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Level 4-5: Upgrade and Refine Weapon

24 Jun

Now that everything had been painted, we could move toward our finishing steps for Eleanor Lamb’s syringe. This particular piece had already gone through a revision stage where we agonized over the panel, built the panel, agonized some more and then built a whole new panel. Little did we know that there was one more hurdle to jump in building this gnarly prop. More on that later.

Eleanor Lamb with Helmet Concept Art


Before we could jump the unsuspected hurdle, we got to play with some resin! Check out the front view on the reference photo and you’ll notice the two gauges along the top of the syringe. At first, we thought we’d just have to purchase something that looked similar. It never occurred to us that we could actually build gauges until Daniel found this amazing tutorial on EPBOT, a blog all about fun, crafty, nerdy joy! She came up with a quick, easy and cheep way to make steam punk inspired gauges. We’ll show you our work as we followed her step-by-step instructions but you can find the tutorial for yourself here:

DIY Steampunk Gauges.

We started off with sliding closet door handles which you can buy at your local hardware store. The color we picked didn’t really matter as we planned to paint them before filling them with resin, which we did in our makeshift painting room, a.k.a. the kitchen.

sliding door handles pre-paint Gauge Backs Painted


Once the paint had dried, we could really have some fun. After all the months of papier-mâché and foam work it was very exciting to work with a different medium! Jen, the wonderful blogger who provided the process we used, put the gauge faces she used for her project up on her blog for others to print and use. So we did just that! We put the gauge faces into the sliding door handles and got our work space ready to go. Next came the epoxy resin.

Steam Punk Gauges Steam Punk Gauges Epoxy Resin Supplies

Easy Cast Clear Casting EpoxyWe purchased a basic kit from Michaels and followed the simple instructions that came with the kit without a hitch.  A word of advice, make sure that you have a disposable cup and stirring stick before you start. There’s nothing like getting all excited to play with a new process only to discover that you don’t have the containers and tools that you need. Using the two plastic cups we mixed together the epoxy and then poured it into the sliding door handles. There were bubbles, naturally. Using my hairdryer set on a low cool setting, I swept it across the surface of the gauges which worked out the bubbles. I made sure to take my time and sure enough, we got really clear gauges!

Steam Punk Gauges with Bubbles Steam Punk Gauges Gauges Resin Drying


We let it cure for 72 hours and I was amazed at how hard they were! I love learning new crafty things! Again, the instructions that come with the kit were very simple and easy to follow but just in case you prefer a video here is a tutorial for you. How to Use Easy Cast

Gauges for Eleanor Lamb's SyringeNow for the hurdle, how to mount flat gauges on the curved surface of our PVC syringe. At first, we thought we could just mount it in some 2 mm craft foam and then wrap the foam around the pipe. The foam would account for the gaps and once we covered the sides it would look like there was a raised portion on the syringe were the gauges were mounted. This did not work out as planned. It was time for us to get innovative.



We batted around some ideas and finally decided that we would need to carve a hole into the body of the syringe for the gauge to sit in. Since we had a freshly painted, beautiful syringe we were reluctant to do this without testing. So that’s what we did. We took a spare piece of the PVC and drilled into it with the proper sized auger bit and, as you can see from the image below, the gauge fits into place quite nicely.

Syringe washers cutArmed with the confidence that comes from testing, we started work on the actual syringe. We got everything set up and Daniel was ready to cut in to our beautiful syringe when it hit him. The thinner PVC pipe we used for the needle of the syringe extends through the entire body of the syringe for stability. If we cut into the body of the syringe, we would risk damaging it a ruining the whole piece. Plus, the PVC pipe would prevent the gauge from sitting fully down into the space. This meant that we were back at square one.

We would have to figure out a way to mount the gauge on top of the surface of the syringe. First, we removed the panel and added some spacers to the body of the syringe. Daniel used a hand saw to cut them in half so that the panel would be raised and we could run leather strips around the syringe. In the whole trial and error process, we also decided that the leather detailing was more accurate than the foam. Daniel then cut some brackets out of 5 mm craft foam to help “square up” the round surface. The brackets also served to close the gaps on either side of the gauge and give the effect of a raised panel that housed the gauges. We used two strips of hand detailed leather straps and put the gauges into them. Then we put it all together.

Eleanor Lamb Syringe Bioshock Cosplay Eleanor Lamb Syringe Bioshock Cosplay


All that was left to do was put the panel back on, take care of any touch-ups to the paint job, weather it using the technique out lined in our Weathered Metal Effect Tutorial and add the ADAM tube which we purchased from and then filled with red body wash, pomegranate scented for anyone who’s curious. And with that hurdle behind us, we had finally completed Eleanor Lamb’s syringe!

