Jan 9, 2011, 11:37 AM - Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella v2.0
Foreword: This is the completed build log of the project, I'll attempt to annotate references to "yesterday" and "a few days later" with the actual dates that the stages of the project took place on, but there will be some I won't have a date record for.
A little history: Going on three years now, I've been a member of a Ghostbusters costuming group known as the "U.K. Ghostbusters", two of the members of which have also been very active in the Doctor Who costuming community. Last june, a friend of mine named Carl tagged me as the 7th Doctor in one of the photos he'd posted on facebook. I'd made it known to him that the 7th Doctor was my favourite, and following seeing the photo, I began to muse on the idea of what I'd need to go through in order to recreate the costume, and it's signature elements.
Primarily, there are two main items that the whole ensemble hangs upon in order to succeed... the Doctor's Question Mark umbrella, and his question mark motif vest:
I quickly decided that if I wasn't able to either recreate or attain one of the two elements, then the plan would be cancelled.
My musings turned to the umbrella (to which this topic will be dedicated due to it being the prop replica section). Having had some experience in building props a few different ideas came to mind in producing the custom handle, there was the option of carving it from wood, another which involved making it from clay or a similar material... and then there was the brilliant option of molding it from acrylic, as detailed in the following tutorial:
-View the rest of it here
So over the course of July 2010, I gathered a metre's worth of 25mm diameter acrylic rod, a wooden-shafted umbrella, a grinder (in place of a belt sander) and the paints and miscellaneous materials that would go into assembling the finished product.
Contrary to popular belief, finding a simple black umbrella is more complicated then it first appears. I found plenty of mostly-black umbrellas, but plenty had some form of obvious branding on them, which ruled them out as workable possibilities... eventually I narrowed down the list of potentials on offer down to two, the first being sold for about £5.99 at Robert Dyas, and the second at a "cheapo" shop for £4.99. I opted for the 4.99 one as it seemed better quality than the more expensive one, and it had a wooden handle (more easy to remove than a plastic one).
The handle was quickly removed, and it became apparant that removing the handle would only be part of the modification I'd have to make to the shaft, due to the section holding the handle being a part of the shaft, rather than a separate piece I could remove.
With the mounting section removed and the surface sanded, it was good to go with the drilling which would eventually attach the elements of the handle.
As the first day's work drew to a close, I took the opportunity to test the paint and clear lacquer I'd perchased from my local Halfords. The paint I selected was Ford Radiant Red, not too dark, nor too light... although as McCoy's umbrella appears to have shifted shades as the series progressed... and I suspect there may've been no fewer than three umbrellas, finding the exact shade would be a challenge that wouldn't be worth the effort involved (I dare say that my making such a remark, I could have led to some alienation here).
A few days later and I had the dowel caps I'd be using as the dots of the question mark, and the clear 1" diameter acrylic I'd ordered from a supplier on eBay (I'm happy to provide the user name if anyone wishes to know). The dowel caps came from a Homebase curtain rod set, which at about £18 is the most expensive element of the umbrella so far. The acrylic totalled about £17.
(It should be noted that since I first wrote this build log last year, I've now come into possession of a set of "doll's head caps" which are significantly cheaper, and more plentiful then the curtain rod option)
Thanks to a small indent on the inside of the cap, I had a guide for drilling and after a few minutes, I had my pilot hole and then, the full-sized hole for the mounting rod for the handle elements.
In addition to that, the length of acrylic was cut for the handle (although in hindsight, it was cut a half inch too short to the measurement DrWhoJr recommended)
A further couple of days later, and I was prepared to start building the jig to mold the handle, equipped with a hole saw from B&Q (which is sadly slightly smaller than desired) and 50p's worth of fibreboard from Homebase, which was undoubtedly the bargain of the day.
With a bit of fiddling, the hold saw was installed in my Dad's pillar-mounted drill, and the central part of the jig was cut.
As the day drew into evening, the last task was to paint the tip of the umbrella. Masking off the fabric of the umbrella, and the very end of the tip (as I'd decided to leave it unpainted to avoid it being scraped off through use) I set about priming it, and spraying it so that it could dry overnight.
