My First Worbla/EVA Foam Project

I needed a very particular 1950s football helmet but the only existing ones I could find were youth sized. Hoping that I could somehow make it fit, I went ahead and bought one off eBay. Upon its arrival it was clear that there was no way I’d ever get my head in there. Having watched some of Evil Ted Smith‘s videos on YouTube I felt vaguely confident that I could make an adult sized copy. I already had some EVA foam on hand that I’d picked up at Harbor Freight for my husband’s vault suit so I only needed to buy some Barge Cement and a Kershaw blade sharpener.

Using Evil Ted’s techniques I covered the football helmet in aluminum foil and then covered the foil in duct tape. I transferred design details such as the placement of the holes onto the duct tape. I also drew the lines where I’d be cutting the pattern into its various pieces along with hash marks to help line them back up later. I chose the side I thought looked best and used it for my master. I cut it apart with scissors and added slashes in the side piece to flatten it out. I then traced them onto brown paper to make my final pattern pieces.

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I used straight pins to hold the pattern in place while I drew on the foam. Next time I might try double sided tape instead to avoid putting unnecessary holes in the foam. I wasn’t confident I could keep my knife at a 90° angle with all those curves so I used my scroll saw to make most of my cuts. I heated my foam with a heat gun and started shaping it.

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Once my pieces were shaped I started to assemble them. It was about this time that I realized I hadn’t enlarged the pattern. Instead of panicking I just figured “eh, practice piece” but it actually turned out to be a perfect fit. Totally on purpose. Yup. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a picture while wearing it at this stage despite how often I wore it around the house. Oh well. I tried to fill the seams in with caulk but it didn’t really smooth out to my liking. I think the gaps were bigger than they should have been because of the rougher cut of the scroll saw. I did try to smooth the edges out a bit but it was nowhere close to as smooth as a what a straight blade cut would have been.

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I shaped my ear pieces on the belt sander and glued them in place. With the base completed I started cutting out Worbla pieces for what I thought would be my finished surface. I layered the Worbla directly onto the foam and it seemed like everything would go as planned.

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I put the second piece on and was gently kneading the two center pieces together with my fingers when I had a great idea “I should use something as a rolling pin to make this faster and get a smoother surface!”. I located an empty vitamin bottle, heated the seam back up and started to roll the bottle across the seam. Except it didn’t roll. It immediately stuck to the Worbla and when I pulled the bottle off a big hunk of Worbla came with it. Panic ensued. I tried to put the blob back in place but the damage was done. I smoothed it out the best I could and moved on to the other pieces intending to come back later and work it down some more. I did one side piece and it was pretty much a disaster as well. The Worbla stretched out of shape around the slashes when I picked it up causing it to not line up properly so I had some overlapping and general mayhem. The stretched parts were thin and rougher in texture. For the next side piece I cut it into three pieces and placed them individually. This worked much better. For the ear piece I shaped it over the actual helmet with the intent of just heating up the edges and sticking it on my copy. That didn’t go well. The heat travelled onto the ear shape and basically caved it in. It was looking pretty grim at this stage. I decided on a new approach to the ear pieces and ripped off my first try along with the foam ear pieces I had glued on. I shaped some Worbla over the original helmet just like before but this time I backed it with Loctite Repair Putty so it’d hopefully hold its shape through the heating process.

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This approach worked much better but was not without flaws. I had to use Worbla scraps as clay and fill in gaps where the Loctite and the foam transitioned. I tried skimming wood filler over where the pieces met to help smooth it out but I wasn’t really satisfied with the results. Reheating caused big air bubbles to form under the Worbla which had to be pierced with a pin so the air could be released. At this stage I got a bit hung up on fiddling with it trying to get it as smooth as possible.

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I finally acknowledged the fact that I wasn’t making much headway smoothing the Worbla so I decided to bust out the Bondo. I did a layer of Gesso first to get a uniform color then I started layering on the Bondo. Once I got my first layer on I went over everything with my sander and brushed away all the Bondo dust. Then I just repeated the Bondo, sand, dust process until I was reasonably happy with the surface of my helmet. I sprayed it with white primer near the end of the process to better see the areas that needed to be filled in.

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I evened out the edge of the helmet by smoothing Apoxie Sculpt over it. I used more Bondo to smooth the edges of the Apoxie into the helmet. I did a couple layers of triple thick glaze to help fill in some of the tiny imperfections and I cut a 1/8″ strip of 2mm foam to trim the edge. I glued it on with super glue and sealed it with white glue to protect it from the spray paint. I used a grinding bit on the Dremel to open the holes in the top and a sanding drum to clear the foam away from the ear holes. Everything got a few layers of primer and was ready to be painted.

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I painted it all red and painted my hardware silver. I used the same 2mm craft foam for the white stripe and glued everything on. I decided to paint the stitches on and called it done since my convention was fast approaching. Now that I’m no longer in a rush I think I’m going to make some improvements. I’ll probably replace the foam strips with styrene. I’ll paint the middle stripe red and use white tape for the stripe as in the original. I’d also like to find smaller snaps as the ones I got are a little large. I’ll replace the googly eye rivets with something that will sit lower to the surface of the helmet. The Apoxie Sculpt also cracks when I have to bend the helmet to get it on. It’s only visible when the helmet is being bent but it bugs me. I’m thinking of sanding the AS off and replacing it with Sugru but I’ll have to order some first and see how it handles. I also need to add in a little leather-looking edge. I may Dremel off the inside edge entirely and replace it with leather. Lastly, I’d like to replace the painted stitches with real ones. For now, this is how it looks compared to the original.

