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The Portal Gun

Or to give it it’s full name, the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. Here’s a reference picture of it:


And here’s ours!



Let me start by saying I would have got absolutely nowhere without these two instructables: Build your own Aperture Science Portal Gun and Budget Portal Gun from Recycled Materials. These were fantastic and I would definitely recommend checking them out before you start.

Obviously we took a little artistic license, but we’re both really pleased with how it turned out!

Let’s start with the tube-y part with the lights in. I’ll do a separate post on the electronics side of it, so if you want to make it with the lights, don’t glue it all together before you plan out your circuits. I used two of these tubes from Lush for the central black part. tubesI think these actually might have been the most expensive part. Anyway, the top and bottom pop off, and the tube opens up flat. I sketched out the shape of the hole I wanted and cut it out of both. I slid one inside the other to strengthen it, make it black both sides, and to leave a space to insert the ‘glass’ cover and run cables back to the hand end from the ‘operational end of the device’. To make one slide into the other, the inner one had to be opened out flat and trimmed down, with also meant I had to make new slots for the tabs to fit, but it worked. a bit of electrical tape over the tabs to secure the join and it was done. I also taped the join on the outer tube to give a clean finish on the outside. I had to trim the ends of the inner tube down too to get the lids back on, but the plastic was easy enough to cut with scissors

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For the glass I tried to find a similar width drinks bottle or something. I actually had one at home that I had in mind to use, but as soon as I wanted it, it disappeared! I couldn’t find a suitable replacement until I realised a cut down 2 litre pop bottle would do the job. It has a ridge in the middle, but I at least made it straight so it looked like it was supposed to be there! It was two wide so I cut a section out and wedged it between the two black tubes, for now. It can be glued in place later after you use it to hide the wiring.

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The central core was a clear plastic handle from a plunger. I really lucked out actually on this as it was cheap from ebay and had two brilliant recesses where I was able to stuff the LEDs rather than trying to light it up from the ends as I saw on instructables, which looked way harder! I sanded the plastic so the lights would be diffused better. It also just happened to be almost the perfect length. For the operational end, I cut through the lid of the tube and used cardboard and craft foam to hold the LEDs in place. The lids are very thick plastic so I had to use a heated needle to punch lots of holes and then sand off the mess. for the back end of the tube I just put a small hole in the lid to fee the wires through, and a hole in the middle to hold the handle/lightstick.

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To bulk up the end I found some guttering parts at B&Q (hardware shop). I think they were kind of brackets. I removed the fixtures and seals and they just about fit right. I decided to cover the LEDs with a thin piece of plastic and foam so it’d look a bit neater.

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The front white piece is the side of a large conditioner bottle, cut down to size and shape. The bottom edge should really have been curved but again we went for time and money saved. The claws I cut from the plastic left over from the black tubes, and glued together with a small piece of craft foam to cover the join and look like a bracket, two on the white part, and one on the top of the black end. I did the same when gluing on the cables, as they’re not functional. In fact I actually glued them into the same bits of craft foam on the claws.

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The back end was two large bleach bottles. I could only find ones with handles so I had to cut those out and overlap the two (hence the big hole!), and cut the top off to fit the black tube in. After it’s all been glued in place, you can use black and white electrical tape to give really nice clean edges. As you can see there’s a whole mess of wiring to figure out too! I put a length of pvc pipe in for a handle so Ethan could easily hold it and still flip the switch.  You can see on the top of the inside of the bottle where the wires lead to the indicator light (the second picture). The indicator was just a small circle cut into the bottle, and I found a curved piece of plastic to cover it, that I stuck in from the inside for neatness. I think it was from a vending machine pod, with a little toy in. I put the tape on for a stripe and then covered the extra glow through the plastic with an aperture logo. This is a visual change I didn’t love to be honest, but it had to be covered or as you can see the glow looked ridiculous. We consoled ourselves by deciding that Ethan was a test subject from before the big GLaDOS meltdown, so the gun was a slightly earlier model than Chell’s!