Once dry and with the masking tape removed, the finished paint job was excellent (I know, tooting my own horn), and the edge between the unmasked section and the edge of the paint was a nice and crisp. Sadly, when applying the clear lacquer, it appeared to thin the paint slightly, and it dripped down in spots, forcing me to spray the entire tip to cover up the mess.
Despite this minor setback, it didn't dampen my spirits when approaching the task of rounding off the ends of the acrylic.
Unable to find a suitable belt sander, my Dad suggested I instead use a grinder. The grinder performed the job adequately, even with the absense of a appropriately-sized hole saw piece to rotate the acrylic (forcing me to have to turn it by hand, rather than by using my cordless drill).
(An additional note, that since writing this log, I now own an appropriate hole saw piece)
Despite this, the end result turned out pretty well, even if it isn't quite as perfectly rounded as the real thing.
With the rod ready for the next stage, my attention turned to finishing off the jig. The two stops had been cut and glued together, and the first of the two had been drilled and installed onto the jig board, alongside the central part of the jig itself. The only remaining bit of work was to carve out the second stop so that it would feature a carved radius to fit the lower curve of the questionmark.
With the job sped-up by some new sandpaper from Robert Dyas, the position was finalised and the mounting holes drilled.
With the jig completed, my attention turned to a few of the smaller elements, before I could put the acrylic through the oven stage. The smaller elements included expanding the drill site in the umbrella to accomodate the threaded rod I'll be using to attach the handle elements to the umbrella shaft.
Another element that was worked on, was the spacer that'll be placed between the upper portion of the question mark, and the question mark dot.
With it primed, I progressed by sliding the question mark dot onto the metal rod so that it could be primed and then painted.
If all goes to plan, this'll be how it'll be placed on the finished product:
And that marked the last bit of work of yesterday (July 18th).
Today's work wouldn't be able to progress until I had some grease paper, which after a short visit to Beaconsfield (by way of Amersham in order to check the charity shops in both towns for potential 7th Doctor costume parts) was attained, I returned home with my Mum ready to perform one of the most significant (and most likely and easy to mess up) stages of the build, molding the handle.
Following DrWhoJr's video tutorial, and recommendations he'd given via PM, the handle was placed inside the oven, and I followed this slightly modified version of his his rescipe (converted for use in a British oven):
Start at Gas Mark 1 and leave for ten minutes.
After ten minutes, turn up to Gas Mark 2, and five minutes after turning to GM2, rotated the acrylic to avoid flattening.
Five minutes after rotating, the oven was turned up to Gas Mark 3, after five minutes of GM3, the acrylic was rotated and the oven turned up to Gas Mark 4.
Five minutes of Gas Mark 4 and another turning of the rod, and I attempt to see if I could mold it around the jig.
Although the acrylic was pliable, it wasn't quite warm enough and was already starting to set before I'd even gotten it near the lower of the two stops. Placing it back in the oven for between five-to-ten minutes at Gas Mark 5 heated it up nicely, and the second time it was removed it was pliable enough to fit around the whole jig without issue. After being left to cool and rest in place for about a hour, I had the following result:
A slight bit of dismantling of the jig later, and the acrylic was free:
A further bit of drilling, and the handle could be screwed onto the threaded rod I'd purchased:
Leaving me with the last job of the evening: adding some Halford body filler to the acrylic to fill in the holes gouged by the grinder:
Last edited by Kingpin; Jun 30, 2011 at 7:19 AM.
Jan 9, 2011, 11:51 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Jan 9, 2011, 11:51 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Entry originally dated July 20th, 2010
With the body filler being given the night to fully dry, the morning's work began with sanding down the excess material from the handle:
The handle could possibly done with a bit more sanding, as indicated in the photos of the priming stage, but for a first attempt I feel it's coming out rather well.
Especially so, once the red paint went onto the handle.
As I write, the coat of clear lacquer is now drying on the question mark, as well as the dot. The next stage will be to start test fitting the pieces to find out the amount of threaded rod I'll need to attach the whole lot to the umbrella.