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In other news, I finally broke down and got Body Double to make my headcast with. The plan is to get it done over Thanksgiving weekend.

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Lastly, my husband advised me that my menu settings were a bit confusing to navigate so I added buttons to the drop-down menus in addition to the top button also being a link.

Dragon Con No Go

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend Dragon Con this year. One of my elderly kitties, Blaze, got sick and was hospitalized and I couldn’t handle the guilt of leaving him. He’s a delicate little lotus blossom who only shows himself to me and my husband. If anyone else is in the house he visits Narnia via the kitchen cabinets until a couple hours after our company has left when he’s sure the coast is clear. I was afraid the stress of being picked up and cared for over the long weekend by someone other than myself or my husband might worsen his condition. There was also the possibility of having to give him meds once he was discharged so we opted to stay home this year to tend to my little mama’s boy.

Blaze got better and he sat in my lap contentedly as I pouted and pored over the deluge of posts on Dragon Con’s FaceBook page. Since I was following the page so diligently I was able to buy our tickets for next year as soon as they became available. I also made a reservation at the Ellis based on intel saying they were working on a convention rate for 2016. According to what I’ve read since, it seems negotiations either fell through or it was a ruse from the start. Fortunately, they allow you to cancel your reservation without penalty. Guess I’ll be competing in the 2016 D*C Host Hotel Hunger Games after all. Yay?

Even though I didn’t get to go this year I prepared and packed like a pro. I used this list as a starting point and customized it to my specifics resulting in a glorious packing manifesto. When I realized I wouldn’t be going after all I got to work making a fancy schmancy version on the ‘puter. List-making can be quite therapeutic. I haven’t stopped revising it since I made it that weekend but the bulk of it is satisfactory now. No specific costume items are listed here, only general undergarments and such that I use for most things so that I can use the list every year. I have a separate list for the specific costumes I’ll bring which includes any special repair items I might need.

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The cooler was always a pain to haul to and from the hotel room so this year I got a rolling cooler to alleviate some of our travel woes. To the same end, I also purchased a Versacart to house any odd-shaped costume items or other what nots that wouldn’t travel well in a suitcase. I’m a huge proponent of putting wheels on everything, it just makes life easier. Before next D*C I think I’ll upgrade our luggage to hardside spinners as seen here to prevent any unfortunate costume squishing.

Fluttershy

My Fluttershy project is officially underway! It took forever to cut everything out since I decided to underline it. I also had to make a trip to JoAnn’s because I ran out of fabric, I hadn’t decided to underline it when I first bought it. It was raining and I nearly had a bad fall when I stepped off their rug and onto their highly polished floor. Forgot I was wearing my suicide flip flops. They must be in line for some insurance money because that’s not the first time they’ve tried to do me in. Homicidal footwear aside the first phase went pretty well. Here’s a shot of my very first underlined pattern piece. Terribly exciting, I know!

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I couldn’t find any suitable shoes to paint at the thrift stores so I turned to eBay. I found tons of cutie-poo shoes but they were all shipping from China and my event is in less than two weeks. I ended up finding these Soda shoes in the US and they’re already yellow. I have another pair of Soda shoes and I like them pretty well so maybe these won’t rub my heel through to the bone. I hope they aren’t too bright.
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I guess I can quit being cryptic about Fluttershy now. I just don’t want it to be copied before I even get to finish it myself lol. I was trying to decide what would make a nice Fluttershy dress and I had recently done Alice in Wonderland so a crossover popped into my head. I had no idea Fluttershy in Wonderland was already a thing. I don’t look at much brony stuff so that’s not surprising. Even so, I didn’t see where anyone had done the actual costume so I came up with this design. Now it’s just a race to get done by my event date!
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Goodies arrived!

I’ve had these for about a week now but I keep forgetting to post. I got my tights for my Fluttershy project, I think I’ll remove the icky bows. I’d remove the lace as well but it’s attached with a cover hem so it’d be a pain. My horsehair braid is also for Fluttershy, I’m looking forward to trying it out for the first time. The Swarovski crystals I got for G2 ponies are soooo pretty in person. I want to put them on all the things! Finally, I got a little tub of Pros-Aide. I hope I get to try my head cast again soon so I can test it out.

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Ball point bodkins and other goodies

A ball point bodkin is a handy tool to have in your sewing kit. They’re great for turning spaghetti straps and threading elastic through a casing. They’re relatively inexpensive and will save a ton of time and frustration.

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I just bought my first horse hair braid from Vogue Fabrics! I got the 2″ width with the thread at the top that can be pulled up to match the curve of the skirt. It should do nicely for my Fluttershy project. I also got a 1 oz. container of Pros-Aide to try with my next head casting attempt. I don’t like the crusty feeling of the spirit gum so we’ll see how this works out. I also got the Pros-Aide remover since it sounds like it’s pretty tough stuff.