October 7, 2015

It's My Very Favorite Gun: DIY Vera Prop

Hey guys! So, I know I kind of unexpectedly took the summer off. I didn't mean to, I just had my cousin's wedding in Florida, and then I got sick, and then I got lazy. *innocent whistling* It was way too hot this summer anyway for serious cooking/baking. I subsisted mostly on rice and frozen veggies because my rice cooker does not heat up the kitchen, so I really had nothing to share with you. But I have some fun stuff planned for Halloween!

I did meet Felicia Day, though, so that was exciting. It was at her book signing, I didn't like meet her on the street or anything. She was super cool and I actually managed to have a coherent conversation with her. (In your face, social anxiety).
The way the signing was set up, I gave my book to one of her handlers, who made sure she had my name before I even got to her, so when I stepped up to her table, she was already signing it and didn't see me right away. I stepped up, and not knowing what to do, I said hi. She asked me how I was, I said, "Good, how are you?" (I was going for coherent, not sparkling conversation, okay?)

She finished up, and goes to hand me my book as she says, "I'm goo-- *gasp* oh my god, I love your shirt!" I was wearing my Knights of Good Guild t-shirt, and I nearly died at how excited she got. "That is an OG Guild shirt, man!" she said, as she got up to take a photo with me. So I told her how Clara was my first ever cosplay, and she hugged me.
Her handler took these pictures with my phone. I didn't know until later that he took this one too.

She told me to tweet her a picture later. As I was about to leave, she stopped me and said, "You'll like the book; there's a lot of Guild stuff in there." And I replied, "Thank you," because that's clearly the correct response, and I stumbled out of there in a fog of fangirly bliss.

Not that it's actually necessary for you to know any of this, but it's so rare that I have cool stories like this to tell people. Also, you should totally read her book, because it's really good and pretty funny.

Anyway, NYCC is this week, yay! (And Felicia Day is going to be there. My mom says I should ask if she remembers me. I find it very doubtful that she would, even if a tiny part of me has decided we're totally BFFs now) The brother and sister-in-law finally watched Firefly about a month ago, after I loaned it to them about a year ago and decided they want to go as Jayne and Kaylee. I told my brother he should get a toy gun and paint it as an easy Vera-like prop. He just looked at me with this perplexed look, so I told him I would do it for him.

This isn't exactly a tutorial, since I really didn't know what I was going to do until it was actually on the gun itself, but I did take some in-process photos, so I can kind of walk you through what I did.
This is the reference photo I worked off of. I knew I was never going to get it screen accurate, but I did want it to be clearly based off of the show prop. So, it's more like Vera's little sister, related, but not the same.

You want to start off with a toy gun. I got mine from Wal-Mart for $10 (it was part of a set with a big machine gun, a hand gun, a knife, a grenade, and string of "bullets"). I forgot to take a before photo, and I can't find a picture of it online, but it was Kid Connection brand, which I think is just basically generic Wal-Mart brand. It was very cheaply made, but that ended up working out better since I could easily cut off extra parts.
The first thing you want to do is take it apart, lightly sand everything down with fine grit sandpaper, and clean it (I did this part in my tub because that just seemed easiest). Wipe it all down with rubbing alcohol and let it dry. When that's done, just spray paint everything with a flat black paint that works on plastic.
The gun I used didn't have an ammo clip, so I made one out of cardboard and craft foam. You'll notice that cardboard and craft foam are a bit of a theme. I painted some of the fake bullets that came with the gun gold and cut a window in the clip so it would look like it was full of them. I just tried to match color and design to the reference photo.
For the muzzle, I used a cardboard tube from a roll of aluminum foil I just finished, I cut it down to a size that looked right, and hot glued it onto the gun. Then I painted craft foam silver, cut out alternating notches, and glued it on top.
You can see that the scope in the reference photo sits on top of a silver bar, which worked for me, because my gun had a handle there I needed to cover. I bent cardboard over the handle, and covered it with silver-painted craft foam. The scope is just a pirate telescope I got from the dollar store painted black.
The show prop had a weird metal piece attaching the clip to the gun, so I recreated that out of more craft foam. Then I painted sections gold and antique copper to add more visual interest. The antique copper paint is by Folk Art, and it was a really pretty color that covered very well, so I recommend it.
I just finished off with some weathering, which was more fun than it should have been. For areas that needed to look more metallic, I dry brushed on some more silver paint. To add some grime, I used some watered down black paint and immediately wiped it off, which is especially effective in areas with a lot of raised detail, or I dry brushed more black paint on. For some "battle damage," which I went a little overboard on, I took a cheap brush, hacked it up so it was uneven, and used it with more silver paint to add random scuffs and scratch marks

Like I said, it's not screen accurate, but I think it ain't too shabby, considering.

Nathan Fillion is also going to be at NYCC, so I plan on telling him all of the weird things people have Googled about him that have lead them to my blog (including "Nathan Fillion singing peanut butter song.")

And because I know you want it, here's Needy McSnuggles, "helping":
 He fell asleep on my open toolbox. And you can't see it, but he's on a bag of screws. Comfort

I put down cardboard to measure and cut, and he immediately decided it was his new bed

UPDATE: I got Nathan Fillion and Jewel Staite to sign Vera! I was a little disappointed I couldn't get Gina Torres to sign it too, but her line was too massive. Nathan recognized it immediately as Vera and said I did a great job on it, before quoting, "it's my very favorite gun." (!!!) So she's officially Mal approved. Jewel Staite didn't say anything about it, but I got the feeling she was tired, and probably didn't make the connection. She was still super nice though.
We were instructed not to take up Nathan's time with extra conversation, since we were at the tail end  of the photographing session, and he had a schedule to keep, but he didn't really pay attention to that and was being his friendly, charming self to everybody (the SIL was fangirling too hard to notice he was being especially charming to her, which is a thing I will never let her live down. EVER.)

Felicia Day did not recognize me, as expected, not that I asked "hey, remember me?" But I brought my Guild Companion for her to sign, so we had another short conversation about Guildie things. She was about to close the book and hand it back to me, when I mentioned how I identified with Codex, and she opened it up again to write "you rock!" So you could say my plans of becoming best friends with Felicia Day are right on track.
So now I have Con Crud, but the fact that Nathan Fillion appreciates my crafting skills and Felicia Day thinks I rock makes me feel a lot better. XD