Sunday, February 24, 2013

I love The Fifth Element.  For years now, I've wanted to do a tribute to this film. Not sure if it was the star-studded cast, the quirky sci-fi humor or the outright lavish expenditures on props, fx makeup and sets that secured this The Fifth Element's place in my heart.  There's a lot to love about it, that's for sure. But the 4 stones Bruce Willis chases for most of the movie especially captured my imagination.

Enter my humble submission.

True stones: cast in plaster, stained and weathered. Each weighs nearly two and a half pounds.  Build photos will follow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My projects have been pretty slim lately...
So check out what Doug's been up to!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Doug TenNapel's Books: My Favorites!

Check out my one of my favorite artists; Doug TenNapel. Inspired me from a young age to create art of all sorts.
These days, it’s hard for a story teller to get noticed. There is a sea of information and work gets lost in the shuffle. The question isn’t, “How do I make a book?” as much as “Once I make a book how can I get noticed?” Well, in case I haven’t asked for your help yet, tell your friends about my books! Wash, rinse, retweet:

Moved to Sacramento

Updates have been sparse lately because I relocated. Still in the process of getting settled. Hope to get back to the laser gun and pipe projects after settling into my new place. In the mean time, check out the next post--one of my favorite artists of all time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Been working on a set of pipe rests to go with my grenade pipes.
Wanted to make them in the shape of a hand, with a nice large dish in the middle to hold the pipe bowl. After a little trial and error, I came up with a cost-effective method that produces a pretty nice result. Here's a finished set:

How I made them:

First step was to lifecast my own hand. I held a billiard ball and dunked my hand into a bucket of alginate. Once the alginate cured, I removed my hand from the bucket, but left the billiard ball in it. Poured in plaster and let it cure. When I broke open the mold, this is what I had:

Pictured with a pipe, just for aesthetic purposes.

The next step was filling in and sculpting any details that were lost due to bubbles in the plaster. The gray primer helped me identify trouble areas.
Wood filler worked quite nicely for this particular job. Lots of sanding.

I painted it and got prepared to mold.
This part of the process doesn't have any photo documentation. In hindsight...bummer.
Poured a one-piece mold, with the bottom of the pipe rest as the pour spout. I mixed up some fast-cure resin and poured 50-60g into the mold. Couple tablespoons, really. Not much. Capped the mold with a piece of acrylic and rolled the mold around in my hands to rotocast the resin. Set aside to finish curing for an hour before demolding.

What is left is a hollow casting. I turned it upside down and drilled two holes in the bottom; a pour spout and an air vent. Mixed up plaster and poured it in the spout until the casting was completely full. The charm is that they are soft to the touch--shouldn't scratch pipes, yet heavy enough to hold even very large pipes without tipping over.

Cured, cooled, and ready to primer.

Primered and ready to paint. Rustoleum plastic spray paints were my choice. Gloss black.

Final pieces, before they went to their new owners.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bought a belt-sander and spent about an hour on the laser gun with the coarsest grit. It's now about half-sanded. Was a lot of fun, except getting covered in fiberglass dust that itches like crazy. No pics--too dark. Will post once it's all sanded.

I do like the belt sander a lot (Craftsman!) and will enjoy the rest of the sanding. Was worth selling my Xbox games for it. :D

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What I learned about switches and triggers

In preparing for the fiberglassing stage, I found that my trigger was loose. Not just a little loose...tragically loose. It needed to be replaced.

Since the construction of the trigger mechanism, I surfed a few electronics sites and learned that what I made was a "DPDT momentary pushbutton switch" out of two SPST toggles and some springs. Cute, but inefficient and prone to failure. What I needed to do was order a DPDT momentary pushbutton and wire it in.

Armed with this new revelation, I just ordered one of these:
Next I plan to make a new trigger mechanism-- a much simpler, sturdier one that uses this switch to control the LEDs.

3 Months left until my New Years' Resolution expires...hope I can finish this gun in time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Laser Gun update

Here's where I'm up to. Still sculpting the nose, but figured I'd test-fit the electronics and sketch up the patterns. I like where it's heading. Gray areas will have silver "metal" sheeting on top. Black areas will be glossy smooth black.

But she still needs a whole coat of fiberglass and a bunch of sanding before we get to those stages...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Laser gun update

Still working away on the buttstock and getting all the lines square. I like the progress though--take a look:

Straight as an it very well should be.
Carved out the barrel. It will have to be very strong for when someone sets it on its nose. Got a plan, but we'll just take it one thing at a time for now.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hand Grenade Pipe

A month or so back, I doodled an ugly picture of a hand grenade with pipe stem sticking out of it. I kind of snickered at the thought, and showed it to my neighbor. I joked "I should make one of these." He looked at me and said, with great authority, "Yes, you should."

I took his challenge. Used the drill press at work as a poor-man's lathe to make a fairly ugly Jammed a stem into it and put a paper cutout on the top.

It's not much to look at, but it got a huge response on FB. I received several commissions right off the bat, as well as offers to purchase this piece! I refused to sell this one because it is not up to my standards of quality.

My wife gave her approval on my intent to purchase tools and supplies and go into production. $400 later I had cranked out the first one, with 3 more close behind.
Cork keeps the topper attached when pipe is not in use, does not disturb the cake.

Detail of African Mahogany wood grain.

Sitting open on display base.

The full display.

My personal pipe, maple burl.

I have worked in African Mahogany (shown), Maple Burl (shown), Redwood Burl and Ebony. Looking for some undrilled Briar to work with.

Right now all my commissions have been through facebook. The pipes go for $60 apiece and come with filters and the display box.

Laser Gun updates

Been working on the edges and corners--Bondo holds up a lot better than the spackel.

