My Little Fish announced her Halloween plans for this year with much the same gusto as last year’s Quorra costumes: she wanted to be Sabine Wren, one of the main characters in last year’s new Disney cartoon, Star Wars Rebels.
The Mandalorian armour worn by Sabine means that I will need to learn at least two new skills for the build (foam fabrication, fibreglassing) and much better develop a third (sculpting) and a fourth (mold making). It’s a little daunting, but I’m all in on it. And we’re buckling and buying most of Whistler’s Halloween costume (Jinnifire, of Monster High), so I’m quite happy to invest the effort.
This afternoon, in a couple of hours between a birthday party and making dinner, the kids and I sat down to work on the armour.
Note: if you’ve done any foam fabrication before, this will not be overly useful as a tutorial, but if you like kids it might be worth sticking around for the story.
First off, I scaled up a straight-on image of Sabine’s breastplate and put a little dart in it to help shape it around her ribcage. We hit some cereal-box cardboard with spray adhesive and applied the image, cutting it out to use it as a pattern.
My Little Fish traced the image onto some EVA foam floor mats, and we cut out one side as a test. (She’s a little gung-ho with knives right now, so I handled the razor pen).
Little Fish then wielded our new toy, a heat gun, to soften up the foam. She immediately got the idea of distributing the heat evenly over the piece of foam, but in practise seemed to mostly point it at my fingers, melting the label half off the back of my new grip gloves. Once it was soft enough, we did what the internet apparently calls “dishing” – pressing it firmly into the curve of a bowl. A large cereal bowl did nicely, and the piece took some shape with very little difficulty.
We used some Lepage Gel Control superglue to close the little wedge – it held instantly and set incredibly quickly.
Now proven to work and to be the right size, we duplicated the process:
And then did a quick test fitting:
With only a little bit of time left before dinner, I suggested we call it a day, but my Little Fish insisted we try to get the whole upper body done. Never one to argue, I agreed.
Meanwhile, Whistler saw a shape in a piece of scrap foam, and proceeded to make a train.
We patterned the collar pieces and the shoulder pads. The collar I formed by hand, and we dished the shoulder pad in a smaller cereal bowl. I imagine we’ll use the same bowl when we do knees and elbows.
Finally, we got something that looked like this:
The girls actually helped a lot. Measurements, patterning, wielding the heat gun – it was a true team effort. The Fish has a lot of pride in the costume already. Last year, they loved their costumes – loved them – but they didn’t have a whole lot of pride in them, necessarily. I know they expressed some pride that I’d made them, which was awesome, but nothing is the same as their pride in ownership of a thing they’ve helped make.
So my Little Fish wanted keep wearing the unpainted EVA foam armour, but I eventually convinced her to take it off. But not before she asked to take a selfie with me.
More to come.
Until next time, folks, paddle your own canoe.