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We are a group of friends/parents that run a not-for-profit cultural association in Spain.
This is our (bilingual!) blog about our theatre workshops for kids...

viernes, 28 de septiembre de 2012

Astronaut helmets... and spray foam!

Helmets, helmets, helmets! We needed 2 space helmets for our two lead actors in this year's summer workshop. Having tried to beg, borrow and buy (!) second hand bike helmets (can't see the actor's face properly) and tried to make a papoer maché version (life's too short!), we thought we'd try the fast-lane: instant space helmets using expanding spray foam and an upturned bucket!
 My thoughts on this method:
  • Having first tried (and failed dismally!) to cover a blown up beach ball (we were going to pop it and have an instant lining), definitely use something solid as a mold. Pull the bucket out carefully when dry.
  • Do NOT make the mistake I made of not bothering with gloves - it is very, very easy to end up with horrible, sticky hands that will NOT come clean (!! actually, white spirit will do it, but it's not a nice experience)
  • Even with the bucket technique (which was successful), the foam often falls off/away from the sides of the bucket. Get round this by going slowly and building up in rings round the bucket. You don't need to wait for the first layer to dry completely, but if you wait until it is slightly tacky, the next layer has more to grip onto.
  • When dry, you will still need to patch up holes and craters. Your helmet will be huge at this stage (especially when it has expanded) but it's the only way to get a solid end result. I used about 2 cans on each helmet, but you might get away with less if you are more patient and allow to dry more thoroughly between each ring?
  • Cut away the excess foam once thoroughly dry with a cutter. You can sand if you want (I didn't!) and carefully ease out the bucket. Make sure the delicate bridge over the forehead doesn't get broken in the process and reinforce if necessary with masking tape on the inside.
 The basic helmet is still quite large, but this means there is room for mics and even tap lights in the side to light the actors' faces! It will wobble a lot too at this stage!
To finish the helmets, we covered them with strips of white paper and runny white glue (because we wanted them to react under black light). Otherwise, paint would have done or tin foil. Sand for a smoother surface or add more layers of paper and varnish. We were happy with a slightly homespun finish (because that was our planned look for the rocket) and the oversized helmets had great comic appeal. We finished them off with foam piping round the neck and velcro ties and added tap lights to the sides for extra glamour!

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