A Journey with Love and Laughter

Read about our family as we journey through life as a family, with siblings, school and spina bifida, and lots of fun and laughter along the way!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Death Star Plans

For Halloween Nick is going to be Darth Vader, and for his wheelchair costume I made him a Death Star! I wasn't always 100% sure it would turn out. So I had a couple of back-up plans, and I started really early in case I need to start over.

I thought the best way to do this was with paper mache. I looked to see if I could water proof paper mache, and I could. And I figured it would be light enough so that it wouldn't weigh down the wheelchair, and I can cut out what I want.

First thing was blowing up a 3ft balloon!
I picked 3 ft because it would cover the chair. I bought a 5 pk on ebay, but have since found them at our local Michaels.

I looked at some different recipes for paper mache and wanted something that was strong enough.
Ultimate Paper Mache is a blog that I used for all of my resources. They have recipes and videos.

I had lots of torn up newspaper, thanks to some co-workers and collecting newspaper over the last couple of weeks. And I made the traditional flour and water paste.

I had to find a box to sit the balloon on and support it while I added the papers. And also to remember that if you do it all on one side, the balloon with tilt.

I spent one day, and used a whole 5lb package of flour, but I finished it.
I put about 5 layers on it. I added some features to the paper mache, like the laser lens and the equator of the death star.

Kyle was excited to pop this huge balloon, but after it had dried, the balloon popped itself. I was at work, but Kyle said he heard it from upstairs, and the dogs ran upstairs terrified of the animal that sounded like it was scrambling around inside.
It took a couple of days for the balloon to dry and once it was dried I could see how it fit on the chair.
And it ended up fitting perfectly!

Once I knew it was fit it was time to problem solve to try to get it to sit how we wanted on the chair. Of course I first looked at what we had around the house, and we had a bunch of large hula hoops. Which fit perfectly into the base of the chair. Just one hula hoop isn't enough, so I wrapped 3 together. It still needed another base farther down, so after exploring our home depot I found that sign stakes that can fit into the inside of the hula hoop, and then hold against the base of the chair. And then I taped everything together.
I added some pool noodles inside to help the hula hoops to stay in place.
I also added a hula hoop around the middle to help it to stay in place

After making sure we had it balanced properly it was time to make sure I cut it out properly.
I spent an afternoon pulling Nick in and out of the chair so that I could get it cut the right way.

I wanted to make sure Nick wasn't hidden inside the Death Star, but that he also had the ability to fully move himself around (so there had to enough space for his arms to go back).

Once I had everything cut out properly and I knew that Kyle and I could get it on and off (yes it takes both of us), then it was time to paint it.
Looking at the website and recommendations to make paper-mache waterproof, I wanted to put a base that would then get painted. So I made a gesso, which is a paste that will harden and help to make it waterproof.

I used white glue, drywall paste and white paint. It called for 2/3 joint compound and 1/3 glue. But I used about half and half by the time I was done. I watched a video and pretty much you just mix everything together.
But here is the thing. It dries very quickly! So don't do what I did and just mix everything together in a large batch. I ended up losing half of it once it started to dry before I was done.

I ended up using a paint brush at first to put it on, but that didn't really work. Towards the end I just grabbed a handful of the compound and smoothed it out by hand.
The recipe said to sand paper it to make it smooth. I started to sand paper it, but in the end I decided smooth wasn't that important. This took about 1 day to dry

Once I had my base it was time to paint it. But I needed some inspiration for how to paint it. And by this time this was my one chance, I wasn't going to make another one if I messed this one up. I used metallic grey and black paint to use.

To help to clean up the edges I also used pipe wrap (which I use almost every year) to go around all of the edges to make them cleaner. And painted everything.

I did 2 layers of paint and then drew out the squares.

I mixed the black and grey metallic paint to make a metallic dark grey. Which turned out well. And then coloured everything in. I also added some green into the laser. I wasn't that happy with how my laser turned out (it looked more like a radiation symobol to me). And so I redid it a couple of times before I was happy

I also added Nick's name into the bottom of the Death Star, fitting it into the design.

I found the right picture of what I wanted to do with the lights. And then just started painting the lights on. Again no design, just random lights.

I did the lights one time, looked at it and didn't like it after a couple of areas, so I painted over it and started again. And I redid the laser part until I was happy with the design.

After a coat of verathane it was done!
Darth-Nickolas was happy with the result!

Now I just have to hope we can get it onto the wheelchair!
But you will have to wait for the final result!

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