Sunday, November 29, 2009

Superman Belt Assembly Line

I found time to bang out four belts this weekend, each of the slightly different in color than the others. From the picture, you can see how they are all subtle shades of yellow, but the picture does not really show the colors properly. Oh well. I'm really just going from memory on the color, but the main goal is for it to be visually pleasing in person, not in photos or on film.

Three of the castings are completely without flaw. One has a TINY air bubble one one of the straps. Pretty good hit rate, if you ask me.

I also made a couple changes to the mold in order to make the pulls come out smoother. Just a little flash trimming, and I used my cuticle trimmers to pick some boogers out of the belt loop parts. So as of right now, the belts are just coming along beautifully.

Another reason I'm cranking so many out is because the urethane has a short shelf life. Better to knock out a bunch now and use up my supply than to have it go bad. Also fun to do while I'm "In the zone" as far as belts go.

In other news, my friend Gino has ordered some swatches from his fabric contacts in an attempt to find a close match for the cape fabric. Not sure how long it will take to get results, but nice to know it is still in progress.

I also heard back from one of the companies that is supplying me with samples of the material that I SUSPECT was used for the texture on the outer skin of the fabric. This company is VERY responsive, and I expect to have some samples in my hands shortly. Which is really nice, as I'm VERY eager to find out if I'm on the right track with this stuff.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cape Fabric: Now I Need YOUR Help!

Below is a pretty high resolution scan of a swatch from either a made-for-production cape or a screen used one. Or, it could just be a leftover scrap. I don't know. But I need your help. I don't really know the first thing about fabric. Don't know how to describe it, label it, discuss it. I don't know what type of weave this is, or realy anything about it.

And that is where I need the help of my readers. I'm looking for ANY information you can give me about this fabric that might help me find a good match for it.

Based on an interview I read (which is linked to somewhere in this blog) the cape fabric was a custom weave, and is wool. That's all I know. But I want more information. Is this a particular type of weave? It looks to be more deeply textured than say, my bed sheets, for instance. But how do I refer to it? If I wanted to call up a fabric store and say "do you have a fabric that is a thicker weave than my bedsheet?", would they know what the heck I was talking about?? I doubt it.

So please help me out, and let me know if you have any insight into this fabric, and any clues that might help me locate a suitable match for it.



A few folks from online have profided some information that I want to record in this posting. First up, a knowledgeable fellow member "Gilmore of OK" at 300DC tells me:

"Well Matt, it looks like you have a tight cross weave wool there. I mean, I really wouldnt be suprised with the scale magnitude of what the budget and anticipation put to Superman Returns was...its was probably loomed by hand....specifically for Roth.

here is a shot from Abbyshots fabric they used to make their Neo Coats (Matrix) a few years ago.

its a 4 knit wool cross weave...., pretty similar, yours looks to be single cross... hope this gives you a little insight to what your dealing with."

On a forum dedicated to superhero costuming, The League of Heroes, I got help from a couple talented users.

User "Redbird" was the first to identify it as a gabardine, which was then confirmed by longstanding member and talented costumer "GreenArrowFL". Which interestingly enough, is what was used in the Christopher Reeve superman capes. Booya. "callmemilo" said:

"as far as i remember, the interior lining of the SR cape was made of wool with a slight ombre to it"

I'm not sure what an ombre is, and wikipedia was no help. However, they did have a really great article on Gabardine, including a picture that (although low resolution) actually looks a lot like my sample, and is even made of wool.

With me being a newbie to this fabric stuff, I am not sure if the insight from the different forums is contradictory or complementary. Can a wool gabardine be a tight cross weave wool?? Is that the very definition of a gabardine, or or those different things??

I also fear that the skewed photo was what contributed to the idea that this was a gabardine? I do not know if the weave itself is skewed in my sample, or if it's just the way the sample was cut. My plan is to post this link to the various contributing forums and see what they have to say about it.

Big thanks to anyone who contributed ideas.


MAN OH MAN, the hits just keep coming. I did a little google-fu on CallMeMilo's "Slight Ombre", and was REALLY excited to find out that this is the way the dye smoothly transitions from one color (or shade) to another. YES, the cape did indeed have that effect, and it was quite pronounced. Prior to asking for help, I did not know what the terminology for this effect was, but now I do! This will prove to be VERY helpful, as I was previously having a really hard time tracking down how to achieve this effect, as I did not know what it was called. The first website I found is full of examples of what this "ombre" looks like. Check it out here.

