So, this went dark for a while again. Sorry.
I’ll spare you the whining, lets just say that life was being a cunt in its usual, unexceptional way, and it required a bit of attention for a while. Fortunately, we do have something to post up here now; more prop building. While this wasn’t meant to be a regular feature on the Mandatory Minimum Presence, it seems to have become one. A few irons are in the fire, and while no finished works are ready to show, we can at least post some progress.
The current projects are half work related, half Halloween related. As last year, Yvonne is wanting to go as a pair of our characters, both because it’s fun and because the resulting left-over props and costumes are useful for the books; Yvonne’s Captain outfit from last year pretty much appears in full on the cover of Battle of Hearts, just with some different insignia and on a different body. This year, it’s two new ones, specifically The Professor and Wilhelmina, both from Caroline’s Awakening and the former from Tuesday at the Office. Most of Wilhelmina’s costume is going to fall to Yvonne, since my interest in fabricating a set of imitation plate mail was meant with deep concern and disbelief. Perhaps next year, after I finish my Big Boss costume.
Like last time, most of what Yvonne needs from me comes down to weapons; most everything else is either being home-made or sourced online. Unfortunately, when the character was conceived, we didn’t have ease of fabrication in mind for her weapons. She’s armed with a broad sword, specifically patterned after a Venetian Schiavona, and a dagger following a Swiss design. Both can be found, but have their own issues; the former is expensive, most copies of the latter have negative associations, and both are chiefly found as “live steel” weapons, an undesirable quality for a prop to be worn while drinking alcohol. The sword will be discussed in a later post. The dagger… will also be discussed in a later post, because the furnace I built to liquefy the aluminum exploded a little. Long story, later post.
The Professor needs a few items as well. The rifle will be sourced online, and the knife will be prepared in the same manner as Yvonne’s “Captain” knife. The pistol is a little new. Last time, we re-purposed a martial arts training pistol, but this time we used a spring-action pellet gun. These are cheap and plentiful online, and virtually every real-world firearm has a pellet-shooting copy, with some firms going so far as to pay licencing fees to the manufacturers in order to directly copy the markings and dimensions of the real thing.
For this build, we are trying to simulate a 1940’s vintage Remington-Rand 1911A1 that has been subjected to a number of upgrades and modifications, particularly the installation of a rail on the underside of the frame for mounting a flashlight, and a new paint job. Some upgrades to the sights would be “in character” for the pistol, but are outside our skills and budget.
The core pistol is a UK Arms Model P819, which is a pretty close copy of the 1911A1 if you ignore the seam lines, orange barrel, the chamber hood being an integral part of the slide, the purely cosmetic hammer and grip safety, the trigger being hinged at the top instead of moving straight back and forth, and… ok, we could go on for a while. Short version, it’s close enough for our purposes.
Rail mounts are growing in popularity for handguns, with many manufacturers offering them factory standard, but for an old 1911A1, it’s a do-it-yourself job. While companies do make rails specifically for this upgrade, they cost $80 dollars and you need to drill and tap a set of screw holes into your own gun. Since that is basically 10x the price of the pistol, I said “fuck that”, got a section of plastic rail marketed towards airsoft players and sold for about $3, took a Dremel tool at it until it fit and then hot-glued it in place. It wouldn’t hold up as well as the real deal, but since it doesn’t need to handle the stress of 45 ACP recoil I’m not worried about it. Unless I need to pistol whip someone at the party, it’s not going to come up.
The flashlight is just something I’ve had laying around for a few years that came for free with another another BB gun I used as a costume piece. It’s popped up before, specifically as part of the cover art for Caroline’s Awakening, but nothing was actually assembled; we just put the light down on the map next to Yvonne’s Captain pistol.
Overall, everything was black in color, matte plastic for the flashlight and rail and a semi-gloss enamel paint on the pistol. Not bad, but not what we want. The overall color scheme is going to be primarily tan, with irregular black sections in imitation of modern “digital” camouflage.
Not the most sophisticated painting rig on the planet, but it’s relatively easy to set up and break down. In case it isn’t clear what’s going on here, I took a pair of lawn chairs, strung a thin line between them, and then hung the pistol by its lanyard staple. I have this 200 foot reel of braided decoy line that I use for just about any job that’s too heavy for normal string, but too delicate for a clothes hangar or icepick. Unfortunately it’s bad for demonstration in my lawn, since it’s meant to blend in to the background. In a pinch one could use fishing line or something similarly thin and tough.
And my equally sophisticated drying bay. Temperature around here is still high enough that I could just leave it outside, but since the bright orange tip is covered I’d rather not risk having to answer awkward questions. All you do is take the line strung between the chairs and tie it around the shower rod. Alternatively, one could hook the line on a clothes hanger, tie it to a railing, hang it from a coat hook, or anything else that will keep it in open air.
The paint is Rust-oleum brand, part of a line of flat colors they label as being specifically for do-it-yourself camouflage applications. Not sure if it’s any better than the regular paint, but it plays well with masking tape and gives good coverage. Our first attempt at making the patterns was by laying out several strips of masking tape on a sheet of wax paper, overlaying a sheet of graph paper, and cutting out a series of squares and shapes to make the stencils, but that didn’t work out. This time, we’re free-hand cutting squares and rectangles and slapping them together to make the black spaces. The test-spray will be happening this afternoon, and hopefully the results will be worth showing in our next post.