You can also see where I used black tape between the bottle and the black tube to neaten it up.

I used the bottom of one of the bottles to give the end a cleaner look, so it wasn’t just the cut off end of the bottle, and cut a hand hole into the bottom for access. A bit of white electrical tape around the edge stopped it being scratchy and looking messy. I also used white tape to cover the joins of the two bottles and neaten it all up.

And there you have it for the physical build! Check out the second post for information about the wiring side of it. Any questions are more than welcome, if I seem to have skipped any steps or you want clarity, comments would be great 🙂




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Aperture Science: We do what we must, because we can.


In November, Ethan went to his first Convention. He was really excited and decided he wanted to cosplay, and chose to be an Aperture Science Test Subject from Portal. So I started to look at how to make him a costume and gun, and drumroll please…..




For reference, here’s the main character from the game, Chell.

chellVia the half-life wikia

We made it all, bar actually sewing the jumpsuit. I tried looking for an orange one to buy, but while there are plenty of American prison-style ones for adults, there aren’t many for kids. In the end I found a white one online (Amazon have it) and dyed it. Fun tip – check your fabric content. That suit is a poly/cotton mix, which need two different kinds of dye. I ended up having to do it twice. I’d try to get one that’s full cotton if you can find it, as polyester needs to be boil dyed too, and it stinks!

After that we used this site to print the aperture logo as an iron on transfer to add a little detail to the suit:


We also did the same for the full Aperture Science logo to go on the T-shirt he wore underneath.


With it being November, he couldn’t be barefoot like in the original Portal, so we also made him some ‘Long-fall boots’. With him being 6 I didn’t know if he’d have the patience to walk with some kind of bent bar of whatever I could come up with behind his leg, so we simplified. I bought him some white sneakers (super bargain, only £6.50 in the sale from Sports Direct):IMG_5049and made the back of the boot like a kind of reverse shin pad:


I did these the night before the con so they could absolutely be neater! It’s craft foam cut to shape and size, with elastic cuffs on the front. The stripe on the back is electrical tape for a nice neat line. The ‘bolts’ holding in the straps are just craft brads I had in my mending box. I continued the line on the back of the sneakers with another strip of tape, bonus, it peeled off really easily after and left no marks. IMG_5050

And that’s the outfit really. He kept the top half of the suit up most of the time as it was freezing, but he loves his T-shirt and wore it to school for non-uniform day this week. We also made the Portal Gun, but that is going to be picture heavy so I’ll stick it in a new post.

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Weeping Angel – The Wings and Harness

If you’re interested, dress instructions are here.

On to the wings. The wings are tricky. The front and back are different, and you need a way for them to attach, while looking like everything is one piece of stone. I combined ideas from Kilayi’s post and Penwiper’s TheRPF thread.

What you need for the wings:
About 2m of pvc pipe. I used 22mm wide.
45° pipe joints (4)
90° pipe joints (2)
T pipe joints (2)
large foamcore board (2) – this is a light foam with paper glued either side to keep it rigid.
A LOT of 6mm EVA foam – I used 2 cheap yoga mats and a handful of A4 sheets when I ran out!
SO MUCH GLUE. Glue guns are your friend, or failing that a fast acting superglue.
You’ll really want a craft knife too for the foamcore, help yourself out and buy a cheap one. I managed with scissors but it was a bit nightmarish.

This picture I printed from Kilayi – the plan was to use her PVC boning system, combined with Penwiper’s foamcore centre layer to make them solid.


As you can see, I kind of divided up lengths and stuff and figured out a ratio to use to blow it up to the right size. I’m 5 ft 6, and decided on just over 3 feet long. I looked for photos of a full wing from the actual show to use, but I couldn’t find one that clearly showed a whole wing, so I am hugely indebted to Kilayi for this one! All in all I spent about 2-3 hours one evening calculating the dimensions and transferring a version of it to some scrap wallpaper for a template for the foam core.