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Bioshock Cosplay


Between the posts for the harpoon and the posts about the syringe, you might have noticed that we haven’t mentioned the gloves yet. Well here’s your bonus tidbit! We found a pair of gardening gloves that were a light-colored leather and then dyed them. We used Rit dark brown dye. First, I soaked the gloves in water until they were saturated. Next, I mixed up the dye and put the gloves in. I stirred them several times to ensure that the dye was taking evenly. Since the original color of the gloves was so light it took about 45 minutes to get them the shade that I wanted.

Dying Gloves Dyed Gloves

Once they dried, Daniel whipped up the metal plates for the top of the gloves. He cut the shape and the “rivets” out of 2 mm craft foam, sealed it with Elmer’s glue and then hit with some gold spray paint. Using Shoe Goo, he glued it to the glove and let it cure for 24 hours.

Cosplay Plated Gloves Cosplay Painted Gloves

Then we weathered the plates and gloves and now we’ve completed all of Eleanor Lamb’s “arm gear.” If you haven’t checked out the posts about the harpoon, which includes the arm guards, you can find them here! Thank you for following along! If you’re interested in more immediate doses of Those Crazy Gilberts, hit up or Facebook page: Co-Op Campaign Cosplay! — TCG






Level 3:5 – Recon and Advance

23 Jun

Once we had decided to enter our Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb into the Crown Championship of Cosplay at C2E2, we began looking at certain aspects of our pieces with a more critical eye. Just as Sara looked at her syringe panel and decided it was lacking, I too looked at my drill and decided that the turbine section was in need of improvement.

Subject Delta Cosplay Drill Subject Delta Cosplay Drill Arm Support











This simply would not do!

So, as hard as it was — I dismantled  it and went back to the drawing board and hardware store. As disappointed as I was to be starting over, I knew I could do better and building the first turbine section actually did a lot for me as far as figuring out how to make each section fit together. I would stay with the same basic “cylinder” design in order to ensure that it would fit back into place with the rest of the drill.

I started off with a sheet of light gauge, galvanized steel. I used a pair of metal cutters and cut out an identical strip of metal to match the previous pre-fabricated piece I had used. A tip? Don’t forget to wear gloves and goggles. I got a couple of minor cuts and had a brief scare when the sheet flipped up and hit my cheek. It was a flat slap on my cheek so there were no cuts but Sara just about died watching it happen.

IMG_0693 IMG_0697

This would serve as the base of the turbine section.

Next, I cut out a strip of 2 mm foam to serve as the base of the bladed section, the outer shell of the turbine. I then cut out slanted, recessed parallelograms all along the strip with alternating raised sections.


I then hot glued the foam piece to the metal cylinder and affixed the raised sections with short strips of the weather sealer. This way I could build the bladed sections of the turbine in the same way I did for the main blade of the drill.

IMG_0698 IMG_0699

Already looking much more accurate and awesome then the previous attempt!

I then hot glued small, foam parallelograms to each side of each of the weather sealer sections and then hot glued them together along the edges to form slanted, foam wedges. Once complete, I then attached the new turbine section to a newly crafted wooden hand section.

Subject Delta Drill Turbine Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Turbine Unit Cosplay

Now that’s what I’m talking about!!!

To finish off the turbine section, I drilled a series of three holes through each section of the recessed panels.

Subject Delta's Drill ReferenceWith the new and improved turbine section complete, I attached it the body of the drill and moved on to some detail work. I searched high and low for a good way to make the beveled gears that are attached in clusters around the outer edge of the drill near the turbine section, but never quite found what I wanted. I did however, find some interesting toy gears at a local robotics store.  They gave me a few to use as they no longer sold the kits they came with, but not enough to complete three clusters like I wanted. Not to be discouraged, I used the toy gears as templates and cut some additional foam gears out of 5 mm craft foam. I cut them out and glued them together in layers of two and four so that I could have some levels with the gears. Now, if we had a Dremel (that’ll be one of our next purchases) I could have beveled these pieces myself, but I was really happy with how they turned out.

IMG_0711 IMG_0714

Now it was time to breathe life into our drill with some  paint! So, I set up my paint room in the basement laundry and got to work!

First, I sealed all the foam pieces with Elmer’s glue. Then I sprayed on at least half a dozen layers of Shellac onto the drill. This step was critical to ensure that all the different types of materials would appear to be the same once coated in paint. To make the drill more visually appealing, I decided to go with a two-tone color scheme. I hit the body of the drill, the gears, the stabilizer bars and the bicep coupler with some of the Dark Steel then used some of the Antique Brass for the fore arm coupler and gear spacer at the base of the drill. I then finished it off by hand painting the hydraulics with black acrylic paint and steel for the fixers.

Subject Delta's Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

In order to keep the bicep coupler in place, I made a leather band to wrap around the coupler with a costume velcro strap. I detailed the leather band and strap with stitching and hot glued it into place.