I found a little video that shows how the ombre dying process is done. Looks like a lot of work, and a lot of supplies/expertise are needed. I'm pretty sure I will try to outsource this process, as I don't want to get involved with that mess!!!!!


I'm getting a little philisophical this weekend, and had a couple more thoughts about the fabric. In the interview I mentioned earlier, the costume makers say that the fabric is a custom weave, due to it's width. The bolt is obviously a non standard size, but what JUST occurred to me is that maybe it's a standard weave, just in an unstandard size. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but if this turns out to be a VERY straightforward gabardine, though just at an unusual bolt width, that gives me hope that I may either be able to find a suitable alternative OR might be able to get a custom weave of my own.

And yes, price is not a detractor :) I know it will be pricey, but I'm ok with that. This is, after all, pretty much the ONLY project I'm focused on right now. No home improvements, not saving for a new car, not saving for car repairs, or a new kitchen remodel. This is IT. And I'm gonna do it right. Hell or high water and all that good stuff.


Some folks over at the Replica Props Forum have chimed in with some information and confirmations.

User clayslinger tells me:

"Hi Matt,

I applaud your dedication to getting it right!!

Robins vest happens to be made with wool gabardine so I have samples.

Looks like a straight forward wool gabardine to me. The grain can vary quite a bit as you can see in the photo.
I would get some swatches from B. Black and Sons. The gabardine they have has that stronger grain line to it.

All the best in your quest!!
Chuck... "

Good stuff Chuck! And thanks for the kind words. I have since sent an email to B Black and sons, and asked them for information on their gabardine. Their website can be found here.

User Darth Mule tells me:
"Yep. You've got a gabardine there. Gabardine is characterized by its twill weave, the cross grain weave which you see in the pic. Looks like it may be a medium weight. 12oz or so, but that's just a guesstimation from a picture.

Similar to gabardine is a worsted wool, but I lean more towards gab, because you can see fuzziness and slubs in the weave. Both fabrics are essentially woven the same but are prepared differently. Worsteds are heavily combed and twisted to make them very smooth in texture.

So looks like you're on it. I think you may be on to something in your blog about the custom weave referring to width in which they had it woven. "

which is good information all around, and also nice to hear a confirmation of my theory that it is not the weave that is custom, but more the size of the bolt. Granted, Mule's "seconding" of my theory doesn't make it fact, but it's cool to hear from someone who seems to know what they're talking about that I'm on the right track.

I must confess, the whole internet thing is really panning out for me today! Lot's of REALLY great assitance from a few very disparate places on the net.


User mdb from the Replica Props Forum had this to say:

"Looks like the fabric is a woollen twill. It is also cut on the bias so the edges don't unravel but it's making it hard to determine the weave. I think it's a simple 2:1 Z wale (Warp goes over two wefts and under one and steps by 1, the diagonal patterns sloping in the same direction as the middle of a Z- the opposite is S wale) but most places just do not know what that means Looks like about 48 warp threads to the inch too. It looks even so the weft will be the same

Gabardines tend to be worsted if they are wool and have a very smooth surface and have twice as many warp threads as weft so the diagonal line of the twill face is quite distinctively steeper. "

While I understood about three words in the post, there's a lot of good technical information in here that will be helpful in tracking down a sample. I guess the punchline is that mdb thinks it is NOT gabardine, but a twill. Interesting. I think it's time to get some samples in front of me so I can do some hands on comparisons.

Another Day, Another Belt

Now that I have perfected my process for producing Superman Returns belts, it seemed only fair that I move forward with it and produce one for myself. One that I will keep. I will actually bang out a series of them, as there are still a few finishing steps to be done on them that could prove problematic. The paint job is very subtle on it, and I want to have a few belts handy in case I screw it up once or twice.

This should be a familiar site to regular readers. Here is the set up of the belt.

I pulled this one out a few hours later, even though it had not fully cured. My workspace was not entirely level, and the belt turned out to be a bit fatter on one side. I doubt anyone would ever notice it once it was in place on the costume, but this is a nice piece.

The mold was a LITTLE bit dirty for this pour, and some of the junk in the mold was passed on to the casting.

It's still a VERY nice casting, and I feel the color is good. The picture shows it being a little brighter than it is in person, but it's pretty nice. I will probably use this one as a test bed for my painting techniques, and ultimately throw it out. I think my plan will be to crank out five paint-worthy belts, and then put the mold to bed.

