Queen of Blades tutorial Step Eight: The Wings

Alice has been diligently updating every week so I’m sure you can see how complex this build truly has been. It was a learning experience at every turn, and during a trip to our local Tap plastic I found they carry a machine wound fiberglass tube in several sizes. We decided to by one and see just how strong it was.

After some testing, we were willing to give an idea that I had running around in my head a try. I had spent some time in my youth backpacking an I knew that if there was any way to make the wings full sized then the weight would have to be carried on Alice’s hips.

We had already looked at a using a corset to help “enhance” Alice’s figure and it would also lend its self nicely to a mount for the wings.

The mount was a collaboration between my self and some help from my brother in Texas who did the fabrication and welding. We found steel pipe with an internal diameter of .80 inches which would allow for a snug but still easy to remove fit for our fiberglass tube. He cut the bases to a 45 degree angle and welded them together and to a base plate that measured 4″ x 5″.

Early on I made the back plate that this would attach to on a bit of a whim. The plate was  made by using the fiberglass life cast of Alice’s and we fiberglass a section of the back to form the plate.

We did a simple cross lamination going up and down on one layer, then left and right on the next to enhance strength of the plate. Total count was 5 layers of fiberglass. This is also included in an earlier tutorial, here.

The mounting of the plates was important to avoid anything sticking through and causing a rub or irritation point on Alice.  We used T-nuts and machine screws to hold it together.

A few quick cuts on a corset that Alice ordered from www.damseldress.com just for the Kerrigan build. This corset took a tremendous amount of abuse and held its shape and form through it all, enough cannot be said about how great the craftsmanship is on this thing.

We had sketched out some sizing diagrams for reference so we could get the size right for the wing structure. The total length of pipe needed was close to 26 feet per wing. We used two pieces side by side for the support coming off of the back piece up to split point for the “fingers”.

We eyeballed most of the wing due to the fact that the wings change size based on which art you are using for reference. Once we were happy with the lengths we move on to joining the pieces together.

I am pretty proud of this part. I looked into ways to use resins and such, but on a suggestion we decided to go with bent copper pipe for the joints. If you go with pipe you should make sure to use “schedule L” pipe and avoid “M type”. The cost will only vary by $2-$3 per section of pipe but the wall thickness is about twice as thick.

I did the bending using a map gas torch and a steel spring pipe bender. There are lots of guides on bending pipe, but it’s important to always wear safety gear and use appropriate safety equipment. Copper pipe can fracture if bent to far or if bent cold so it will take practice but a nice, even bend can be achieved with a bit of work.

I bent and joined three pieces of pipe that would act as the joints for the fingers of the wings. These were tough to get right due to the fact that their position would affect both its angle away from the body and its slant forward and backwards.

I soldered the finger joints together and from this we built the remaining structure of the wings. Once we had constructed all the parts we moved on to an assembly stage which included using a bit of two part resin to glue the entire structure together. A quick note on resin glues. The set time may be 5-15 min but full strength will not be achieved for 24-48 hours. If you have the time always let your glues fully cure to avoid any damage from handling or an accidental drop.

We marked each joint with a paint pen for us to be able to see any movement or slipping of the joints should occur. I was concerned about the strength of the joint and I have a tendency to over engineer my work. We did a fiberglass re-enforcement of each joint by wrapping fiberglass around the joint and 3-5 inches about and below it.  Although I am unsure if this was needed, we did and the wings are still in perfect condition.

At this point we had finished the skeleton construction of the wings and were ready for the next step of adding foam and shaping them down, which will be covered in the next tutorial.

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