IMG_0760 IMG_0759

I then weathered it. The first step in this process entailed using the process described in our Weathered Metal Effect tutorial and black acrylic paint. After that was done, it was time for the fun part; the blood! I bounced back and forth between a realistic blood and a stylized blood but in the end I decided that stylized blood would be more fun. I used the same Venetian Red acrylic paint that Sara used on Eleanor Lamb’s suit. Instead of painting it on using brush strokes, I globbed it on in patches to mimic splatter and pooling patterns. Also, let’s face it, this is a drill, it’s going to have gummy messes on it.

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock CosplaySubject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Here’s a series of shots to show you the details from various angles.

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay Subject Delta Drill Bioshock Cosplay

Of all the things we built, this was the most satisfying. The helmets were amazing and gratifying but there was something about this hefty prop dirtied up and bloodied that made me actually feel like Subject Delta. Thank you so much for sticking with us as we wrap up our documentation on this cosplay. Hopefully you had a good time or were able to glean some steps from our process! — TCG

Level 4-3: Assemble Ranged Weapon

18 Feb

Hola fellow Cosplayers! Daniel here! With only two short months or a little over 8 measly weeks from C2E2, the stress has definitely kicked up ten fold with the announcement of The Crown Championships of Cosplay!

What-the-what!? A major cosplay contest at the event where we plan to unveil our first serious cosplay venture!? With Yaya Han as a judge!? Yaya Han!?!?!?

 Bring it on!!!

With Eleanor Lamb’s syringe built, it was time to take a crack at her secondary weapon – the harpoon. There are actually very few reference photos for the design and look of the harpoon and game play references weren’t much help either. So we had to piece together our best interpretation of it based on the couple of sources we had and other peoples’ takes. You can see a little bit of the harpoon on the left hand in the reference picture.

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon MatterialsWe again started by cutting a large PVC tube in half to serve as the base for the harpoon mechanism. Sara sanded down and rounded the edges to make for a more comfortable fit. We then attached a 1 ½ ft. long section of 1” PCV pipe to the top of the base to serve as the ‘gun barrel’ for the harpoon itself.

Body of Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon

We fixed a decorative PCV cap on the front of the barrel and decorative PVC connector (that looks like a loading port) to the back-end of the barrel. We then drilled a hole in the front cap to feed the harpoon through.

All in all, the harpoon was starting to shape up nicely, but I wasn’t convinced that we had it looking like it was ‘functional’ as the syringe. What we needed was a ‘compression-chamber-looking-device’ that would give the appearance that the harpoon had propellant capabilities.

Sara dashed my first idea to pieces, which was to have the harpoon barrel feed into a shorter, squatter section of PVC tubing positioned at the back of the barrel to look like a  mini-propane tank. Her concern was that it would look too bulky and would be a hassle to tote around all day. She was quite right.

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon TriggerI decided that the best solution was not one large chamber positioned at the back, but two, smaller chambers arranged on either side.  I took some of our extra 1/2” wooden dowel rod  and cut two identical ‘tubes’ with a 45 degree angle cut at one end.  I then fixed a tube to each side of the barrel and viola! But how does this thing ‘fire?’ We decided to construct a button mechanism to rear portion of the barrel.

We started by gluing one of our smaller Plastic Insulated Bushings to the top of the barrel. However, the circumference of the bushing was slightly wider than the PVC barrel and hung out to the sides. To correct this I constructed a foam housing to straddle the barrel and wrap around the excess bushing.

Button for Harpoon TriggerWe then used the top cap from an old floor lamp as the actual button itself. It resulted in a rather impressive looking button element!

For an added bit of flair we also added a ‘sight’ to the front end of the barrel to even out the design. Luckily our package of flex tubing came with a nifty little plastic connector that did just the trick!

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon Body

Lastly was the harpoon itself! I started by cutting a 2 ½ ft. section of  ¼” dowel rod. I then sanded down the tip to a rounded point.  Now the hard part – the harpoon blades or barbs as they are sometimes called. Which… in hindsight weren’t so hard after all. See what I did with that ellipses there? I’m so tricky! I started by cutting three ¼” slender parallelograms from 2mm foam. I then notched out three slots in the harpoons shaft using our X-acto knife and hot glued them into place.

Foam Blade Shape

And there you have it – a pretty darn good harpoon if I do say so myself!

After a bit of painting well fix it up with some leather arm straps and we’ll be set!

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon

Here’s an action shot complete with Eleanor Lamb’s helmet, syringe and harpoon to tide you over while we get back to work as there is still so little to do and so much time. Wait… strike that, reverse it. — TCG

Eleanor Lamb Helmet and Weapons

Level 4-2: Tool One Completion

11 Feb

Some people embrace chaos, shaping something artful from the midst of scraps, saw dust and plastic shavings. Other people need organization, a step-by-step plan or a list so that they can track their progress. Isn’t it surprising that it’s taken eight months of work for us to make a list? And, wouldn’t you know it, we’re actually better off that we thought! It turns out that we’re running out of things to do before painting, which feels pretty amazing! So, let’s pick up where we left off and hit the ground running.

