What would be more geek-fun then flash freezing Darth Vader with a metal alloy mixed with tibanna gas? We thought, not much! So, that’s what we did… At least making something that looks like the Sith Lord suspended in Carbonite (See Star Wars – Return of the Jedi). We used an in-house process called vacuum forming to have a little fun. For a good overview, here is a short video clip with the process. .
Step 1: Supplies to Build the Form
To create the form, we built a Vader look-a-like on a board using a mask, glove, Lego, Maker Studio parts, chain, some fabric, duct tape, a broken sled and some other odds and ends. Really... the broken sled was a big inspiration to making this... It isn't really important what colors and materials this form are made from as long as they are stiff enough to hold up against the pressure from the vacuum, they aren't going to melt from a little heat, and that they can create the desired shape.
Step 2: Build the Form
Arrange all the parts onto a board to make the Darth proxy. I cut up an old broken sled to create the chest panel on his outfit. I also hot glued some old rivets, Maker Studio parts, Lego and other odds and ends from a bin in the garage onto a board to create something that looked like his control panel for his chest. An old chain and some fabric works well for his cape. A little duct tape also helps hold everything together and create a nice fabric look.
Step 3: Create a Hand(s)
Form a hand out of some old house wire for structure inside of an old glove. Once you get the desired shape, fill with expanding spray foam that can be found at any hardware store. Attach the hand to the body with duct tape after cutting a hole in the cardboard body.
Step 4: Vacuum Forming
Vacuum forming works when you heat up a sheet of plastic in a jig and lower it over a positive form of the shape you want to create. As it lowers onto the mold, a vacuum table (like the reverse of an air hockey table) sucks the air out from under the plastic, forming it around the mold shape. This is a really handy process for making cases, large panels, and packaging. For it to work on this, you have to drill some holes on the back of the build plate board and on the form itself to help the air get out to get high detail. Insert the plastic sheet it around the Vader stand in. I did this with both clear and solid white sheets of plastic. I am not going to go into how to use our specific vacuum former since all have a little different operation.
Step 5: Paint the Plastic
I used a spray can of Flat Antique Nickle to paint over the plastic to highlight the detail and make it look like carbonite. I suppose now... he is ready to hang framed on the wall. (or easily transport him for some bounty)
Step 6: Variation With a Lightsaber
Since he only had one hand... i formed another one with his light saber there. I just taped a toy saber to the mold and formed it just the same.