 16th, 2013 10:34 pm (UTC)
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I dunno - if you were making dildos I guess it would be useful, but I tend to make one-off unique things and then move on to something else.

Of course, there's probably money in making dildos.

I am totally stealing Cliff's preferred tool.

(which doesn't sound wrong at all)

Also, Wonderflex. I am in love and want to have its babies.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 16th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I understand. I could also make 'basic blade shape X' from wood and then make 10 stabby things, and carve each of them to a unique shape. Which would be far more useful to me than making a model, then a mould, then casting something, just to make one unique thing that I could have made from camping foam in half the time with much less mess, you know?

So if I decided I wanted to focus on swords or daggers for a while, it might be worthwhile making moulds and keeping them. If I'm only making a one-off, it's probably not all that efficient compared with just making the bloody thing.

Edited at 2013-07-16 11:08 pm (UTC)
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From:t_c_da
Date:July 16th, 2013 10:51 pm (UTC)
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I needed some of that expanding foam stuff at the weekend (to hopefully prevent mice entering our kitchen through the hole around the sink drain) and went to our local Mitre 10 to find that they had a range of can sizes ranging in price from $12.99 up, so I bought the smallest one they had on the basis that I had no other use for it at the time and was thus perforce required to turf the remainder.

Also acetone (aka nail polish remover) cleans out the nozzle quite effectively, even though it destroys the atmosphere at the same time...
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From:tatjna
Date:July 16th, 2013 11:07 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. One of the things that's coming down heavily in favour of the camping foam method is that the cleanup doesn't involve nasty chemicals like acetone and turps.
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From:bekitty
Date:July 16th, 2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
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I vote that you paint the big pile 'o goop pink and grey, and then draw veins on it so it looks like a brain. Then put LEDs all over it. You could call it "This is your brain on the really GOOD drugs!"
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From:grist
Date:July 17th, 2013 12:45 am (UTC)
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If tatjna doesn't do this, I will. :)
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From:kehleyr
Date:July 16th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC)
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Dr Wheel thinks I should paint it brown and make the world's largest fake dog poo. LOL
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From:tatjna
Date:July 17th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC)
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We could totally leave it places and film the reactions!
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From:ms_hecubus
Date:July 17th, 2013 04:21 am (UTC)
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Your costume kicks a lot of ass!
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From:tatjna
Date:July 17th, 2013 09:19 am (UTC)
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Hee, thanks! It was fun to make.
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From:spotsofcolour
Date:July 17th, 2013 09:34 am (UTC)
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Your science is fun science. That aerosol technique looks hella hard work though - I look forward to seeing the finished results!
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