We’d just about done as much work on Eleanor Lamb‘s syringe as we could before painting but we were still missing the panel that runs along the side. This is an Eleanor Lamb action figure and it’s one of the best views that we can get of the side of her syringe. Eleanor Lamb Syringe Reference

Just as Daniel spent hours obsessing over the details of Subject Delta’s drill, I spent hours obsessing over this single piece of the syringe. It would be easy to just slap a thin piece of cardboard on there, or maybe a piece of foam, but I hated how flimsy it looked. As you can see, it’s a very prominent piece of the syringe so it had to look just right. To start, I made a sketch using the measured dimensions from the syringe that we’d built.

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Sketch

We found a couple of outdoor faucet handles that we planned to use, those are the circles on my little sketch. I also planned to use some rubber weather seal to suggest a tube running beneath the metal sheets which you can see as the shaded lines. I liked the look of this, so I proceeded to cut the shape out in cardboard first and then in foam. I wanted to cover the cardboard in the foam to give the structure more substance.

Syringe Panel Shapes Syringe Panel Glued

I then added a thin foam lining to the plate. I wanted it to look like two flat sheets of metal had been pressed and sealed together. But it still looked and felt too flimsy to me. I spent a good long time staring at it, but no ideas came to me. I thought, maybe if I can determine what it’s function is, I’ll find a solution to my “builder’s block.” Regardless of what it’s actual intended use, we determined that our panel, on our syringe, was housing and protection for the series of tubes that extend  and retracted the syringe needle. Now I knew for sure that what I had built was too thin; that there was no way it could house what I imagined but I went ahead and laid out the handles and tubing before I put everything together.

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe LayoutThose two black, grate-like things are from the boots that Daniel bought for Subject Delta. He was working on his boots at the same time I was working on this darn panel and thought these would make the panel a bit more visual interest. The imaginary tubes would need some sort of ventilation with all the extending and retracting going on; so I added  the grates to my little lay out. But even with all the cool looking details, I still hated it. It was too thin; too flimsy. It looked like an after thought or a sloppy detail that was tacked on because it was in the original character design and I was struggling to justify it. There it was; yellow, ugly and mocking me while Daniel reminded me for the tenth time that I needed to finish this and that there was so much more to do.

I tried to cut a back piece out of foam that I could wrap over the cardboard. This would give me a rounded edge that might satisfy my image of pressed and sealed metal. This didn’t work because the shape was too wacky, also the width of the cardboard was too thin for me to manipulate the foam in the way I wanted.

Next, I tried to sandwich the cardboard between two sheets of foam and then glue the foam together. Then, I thought, I could cut out the desired shape from the glued together foam and curve the edges with the metal tip of the hot glue gun. Did it work? No.

Again, Daniel asked how much longer I was going to stare at the panel and I didn’t have an answer for him. It was taunting me, begging me to just cut my losses, grit my teeth and go with the sub-par panel. Like the stubborn, Crazy Gilbert that I am, I kept staring at it and finally I landed on a solution.

I used two sheets 5 mm craft foam. For the top sheet, I cut out a little hole which I lined in 2 mm craft foam. This is where the little metal grate-like pieces would go. I glued the two sheets together using Elmer’s glue and then went to work on the trim.

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Plate CutoutI nixed my idea of having a raised trim and instead opted for some rubber weather seal along the outside edge. Since my panel itself was thicker, I didn’t feel the need to imply that two sheets had been pressed and sealed together.

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Panel with Edge

I already felt better about the state of this panel and we hadn’t even added the bells and whistles yet! Next I added the rubber weather seal. Since the panel was thicker, the seal didn’t look too out-of-place. I wanted it to look like the tubes ran down into the handles so I cut the edges of the seal at an angle that I could then hot glue into the surface.

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Panel with TubeThen, Daniel drilled the handles through the foam into the body of the syringe which gave us our finished syringe!

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Assembled Even though it’s not entirely accurate to say that it’s finished, we’ve done as much as we can do until we Shellac and paint. After painting we’ll be adding a strap to the back side to help anchor the beast to my arm. So there are more details to come as soon as this Polar Vortex decides to move on along!

Until next time; here’s an action shot to tide you over! — TCG

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Pre-Painting

Level 4-1: Craft New Tools

23 Jan

Remember all those cosplay blogs where seasoned cosplayers would give tips and tricks and advice? Do you also remember how, in every advice filled count down of the most important things, there’s always the strong suggestion that you not wait until the last-minute. According to these gurus of costuming, if you wait until the last-minute the stress you experience will surely out weigh the joy of the process. Keeping this advice in mind, you plan on taking on your newest cosplay endeavor with plenty of time; say perhaps 10 months? Certainly 10 months is enough to leave one with enough breathing room to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his months of labor right?


