Friday, December 11, 2009

How to Freeze Han Solo in Carbonite!

If you've been following the last entry on How to Build the Star Wars Cantina, you know that our group of friends hosted a Star Wars Party this year for Halloween. Well, when it was first announced, my better half immediately decided that her costume would be Han Solo Frozen in Carbonite.

At first, I was just going to take a thick sheet of pink insulating foam and sculpt that, however she requested it be flexible enough to move and sit down in. So... off to an upholstery shop to buy some foam rubber it was!

On one of our wandering trips, we found ourselves at Jessen Upholstery in Lisle. The lady working there was very accommodating and was able to sell us a 3' x 6' x 2" sheet of foam rubber:

What was really cool was that she brought us down to the workshop so we could select the thickness we were expecting. While we were down there, I asked if we could grab some of the scraps as well, as I knew I'd be "sculpting" later on.
As an added bonus, somebody at work was throwing away bags of foam rubber blocks. I snagged a few of them as well:

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the next few steps. First we figured out where Jen's head would poke through. This was simple enough: stand up the foam in front of her and carefully mark it with a Sharpie. Then we cut the hole out with a bread knife - it worked, but wasn't very clean (more later). Notice we didn't cut out the hand holes yet - that was done very last, as I wanted to make sure everything else fit proportionately.

Knowing where her head goes, the next step was to layout where Han's body sticks out of the Carbonite. I used this picture as reference as it was high resolution and had good contrast. I printed it out and drew a grid on it that I. Then it was simply a matter of marking the grid on the foam and upscaling and transferring the contour details from the picture. (I wish I had that picture. You'll see some of the outlines further down.)

Then, going through the bag of foam blocks, I picked out ones that would cover the body contours, like so:

With the same 3M™ FoamFast Spray Adhesive we used on the Cantine rails (and Jabba), I glued all the blocks together, transferred the contour to the newly formed entity, and then cut it to shape.

At this point, I should mention that the bread knife wasn't doing it. Somewhere I read the suggestion to use an electric carving knife. I found a $10 cheapie at our local bargain-mart and it cut through the foam like butter!! (Please be careful when using an electric carving knife - remember it is intended to cut meat!)

Then came the delicate task of carving the foam to shape. An hour or so of careful electric carving knife wizardry and...

The next step was to get the cool wrinkle effect. I thought about carving it, but the foam just isn't that forgiving. What better way to make wrinkles than cloth! I went to a local fabric store and asked one of the helpful ladies there the best material that is stretchy, moves well, and would take spray paint. I forgot exactly what she recommended, but it was pretty much the same kind of spandex stuff that the Jabba project was using. I sprayed the foam down with the spray adhesive, let it set a bit and laid down the fabric. This was probably the trickiest part - getting the wrinkles in the right places.

I used a thin strip of foam for the belt-line.

One detail we cannot forget is the tips of Han's boots poking out of the Carbonite. This was simple enough as I just cut down one of the foam blocks to roughly a boot tip and then glued on a flat piece of scrap foam cut to shape.

Extra bonus that it had a cool texture!

Now back to the main portion. I knew I needed some sort of "Carbonite texture", so I saved all the thinner scraps of foam I got from all the cutting. I was just going to glue them into place, but discovered that if you hold the can of spray adhesive a distance away, the spray kind of reforms into a stream that looks all splotchy when it ends up on a surface. So..... I just sprayed the whole area and stuck the foam bits into it.

Another coat of the spray adhesive over everything and we could put the 'Han parts' into place:

You can see that I had already cut out notches for the 'control panels' or whatever they are. Since I was limited to two inch thickness, they ended up being small found parts:

Next step: the 'Frame'. Going through the scraps we got from the upholsterer, I retrieved some very flat foam strips. These, Jen further cut into 2" wide strips:

These were then glued into place around the edges of the whole shebang:

FINALLY! Time to paint!

It ended up taking two spray cans of silver Krylon paint.

The cloth ended up looking a little flat, so I hit it with the spray adhesive in stringy mode, let it dry and sprayed it silver again. The last things to do was to hot-glue the 'control' panels into place and cut the arm holes.

To complete the costume, Jen applied silver creme makeup to her face and donned latex gloves sprayed silver:


These were the top 5 of the costume contest. Out of three prizes, Jen took Best Female Costume!

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