Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Prop Tutorial: Shizuku (Hunter x Hunter) Vacuum Deme-Chan

Hey everyone!

Phew...finally I get around to post a tutorial for this prop that had me pulling my hair out! Shizuku's vacuum was supposed to be a pretty easy build, but my mistakes and my procrastination made this 1000% more stressful than it should have been T_T Regardless, I will show you guys all my steps, and advise you on things you could do better than I did. So let's get started!!

Materials Used
  • Vacuum (thift store purchase)
  • Cardboard
  • Expandable foam
  • Box cutter
  • Masking tape
  • Paper mache (newspaper and paper mache glue)
  • Craft plaster
  • Worbla 
  • Fast Mache
  • Wood glue
  • Spray paint
  • Acrylic paints
  • paint brushes
  • Acrylic Sealer
  • Large Googly eyes
  • Worbla scraps (for the eyes of the body)


1. Start by acquiring a vacuum. This could be any old vacuum you can find, as long as it's a similar shape to Shizuku's. You could also create the shape of the vacuum yourself, but I made it easier on myself and got a vacuum at a thrift store for just $8! The one I got looked a lot like this:

2. Now that you have your vacuum, it is time to alter the vacuum head. I had to screw out some parts to just have the outer shell of the vacuum as a base for Deme-Chan's face/mouth. I started by drawing out the basic shape of the mouth out of cardboard, and taping it to the vacuum head.

3. Expandable foam time! I foamed the entire part, let it cure, and then carved it to get the shape I wanted. This is where my mistakes began. I really should have taken my time to shape it better Dx

4. Add the tongue! Since I wanted the tongue to be super sturdy and not fall off, I added it at this point. I made the tongue out of Worbla.
5. Mask that thang!~ Get your giant roll of masking tape and tape the entire thing. 

6. Now, it's time to go back to being a kid and paper mache with newspaper and Elmer's glue/water mix. 
7. Add the teeth! since I used heated up Worbla to make the teeth, I added them after paper mache-ing. In retrospect, I should have waited until after I plastered it to add the teeth (and I should not have plastered over the Worbla too).
8. Now, there are many alternative routes here. Instead of plastering or fast mache-ing like I did, you could use Wood Filler or even Sculpting Epoxy. Here's the problem with plaster: it was too fragile and it kept cracking and flaking (*which I just learned is because I applied too much plaster!). It was smooth, but it would not hold up. It might have been that the craft plaster I used was not strong enough. I might need to try out professional grade plaster instead. Fast Mache dries too rough and it is really difficult to sand it. You will be sanding for days! I will be trying out the Wood Filler and Epoxy method to see how they compare.

9. Sand, sand, sand. The main problem with the result of my vacuum was that it was too bumpy and the whole thing ended up being thicker than expected. I tried sanding this a lot, but sanding can only do some much to smooth the surface. Sanding cannot cannot completely smooth over bumps. 

10. Prime. I used Wood Glue to prime this and hopefully get a smoother look. Wood glue is awesome for smoothing the surface and you can use many layers of it! But again, priming can only do so much so it did not smooth all the bumps (arrrrg!).
11. Paint, paint, paiiiiiint! Now you are free to paint your prop. I used a green spray paint for the main color, and the rest is acrylic paints. I am no expert at painting so I just did what I could. At this point, also paint the main body of the vacuum.

12. Add painted eyes to the vacuum head, and big google eyes (or make your own eyes) to the body of the vacuum. I used big googly eyes that I bought from Michaels to add to the back of the head of the vacuum (painted them and glued them on). And I made the eyes for the main body out of scraps of Worbla.

13. Seal your paint! You want your paint job to last, you did work hard on it :D And Ta-Da!!! Your prop is done. Awesome job ^_^

These are the tips I will leave for you guys, and that I wish I could have given myself prior to starting this prop:
  • Never, ever, EVER start your prop two days before a con. You will rush to finish it, you will most likely make mistakes, and you might be unhappy with the result.
  • Don't assume that because a method has worked for someone else, it will work for your project flawlessly. 
  • Try out different methods and test them before actually using them on a prop. It is very difficult undoing mistakes on a half-finished prop. For example, I am not very interested in trying out different methods of smoothing over a prop since Fast Mache and plaster didn't 100% work out for this prop.
  • Give yourself enough time to work on a prop so that you will not be too stressed. Stress and frustration lead to making mistakes. Making mistakes leads to more stress and frustration. It is a vicious circle!

Hope this is helpful! ^_^
   Star Wars Font

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