For now.


TDK: Two Face Coin

Today I have a neat little prop to show off. I ordered this online from a guy in Singapore who makes them. Or has them made.

It is a Harvey Dent / Two-Face coin from "The Dark Knight". I haven't really compared it to screen captures, but what I like most about it is the formality of its execution. It is a VERY well made piece! If there are people out there replicating coins to this degree of precision, I imagine there is a booming market for coin forgeries. It's a really nice piece, and I believe properly captures the spirit of the piece that was seen in the movie.

It's got a nice heft to it, and frankly, feels like a real coin. While this is not a prop I covet, for only fifteen bucks, it was impossible to pass up. It's a pretty iconic piece from the movie, and is instantly recognizeable. If you ask me.

Cape Origins

Something I'm sort of becoming obsessed with is the source material for the outer skin of the cape. Although I think it is VERY cool that I had the opportunity to mold a production made cape, it is not without it's flaws. The mold, that is. Because the cape did not lay perfectly flat, I captured any of the surface warbles and waves that were in the original. Those are poving to be problematic in the mold. There were also some shortcomings in my mold making efforts, mainly due to the sheer size of the piece.

I got it into my head that if I could track down whatever it was that was used in the making of the cape, I could tackle it from a different angle. This would also give me the opportunity to avoid some of the limitations imposed on me by having the original cape to mold. For example, I could make a BIGGER cape. I could make a more full cape. All kinds of stuff.

My main motivator though is materials. I am having problems running urethane into a silocone mold. Those two repel. If I can make a rigid mold, out of fiberglass for example, that would really free up my choice of materials.

Despite the fact that I have documentation of the outer skin of the cape being made of latex, I'm just not sure that is right. The way the production made cape felt and behaved seemed MUCH more like urethane than latex. Though I will be perfectly happy to have a finished latex cape, I'd rather it be urethane, for a number of reasons.

With that said, I started my search for the source material for the cape. I've learned a lot so far in my search about terminology and materials. I don't want to get into too much detail here on my blog, for purely selfish reasons. I just want to be the first person to find the stuff! Well, the first person in the fan base to find it. I'm sure SOMEONE at the batshop knows what it is.

I ordered a few samples online, and of the three I ordered, one came back, and it was the wrong stuff. Bummer. I have since found another place online that sells something that looks REALLY good, but there is no sense of scale to the photos. So for all I know, the diamonds are one inch across, which is way too big for what I'm looking for in a texture.

So that's all I have as far as updates go. I haven't poured up any new pieces, and don't have any updates on the boots. I DID clean up my workspace a few days ago, but I hardly consider that photo worthy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Star Trek Insignia Pins

I remember the days when I used to drive all over town looking for some newly released toy or something that I thought was cool. I could waste an entire lunch hour bouncing from store to store, hitting up the three Targets in my area, and maybe a Wal-Mart if I was feeling spunky.

Those days are over, and I'm glad.

But I had a BRIEF taste of that aged misery just a few days ago, when they released the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie on DVD and BLU-Ray. I'm not really a big collector of movies anymore, but sometimes something will come along that catches my attention, and that I deem worthy of paying a few bucks for. I figured this movie was one of them.

What intrigued me even more was the fact that Best Buy was releasing a deluxe set that came packed with four metal rank insignia pins, just like the ones in the movie. Or so the copy on the advertisements read.

(Photo courtesy

I zoomed down to my local Best Buy right after work, only to learn they were sold out. Feeling that nagging sense of ugly-nostalgia flaring up, I decided right there and then that I would NOT be driving all over town to pick one up, despite the fact that the 3 disk edition came with the shiny silver pins. No sir. Not me.

Instead, I went home and pulled up the interwebx. Best Buy had it on their website, but for some reason, it was going to take FOUR WEEKS to ship it to me. Oh hellz no. But they also have a feature where you can pay for it, and then go pick it up at a local store that has it in stock. I found a store just a bit further up the street that had it in stock, paid the bucks, and slept soundly.

I had a chance after work today to make my way up to the Best Buy, where my new copy of Star Trek was waiting for me. Nice! Not only was that a very cool process, but it turns out that the pins are REALLY nice.

