Monday, December 2, 2013


The new home of all of our work is at

I'm leaving this page as an archive and for anyone who might have it book marked, but I will no longer be updating it. Come and see the new site, its pretty sweet!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Video Time!

Hey, so I am kinda bad when it comes keeping this updated. My plan to fix this is using the magic of videos! So here is my first video, about building Adventure Time props.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crick (Raksa) figure from Hinges

We love Meredith McClaren! Not only is she a great friend, but also an amazing artist and wonderful PhxCC booth buddy(AA28 for 2013). Last year we asked Meredith do a Wasp design that would be the base for Jackies costume. This year we wanted to do something more focused on Meredith's work, so we decided on making a figure from her comic Hinges. She has ton of interesting characters to chose from, but Crick (raksa) really caught my eye.
From a design standpoint, I liked the idea of taking an essentially 2D character and representing him in a 3D space.  Meredith had done such a great job of portraying that concept in the comic that I felt it would be a great first piece to do.

Lucky for us, Meredith had drawn him from several angles, so we had quite a bit to base our templates on

After Jackie came up with the templates I decided to use 1/4 inch plywood for the master copy. Raksa reminds me of those wooden dinosaurs that you built as a kid, plus the the grain of the wood and the way it chips would add an extra level of detail to the finished piece.
I used some fancy washers that I found at Ace hardware for his shoulder joints. I backfilled them with resin to add surface area for gluing. Jackie also used these to keep everything in proportion. Remember that when you use off the shelf parts in a build you need to scale everything else to that part.

To save on time, I decided to cast Crick in a simple open back box mold, which meant he would be assembled out of  seven  pieces. You might notice that after I traced all of the pieces on the board I drilled a ton of holes in it. Those are to make cutting it out easier. I tried to put a hole where ever there would be a tight turn with my coping saw. It helped save some time and avoid broken saw blades.
                                                                       Always label your "don't cut" areas! It will save you from hours self inflicted frustration.

 Cutting, sanding, filing and shaping. This took an entire sunday afternoon, but it was going to make or break the figure. I ended up using a blade shaped mini file to shape out the mouth area, stripes and to get it symmetrical. It was very slow going but necessary.

The plywood that I got split and chipped everywhere. There were a lot of splinters, too many if you ask me.

Once all the sanding was finished it was time to get the pieces primed and ready for molding.
When I do an open back mold, I like to glue styrene to the back of my master pieces. That way when I am casting there is a spill shelf built right into the mold.
I also like to use scrap styrene and a low temp glue gun to build my mold boxes. I was pretty proud of my layout for these molds.
I got a bag of colored hot glue for free, but I love how it shows up in pics. I wonder how much more it is to buy than regular glue?

Smooth-On Mold Star 15 Slow has now become my silicone of choice. Its easy to mix, has a nice balance of flexibility and strength, Arizona Art Supply carries it, and it's the same color as our logo. What's not to love?

The molds came out beautifully, no air bubbles on the surface or major leakage! I was counting on the silicone to pick up every little detail of the wood. It will make the painting and weathering I do later much easier.

I didn't take any pictures of the sanding process, but to get Raksa's head to look like the comic I used my belt sander to file the middle part to a wedge, and then super glued the two outer pieces on. I also used the sander to give the smooth backside a grainy texture.

The first casting looked...ok. The tint I used in the resin worked great, but he was lacking something. Then I remembered that Jackie wanted to carve some extra face detail before I molded it. So after getting yelled at for rushing ahead, I got to redo the head mold. I had used up all my Mold Star 15, but I had some leftover Rebound 25 brush on silicone.

Not really the kind of mold Rebound 25 is designed for, but I made it work.

We also noticed that Crick was having a hard time staying on all fours. Any bumps to the table or gusts of air would knock him down. He also looked a little too 2D. For the second casting I glued styrene spacers between the legs and the body, and bent the body and tail a bit. To do the bending I removed body section from the mold before it had cured all the way and just flexed and held it. The end result was a piece that could stand on its own and had that 2.5D pop that was missing from the first casting. I used Rub'n'Buff for his joints, Krylon Matt topcoat, and several layers of watered down black acrylic paint to finish him off. This will be the way we assemble him from now on. Everyone we do will be slightly different, but I look at that as a bonus.

