Spinning Tornado Costume

Page 3

Unlike the toilet auger, my homemade crank tended to straighten itself out. I needed a loop to put it through, so I taped a section of 2" PVC pipe to my harness. To create the crank handle, I bent a short piece of pipe, remembering to slide a slightly larger bit around it, like a sleeve. Having a spinning sleeve for a handgrip makes the cranking easier, so I wouldn't have to reposition my hands with each turn. I added a second sleeve above the crank and attached it to the lower end of the dowel. It was a little ugly, but had cost less than $10 in materials, and would fit into the confines of my tornado with ease.


To ease entry and exit, I bought a long black zipper. It was $1 on ebay. Unfortunately it had a hidden shipping fee of $10, so I never paid.

I bought the same zipper from the same company on Amazon. Let's call it even.

I had a plan for installing the zipper: First I would attach the closed zipper to the inside wall of the tornado curtain. Next I would slice through the fabric, revealing the closed zipper, which would be holding both halves of the fabric at the exactly correct spot whenever the zipper was closed.

Undetered by my lack of a sewing machine, I used hot glue to stick it in place, laying down a line of glue for each half of the zipper. When I attempted to cut the fabric, I realized my error: It doesn't take a lot of hot glue to completely lock up a zipper.

I hated to buy another zipper immediately, so I went online to find a solution. Guess what? The internet had one. Here it is:

Rubbing Alcohol dissolves Hot Glue.

Worked like a charm. I spent about half of an hour dabbing isopropol alcohol onto the zipper, peeling off the glue and working the zipper up.

With the zipper installed and working, I was happy with the engineering, and decided to embark on one of the most fun parts of building costumes: The appearance.

My first thought was to use fiberglas building insulation to simulate the cloudy exterior of a tornado. I wanted an irregular appearance, which I thought fiberglas would provide beatifully.

Unfortunatly, fiberglas is terrible to work with, and terrible to use. It gets on your skin and itches. It also has an inhalation hazard.

I forged ahead. Fiberglas, I could deal with the problems. I wanted the tornado to look like a swirling cloud, and I knew fiberglas would look better than the upholstery foam I could buy in a fabric store.

But I went ahead and bought the upholstery foam anyway.

First I tried using spray paint to make pink fiberglas white, but it didn't work well. Luckily Lowes sells Manville building insulation, which is bright white! It would look perfect!

Using thin sheets of building insulation and lots of spray glue, I was able to create a cloud-like tornado exterior. It looked extremely cloudy, but needed a little direction... something to make it look like it was moving.

I decided I needed to add some thin bands of cloud.

For strips, the upholstery fiber-fill sheeting was perfect. I spent an evening cutting it into long strips, then began attaching it to my funnel cloud with hot glue.

It looked great! The two layers of cloud worked well together, the static fiberglas cloud with the strips of cloud wrapped around them. To create a spiral effect, I kept an even slope in mind dropping from left to right.

There were a lot of strips of fabric, but the more I added, the better it looked. I added them all.

And, like an idiot, I was so excited to be finished gluing the strips that I immediately began painting it. Here's a tip for you: Don't paint in the dark.

I added layers of black, gray and white paint, and ended up with a tiger-striped ice-cream cone that had obviously just been spray-painted. Damn. That needed a fix.

I had another problem as well. It didn't spin well. It spun slowly.

I had assumed that by hand-cranking it, I'd be able to tackle the inertia of anything by slowly winding it up to speed. I can push a car, if I treat the weight with respect, so it seemed logical that I'd be able to gently nudge a cone around, even if it weighed 100 lbs. As long as I continued to apply force, it should spin faster and faster, right?

No.

It wasn't just the weight. I was dealing with friction.

This was something I'd have to figure out if I was going to have a chance in the costume contest.

Please Continue Reading Page 4 of the Spinning Tornado Costume >

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