Regular readers will know that I am a difficult man to please. I am a real stickler for quality, accuracy, and craftsmanship. And I must confess I was more than pleasantly surprised when I finally opened up this disk set to reveal the four rank pins. They are REALLY nice. The finish on them looks just like I thought it would, and the shape seems pretty good. I haven't done any side by side comparisons, but from what I recall the insignias looking like, they nailed it.

The pins are made by QMX, a company that makes all kinds of licensed, er, products from some cool properties. While I have noticed that they have broadened their product base to include some items that I find completely uninteresting, they do also have some really killer stuff. I think it is very cool to see such a high quality replica included in such a huge release, and I hope QMX gets the attention and kudos they deserve for putting out such a fine product.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Noble Collection Batman Grapnel Gun

Maybe I'm just a sucker for good advertising. I'm not sure. But once halloween wrapped up, lots of folks across the innertubes started posting pictures of their halloween adventures. A thread in particular, which can be found here over on a Batman costuming forum known as The Brotherhood Of The Bat REALLY caught my attention.

This guys TDK suit is executed really well. Amazingly well in fact, and it made me realize that the state of the union for fan costumes from The Dark Knight has finally reached a level where I'm interested in jumping in. I've already gotten a fantastic utility belt kit which I have yet to complete, and these revelations make me very tempted to pursue a complete TDK suit in ernest.

With that said, I've kind of had all things bat on my brain recently. One of the props I really liked from the Bale movies is the Grapnel Gun, the thing Bats uses to scale buildings and stuff. DC Direct put out a version, Noble Collection put out a version, and a very talented fellow prop builder who goes by the name JmTwo put out a version. I read a hobbyist review of all three, and I came to the conclusion that the Noble one would meet my needs the best.

But the timing was off, and I wanted the prices to drop. They never did, BUT a friend sent me some coupon codes for the Noble Collection website, so I was able to get it for 30 dollars off retail.

It arrived today, and I could not help but tear open the box, slice through the styrofoam, and unearth what is a REALLY amazing prop.

It comes attached into the display case, but it can be removed with a little work. I decided not to take it out, since I would only end up putting it right back in.

It has a working trigger, and a really smooth finish. The thing I like most about it is that it looks like a real piece of hardware. It doesn't have the soft edges or wonky lines that are often associated with a garage or fan kit. It's just darn beautiful. I feel that his is of the level of quality that the fan builder "Henry Wayne" has become known for delivering. Just a great piece, at a really good price. The fact that it comes with a really posh looking display case makes it that much better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oh, Now I'm Just Getting Greedy!

In an attempt to prove that I've gotten my molds and pouring technique perfected, I set out to bang out another chest emblem in one day.

Which of course worked like a charm! The colors are a little different, with the red being a bit more red, and a little brighter. The yellows are shockingly similar.

So very cool. I think I may crank out another one or two, just to have on standby in case something goes wrong, but I can now consider this part of the project done. yay!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Third Time Is A Charm

The turkey baister approach worked, and I managed to output a very respectable front half of the chest emblem.

After a little bit of trimming, I put it together with the backplate I made a week or two ago. Here are the final results:

Overall, I am incredibly happy with the results. It looks frickin' great, and I love it. But, being Matt Munson, it's only fair of me to notice the flaws. On the one hand, the main flaw that I was worried about turned out to be a complete non-issue. This is the blunder that I made on the mold due to negligence. It ended up causing zero problems. There are a couple of flaws in the master, which were passed onto the copy. Nothing I can do about that, and they are not terribly noticeable. If anyone ever stops me on the street and says "Great costume, but I couldn't help but notice that tiny flaw in your chest emblem", I will promptly pound them into the ground using my heat vision.

I adjusted the colors a bit too. The master S is almost a dark brown/burgandy, and the yellow part is an orange/yellow/green. While I'm sure this looked great on the screen all color corrected and perfect, I think it looks a little odd in person. That, AND it's almost impossible to match colors that closely by eye. I think the right move was to make the colors bolder, but at the same time maintain the overall "muted" tones of the ones seen on screen.

I have to say, getting this piece to come together has been a LONG road, and has proven very expensive. Time consuming is an under statement, but along the way I really learned A LOT about urethane, working with it, and how to get pigments to behave the way you want them to. I think if I ever tackle another project that involves urethane in any way, I will be VERY well prepared for it.