Over all I am really proud of the piece we were able to create. Hopefully we will have some for sale at con this year, so make sure to stop by. And if you are reading this close to the time it was published, you can help Meredith print the first run of Hinges by supporting her Kickstarter!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Henchmen Mask Kit

This is a quick tutorial on how to assemble our Venture Brothers Henchmen mask kit, which you can buy here( if it's in stock).

This is what you will get in the mail, but depending on what my plastic supplier has available it may be white(or the angry eye version, the build method is the same):

Now we can start by assembling our tools. This is what I used and suggest, but it is not the end all be all.

1:Sandpaper: Both high and low grit. At least 400 grit, preferably 600 for the high.

2:Dremel  with thin sanding drum: This will help you quickly sand out the eyes and clean up the edges of the mask. You can put the mask together without one, but it will take much longer.

3:Paint: I used Krylon Plastic Fusion yellow and Now wagon red. (black primer & black acrylic paint if you have a white mask)

4:Low temp hot glue gun: Make sure its LOW temp! You do not want to warp the plastic or burn your fingers. The cheap little ones work just fine

5: Scissors: Kinda self explanatory

6:Elastic band: So you can wear it!

Ok, now we can start! The first thing we need to do is get the mask into the proper shape. This means sanding, and lots of it

The Dremel really helps out here, just be careful with it. It's very easy to take off too much material. So take your time and get the eyes and the edges cleaned up and smoothed out. You will also want to take your high grit sandpaper and go over the whole mask, this will help the paint adhere. I know the Plastic Fusion brand paint says that you don't have to sand, but don't believe them! After you are done with your sanding, clean off your mask. Either use an air gun to blow it off or rinse it in some water and let it dry. Before you move on really take a close look at it. You do not want to get it all painted up and then realize that you needed to even out an edge. Now if your mask is white plastic you will want to first lay down a layer of black primer. This will help the yellow look "right" without having to spray multiple coats. Get the eye mesh out as well. You do not have to prep it at all, just paint it. Remember to follow all the directions on the spray paint can! This can really affect how the  finish looks. If possible hang your mask from one of the eye holes for painting. I didn't not paint the backside of the mask because we will be hot gluing things to it.  Let the paint dry overnight. We will be handling the mask a lot so you want the paint to be fully cured before we move on.

All right, at the start of day to your pieces should look like this ^. Now before we glue in the eye mesh there is one detail that we have to do first. To really make the eyes "pop" we are going so make the tiny inner edge of the eye hole black.
If the mask that you got is black plastic, all you need to do is very carefully sand off any paint that on that edge. If you have a white mask you can carefully paint the edge with some acrylic paint. Let that dry completely before moving on.

We are ready to start gluing. Plug in your glue gun and while it is heating up see if you need to trim any of the eye mesh. We want as much overlap for gluing as possible, so don't trim anything unless it hangs over an edge. To start you are going to put a bead of hot glue down along the top ridge of the eye hole. I used colored hot glue to make it easier to see.

Press the top of the mesh down into the glue. You want to see the glue worked into the weave. The safe way to do this is to use a pen or a stick to push the mesh down, and that's how I'm telling you to do it. I used my fingers, but that's because I'm dumb.

After you have let the glue cool down on the top, flip your mask over and press your thumb gently into the center of the eye mesh. You want the mesh to have a gentle bulge out of the eye hole. That, with the black line we added earlier  will give the eyes a more 3d look.

Once you have the mesh in the right place you can start gluing it down. Really work the glue into the mesh, and make sure to overlap the edge. Work it in small sections and let the glue cool before moving on.

Once you have both eyes glued in you can add your elastic. Start from the middle edge of the eye and lay a bead of glue out towards the side of the mask. Quickly press one side of your elastic into the glue and let it cool. After it has cooled, top coat the elastic with more glue, overlapping the edges. Once that has cooled down, hold the mask up and pull the other side of the elastic around and touch it to the side of the opposite eye. Adjust how much you have to pull for comfort and then cut off any excess. Repeat the the gluing process and you are all finished! I hope that was helpful, and feel free to post pics of your finished masks in the comments.

Friday, January 11, 2013

New year! New Post! New Tool!