Noticed that the handguard is lopsided by as much as half an inch...yuck.
Built it up with some scrap foamcore board and hot glue.

Then covered it in bondo. *Gloop*

Lots more sanding and patching have been going on.

I tried out some primer, but it wasn't nearly as sandable as I had expected. Note to self: never buy non-sandable primer again.

After 6 months off-and-on-again work, it still feels like it hasn't really progressed much. I decided to treat myself by painting her black, just to get a feel for what she'll look like. Not worried about the mottled texture. The paint honestly doesn't do the gun much good at this stage, but it's good for my fragile psyche.

Still needs the dorsal bump, and got some more shaping to do, especially in the handguard and buttstock sections. Dying to get to the fiberglassing stage though.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Little by little, we're getting there.

Getting everything symmetrical and making templates for the various sections. It's finally starting to pull together. (The poorly-plugged hole near the front is just because I was tired of looking halfway through the gun while working. The foam will be removed and some electronics will go inside later on.)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Laser gun update

Sanding, patching, sanding, patching. Wouldn't have to if I had done it right from the beginning...
But we'll get there.

Lesson to be learned: buy blocks of foam, glue them togther. Measure out your shape and draw it on the foam, then cut/hotwire it. Then do the details. When you're too cheap to buy foam, you will waste hours fixing the problems that cobbling together bits of foam causes for you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Laser gun electronics

Sorry for the non-update period. I'll try to make it up to you with this post.
Laser gun's been moving along slowly. I finally finished the electronics for it though...

First set of half-dome lights stay on as long as the gun is in use or on display.
Once the charging button is held, the charging bars start going.
While holding the charging button, at any time you can pull the trigger and it will shut off the charging bars and engage the firing lights--the two front half domes as well as the large crystal that will be seated deep inside the barrel.

Now to finish the gun sculpt so I can start fitting this stuff to it! :D

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pimpin' My Ride

Snagged an image of the Dharma logo from some corner of the web. Printed it out and cut it into a stencil. Super 77'd it to my car and sprayed away. Not too shabby for a quick job.


Just finished a set of bookends for my wife. She wanted ones that looked like a bridge with a boy on one side and a girl on the other.
Started by measuring out some foamcore, scoring it at 1cm intervals and hot gluing it down to another strip of foamcore. Making sure it curved evenly, I traced out the curve onto some basswood and cut along the lines. Glued the wood to the foamcore and cut slits for the vertical posts.
Set the posts in and cut them 3" from the top of the foamcore. After this photo, I soaked and bent 2 long strips of basswood, leaving them bent to dry. I rounded the tops of the posts and glued the railing to the posts.
Started sculpting the girl.

Started sculpting the guy.
I bent a sheet of steel to a 90-degree angle, and hot glued it to another sheet.
Hot-glued the bridge to 'em to make it a functional (though lightweight) bookend. Sprayed it with metallic bronze.

Finshed the sculpts and sprayed it all bronze. Antiqued the figures with black acrylic paint, then sprayed a clear gloss coat to finish 'er up.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

TMNT Ooze Canister

Hailing back to TMNT 2, Secret of the Ooze.

Spent a few weeks on this, picking at it slowly. Real glass, real ooze...real fun.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Doodling in church... actually very pleased with how it turned out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This has been a little derelict--busy with top secret stuff at work.
But check out my buddy's comic at and the animatic trailer for it:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lifecast hands in Plaster

Fingers lost some detail b/c with cheap plaster the grit settles too much. But I was most interested in the wrists--planning to sculpt a custom watchband. Should work great.

Friday, December 11, 2009

AVM Mini

Don't know if I mentioned, but I now work for United Biologics as the Molding/Casting Supervisor. Two weeks ago we launched a project that had been my baby for months. Got rather attached to it during production, but could not go public with the project until now. So with much pride, I give you the AVM Mini:

Credit goes to all the people directly involved:
Craig (President) oversaw the project.
I designed it, sculpted the unit from scratch, molded, cast, and colored it.
Laura sculpted the vessel pattern I requested for the inside, and I integrated it.
Evan assisted me with running the molds once production was rolling, and he took care of getting laser-cut lids.

I love my job.

Friday, October 23, 2009

FX Glass Bottles

Made some sugar glass bottles for "Self Storage," a film Jared Norby's working on. Not hero bottles, just quick action shots. So I made a bunch real fast and left the so-so ones in with the good ones. Lots of 'splosions occurred.

Not too shabby, for next-to-no-budget.
Thanks for the pic, Jared!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Goggles Update # 391

I talk too much. So... picture!

Pretty much ready to mold, then cast in flex-urethane.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Progress on the goggles:
Lense rings! Grooved out the inside so that the lenses will sit snug without falling out.

Tryin' em on for size. Decent fit!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

All-Metal Business Card Holder

Had a boring evening and too much alginate sitting around, so I decided to experiment; molded my hand in the alginate and melted down some tin. Poured the molten tin in the wet mold with a loud hiss. I knew from the start that it wouldn't be a good lifecast...but I wasn't sure exactly what I would get. See for yourself:


Using Threadbanger's DIY vid, I made a pair of spats for my halloween costume!
For a quick project I didn't want to commit any real time to, they turned out good enough. It'll do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I've been sculpting 2 neurosurgery products for CJDP Inc. Waiting to hear about a patent for them before I can post any pics, but they'll be awesome.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Goggles Update

So the clay I was using was far too soft, and wouldn't keep the nice sharp edges I was looking for. So I peeled off the details and molded the core in alginate. Smeared Bondo in the mold and Sanded it down. Spray paint helped me find the details that needed filling. So here's where we're up to:

Next, I'll add the rings around the lens holes and temple plates. Last, add the faux rivets and cut out the strap slots. Can't wait to mold and cast this puppy.