Third Pour Into The Mold

For my third pour, I tried a different approach. Previously, I was pouring urethane into the open mold, then closing the top onto it once it was full. This time, I'm starting with the mold closed, on an incline, and used a turkey baister to squirt urethane into the mold. I started at the bottom of the incline, so the urethane had to work its way upward into the mold.

The turkey baister was one of the 99 cent ones from the grocery store. nothing fancy. I actually didn't even use the squeeze ball. I had to open up one of the vents a little bit with an exacto blade so I could get the tip in there a little better. I filled up the baister with urethane, and let gravity do the rest. After a while, I ended up blowing into the thing to push more urethane into the mold, which worked out really good.

A few hours from now, and we shall see how it turned out.

Second Pull Out Of The Mold

After I learned a few lessons from my first pull from the mold, I made a few changes. First, I popped another vent into the mold, way up high in one of the corners. The idea is that for the next pour, I will actually have the mold sitting on an incline, so any air bubbles will (theoretically) escape through that new vent.

Sadly, it didn't quite turn out that way.

The color on this one is also a bit wrong, but it's an interesting learning experience nonetheless.

Over on the left hand side, you can see the pour sprue that resulted from the new vent. Down at the bottom, you can find two huge air bubbles.

I'm going to switch gears again for the next pour. The idea here is that with each pour, I'm getting closer to getting it right. That way, I don't have to think of each one as a failure, but more a learning experience.

First Pull Out of The Mold

The mold of the chest emblem front plate is all ready to rock, so I poured one up using my newly perfected urethane techniques.

Here's the mold. You can see where the eurethane came squishing through the vents. I suppose that means they are doing their job.

A day later, here's the results. This picture was actually taken shortly after I did some dorking around with it, so there are a few smears on it.

It's not perfect, but in general, I am very pleased. The detail on the front is captured VERY nicely, and there are no bubbles on the front side. The back side is another story. There were a number of substantial bubbles in the urethane, meaning I need to do a little more work to get the mold working properly. There's also a TINY flaw in the mold, that was introduced due to some carelessness on my behalf. I think I can work around the flaw, but I am not sure. If it turns out to be impossible to work around, I may need to remold the chest piece. No big deal, as I'm now a total pro at it.

Chest Emblem Mold

Progress has been made on the mold of the top plate of the chest emblem.

Here's how the top half looked when I pulled it out of the box. I needed to cut a thin layer of silicone out.

Here is the back half. I'm going to use a brass rod to cut vents into the mold. This will allow air out of the mold when it is curing, so hopefully no bubbles.

Here's how it looked after the vents were cut.

The next step is to run a few pulls out of the mold. Two sided molds like this always take some time to figure out how they work. You need to play around with it during the pouring process to see where the air pockets tend to gather, and if necessary cut more vents or figure out a way to work around them.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sonic and Molding

Today is Veterans Day, and I took this day off as an opportunity to get a lot of things done around the house, including working on some projects. I'm still trying really hard to maintain my "at least one step of progress per day" policy on my Superman Returns costume. It's been going well so far, though the steps are often really small.

I think the point of that policy focuses on momentum. Often the hardest part is getting started. But once you get started, things tend to keep going. Some days it works, and others it does not. Today was a good example of this working.

I put together another box in order to mold the front piece of the chest emblem. For one reason or another, this is the third time I've molded this piece. Let's hope I get it right this time.

And in the world of my prop collection, today my Sonic Screwdriver arrived from Millenium FX in England! This is (in my mind) the key prop as seen in the past few years of the british television show "Doctor Who". It hasn't quite caught on over here in America, but in the UK, it is CRAZY popular.

This is a prop I have been waiting to see done properly for a number of years now. I was even planning on taking a swing at it myself, and was all poised to purchase a mill and lathe to make it happen. Then I caught wind that this piece was going to come to market, so I waited. It took a LONG wait, but I think it was worth it.

I'm going to try to bang out a belt tonight, now that I've got the technique and the urethane problems solved. Time to move onto the final phase with that one, and then put that element of the costume to bed. I think the chest emblem will follow closely behind, as it will just be a matter of getting the mold to work properly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

CSM Wallets Arrive, And Get Finished

I arrived home tonight to find that my new, and hopefully properly sized wallets had arrived.

I pulled open the Adobe Illustrator files I had put together a few years ago, made a couple little changes to the text, sized them according to the new wallets, and printed them out. Voila!