Alrighty then. 2012 was a super busy year for us here at KnowOne's designs. If you haven't been keeping up with us on Facebook you should hop on over there and take a look see. We definitely keep that page more up to date than our website.....not sure if that's a good thing, but that's the way it is. So now on to my new toy! I have had the various piece parts for a home made vac former sitting in my shop for well over a year now. It was time to put it all together, in the most terrifying and unsafe way possible.

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS IN NO WAY A "HOW TO" GUIDE ON BUILDING A VAC FORMER! I am just showing you  the random and hazardous way that I heat up thermoplastics and use suction to create objects. There are many other sites with plans (both free and paid for) on how to build one of these machines. If you wish to also play with melty plastic I suggest using your preferred internet search engine and finding proper plans. KnowOne's Designs is not responsible for any burnt fingers or seemingly random appearances of fire in your work shop. This can be seriously dangerous so.....don't be dumb.

OK so remember when I said that I had all the parts just laying around? That was a bit of a stretch.  I had most of the parts, and then just made do with scrap lumber and cheap, undersized hardware. I was trying to build this as close to free as I could, alright?! But at the end I had a functioning tool, so that says something. When building a vac former, you first need to decide the size of your "platen" or as it is commonly known, "the bottom part with all the holes in it".  The idea of spending hours drilling tiny holes, in a perfect grid, into a piece of aluminum, was abhorrent to me. Instead I based my entire design off of a 26"x18" baking pan that already had holes in it. Lazy? Definitely. Smart? I would like to think so. This way I could use a regular 26"x18" baking pan as the top of my oven box. To finish off the platen I needed a wood bottom with a hole in which to put the shopvac hose. Did I have a piece of lumber 26"x18"? Of course not. So I made one by splicing some other wood together with a 2"x4".  I also put some support blocks between the top of my platen and the wood base to keep it all from crushing when suction was applied. Then all the seams were sealed with caulk.

And no, I did not trim those exposed screws. They add to the challenge. 

See how many holes that is?! No way man. Not this guy.

For the next part I needed a heat source. $18 later I had my grocery store electric griddle. Almost all electric food devices use the same kind of heating element, and I think that the shape of the griddle will lead to a more even heat distribution over the plastic. Plus it already had mounting points and its own hardware. All I had to do was strip the plastic off of it and drill 4 holes into my pan.

My frame for this monstrosity started off as a pile of rusty old angle iron. The kind that has the slots in it for shelving. Sadly the slots did not quite line up with the top pan, so off to the trusty drill press.

Now this next part got tricky. I needed to get the 4 main legs attached to the platen and the heating element. What I ended up doing was stacking some lumber on table at the height that I wanted the platen to be. At this point all I wanted to do was  get this thing together without contracting tetanus.  The final assembly is held together with bolts, screws, 2x4's, and my hopes & dreams.

This part really sucked. I had to get Jackie to come out and help. At that point she had not seen any of the build process. Let's just say she was a bit underwhelmed and far less enthusiastic than I would have liked.

Now that my FrankenFormer was standing on its own, I needed to build an oven box around the heating element. Off to my local ACE for some aluminum flashing. I wanted a 5in box but the smallest width that they had was 6in. So I settled for an 8in roll that I would trim in half.

Not going to lie, I was terrified that my drill was going to catch the flashing and eviscerate me.  Luckily we had no instances of spinning metal or horrific injuries.

Once the box was assembled I sealed all the gaps in structure with foil tape.

Now to hold the plastic, you need to build two frames that you can sandwich the plastic between. I made mine out of window screen stock. It was boring to build so I didn't take any pictures. I also tried an elaborate magnet system to hold the frames up to the box, which failed.  So instead I use binder clips to hold it up. Not very high tech, but look at this thing. Its probably for the best. I got my first piece of plastic up there, turned the thing on, and waited......... It just was not getting hot enough. So I did what any sensible person in my position would do. I cut the thermometer prod off of the griddle power source. Now when it is on, it is ON. I may have just increased my chance of a shop fire by, like a lot, but its ok. I have a fire extinguisher somewhere in there. So its all cool. After all that messing around I got my first successful pull of what will soon be a new offering from KnowOne's Designs: a Monarch Henchmen mask from Venture Bros!

 I hope that this was entertaining and enlightening  More posts to come with 10x as much melty plastic and at least 2x as much new stuff!