This was my Halloween costume from last year (2011). I worked on it from June 2010 to October 2011. I am wearing it again for Halloween this year (2012) Since I spent such a large amount of time on it, I figured I should get some repeat business out of it. ; )
Step 1: Step 1-taking Plaster Casts
The first step was to take plaster wraps of my body to create models that could later be modified and used for vaccum forming the plastic armor pieces. I had a friend wrap a plaster cast of my torso. My arms and legs I managed to wrap on my own-difficult to do, but possible.
When taking a plaster wrap on yourself or anyone else, it it VERY important that you have some type of liner between skin and the wet plaster. Also a cutoff strip (the gold tube in the pictures) is HIGHLY reccommended. What you do is tape the cutoff strip in place, wrap plaster around the limb and the cutoff strip. Then once the plaster dries, pull the cutoff strip out. What it does is create space to be able to cut the now dried plaster wrap off.
What you do next is staple the wrap back together, add another strip of plaster to seal it back together.
Step 2: Step 2-making Plaster Models
The next step is to fill the now dried plaster wraps with liquid plaster in order to make a positive model. The first thing I did was use some strips of plaster wrap to seal off one end of the wrap. Next I sprinkled baby powder,a separating agent inside the wrap that made it possible to remove the wrap from the model once the liquid plaster dried. Then I suspended an iron pipe inside the wrap so that I could put the eventual model into a pipe vise for easy working.
Step 3: Step 3-modifying the Plaster Casts
Once I had positive plaster models made of my torso, arms, and legs, it was time to modify them so that they would have the shape of the Iron Man Armor. This meant adding more plaster on top of the existing model. Anyone who has worked with plaster will tell you it's one of those materials that does NOT like to stick to itself. To accomplish adding large amounts of extra plaster on top of the original model, I strategically nailed nails into the model and left them exposed by an inch or two, depending on the area.
Using the nails actually accomplished two tasks. The first was that it visually indicated how much plaster needed to be added to the original model, the second was that the nails served as anchors to hold the extra plaster stable, similar to rebar and concrete. I mixed the extra plaster with blue tile chalk so that I could distinguish the original model from the built up areas.
Step 4: Step 4-vacuum Forming Plastic
The next step was to vacuum form plastic over the modified plaster models. I used medical grade 3/16 inch polyethylene plastic here. I heated the plastic in an oven until it was flexible and flimsy, then draped it over each model, connecting it on each end, then turned on the vacuum to make the plastic conform to the model. As the plastic cooled down, it hardened and took the shape of each model.
Step 5: Step 5-sewing and Riveting
The next step was without a doubt the most tedious, difficult, and time consuming one of them all-figuring out how to actually wear all these pieces and have it look like the Iron Man suit. I used nylon webbing to sew up two harnesses, one for the upper body, one for the lower body. I then used some more webbing, snap buckle straps, and speedy rivets to connect each piece to the harness. One half of each snap buckle strap was riveted via webbing to the plastic. The other half was sewn via webbing to the harness.
Step 6: Step 6-assembling
The next thing was practicing putting all the pieces on and seeing how they fit/worked together.
Step 7: Step 7-painting
Next was time to paint the arms, legs, torso, and helmet pieces.
Step 8: Completed Armor Images
Here are some more photos of the armor, all painted and assembled. : )