For reference, here is the pic that was posted on Propstore years and years ago. Aside from the photo of the Cancer Man, I think I got it really darn close. And I think the new wallets are perfect!

Still a tiny bit of sizing to get right, and I will need to print the cards out on photo paper, but other than that, this one turned out great.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Confirmed: Urethane Problems Are Solved!

Alert the media, film at eleven, it's official: my urethane problems are gone. Today I got a PERFECT pull from the chest emblem back plate mold. Check this out:

Front and back, I cannot imagine it getting any better. The casting on the front side is without flaw. ZERO bubbles. The back side has a couple of small ones, but who cares. The color is even pretty close, which is great. I actually got the color a little better when mixing it, but decided it was not the color I wanted on my final costume, so I lightened it up a little. The real one has a bit of green and orange in it. While this may look great on color corrected film, it looks a little weird in real life, so I softened it up a bit.

But the opacity problems are totally gone, the tinting problems are totally gone. I'm very happy right now! Can't wait for my silicone to arrive so I can finish up the chest emblem and call that chapter done!

To push this post over the edge as far as geek factor goes, it's only fair to include these two bad boys:

Props from the latest Star Trek movie. Got these on markdown at Target. Could not resist. I am a huge tricorder fan, and this one actually looks nice. It only saw a couple of seconds of screen time, and wasn't even seen in full. The phaser is pretty cool too. Nothing spectacular, but for an off the shelf piece, it is indeed quite nice.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Glue and Opacity

Before I begin, I should mention that I ordered another wallet tonight from the same place I ordered the last couple. I think I've got the dimensions right for the CSM wallet. We will find out in a few days.

I stopped at Lowe's this evening and picked up some supplies. A bunch of different glues to try to get the fabric to stick to the back of the latex cape, and also some mineral spirits to thin out urethane, should I decide to do some experimentation with that on the cape.

The backplate of the chest emblem turned out just plain beautifully! The red is nice and opaque, though still a TAD bit milky. Nothing another drop or two of red pigment would not fix. But still, as far as I am concerned, this problem is solved, and I'm moving forward.

I also have a lead on some boot intel, but I don't want to spoil it quite yet. I will keep everyone posted when the facts materialize

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Misc Musings and Progress

I have a whole jumble of little things to report today, but nothing really photo worthy.

I ordered some more silicone rubber for mold making. I order my stuff from Always a pleasure doing business with them. I ordered a one gallon kit of their R1328A, and to kits of the R1324B catalyst. I ordered two because I still have some rubber left over from my last purchase, and don't want to see it go to waste.

I did another test pour of the chest emblem backplate, this time doing a test of the color red to see if I can get the color depth and richness I am looking for. Unlike last time, I powdered the mold for this one. I am curious to see how it turns out.

On the cape front, I ordered a couple of samples from different rubber sheet manufacturers to see if I can find a match for the diamond pattern. I'm really not sure what level of confidence I should have in this. It might be a shot in the dark, or there may exist some industry standards that make finding it easy. Who knows.

I took some measurements off the CSM XFiles wallet that I got in the mail the other day, and compared them to some measurements I saved from when Propstore posted it. The wallet is precisely one half inch wide. Great news is that the company that sold me the last one makes one that is precisely one half inch narrower. I'm going to order one. I need to do the same thing for the Alias wallet. I'm not sure why I am suddenly so passionate about finishing up those long dead projects. Maybe it's just because once I bite my teeth into something, I'm loathe to let go.

That's it for now. Tomorrow I should have some pictures of the chest emblem back plate. As soon as the rubber shows up, I will mold the top plate. Now that I've got my urethane problems all solved, the chest emblem should come together very quickly. And with the white opacifier stuff I found recently, I should probably revisit the belt, as I will now have great precision control over the final color.

So yeah, it's pretty much all coming up roses!

Opacity Problem Is Solved

A very exciting day for me over here at the Project Workbench. This morning, I am pleased to discover that I have found a solution for the opacity problems I was experiencing with my urethane!

Regular readers will know that I have searched high and low for a urethane that will cure VERY opaque, as that is what I want and need for my Superman Returns costume parts. I found a yellow pigment that works really well, but have struggled long and hard to find a good red.

Here's a sample that came out of the mold this morning

Granted, the color is off a bit, but that's not the point. The point is that it's REALLY DARN OPAQUE! And that is precisely what I was after. This is really geat news for me, as I can now move forward.