It’s true. We’re down to a measly three months before it’s show time and this, beloved readers, is why our posts have become less regular. The evenings at the Crazy Gilbert household have become flurries of building mixed with sleeping and the occasional playing of video games because, let’s face it, Last of Us is just worth a couple of hours a week and you all know it. For the past two weeks, we’ve had a decision to make each evening, take time to scrawl out a post or get in as much work as possible. Even as we speak there’s stitching that needs to be done so this will be a quick post with lots o’ pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Since finishing Subject Delta’s drill, we decided to move our focus over to Eleanor Lamb and her arm toting weaponry. Our first focus: the syringe. Check out the reference picture.

Eleanor Lamb with Helmet Concept Art

Pretty wicked huh?

We started with some PVC  pipe and a dowel rod. Since we’ve been doing more building on week nights, we have to be more conscientious of our neighbors. We’re Crazy Gilberts not Rude Gilberts. So we needed something to muffle the sound of our hand saw. This was Daniel’s solution. Note; those are pillows that I brought to the marriage.

Daniel destroying Pillow

This is Daniel sawing a PVC pipe in half for the base of our syringe. Once it was sawed in half, I took some sand paper to it and rounded the edges so it wouldn’t dig into my arm or wrist. The hardest part of this step in the process was not having the proper tools. A jigsaw would have saved time, spared Daniel’s arm and salvaged my throw pillows!

Next, we took some PVC socket caps along with some more pipe and started on the body of the syringe. We drilled holes into the center of a large and a small socket cape and started piecing our syringe together.

PVC Pieces of Eleanor Lamb Syringe

The nice thing about PVC is that all the tubes have corresponding caps so most sizes will have a cap that will fit! Next came the needle. We took a dowel rod and Daniel sawed the end off at an angle. He then took his drill and a teeny, tiny drill bit and drilled a bevel into the dowel rod. Bevel is a fancy word for hole. We then rounded the edge with sand paper so no one freaks out about a sharpened prop weapon at C2E2.

Needle for Eleanor Lamb's SyringeWith the three pieces in hand, we needed to glue them together. Since we were working with PVC, we took advantage of an adhesive made specifically for PVC; Oatey PVC Cement. We decided to go with a two pack of primer and cement.

Apoxy glue

Glue PVC Together Glue PCV Step One

This stuff had a serious odor and we finally got some use out of the masks we bought for Shellacking. We also opened the windows and turned the fans on and it was still a very heavy scent. Since the weather nor the apartment complex we live in offered any better ventilation options, we made sure to work quickly and seal up the bottles promptly.

Look at what we have here!

Body of Eleanor Lamb's Syringe

That hole you see in the side of the main tube is for this nifty little doo-dad that caught Daniel’s eye at Home Depot. A 90 degree conductor of the non-metallic variety! And wouldn’t you know it, my clear plastic tube fit into it perfectly. And, when screwed into the side of the main tube, it makes a really amazing looking ADAM tube.

Eleanor Lamb Syringe without Plate

For the handle, we used a plain Jane Handy Hook which Daniel hammered flat and then screwed into the base of the main PVC tube.

And since we’re in the habit of giving you a mildly awesome picture at the end of each post, it’s only right to let you know that we refer to these as “action shots.” So here’s a nearly finished Action Shot of Eleanor Lamb’s syringe!!

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe progress

Next post we’ll finish up the syringe and get started on the harpoon. We’ve made a working list and we’re working our way down it but, man oh man, is it going to be a tight finish. Wish us luck! — TCG

Level 3-4: Stabilize Weapon

7 Jan

Subject Delta Drill Reference

Greetings Co-Op Campaign fans! Hasn’t this been a crazy busy holiday season? I know we’ve felt more than a little hectic over at the Crazy Gilbert abode but we have an update to share with you and three months to go until C2E2! When you last checked in, we’d made some pretty amazing headway on Subject Delta’s drill and now we’re going to finish that up. Let’s check our work against our reference photo.

Subject Delta's Drill Reference  Subject Delta Drill with Base

We’ve got the blades on the cone of the drill and we’ve recreated that metallic, fan-like section around the wrist and now we need to create some cuffs, bars and hydraulics. So we gathered our materials from our local Home Depot and started an evening of work.

For our version of Subject Delta’s drill, we imagined that the entire silver fan section would rotate when the drill was activated so this drill would need something to connect to the arm that would help keep the weapon stable. (For the record, our drill will not be functional but it’s going to look really darn cool!) For these cuffs we purchased a thin plastic coupler and hub-fit adapter from Home Depot’s plumbing department. These were thin enough to cut through and flexible enough to allow Daniel to slide his arm through it when wearing his bulky jumpsuit. For the first cuff, we wanted to attach it with some constructed hydraulics.

On the reference photo, you can see the hydraulics along the top of the drill; a set of two tubes starting from the metal fan and extending to the first cuff.