Remember, this is going to be hidden by the foam, so you don’t need the individual feather shaping at the bottom, but it helps to remember where things will be. You’ll also want the feathers to overlap and meet at the edges, so allow for that when cutting them out later.

Next you want to arrange the pipe into this kind of construction. The horizontal sections are very slightly bent to help get up into that raised part at the top. It takes very little heat to do this, I held mine over my gas kitchen hob for a few seconds and then quickly stuck it in the joint and bent it. It will need glue in that joint, and the melt changes the shape enough that it’s not tight. I glued all my joints, just to be safe!


In that picture you can see that the pipes are sunk into the foam core. I traced around them onto the wing and cut out the section. This way, after you add the foam you’re not left with a flat side and a side with a big bulge (cheeky!) and you get a bit of thickness to the top of your wing on both sides. after fitting them in, I punched tiny holes in the foam core with my small scissors either side of the pipe and secured it that way.

Next, plan out your feathers. You’ll need a few pictures of the front and back of the wings – google images is good, or you can use the finished wing images lower in this post. Be sure to look at how and where they overlap, and leave enough extra on them to do it. Start cutting out the feathers, and before long, your ‘workspace’ (ie, my front room) will look like this…


Don’t start to glue anything down until it’s all cut out and planned, or you’ll get gaps or mistakes. I didn’t get pictures of individual feathers, but you’ll see below that they have score marks down the centre and uneven notches to look a bit more like feathers. Begin gluing…now.  Glue to the foam, or the bone pipes, but NOT the vertical pipe that will attach to your harness. It needs to be totally clear so it can be hidden within the dress and attach easily to the harness. After a long time and several mild burns (if using hot glue), or sticking of yourself to who knows what (superglue), or both, you’ll arrive at this point.


This is where I’ll point out – get foam as close to grey as possible. I couldn’t find sheets of grey cheap enough to justify it, but definitely look, because it is SUCH a pain in the butt getting paint right in all the nooks and crannies. on the fronts with the grey parts I didn’t have to be quite so careful to get every speck.

And the paint job, the same as the dress – dark grey all over – two coats here to fully cover the foam – then a mid grey of highlights, then a light grey of smaller highlights. you can also do a wash of thinned down black in the creases where you apply and wipe off quickly so just the crevices are nice and grimy. I think it’s a great way to age stuff, but I left it off of this project as I think it might have been too much. Leave it to dry and you’re done!


The only addition I made after this was adding a small amount of fabric to the wing base to hide where it will be joining the dress, hiding any gaps. I just made a loop of fabric and glued it on to the feathers (not the pipe) and let it hang over the pipe. Paint it with the rest, or if you add it after like me, just match the best you can. The highlights help disguise it anyway if it’s not spot on.

On to the harness.

You’ll need:
a cheap/old backpack, or strapping with its assorted clippy bits.
A small amount of scrap fabric
a small piece of wood or similar material
Off cut of EVA foam to line the back
4 pipe clips – matching size to your pipe
Sewing paraphernalia

Start with the wood. You want a small rectangle (mine is rounded at the top like a grave stone shape, because that was the shape backpack I had) that will comfortably fit your back. Attach the pipe clips with the screws. I also drilled small holes either side of the clips and cable tied them on too, because I used two layers of thin plyboard because that’s what I had, and on removing the pipes from the clip, the screws were less than secure.  Glue foam to the back of the wood for comfort.

Use the scrap fabric to sew a well-fitting envelope for the wood, with holes with strengthening stitching for the pipeclips. This needs sewing to the back pack if using or straps attaching to it. I had a small backpack spare as it had a hole in the front, so I cut off all of the front and sides, and sewed the envelope directly to the back. Originally I was going to detach the straps and sew them back on to the envelope, but I thought why mess with something that’s worked fine!


You have to sew all around the wood, so it doesn’t flop about in the envelope. I sewed it with the wood piece in it for the whole time, but you could leave it out until you have to sew in the top. That would be easier, but you’re more likely to go in too close and be unable to get it in position. I painted the straps as they were bright red and a tiny section was visible. Tiny, but bright red on a grey costume. No good. I also used a ribbon to tie the straps together at the front, holding everything in place a bit more securely.

