When I posted Spring Updates I wasn’t sure if I’d be posting again about this prop, at least not until I had completed the costume to go with it. But that has been postponed for a smidge, so I think its time to share!
If you don’t recognize this prop, you probably didn’t see the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode. That’s okay! What you should know is that it’s central to the storyline, as its the most dangerous weapon in the universe, so dangerous that it has a conscience, who just so happens to appear as Billie Piper’s character Rose, or rather her image, but calling herself Bad Wolf. If you find that a reasonable thing, then you should definitely join the Whovians!
Last October I fell in love with a (relatively) new technology: LASER CUTTING!
And when I say fell, I mean I fell hard.
The panels of this prop were the 2-7th things I ever laser cut.
So I was completely new to Illustrator, but this project (and everything I’ve designed since) has taught me so much!
Back to the prop… I used photos found on the RPF (here and here) as references, and then designed all the sides. 5 of them were reasonable, since there would good references, but the one with all the Gallifreyan was more difficult. Only half-ish was ever visible, so I made a lot of fake Gallifreyan… Which was entertaining. And some of it looks reasonable, and others… Don’t. Luckily it’s only about 12 by 6 inches of ridiculous.
And I’ll probably be one of the few that cares.
I went on a week long “bender” of designing and laser cutting. I would design something one night, cut it out the next day, and then turn around and design the next one that night!
Then came time to take them all home and paint them. All the metallics are Jacquard Lumiere paints, and I used some cheap acrylic paint for other bits. I think I had everything painted by December. And then my project brain stalled. (In January I found myself working 2 part time jobs, plus my grad school research so everything shut down. Like this blog, for the most part.)
In March, when things had mostly settled, I found myself with the inkling to get in the wood shop to make the frame. I ended up splitting two by fours for the final product, and creating an empty cube. I spent a lot of time sanding it down and trying to get many of the imperfections out. Some of the wood I had used had some kind of black paint on it, so I had to sand it down a lot in places.
Then I made the bad decision to wood burn the frame by hand. In the show prop, it was probably laser cut, but I wanted the deeper worn look. I spent 6 hours over 3 nights working on it (from 10pm to 12am) which was not my finest decision…
I borrowed some stain from a friend, and stained the entire thing, which was a kinda messy affair. My bathroom looked like a crime scene for a few hours. The stain was oil based Zar, in color Rosewood.
Then came Easter weekend. The laser cut panels were “installed,” meaning pressing them until they fit and attempting to glue them together cleanly. I had installed a small “door” into the corner of one of the sides, so I installed hinge hardware, and used some foam board leftover from a friend’s project to fill in some gaps between panels.
I was marathoning the project at this point, so I managed to get on Tinkercad and designed the corner caps, which are essentially 3 sides of a cube with a half sphere, and printed them. For a first 3D project, they turned out unexpectedly perfect! I primed each with some cheap primer spray paint and then painted the corners grey with acrylic paint mixed with some silver Lumiere paint. Then everything got glued together and I used a clear coat over everything, from the wood to the 3d to the laser cut stuff.
But this thing is huge. It’s bigger than the actual prop, and I can hardly hold it. So it takes up a remarkable amount of floor space. So I laser cut an acrylic topper, and I use it as a coffee table!
The intention was that this would be a prop useable for DragonCon, but as I said it is huge. I think it measures 16 inches cubed. I have trouble picking it up, due purely to the dimensions, though the weight would be a problem an hour in…
I’m thinking that it might be worth it to make a smaller one. I’ve only got two months, but I think I can cut down the working time to a two week period, if I do it again, since I know all the steps, and the only real thing I’ll have to buy is stain for the frame. I would definitely laser cut the frame though, before assembly, since it was way too much time to burn it by hand…
We’ll see what that idea comes to!