Constructed Hydraulic for Drill We cut the lengths of the hydraulics from a dowel rod and then used some of the 2 mm craft foam to case the ends. I cut a single strip of foam, set the dowel rods in place and then hot glued the foam into a ring. We then used screws and cap nuts to attach the hydraulics to the cuff. We used some of the flex tubing left over from Eleanor Lamb’s helmet to cover the dowel rod. You can see it put together here. Next came the tricky step; attaching the hydraulics to the metal section on the drill. Using Daniel’s actual, functioning drill, we ran some holes through the metal and plastic running along the inside and then, with some more screws and cap nuts we attached the dowels to the metal. Because we were drilling through metal, we wore eye protection and took special care to collect any shredded metal shards from our drilling since we’re doing all of our work in our living space. Repeat on the other side and we’ve got one good-looking little number!

Subject Delta's Drill with HydraulicsNext, we needed to make some bars that would link the first cuff to the elbow and then to the upper arm cuff.

Subject Delta Drill ReferenceHere you can see the full length of the drill and bars going up to Subject Delta’s shoulder. For our purposes, we have the bars stopping at a cuff at Daniel’s upper arm. We started with another plastic coupler, then we measured the distance from the coupler to Daniel’s elbow and then from the elbow to the first coupler that was already attached to the drill. This gave us the measurements for the metal bars.

To make the metal bars we decided to use plastic hanger strap. We sandwiched some cardboard between two layers of strap to give it some rigidity and then we drilled through the preexisting holes to mask the cardboard.

Metals Bars for Drill

With a few washers and a screw and cap nut, we attached our first bar to the upper arm coupler. We chose to use a larger washer for the bottom and then a smaller for the top, it’s a little bit more interesting to look at that way, don’t you think?

Top Hinge Subject Delta DrillNext, we created a hinge at the elbow, connecting two bars with washers, a screw and a cap nut. Again, we used a large washer beneath a small washer, this time for consistency.

Drill Elbow Joint

Because of the size of the cuff around the forearm, we had to do the small washer only, but we have a sneaking suspicion that the whole mama-jama is going to distract from this minor inconsistency. What do you think?

Subject Delta's Drill Side View

And here’s the action shot with helmet lights and suit!

Subject Delta Cosplay Pre-PaintI’d say that it’s coming together nicely! Since we aren’t able to make a function drill, and by functioning I mean spinning, we definitely want Daniel to have freedom in his motion. As of now, there’s a small hitch in this. The screws we used to connect the elbow joints are a touch too small. And, because they are too small, the bars won’t straighten out after they’ve been bent.

Drill Wacky Elbow Joint Drill Wacky Joint Result

A quick trip to the hardware store will remedy this problem. Now Subject Delta’s drill joins the ranks of Subject Delta’s helmet and Eleanor Lamb’s helmet as it waits for painting. As for the weather, well there’s about 2 feet of snow outside so we won’t be Shellacking or spray painting any time soon. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a short winter this year! — TCG

Level 3-3: Fit Weapon

17 Dec

Subject Delta's Drill Reference

Greetings readers and fear not, we’ve been working like busy little bees on Subject Delta‘s drill. With the tedious task of  papier-mâché behind us, we’ve started working with some fresh, new materials and we’ve made some excellent headway! For a lovely change in pace, Daniel’s going to start us off as he describes working with plywood to create a handle for the drill.

Drill Handle TracedNow that we had the main body of the drill constructed, the question was, “How do we make it easy to hold and carry while giving the rest of the drill a sturdy and supportive base?” At first, I thought about using a single dowel rod but it didn’t give us much to attach the rest of the drill to. Then it dawned on me that a plywood base with holes cut out of it to form a handle bar would be perfect. It’s light weight and would give us plenty of surface area to anchor the drill to. Thankfully, Home Depot carries smaller, individual sections of plywood that are perfect for small projects and simple home repairs. We had hoped that they could cut the circle out for us at the store, since we didn’t have anything more than a simple hand saw at home. Unfortunately, they couldn’t and, for a couple that relies on public transportation, renting the tools were completely out of the question so we decided to tough it out.

Makeshift Saw HorseTracing the Drill BaseCutting shapes out of wood can be difficult without the proper tools and a steady work surface. Our end table wound up as the steady work surface in this instance. Sara wasn’t hovering and nervous at all… Using the base of the drill we traced a circle onto the plywood, we laid a towel down and I got to it. Rather than killing myself by trying to cut the shapes free-handed I decided to use the drill to cut some starter holes. I then drilled a continuous series of holes along the lines I wanted to cut; this way my hand saw would have less wood to cut through.

Drilling guide for Base Drill Holes Guide Hand Saw for Drill Base

30 minutes and a blister on my finger later and I had the basic shape cut out. Though the basic shape was there, it was rough around the edges and just a smidgen too large to fit the opening of the cone. Lucky for me, and my blister, my drill bit set came with a couple of handy-dandy sandpaper rolls attachments which I used to smooth out the edges and grind down the excess around the outside edge. Here’s the end result! — Daniel

Finished Drill Base

You might think that the next step would be to attach this lovely new base to the cone, but you would be wrong. Don’t feel bad though, I was wrong in this assumption too. But that’s only because I get stuck thinking about the next step instead of three steps ahead like my super-smart husband. So, here he is again to explain the very strange picture below.