The harness goes under the dress, and two small slits are made in the back of the dress, just above the top pipe clip. The wing pipe slides in the hole, and just pops straight onto the clips. This way, the wings can rotate so they point back, or out to the side, or in between, but they also stay pretty well where you put them. This also means that if they get a bit knocked by the crowd, they will simply move rather than snap off.  It was also useful for a brief sit down to eat at lunchtime. I wasn’t able to fully sit, but I did manage a short perch on the edge of a chair 🙂

That’s it for wings, not too hard on the face of it, but lots of planning involved.

Next, the wig, mask and gloves, and then we’re done!

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Comic Con 2014

Sorry for the neglect, every spare second of the last few weeks has been channeled into making my costume for Comic Con, and I was seriously worried it wouldn’t get done. But it did!

The first photos taken were done at 10pm last night :/ because that was when it was done! so here it is, a weeping angel!


A little rumpled and dark but it was only the final check. The wings were closed to get out the door and I forgot to re-open them once out. What can I say, I was exhausted!


You blinked!

I was really nervous to go to Comic Con this morning, it was my first con and first ever cosplay, but it was fantastic! I absolutely loved it. In what was an amazing compliment, I was asked for my photo many times! such a boost to my worried mind about the costume. I saw loads of amazing costumes too, but I didn’t have my phone most of the time (gloves made it impossible) and Rich was taking care of Henry. I did get a few later on after I changed though so let’s go!

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Not entirely sure who this guy is, but he was enormous and a brilliant costume.

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With Captain Jack Sparrow, who was completely in character, weaving his way around the stalls and slurring ‘Don’t blink’ at me when I was in costume. The other guy is “The Orange box”! super cool easy idea, and everyone laughed. For non-gamers: The Orange Box is a compilation of different games made by Valve, and it comes in, you guessed it, an orange box.

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Jack Frost and Chell from Portal. She’d made the Portal gun herself, and it was fab!

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Mind-bogglingly good Warmachine, and a storm trooper from The UK Garrison. He kind of ambushed me, I took a picture of him and his partner and he walked after me to get one with me too!

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Chell the 2nd, who let me play with her portal gun (lights and sounds!) and had made her own Longfall boots. Also Cersei Lannister, who turned and posed perfectly when I asked for a picture!

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Fantastic Lady Loki – she had such a beautiful delicate wire headdress thingy instead of a helmet, but it was so fine that it didn’t show up in the picture. And last but not least, Batman and the most adorable robin ever! Look at that face! I also saw many brilliant Doctors, Doctor Horrible, Pokemon, a cross-played Rita Skeeter, and loads more. My favourite one that I didn’t get a picture of though was a Mass Effect Soldier. His suit was amazing, he’d used different textures of foam to make the different pieces and it must have taken him so much time and meticulous attention to detail. unfortunately he was powering off in one direction and Rich was headed in the other.

And here’s some better lighted pictures of my costume thanks to, you know, daylight.

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Still not fab pictures, (forgot to adjust my wings again!) but I’m hoping to find some better ones online that were taken by people more talented behind a camera!

If anyone is interested, I’ll be putting up some kind of instructions for the costume at a later date, but right now I’m actually shattered. I sat down once for about 20 minutes (wings are not helpful for sitting!) to eat lunch and the rest of the day was on my feet. Still, worth it!

Just one more, because you can’t go to ComicCon and not buy anything –


Teeny tiny TARDIS!

I had such a fantastic day, everyone was super lovely, polite and patient, and I kept forgetting that the mask hid my face and expressions so I hope I came off the same way.

And now, time for bed, as I am shattered!

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Ethan, God of Thunder and Sam, God of Mischief!

Ta-da! I’m really please with how these turned out. I think I probably could have done better if I’d not left it so late to do, I was working on them right up until the morning of Halloween.

