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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





Side Quest Unlocked: Apply Color

12 Jun


Finally, finally, FINALLY – we got to paint!!!

That meant we were so close to completing our first Cosplay project!!!

Ideally, we would have liked to have built our pieces and then painted them as we went. However, we didn’t (and still don’t)  have a dedicated work space which made that a little hard. Plus, we waited a little too long and, when the time came to paint a few pieces, the weather had turned. So in an attempt to wait it out, we kept building and planned to paint everything at once. With no more building to do, it was time to put some color on ‘em! Time to transform them from foam and paper into convincing, hard metal objects.

We had two options when it came to painting. We could hand paint everything in the relative comfort of our apartment or spray paint our pieces in one of the common areas of our apartment building.

Hand painting would have let us paint whenever we liked as long as we laid something down to catch the paint and opened the windows with fans for ventilation. However, we thought it would have taken a long time to paint everything; especially if we wanted nice, smooth, streak-free finishes. I figured spray painting would eliminate that concern. Plus, I’d had more experience with a spray can. So, we chose to do the majority of work with spray paint but for some detail work, touch-ups and distressing done by hand.

Now, the first problem with spray painting in Chicago is that it’s illegal to sell spray paint within the city limits. We’d only been living in the city for three years at this point and who would have guessed that this was an actual law!? It exists to combat graffiti and tagging within the city; but, if you’ve ever spent a day in Chicago… lots and lots of graffiti… So the only thing this stupid law really does, it make it very difficult and annoying to procure spray paint. The nearest place for us to get some was at a  Home Depot on the border of Chicago inside Evanston’s city limits. That’s a 45 minute train ride, plus a 25 minute bus ride… Through out the course of the this project I had to make three separate trips to the suburbs for paint.

Oh well. On our first trip, we made the trek and the paints we decided to use were: Antique Brass for the base tone of the brass pieces, an Antique gold for the highlights on the brass pieces, Dark Steel for the steel pieces, and a Leather Brown for painting some of the rubber pieces to appear leather. “What about the primer,” you ask? Well, as much as I would have liked to have given everything a nice primer base coat we were very limited on time and I didn’t want to have to do any more spraying of harsh chemicals then need be in an apartment complex. So, we decided to skip it.

Paint in hand, it was time to… well, paint. Wouldn’t you know it? This was one of the harshest winters in recent US history and Chicago was hit pretty hard. Ever heard of a Polar Vortex? Here we were, well into March, and the temperatures were still right at or just below freezing. With C2E2 just around the corner we had to paint or we risked not having the costumes ready in time. So we decided to do the worst thing imaginable… spray paint indoors.

I know, I know… don’t get me started. We all know how this ends.

Spray Painting Inside?We decided to set up a small, make-shift painting room in the kitchen. We laid painting tarps on the floor, hung some from the walls, opened the kitchen window, and used a floor fan for ventilation. Surely, this would be sufficient.

Eleanor Lamb's Harpoon Pre-paint


We started off with a couple of small test pieces and everything seemed to be working okay. First, we sealed all of the foam with Elmer’s glue. We do this so that the Shellac won’t eat into it. Next we hit the pieces with at least three layers of Shellac and allowed it to dry completely before moving on to the paint. I sprayed in light layers in very short sessions. The open window and fan did the trick for adequately getting rid of the paint fumes; however, after a couple of hours, I noticed that it was not so efficient for getting rid of the residual paint particles that did not adhere to the cosplay pieces. Instead, it was falling in a fine layer of dust all over everything… :/

 A couple of hours of cleaning later and only a small percentage of Cosplay pieces painted – it was back to the drawing board.

C2E2 was creeping up faster and faster and still we had constant snow fall and below freezing temperatures, painting outside was still out of the question. We were so desperate that it forced us to be creative. So, after a late night of — social hydration — I decided to use our common laundry room as a new paint studio and to knock out all of the spray painting in a few marathon sessions. It was the only indoor common area that was anywhere near warm enough and had proper ventilation.

Subject Delta's HelmetEleanor Lamb Syringe Eleanor Lamb's Helmet

I didn’t want to piss off the neighbors or get the land lord called so I waited until 2 or 3 am before beginning. I crept as quietly as possible down three flights of stairs to the basement where the laundry room is located. I laid out my painting tarps over a couple of tables and lined up as many pieces as I could that were going to be painted the same base color. I did this every other night or so for a couple of weeks until all pieces were painted with their base coats.  I even spent time after each painting session wiping down any surfaces that might have collected residue; including but not limited to the washing machines and bikes stored there.