Drill Base AnchorIf you’ll check out our reference photo you’ll see that at the base of the drill there’s a fan-like mechanism with rotating blades backed by what looks like a cheese grater. Rather than attaching the base and then constructing the mechanism, I wanted to build this “cheese grater” part of the drill  and use it as a bridge between the body of the drill and the arm strap system. Sort of like that song; the drill body’s is connected to the wood base, the wood base’s connected to the “cheese grater,” the “cheese grater’s” connected to the fan-like mechanism, the fan-like mechanism’s connected to the arm strap system and so forth.

When it came to attaching the fan-like mechanism section, I first thought about using thin individual strips but then realized that if I used one larger, continual band of material that it could be used to attach the fan-like mechanism to the base. I could then emulate that “cheese grater” look by drilling holes into this band and they would peek through the blades. Since I had left over cone, I decided to use those scraps, hence you see orange “cheese grater.”

The left over cone material was strong and pliable, perfect for securely attaching the fan-like mechanism to the base; but if you’ll notice, it does not contour as perfectly as I would like, leaving a slight gap at the back. This is due to the angled design of the cone.

Thankfully, this  “cheese grater” band will be housed inside the fan-like mechanism section, masking the gap. Plus, this gap section will be on the underside of the drill where no one will see it anyway.

Metal Outside Cone Bending the Metal

I attached the  “cheese grater” band to the drill-base with four wood screw (two on each side) and the drilled the series of holes. I bent the tabs of the fan-like mechanism section to give it that fan-blade look and then fitted it over the “cheese grater” band and attached it with two bolts with cap-nuts. — Daniel

Drill Base Together

And voila, we have the base of our drill. Next we shoved that base into the papier-mâchéd cone and with a couple of wood screws we secured it.

 Subject Delta Drill with Base

But we weren’t done here. No siree! Next, we needed to create a bar and strap system that would connect the drill all the way up Daniel’s arm. But I’m afraid that you’ll have to wait for next week. Be sure to check back next week! – TCG

Level 3-2: Refine Weapon

26 Nov

They say that you make time for what’s really important, but I don’t think those guys that said that had the months of November and December in mind. Those Crazy Gilberts are playing catch up in a major way and here we are, merely days away from Thanksgiving, Daniel’s birthday behind us and a whole boat load of things left to build. Don’t worry though; I remember where we left off and I won’t leave you hanging because I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit to know how Subject Delta‘s drill is coming. Aren’t you?

Subject Delta's Drill Pre-CuttingWhen we last left the drill project, we have something that looked a lot like a crude, Christmas tree made out of Legos. Our next step was to trim and glue them together but how would we ensure that the blades would taper at the correct proportions? For a split, foolish second, we considered free forming it; just trusting the scissors and the foam and the universe. But then we came to our senses! Once again, Daniel’s tin foil trick came in handy.

Daniel positioned the foil and then I came in and traced it out. What’s great about using the tin foil is that it’s easy to re-position and bend into shape. It’s a very forgiving and cheap tool.

foil cutting foam guideTraced Line on Drill Blades

Snip, snip and we’re set to move on.

Foam Drill Blades CutFor our next couples activity; hot gluing! One of us would lay down a line of hot glue while the other would follow and smoosh the foam together to make our blade shape. Since my hands are so teeny and delicate, Daniel got the job of smooshing our foam together. Then, we went in and added layers of glue to the base of the blades, adding some more strength to their structure. We also used the tip of the gun to smooth out the seams between the strips of foam to give it a more uniform look.

Subject Delta's Drill  Foam Blade


Subject Delta's Drill Foam Front View Subject Delta's Drill Foam Blades Side View

Now all that’s left is the small, hardly time-consuming papier-mâché step. And by hardly time-consuming I mean horrifically time-consuming. Not only did Daniel insist on medium size strips of news paper strips cut to the curvature of each blade, but he also took hundreds of tiny, thin strips of newspaper to line each edge of blade. In case there’s any doubt of Daniel’s dedication to this project, take a look at this.

Scale of  Papier-mâché Drill Blades  Papier-mâché Along Drill Blades

Allow me to quote myself, “It finally happened. 11/10/2013, 10:04 PM. Daniel is sick of paper-mâché.” – Sara; Facebook.

Daniel looked over at me, his fingers coated in glue, his back aching from hunching over the drill and he said, “Whatever we build in the future is gonna depend on how much paper-mâché it needs.”

Subject Delta's Drill Blades Paper Mache

But was it worth it? Take a look at this and tell us what you think.

Subject Delta's Drill Blades Finished

The holiday season is rushing in, ready or not, and bringing with it new gaming consoles, games, gatherings with friends and families, meals and treats that require time in the kitchen and the days are certainly not getting any longer. I was thinking today about how I would possibly find time to play a new game I got over the weekend and a this question came to me; how do cosplayers find the time to consume the things that they wind up cosplaying? How do you, our fellow cosplayers, find the time to invest in new fandoms, or get to know new favorite characters that you’d love to pay homage to, how do you balance everything?