On to the making! Ethan’s costume was quite a bit simpler than Sam’s, because I already had the suit from Asda, leaving only the helmet and mjolnir (the hammer to you and me), which were very easy. The helmet started the same as Sam’s, paper mache and a balloon.

 Then I used this photo (found via good old google, I think it’s from the movie release posters) for reference to cut out the wings from craft foam – amazing stuff – and used my glue gun to add detail like so:

 Not too shabby! A tad wobbly, but alright for a kids costume. Then I glued wire to the back to help shape them. I could have used heat, if you heat fab foam a little you can re-form it and it’ll stay in the new shape. I forgot that until after the hot glue though. You can see the wire in the next picture.
 You can also see Mjolinr, which was really simple. I had the cardboard tube and a small cardboard box. Hole in the box, stick in the tube. Bang, done. I also put a layer of foam on the box because it was a little bashed. Then I sprayed, which was fun til I got some on the patio slabs and could smell it all day long.
A little more glue, and the helmet was done, really really easy. The handle of the hammer I just added some dark brown foam strips for the straps and handle. Ethan later asked me to take it off as he didn’t like the feel, but he kept it on for photos!

I also sewed a new cape for him as the one that came with the costume was pretty rubbish and thin, and had been hemmed so the shiny side was down. Simple enough job, buy a rectangle of shiny red fabric, hem the edges, sew on a bit of velcro at the top to attach. The suit already had velcro for the original cape so I didn’t even have to bother with that.

On to Sam. His costume wasn’t so much harder, but it had more details. This post shows how far I’d got with the helmet and jacket.

 Here’s the jacket after a coat of gold spray paint (which I now hate) for the armour. I didn’t end up putting more armour on the arms for 2 reasons – first, I ran out of time, and second, Sam had enough issues with the front piece! I used fabric glue from B&Q to glue it on, but I wasn’t happy it was held on enough so added some superglue, and later used the glue gun a bit to patch it up. I had some leftover green satin fabric from making bow ties, so I cut that to size, hemmed it, put velcro on it and the jacket, and voila, another cape.

Helmet. It actually turned out easier than I thought, once I decided to make it this way. I used long thin triangles of foam for the horns to make them slightly pyramid-y as that’s what they look like in most of the pictures I found, and glue gunned them in place. I looked at lots of other homemade ones, but didn’t use their horn instructions as they just didn’t look right. They are the place I discovered craft foam though which is absolutely brilliant.

 Then came the painting. Oh my goodness, how much do I hate the gold spray paint I used. I’m sure it was just a faulty can or other brands are better but grrrrr. The first can I used did the pieces on the jacket fine, and part of the helmet before it ran out (it was a small can). So I went and picked up another one. I don’t know what I did wrong but somehow that one separated! I got some gold bits but a lot of silver bits. Either way, it looked a mess. The shop I’d gone to for the paint was in Leeds and this was the day before Halloween and I didn’t have time (or the inclination!) to spend another £5 plus petrol going to get more. I looked through some shops here, no joy for spray, but in B&Q (again, awesome) I found some gold emulsion. Now, I don’t know who the heck would paint their walls metallic gold, but I grabbed a tester pot and went with it. It was ok. It was drippy and took an absolute AGE to dry, but it covered the patchy awfulness.

 Ta-da again! Here also is Sam’s staff of Loki, and of this I am quite proud. I tried to find pictures online but it’s a pain, as he has 2 or 3 different ones in the film. I eventually found This brilliant blog post where a guy has finished his own (MUCH more professional!) staff. It gave me a great point of reference for shapes and general ideas.

