Introduction: Steampunk Porthole Photo Backdrop
YuKonstruct and the Yukon Comic Culture Society were invited to make the decorations for the 2016 Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Steampunk Ball this past February. As the theme for Rendezvous was "Around the World" we decided to go with a steampunk travel theme for all the decorations.
You can't have a fancy dress ball without a photo booth, so we knew we needed to make an interesting prop for the photo backdrop. We decided to make a large porthole, like you might see on Jules Verne's Nautilus or a steampunk airship.
YuKonstruct is the first makerspace in Canada's north. Our mission is to provide access to shared space, quality tools, available expertise, and a collaborative environment to help makers build anything!
The materials for this project were generously provided by the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous Society.
Step 1: Design
The first step was to figure out what we wanted the porthole backdrop to look like.
A 3D model was designed in SketchUp in order to work out the size and shape of all the pieces.
The backdrop consists of a large flat square with a hole in the middle and then layered rings over the hole.
Step 2: Cutting the Foam Pieces
We chose to build the backdrop out of sheets blue insulation foam. While we were originally going to cut all the pieces with a CNC router, since it was all pretty simple shapes it was faster to just cut it out with a jigsaw.
We taped the foam sheet seams with duct tape and drew the circles with a marker and string, using our computer model to get the right measurements.
Step 3: CNC Details
A CNC router was used to cut out the pieces for the porthole's faux hinge.
Instead of carving out the round tops of the faux rivets, we purchased foam balls from a craft store and cut them in half.
Step 4: Gluing and Sealing
We stuck all the pieces together with construction adhesive and patched the seams and cracks with filler. We weren't too worried about making it look perfect since our finished product was supposed to look weathered and old.
We wanted to paint the porthole with metallic spray paint but if you try to spray paint on foam it will melt. To protect the foam, we covered everything with a few coats of white glue.
The glue worked fairly well on the ring pieces, but we had a lot of trouble with it bubbling and cracking on the large back pieces. Next time we will use something different to seal the foam.
Step 5: Paint
We painted the porthole ring with several coats of metallic spray paint.
Since the back pieces did not seal very well, they didn't take the spray paint very well and we ended up brushing on green acrylic wall paint.
Step 6: Photo Booth Set Up
The backdrop was transported in 3 pieces (the ring and then two halves of the background) and then screwed together at the Steampunk Ball.
We supported the back with 2x4s so people could either stand in front of it or behind it.
To complete the look, we put a bunch of vintage suitcases in front of the porthole and set up a selection of costume props.
Photography lights are always a good idea for a professional-looking photo booth.
Yukon Comic Culture Society volunteers were in charge of the photography and provided some of the pictures for this instructable.