Subject Delta's Drill

Seeing everything in living color was really really cool. No really. Really cool. It was amazing to see everything in it’s intended color. They looked real for the first time and I could tell that we’d really done good work. Really. I had a day off work when I did all the big major pieces and I sent Sara so many texts with pictures because it was so exciting. Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb were really coming together.

Eleanor Lamb and Subject Delta Helmets

We did all of our touch ups with acrylic paint. It wasn’t an exact match, which was frustrating. Luckily, we were going to distress everything so that would help. Plus, the differences in color can give the impression that something has gotten dinged in battle and been patched up. Even though it all worked out, next time we’re going to try to avoid the spray paint.

Subject Delta's Air TanksThere were a couple of pieces that we painted by hand that turned out looking really good, which also served to sway me toward hand painting in the future. Included in this category was the trim of both Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb’s helmets, the tanks for Subject Delta’s pack and Eleanor Lamb’s arm guards. And for weathering, we used black acrylic paint and the process outlined in our Weathered Metal Effect tutorial which you can find here.

Despite some major stress, sleepless nights and a whole lotta time in transit, we got everything painted and it looked amazing. We were so close to finishing that we could taste it! C2E2 was under a month away at this point, so we were beyond happy to have gotten to this point.

Thank you for following along as we learned a thing or two about spray painting and Chicago winters! — TCG

Level 4-2: Checkpoint Reached – Replay?

13 May

When last we spoke about Eleanor Lamb’s syringe panel, I was obsessing over what some might call a minute detail. While it may seem that I had settled on a solution and crafted something I was pleased with, every time I looked at that darn thing my dislike grew and grew until I couldn’t stand it any longer. Something had to be done.

Even though Daniel said that he had liked the old, boxy abomination, he must have been saying that to make me feel better because it was him that brought the blue prints for success to the table. Below you’ll see the old, hated panel after it had been taken off the syringe and then the blueprint for the new panel cut out of butcher paper and placed on the body of the syringe.

Old Syringe Panel New Syringe Panel




I don’t know about you, but I was already loving the shape and I hadn’t even cut it out of foam yet! I happily threw away the old bulky panel and got to work on this new lovely piece.

I cut the shape of the body out of 5 mm craft foam. I had to test it several times to make sure the hole was big enough for the 90 degree conductor could fit through.

Eleanor Lamb Syringe PanelI wanted to add depth to it so instead of trying to add a thin border to the piece, I cut a smaller shape out of 2 mm craft foam and put it on top of the panel.

I also added a piece of 5 mm craft foam to the back-end for a bit of visual interest. I also cut out a little ring of 2 mm foam to cover up the ugly, too-big hole I needed to fit the panel around the conductor.

Eleanor Lamb Syringe Panel Eleanor Lamb Syringe Panel

With the faucet handles added to this new panel, I was finally pleased with the look of it. Hooray!

Eleanor Lamb's Syringe Built Panel

Now we were ready to move forward.

You’ll notice in the picture above, that the yellow gear from last post has been replaced with some PVC pipe coupling. It’s the same material we used to add the “little hat” to Eleanor Lamb’s helmet. If’ you’ll look at the reference photo below, you’ll see that the panel extends up past the elbow. For our spin on this look, we opted for the coupling to extend the back of the body of the syringe. This helped to balance the weight of the syringe on my arm. Syringe Reference

 We had some trouble gluing the rubber of the coupling to the PVC plastic tubes. In typical Crazy Gilbert fashion, Daniel really slathered on the hot glue and we made sure to never pick up the syringe by that part of the body.
Eleanor Lamb with Helmet Concept Art

Before we could proceed with mounting the panel on the body of the syringe, we needed to examine the valves on the inside of the syringe. Take a look at the reference on the far left.

If you stare at it long enough, like Daniel and I did, you’ll notice that there are gaps between the gauges and the actual syringe panel. It appears as though the gauges are mounted on strips of leather, which are probably covering metal beneath, and then the faucets are attached to the side of the valve mounting. Our next step was clear, we needed to elevate the syringe panel and find a way to wrap the pieces holding the gauges around the body of the syringe.


Check us out next time, we’ll be talking about how we made these amazing looking gauges and then secured them to the syringe. — TCG


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