I started off with a long cardboard tube again, it had previously been a sword for a knight costume for Ethan. Sam had a blue glitter and water filled bouncy ball which I thought would do well for the stone. I wanted to stick a torch inside the tube to light it up, but couldn’t find one thin enough. Then I noticed on that blog that there was a sort of metal junction-y bit under the stone, and I had a torch small and thin enough for that. So…

There it is! the blade-like parts are all sprayed foam, the 2 sections under the ball are the torch. All glue gunned into place. It wasn’t the neatest glue job, but again, time. I made a small cut away it the top of the tube so I could turn the torch on and off as the switch was annoyingly on the bottom end, then covered it with a flap of foam.
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the results. I thought I might have bitten off more than I could chew with this, but it was all surprisingly simple once I’d got all the plans in my head. Sam didn’t want to wear his helmet much, and it rained on us while ‘trickle treating’ as Ethan calls it, but we had a pretty good time anyway, and they got plenty of treats!

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Sam’s Loki Costume – in process.

So Halloween is approaching, less than two weeks to go. Eek! need to get a wriggle on with the costumes!

Luckily, they are proving to (so far) follow the simple ideas in my head. As they’re just for the kids I’ve simplified a bit. In fact with Ethan I’ve completely cheated, the base of his Thor costume is shop bought, as I was having issues with finding tops in the right pattern and it was only £12.50. I’m planning on modifying it as it’s not as detailed as I’d like. Anyway, onto progress pics!

I found this picture via Pinterest for a good front on view of Loki’s armour and helmet. I decided to simplify it not only for ease, but also because when you’re making it for a 2 year old, the pieces get slightly weeny, and sort of pointless.

So here is Sam’s jacket so far –

 I intend to add the shoulder and forearm guard bits. The yellow is just craft foam, lightweight and bendy, practically indestructible even for my Sam. Each side piece is 2 pieces of foam, the curved main bits and the thinner top piece. to make the sort of wing-ish design I just cut into the foam but not right to the other side, so it’s still all joined on the curved edge, and slightly overlapped them. I tried glueing them in place with PVA as I was told that’d work on craft foam. Not so if there is any sort of pull or resistance. Superglue however was brilliant, even if I did lose a couple of fingerprints in the process. The circles I just stuck on, again, superglue. The jacket was a simple black zip through sweater from Asda, £3 I think. Though they don’t tend to sell black clothes for 2 year olds, so I bought it in age 3-4 and took it in, super easy, especially if you’re not too fussy about the finished sleeves.There were literally no small boys clothes in a dark enough green, so black had to do. The foam isn’t glued on yet, I’m going to spray it gold first. I’m not sure about how to attach the necklace type bit, probably glue on one side and velcro on the other so I can still get to the zip to put him in it.

And now, the helmet –

Paper mache. I’ve done 3 basic helmet shapes and it took the best part of 2 days, with layers and drying glue and what not. Why have I done 3 you ask? well. One for Sam, one for Ethan. The third was the first attempt of Sam’s, but I made it too small, and it scratched his face putting it on. Whoops :S For the right size I measured their heads at the largest point, then added a couple of inches (I forgot to add the inches in the first attempt) then inflate a balloon, with the balloons widest point measuring the same. With Sam’s second attempt it was actually a little bit too big, and he looked like a bobble head! Sigh. So this time I just cut a slit all the way up the back and overlapped the sides until it looked ok.

A tip to cut down on the time you spend paper mache-ing – draw the shape of the helmet on the balloon, and just make sure you overlap the lines a small amount. You can’t see in the picture, but the back stops about halfway down the balloon. It leaves a bigger gap to get the thing on his head, and also stops it being too tall for his head too. This means that if you cover the whole balloon you’re then cutting off an awful lot of waste, which you’ve just spent yonks glueing onto the balloon and waiting for it to dry. Can you tell I also did this on the first one?

The horns are plant wire I found in B&Q for a couple of pounds. I’ll be adding craft foam to them to make them much fatter and more 3d. Then I’m going to try adding a few craft foam details to the helmet before spraying it gold. I’ve already sewn a rectangle of green satiny material for his cape, and he’ll just wear dark trousers and wellies.

For a costume process post, this is a bit wordy! Will update with more progress when it happens!

P.S. Spellcheck says ‘gluing’ is the correct spelling. It just looks wrong though, so I’ve left the e in. Sorry if it makes you twitch 😉

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