The Doctor Who Experience

Yeah, today I was just hanging out with Matt Smith, Billie Piper, and Karen Gillan. No big deal.  It was just me and them and several thousand other rabid Who fans. Even though I’ve watched many of these panels online, it still made me mist up just a little when these Who actors took the stage at my local con.  Matt and Karen are My Doctor and Companion, the first ones this face saw, and while Capaldi and Coleman has maybe taken tops for my affections, there will always be a special place in my heart for these two.   All three actors were lovely and it was a real joy to be in a room with so many other fans and their amazing energy and enthusiasm.

doctor who actorsAnother great thing about Doctor Who is that it is something I share with my family. None of them are as big a fan as I am, but my teenage daughter is close.  Here is a picture of us in front of the TARDIS at the con.  We are in my Eleventh Doctor 7b cosplay and my new Twelfth Cosplay.  I haven’t taken the time to get good pictures of these costumes, but we had a fun time wearing them today.


A few other random observations about the con.  In the first two days of the con I have only seen one other Twelfth Doctor cosplayer.  There are Eleventh Doctor  cosplayers everywhere.  While, I admit, it may be somewhat related to the fact that Matt Smith was at our con, I was still surprised.  I also expected to see a lot of Missy’s but I only saw one, and that one wasn’t outstanding.  (I’m seriously thinking Missy as my next cosplay. That would be very sewing intensive.)   On the flip-side, we counted 38 TARDIS dresses. We even saw one or two we liked.


Sanctuary Base 6 Space Suit: Helmet Final

helmet final

helmet final 2led lights

I realized I haven’t taken a picture with the LEDs on, so I quickly snapped this one to give you an idea.

So it’s done.  100% EVA foam helmet from scratch. I’ve built chest plates and weapons but never a helmet.  It was a fun adventure.  Now to make the suit.

Sanctuary Base 6 Space Suit Build: Helmet Part 7 LED and Neck Gasket


With the painting complete it’s time to put in my LED lights.   I have a LED flashlight on the front, it’s 5 bulbs, and then three on the top and three in the front chin.

LED wireing

Here is the battery pack and switch. I had designed it to go in the back but made my wires too short so it has to go on the side. It still fits fine. I didn’t glue any of the electronics in because I anticipate that I may have to replace them eventually.

neck 1

The rubber gasket that connects the helmet to the suit has given me the most trouble.  I’ve done tones of research to see if I could buy something like this with no luck.  I’ve only seen one other person online attempt to make this helmet and they didn’t have a good gasket either.   So I put my creative mind to work and decided to make it out of 2 sheets of  12×18 inch  3 mm black craft foam.

Neck close up

At first I just hot glued them together, but when I started to apply heat to make them accordion the hot glue melted and they pulled apart.  So I tried sewing them.  I have never sewn craft foam together so I sewed a practice piece first and then pulled and tugged on it to see if it would rip; it didn’t.   After sewing using the heat gun I molded it into an accordion shape.  It was a lot of patient work, and I am lucky that I have what I call “mommy hands”, meaning I can tolerate a lot of heat (a byproduct of years of cooking and doing dishes).  After molding it into an accordion I tied it with cloth ties and let it sit overnight.  The next morning much to my surprise and pleasure it stayed in place.

neck ring

Before I went to put in the ring, I measured again, and I’m glad I did because all that melting and stretching had made the neck ring too large.  So I cut out a couple of inches, resewed, retied and let it sit again.  This time it was even better and tighter than the first.     Meanwhile I took the outer ring of my embroidery hoop and expanded it by a couple inches by gluing a bent (with heat) popsicle stick.  Then I wrapped the whole thing in duct tape.  More heating and stretching to get the ring to fit into the foam.  Then I hotglued it in.

Neck 2

Then I cut the top of my foam ring to fit the contours of the helmet and hot glued it in place.  It fit really well which, frankly, was a miracle.  In this picture you can also see the finished outer ring with the crochet hoop installed.  I’m just amazed by how versatile foam is and how easy to work it.  The outer ring turned out smooth and perfect.  I decided not to paint this. I melted black foam really was exactly the rubber type look I wanted.

neck finishing

Now with the rubber neck ring installed it was time to put on those last finishing details. Here you can see the small black foam strips I installed to smooth out the connection between the helmet and the neck piece.  Like all other foam pieces, these were hand fit, sanded and heat sealed before placement.

helmet finished

And here it is.


Sanctuary Base Space Suit: Helmet Part 6 Painting

Ready to Plasti Dip

It’s winter here and temperatures are in the teens, so I have to paint in the garage.  I moved out the cars, covered some things with towels and put up a large box behind my helmet to catch the spray.  Plasti Dip is not bad with over spray, as it is rather thick, but the smell is very powerful.

Plasti Dip

It took three coats to cover it all.  I confess that this was my first experience using the stuff.  I had hoped it would fill in more of the small pits and cracks in the foam than it did, but what it did give me is a nice consistent surface that would take the paint evenly.

Spray Paint

I decided to leave the front visor area with just the plasti dip. I liked the texture it gave, and didn’t think paint would look as good.  The rest I painted with high gloss yellow spray paint. It took a good seven coats.  And while the plasti dip wasn’t a problem in the garage, the yellow spraypaint, even with the box and other measures, left a fine yellow dusting over everything.

Paiting Details

After letting it dry 24 hours I hand painted in details with acrylic paint.  I used a black wash to fill in shadows. It took several coats of paint to get my screw heads silver, then I accented them with gunmetal and white.

painting details 3

It still didn’t have the greasy sort of look I wanted to I went in and dry brushed it.

Painting details 4

Lastly, to give the impression of wearing, I painted edges and ridges with gunmetal. I even gave it a few scratches here and there.  I kept thinking about what surfaces would be getting rubbed or abused and tried to paint accordingly.

