Level 1-4: Final Save Point — Continue?

6 Aug

Camera - on helmet

Good news everyone; we got our supplies! We were waiting on pins and needles for the 5 mm thick craft foam to arrive so that we could begin work on the porthole. While the prospect of making sudden progress was exciting, we were both dreading the moment when we would cut the Subject Delta’s helmet and either make it or break it, so to speak.

In keeping with our practice of making prototypes before gluing or cutting, we set out to make a prototype of the porthole. For our first attempt, I did a free-handed sketch using grid on construction paper.

porthole hand drawnWhile Daniel was mightily impressed by my free-hand ovals, they weren’t as perfect as we wanted them to be. But they did not go to waste; no! We used them to figure out the rough dimensions that we needed and then plugged into Microsoft Paint. porthole computer

Much more exact, don’t you think? Based on these two templates, we cut our port-hole out of the 5 mm craft foam we had ordered from Hobby Lobby. It was surprisingly easy to cut through with the X-acto knife. However, we found that we needed to cut the entire shape out in one fell swoop rather than starting and stopping in order to adjust the foam; that’s a good way to get frayed edges buddy! I also wouldn’t recommend using scissors, you’ll wind up with lots of scraggly edges with this thicker foam.

Once we had the ovals cut from the foam, we needed to find a way to attach the bars that run across Subject Delta’s porthole. Daniel cut the dowel rods into the sizes we needed with his handy-dandy mini hacksaw and we laid it all out . We even added the rivets so we could begin to imagine it all together; also, we wanted to see if we’d left enough space for them.

porthole 1st try with back

The next hurdle was this; how do we hide the dowel rods? Do we cut them off so that they will sit, nestled nicely inside our foam ovals? No. We sandwich them in between. I’ll let Daniel tell you how we solved this problem with a little creativity and resourcefulness.  — Sara

We practiced with cutting small divots into the 5 mm foam with the X-acto knife, but it wasn’t quite as easy as cutting into the Styrofoam; or as snowy. It was impossible in fact, to get the shape we wanted without tearing it up. So we had the great idea of melting it. What I really wish we had for the job was a wood burning tool, but alas, all we owned was a low-grade hot glue gun. We tried it out, using the heated metal tip. It melted the foam somewhat but not as adequately as I had hope. So I used the only other long, flat, metal device we had. Kids, don’t try this at home. I used the gas stove and a shish kabob skewer to MacGyver myself a melting tool. I turned the stove element on high, held the skewer over the flames until it got hot, but not too hot, and slowly pressed it into the foam until I created the desired divots in both sides of the two porthole pieces. Although the melting foam did not produce a large amount of smoke, it did produce fumes, so make sure you do this in a ventilated area; I just turned on fan over the stove in the kitchen. When I finished I had the perfect slots to insert the dowels into so that we could glue the two pieces together, sandwiching the dowel rods in between. — Daniel

porthole melted eva porthole with dowel

Once we had ironed the kinks out, the moment of truth had arrived. We had to cut the porthole. Tension was high, I kept shaking out my hands and Daniel kept taking these anxious deep breaths and swooshing it all out of his lungs. We spent a long time taping cut outs of our porthole and the lights; we wanted to make sure that we compensated for the shape of the helmet with the placement and scale of our accessories. We finally settled on a placement and Daniel took our papier-mâché baby into his lap with X-acto knife in hand. I sat back. The room was silent and the air was thick with nerves and the taste of fear. I picked up my book to distract myself. Daniel put the tip of the knife to the helmet and his fingers tightened, “You’re not going to watch and support me?” he asked looking up at me. I knew that he was just stalling.

“I don’t want to distract you,” I said. “And I’m so nervous!” He took another deep breath and his eyes focused on the helmet. I raised my book, pretending not to watch. He took a final shallow breath and held it as he applied pressure and the X-acto knife popped through the paper mache. He finally exhaled. It was done. — Sara

helmet cutting

The first cut had been made. There was no turning back now. I began cutting into the helmet following the line we had traced with our template. I cut slowly and methodically, in short sawing strokes so as not to tear or bend anything. Things were going smoothly until I hit the first of the underlying skeletal crossbars. I stopped and threw a quick, concerned glance at Sara who looked up from her book only briefly with a look of ‘you got this, but don’t expect me to help.’ I continued on for what seemed like a full hour and then I was back around to where I started. I made a couple of final saws and then the section ‘popped’ out of the helmet with a soft crack and there was now a big, gaping hole in our hard-earned masterpiece. — Daniel

Did all of our forward planning pay off? Would all of our blood, sweat and tears be paid back in full? Or will Sara have to strangle Daniel with a pliable piece of cardboard from the helmets frame because they have to start all over again?

Tune in next week for the Bioshocking conclusion to: The Cutting of the Subject Delta’s Helmet



5 Responses to “Level 1-4: Final Save Point — Continue?”

  1. thecreativecortex August 7, 2013 at 4:44 AM #

    o.o Cliffhanger… Can’t wait ’til next week! I’m always amazed at how resourceful you two are at solving the problems that come up 🙂

    • thosecrazygilberts August 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM #

      Thanks! I really let Daniel do his own thing sometimes because if he were to tell me his plan up front, I think I would freak out. Nothing like heating metal over the oven and melting potentially toxic materials! Such a boy, haha. — Sara

  2. kageshoujo August 7, 2013 at 11:33 AM #

    5MM craft foam… where do I find that. -_- There aren’t too many craft stores that sell them here so I’ve yet to get my hands on them. Most people here use rubber sheets instead for these things. And thanks for giving me that idea with the Microsoft Paint! Haha I’m so silly, all this time I’ve been drawing out template guidelines but with that I figured they’d be more accurate if I made digital versions of them (and will be useful to have digital versions saved in case you lose the ones you have!)

    • thosecrazygilberts August 7, 2013 at 1:35 PM #

      It took us a while to find since none of the craft foam we found in stores had the thickness indicated, or at least not clearly. I just hopped on line and searched for 5 mm craft foam, or maybe try searching for 5 mm eva foam. It took lot of trial and error for getting those ovals to come out right – we didn’t have a program where we could just type in the dimensions but I’m sure they have it! Honestly, Daniel wasn’t really satisfied with how they looked, the human element in cutting the shapes will always be imperfect but I told him that we’re doing the best we can without a ton of money and equipment. You always have such good advice on your site – I’m so happy that we were able to give you some new ideas! 🙂 — Sara


  1. Level 1-5: Upgrade Accessories | Co-Op Campaign - August 13, 2013

    […] lap. I studied it. Daniel studied it. We looked at each other, wide eyed and silent. I grabbed the port-hole we’d made out of craft foam and dowel rods and I laid it over the hole. What do you think? […]

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