Here's the stuff I used. I put in a little bit of the white stuff, and it just makes it brick-wall opaque. Just like the yellow. Only without the yellow.

I'm very excited right now, and looking forward to moving ahead. This opens up all kinds of doors for me regarding different parts of the costume, and may also let me pursue a different direction with the cape.

SPEAKING OF THE CAPE, I'm still having trouble with it. Right now, I'm trying to develop a technique to attach the red fabric to the back side of the latex shell I have poured. I've tried using brushed on latex, and I've tried using brushed on urethane. None of those work as an adhesive. The next move is spray77, though I don't have high hopes for that. One thing that concerns me is fabric I am using. It is not the thickest stuff, and I think the final product will be. So I may hold out until I find something better.

In the mean time, I have been thinking about starting again with the cape, but this time making a rigid mold. This will allow me to be more flexible in the materials I use to pour it up. I'm no longer convinced that the originals were made of latex. Though an interview with the costume makers claims it is, there are some contradictory facts. I cannot say with utter certainty, but the cape I handled certainly didn't FEEL or move like latex, nor did it react like it. Hard to explain. It just didn't feel right. To make a urethane cape (which I feel confident now that I can do, seeing as how I've found a really opaque urethane mix!!) I will need a rigid mold, as the urethane just beads up when you pour it thin onto silicone. I will do some more testing to confirm this, and experiment with materials, but this has been my experience in the past.

So it occurred to me to make a rigid mold. The screen used cape was made using three sections of diamond pattern material. My guess is they picked up a roll of some industrial coating, cut three strips, lined them up, and then molded it. THe capes then came out of that. For the record, you can see the seams in the screen used cape for the three sections I'm talking about. I'm not just taking pot-shots in the dark on this one. Which means the trick is to find that rubber. I've had some luck lately using google, but need to do some more research. I'm not sure how to proceed. If I can find the EXACT same rubber that was used to make the capes for the movie, I think I will pursue a rigid mold. It will give me some more freedom, and eliminate some of the nagging issues I have with the current mold. It'll also be good in case the mold is somehow damaged, as it will be easy to recreate it if necessary.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Alias Wallet Done

Though not quite perfect, this is as close to done as it needs to be.

After looking a little more closely at the wallet and comparing it to some screen captures, I realized it is indeed NOT the exact same one. It's close. But then, I'm not a fan of "Close enough" props.

Still, this turned out pretty good. I think to the untraied eye, it would be hard to tell it wasn't pretty accurate.

I was thinking about doing a little more research into finding a better match for the wallet, but I think I'll just let this one go, and call it done. It's not a very interesting prop for me, and it's rather "yesterday" as far as my interests go.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Wallets Arrive!

I got home late last night from a really fun weekend in NY where I was fortunate enough to spend halloween. It was a total riot, and I recommend it to anyone!

I checked the mailbox and was very pleased to find that my wallet order had arrived. The punchline is that they are just about perfect!

The first one is the one I had pegged for Sidney Bristow. Honestly and seriously, this one is perfect. Dead on. Looks EXACTLY like the one used on the show. I have some screen captures that I brightened and enhanced, and when comparing to this one, I cannot tell the difference. Slam dunk!

My next task will be to print out the cards that I drew up a while ago, print them out, put them in, and this project will be officially closed.

The second piece is the X-Files CSM wallet. It's REALLY nice, and just like the Alias wallet, matches up VERY nicely to the pictures I have of the prop. Stylistically, it's a dead match. Same construction, same lines. I will have to compare to propstore measurements, but it looks good. if it was sitting on a shelf next to a photo of the real one, it would be indistinguishable.

The downside is that the outer layer is synthetic! I thought it was leather. But for all I know, the real one was synthetic too. It's just not consistent with the screen used Mulder and Scully wallets I own. Doesn't make it wrong! i will need to take a closer look at my stills and see if I can draw a conclusion.

It is still a VERY nice wallet, and will look really good when it is all finished. It's not like all is lost or anything!

On a final note, while in Brooklyn, I got ahold of a couple of "Snake Pit" matches, that are a "fantasy prop" from the world of Blade Runner. A "Fantasy Prop" simply means that it is something that comes directly from the mind of a dedicated fan, and was not seen in the film, created for production, or even intended to be. Just something inspired by the production.

What is even MORE funny is that I accidentally brought them home in my carry on luggage. Good job TSA. Keeping our skies safe.