Painting details 2

Sanctuary Base 6 Space Suit: Helmet Part 5

One tricky part was how to attach the large back hose to the helmet. I wanted to be able to unattach the hose at will, and also to have it pull away if snagged or pulled rather than ripping the helmet apart.

January 2015 001For the main hose I used a washing machine drain hose. I’m guessing it’s about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  The hose is hard plastic but the top part is rubber, which was good luck for me.  I cut down the rubber top but left a ridge that I could compress and slide into a smaller hole, then it expands again and holds the hose in place.  I was also able to drill a hole into the rubber to attach the smaller hose.

January 2015 004January 2015 002

All the details in place, this helmet is ready for Plasti Dip.


Sanctuary Base 6 Space Suit: Accounting

So here is an accounting of what I’ve spent so far on this project:

    • 1/2 inch EVA foam pads from Harbor Freight  $10.00
    • Heat gun from Harbor Freight $14.00
    • 1/4 inch EVA foam mat from Harbor Freight $8.00
    • SAS Deluxe Face Shield from Harbor Freight $12.00
    • Google eyes  $2.00
    • 12 inch embroidery hoop from Hobby Lobby $3.00
    • 2 large sheets of 2mm craft foam $2.00
    • Decorative gears from Hobby Lobby $3.00
    • 1/4 inch flex tubing $4.00
    • PVC washing machine drain hose from Lowes $10.00
    • Plasti-Dip from Lowes $6.00
    • Yellow spray paint $4.00
    • Tree Stand Safety Harness from eBay $15.00
    • Used NYC Thruway orange coveralls from eBay $15.00

Total: $108.00

Sanctuary Base 6 Space Suit: Helmet, Part 4

???????????????????To get the general shape right, I’ve added 2 more layers of foam to the sides. The brown foam is a 4mm craft foam I had left over from another project. I’ve drawn in pencil the angle I want when I sand it down.

???????????????????Here is  the piece after the first sanding with a dremel.  I went on and sanded it even more after this picture, especially the back part so it would be more curved.  Don’t forget the mask and safety glasses.  Especially since I’m using hotglue, the sander heats it up so much that it turns the hotglue into little flying puddles of burning.

January 2015 008I tried to get as close as I could to the original with the doohickeys on the side.  I just cut them out of both 2 and 4 mm craft foam.  Some of them I heated and shaped.  I also used some pieces from a flashlight, and also some gears I bought at the craft store. The black piping I’m using for this is a wire cover pipe called flex tubing or split loom pipe.  You can buy it at any hardware store. I had one size, and the bought some off eBay for $4.00, but I’ve seen it at Harbor Freight for $3.00.   In this pic I have pinned all the little details in place to make sure I like where they are positioned.

January 2015 010The googly eyes will serve as the rivets once I paint. I will be applying Plasti Dip so at this point I’m only gluing on things that will be covered.


Sanctuary Base 6 Space Suit: Helmet Part 3

So before I go any further on my helmet construction I have to figure out two things.

#1 How is this going to sit on my head.

#2 How is it going to be wired for lights?

I would hate to put on all the doodads and dinglehopers and then realize that I had to cut them off because I had to run wiring here or there. Or that it was too heavy or lopsided and wouldn’t sit on my head.

faceThe face shield I am using for this project is a SAS Deluxe Face Shield.  I bought it at Harbor Freight for like $13.00 bucks or so.   The shield sits snug on your head and raises up and down.  I took that thing apart and built the head piece into my helmet.

???????????????????I had to build it up a bit with foam pieces to get it in the location I wanted.  But it is fairly stable, light and comfortable.

???????????????????Confession:  The only thing I know about electronics and circuits is what I learned from playing with those radio kits when I was a kid.  I like to do things on the cheep/free, it’s part of the fun for me (anyone can spend lots of money and get a cool costume – where’s the sport in that?), so this circuit is built from christmas lights wire, a LED flashlight, and a LED toy sword my son didn’t play with anymore.   I soldered it into a circuit complete with battery pack and on/off switch.  the process was pretty much trial and error. If putting a wire a certain way made the lights turn on, then I soldered it in. If not, then I didn’t.  It’s done and it lights up when I press the button, so, so far so good.

???????????????????Here is the top piece where most of the lights will go.  The plastic part there is that toy swords I was telling you about that I cut up with a hacksaw.  The curves and angles on this were tricky.


I decided that I’m going to light up the top light, and bar, and then the light at the chin level. I’m not doing any of the internal lights that shine directly on the face.

Bumble Snow Monster Christmas Sweatshirt

My husband has been in need of an “ugly” Christmas sweater for a few years and I was complaining to my teenager that I couldn’t find one in the stores.  She said, “Mom, if you can make a space suit, you can make an ugly Christmas sweater.”  Oh, the guilt.

December 2014 010I started by drawing it to size on a large sheet of paper.  I cut out the different parts to make a pattern. I labeled hands and feet right and left so I wouldn’t get confused.

December 2014 011  I pinned my pattern to a fur skirt I had picked up for a couple of bucks second hand and cut out the pieces.

December 2014 013  I cut the hands, feet, face, mouth, teeth out of craft felt.

December 2014 014  I sewed on eyes, teeth, nose first.

December 2014 016   Then sewed on the fur. Straight stitch first, and then finishing off with a zig zag stitch so the fur wouldn’t shed.

December 2014 018   I pinned it into the sweatshirt.  First going around it with a single stitch, then finishing the fur portions with a zig zag. I did switch thread colors with the hands, feet and star.

December 2014 022  Wha lah!  One obnoxious Christmas sweatshirt that can be worn on ugly sweater day at work.  Total project took me about four hours.  Total cost around $10.00.