Anyone who’s watched Attack on Titan, the anime series by Hajime Isayama, has at some point wished they could strap on the 3D manuevering gear of the Scout Regiment and zip around like a katana-wielding Spiderman. Acrobatics aside, I realized that dream when I made one of the most detailed and source-accurate cosplay I’ve ever taken on.
As a huge fan of the Harry Potter series, I’ve naturally made my share of wands. Every wand is unique and every wandsmith has their own techniques. I’ll tell you a few of the ways I’ve made them, and explain my favorite method.
I found out at an early age that I’m allergic to white walls. Everywhere I live or work ends up plastered with T-shirts, posters, flags, toys, projects, tapestries— whatever it takes to make it feel more like home.
When I moved to a new city, I knew I’d be living completely by myself for the first time in my life. I’ve been lucky in the past, in that all my other cohabitants have enjoyed (or at least tolerated) the eclectic nonsense that went up on the walls. Starting fresh though, I wanted a decor that was unique, thematic and at least a little classy. I always wished I could have grown up at Hogwarts, so I settled on trying to make my apartment feel as close to the Ravenclaw Common Room as possible. In this post you’ll find the DIY details I managed to document while taking on one of the biggest customization projects of my life.
I knew setting out that this was going to be a lot more time consuming and expensive than just thumb tacking a few items to the drywall, so I started by taking a look at the space as it was, planning out the major components, and budgeting the supplies.
I spent a lot of lunch breaks at work sketching or making lists.
I even went so far as to make a Gantt chart on smartsheet.com to try and have it finished as soon as possible (This was actually helpful because I tend to get side-tracked easily by other projects in progress).
As you can see, I had a lot of ideas, but it boiled down to a few important components:
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During my dorm years in college I organized an annual Harry Potter Trivia Night. It worked just like Jeopardy! At any given point there were four representatives from each house at the front tables. They would choose a topic and difficulty, I would read the question and any house could buzz in to answer.
The game itself was quite a undertaking, but I also spent weeks on decoration and planning so that the experience was much more immersive. I MCed the whole event from beside the screen, navigating the complex powerpoint over a projector to bounce between the hourglass-scoreboard, category boards and the questions. I didn’t want to just sit behind a computer screen like some kind of Muggle, so I crafted myself a symbol of authority, dignity and wisdom to stand before me. I made a replica of Dumbledore’s owl podium.
In October 2017 it was announced that Adam Savage, original co-host of Mythbusters, would be collaborating with Michael Stevens, the host of the Youtube channel, VSauce, on a touring show called Brain Candy Live, which they describe as a “… celebration of curiosity that’s an interactive, hands-on, minds-on theatrical experience like no other.”
I’ve been a huge fan of both Mythbusters and VSauce, since they started, so when I saw that they would be touring through my city, I bought VIP tickets immediately. The tickets came with a chance to ask questions and get photos be part of a Q&A with Michael and Adam. I started to think about what I’d like to ask them and realized that more than anything I wanted a way to thank them for the years of entertainment, education, and inspiration.
Making stuff is part of how I’ve always let people know that I appreciate them. From canning my and my roomate’s laughter, to making a talking “Drinking Out of Cups” action figure, I always find myself making personalized gifts for all my friends; so why not my role models?
For Adam, I made a shirt that says “Savage AF”, because who doesn’t wish they were as cool as Adam? See more about that in my post on Custom T-Shirts.
Michael’s gift was a little bit more complicated. I originally designed a shirt featuring Michael crouching in front of a camera, because it’s obvious he must do this about a dozen times to make a VSauce video.
Over one summer, a lot of my friends started playing Magic: the Gathering. It’s a good way to pass a few hours, make some new friends, or piss off the friends you already have when you make them kill their own creatures or throw their whole deck into the graveyard.
On of my buddies spent hours putting decks together and started buying into the competitive play at the local bookstore on Friday nights. All the coolest nerds had custom play mats or fancy dice. I wasn’t that into MTG, but I was into making custom stuff, so I decided to make my friend a case that he could show off at Friday Night Magic as a birthday gift.
When I was in middle school my parents were friends with a woman who had spent years doing custom leather work for a living. She was really generous with her time and supplies, meaning I still have a huge box in my closet that’s full of hides, hole-punches, stamps, etc.
I wanted the finished product to look clean but also very Medieval and ominous. The first thing I decided after a few quick sketches was that I needed some hardware. I ordered a cool latch and some spikes.
I love riding my bike but I moved to a big city known for it’s traffic. I bought a road bike but needed a helmet. My uncle had this old motorcycle helmet laying around but it was so round and bulky that it inspired me to make some modifications.
It was incredibly big and awkward looking, which also describes my head to begin with, so it I felt kind of like the Mushroom People from Mario Kart while wearing it. I realized how dome-shaped it was and immediately knew what needed to be done.
Before starting a project, I like to do a little research to see if someone has made something similar already. In some cases it’s a good thing because it will provide inspiration or instruction, while in other cases it may just make it not feel worth the trouble. If I want to appreciate the process of making something, I’ll assemble a model or a Lego set. When I make a project from scratch I want to end up with something unique that cant just be bought.
Unsurprisingly, I’m not the first person to think of doing this. Someone named Jenn made a pretty good version a few years back and blogged about it. Hers was just a paint job though and I already knew I wanted mine to have all the bells and whistles. Speaking of bells, the bike accessory company Bell makes an R2D2 bike helmet, but only in toddler sizes. It’s a little more 3D, but I still felt like I could do better. Continue reading “R2D2 Bike Helmet”
This project started out as an idea for a Halloween costume, but after thinking back to the ice-levels of that classic 90’s game, I realized that if it’s designed properly it could be a great way to look cool and stay warm on the ski slopes.
Just like with the Elfie Hat, this project will be wearable, so to help me get a better idea of how best to design and build it, I make a quick list of a few aspects.
One of the biggest perks of living in Austin is the tacos, and no one makes them better than Torchy’s Tacos. It was love at first bite and I’ve grown to love the sight of the cherub devil mascot.
One day I was at the dollar store stocking up on foam-core and a few other random items, when a little solar-powered dancing Valentine’s devil caught my eye. Maybe I was just hungry, but I found the resemblance between this tchotchke and the local taco chain’s mascot to be pretty uncanny and for one dollar I cant resist the chance to have a dancing Torchy of my own. Continue reading “Torchy’s Tacos Dancing Devil”
The Dummy Gelunde Jump is an annual contest at Ski Apache, where dummies on skis from far and wide are launched off a massive jump. Similar dummy jumps can be found at other ski resorts like Mount Sunapee and Mission Ridge. The specifications and judging criteria vary, but most will require only 2 skis be used and will reward creativity, height of jump and distance traveled or proximity to a bulls-eye. Continue reading “Wile E. Coyote Dummy Gelunde Ski Jump”