Seriously though, any tips on time management and motivation are greatly appreciated! — TCG

Level 3-1: Acquire and Assemble Weapon

12 Nov

Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb Helmets

While it’s not quite as epic as we would have liked, here’s your picture of our hard-won Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb helmets!

As fun as this stay in the land of Bioshocking helmets has been, we’re more than pleased to leave it for a while. The weather has changed here in Chicago and the weather conditions are no longer conducive to Shellacking in our nasty back alley. That and the painting will have to wait until Spring. Yes, you heard it folks this post is going to be about something other than port holes and cap nuts and tubing. This post is about our hero’s signature, gut-grinding weapon of choice; Subject Delta’s drill.

Subject Delta Drill Reference - Action Figure

This beefy bit of machinery dished out all sorts of grisly ends to many a Splicer down in Rapture and now it’s our job to bring it to life! While this picture give you a great impression of what it should look like when it’s finished, Daniel really likes this reference photo we found so we’ll be putting a little TCG style to use while working from this particular reference.

Subject Delta's Drill Reference

As we prepared to begin work on the drill we batted around a lot of ideas. Daniel’s original thought was a run of the mill traffic cone but I was worried that it would be too heavy to lug around all day with one arm. So then we thought of a floral arrangement cones but we couldn’t find any that were big enough. I even thought about making it out of thin cardboard, but Daniel kept going back to that darn cone. He almost swiped one right off the street. But that would be gross, so instead he bought one at Home Depot and he won me over. This would be our base.

Traffic Cone

What would the drill be without a tip? We glued a little Styrofoam cone to the top of the cone and then, like most of our low-budget cosplay, our next step was papier-mâché. We wanted to cover the plastic of the cone in a layer of papier-mâché so that the blades would have a solid anchor. We knocked that out together in under an hour, then we sealed the Styrofoam with some Elmer’s glue and then we had our drill’s base situated and ready to go.

Styrofoam on Cone Cone with Paper Mache

Drill with Weatherseal

Next, we needed to mark the route of the blades that spiral the length of the drill. To help us map it, we took some yarn and wrapped it around the cone so that we could trace it. Then we applied Daniel’s new favorite material; rubber weatherseal. It wrapped smoothly and seamlessly around the cone and the adhesive bottom worked like a charm. Again, in no time at all, we were finished and ready to start the real task; attaching the blades.

This might shock you, but we had differing ideas about the best way to do this. In fact, we had several arguments verging on the edge of nasty fights about it. But, in the end, Daniel’s idea prevailed and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Since it was his grand design, I’ll let him tell you about it.

For the drill blade, Sara came up with this great idea of sandwiching bendable, shape-able wire, like pipe cleaner wire, between two strips of craft foam and gluing the strips together to make stiff but bendable strips of foam. I liked this idea. But then it dawned on me that, while this would be a great idea for circular bands like a bracelet, it still wouldn’t allow flat foam to contour to the circular, spiral path of the cone without bowing and bulging at the edges. We tossed around  a few different ideas until we settled on a sort of foam tent.

Pile of Craft Foam for DrillFoil Measuring TrickIn preparation for the build I spent the better part of an evening cutting a rather impressive pile of 1 1/2″ wide by 3″ long foam strips. I then used my trusty strip-of-foil-method to figure out the exact shape of the curve on the cone and cut a handy-dandy template. The template could then be used to quickly trace and make more mini foam blades.

Sara set to cutting out the curved sections of the strips using said handy-dandy template while I set to hot gluing the strips of foam we already had; one on top and one on bottom of the rubber weatherseal.

Making Subject Delta's Drill Blades

Unfortunately, I forgot to mention to Sara that the template I made was for the curve only and not the height of the blades we needed. The example on the left is how she cut them, the example on the left was how they should be cut. The result was a was quite a few skinny, wasted strips; around 24 to be precise.

Blade Template Mix Up

After a bit of grumpy finger-pointing we each accepted our share of the blame and moved on. Luckily, we had plenty of strips to spare.

As good as my handy-dandy template was, it wouldn’t work for the entire length of the cone. So Sara cut  new templates as the moved up to the skinnier parts and eventually all the way to the top of the cone. This resulted in a big range of shapes and sizes for us to use. As I went, I would trim the edges of the foam before I glued them so that they would lay flat side by side. It was tedious but the results were rewarding.  — Daniel

Foam Blades in Pieces Piecing Foam Together

Once we finished this step, we had ourselves a very lovely, albeit crude, Christmas tree, cone, thingy.

Subject Delta's Drill Pre-Cutting

Of course, we’re still talking about baby steps here. There’s still a long way to go and C2E2 is looming ever closer. Just because it happens “next year’ doesn’t mean we have a whole year to go! We’re trying to build and maintain that momentum but will it carry us through the holiday season? — TCG