Entry originally dated July 24th, 2010
As the umbrella neared completion I entered a small area of choice. Between Season 24 and 26 of the series, the prop either underwent a minor modification or another was produced, resulting in the spacer between the dot and upper portion of the question mark changing in length (even keeping in mind the fact the dot could be moved to cover the ends of the spokes, most obviously seen in Rememberance of the Daleks).
Even though I'm going for a Season 25 Doctor, I've decided to opt for a Season 24 Umbrella as I feel the longer spacer looks better.
The setup, with the original shorter spacer I'd made:
And the finished replacement:
Once completed, I measured the depth of the hole cut into the shaft of the umbrella, the thickness of the dot and length of threaded rod that'd normally be hidden by the dot.
With the final measurement, the thread rod was sawed to size, with the "flashing" filed down. Once ready, it was screwed into the hole I'd drilled into the umbrella shaft... and the results really do speak for themselves:
I've learnt a lot during this build... and hopefully a lot of that's gone on to those who've read this build diary. I already know of a few areas where things can be improved, and I'm eagerly anticipating the time where I start work on the second question mark handled-umbrella, but for now, I'll be taking a short break from making umbrellas.
Maybe in that short break, I can catch up on a little bit of reading...
Since writing the original the original build log, I've now had the umbrella with me through the course of four events. In the subsequent time I've seen how prone some bits of it are to chipping and damage, as well as what actions that are appropriate to Sylvester McCoy's Doctor I can get away with whilst holding it.
Additionally, I can now conclude that although the wooden umbrella I used was excellent in painting, it does not have a great deal of structural integrity:
During the time of it's use, the wooden shaft split, causing the threaded rod for the handle to slide free (leading to some additional minor damage to the "dot", the chipped paint on the top was caused by the spacer being too loose on the assembled article. I was able to repair the damage with the help of some metal brackets, a zip-tie and some glue, meaning I was able to take it with me for the London Parade on New Year's Day (where I and a number of my fellow iDoctor Who[/i] costumers would be participating for charity), but due to the damage, this event would be the last one that particular umbrella would be participating in before I officially retired it from use.
The plan for 2011 is to build a new one, employing changes and new techniques I'd learned since finishing my original umbrella, and to use a umbrella with a metal shaft.
Jan 9, 2011, 11:52 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Franz, thank you for the comment, hope you get a kick out of the remainder of the build log.
Jan 9, 2011, 3:03 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
I'm just finishing up a run of these I made myself. My inspiration was Dr. Who Jr as well. I perfected the molding technique a bit so the marks left arn't as defined. Also, i finally hit my groove with rounding the ends.
Jan 10, 2011, 5:18 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Rounding the ends off has been the major time eater on the project, as for a seven hour charge on the drill battery (and I've been using two chared batteries each time) I don't get very long to work with. It's even worse in the cold winter months.
Following the completion of my first umbrella, I set to work cutting and grinding two more handles from the length of rod I'd purchased (in total it'll do three and a bit handles if they're measured correctly). The first one to own one of the handles I'd made was a friend of mine named Mark, and I've decided to include a selection of the photos he'd posted (partly due to the additional techniques it'd opened up to me. Hopefully that isn't against RPF guidelines.
Entry originally dated October 5th, 2010
The first improvement Mark made on the design was to employ a set of "Doll's Head" knobs, like the screen-used prop (two separate reference pages linked in the hyperlinks) they form a near-complete sphere, ending in a flat edge near the base. Although not hollow like on the real umbrella, I imagine the could be hollowed out if the builder wished... and substantially cheaper than my curtain-rail end cap method at 49p.
This particular handle was an improvement on my first, featuring a greater curve on the radials at both ends, and was cut to a more accurate length based on the video tutorial. This photo shows the fixed curve on the lower part of the handle, which Mark informed me was achieved with body filler.
Due to the thickness of the threaded rod Mark had used (as he planned to fix it to a metal-shafted umbrella, finding an appropriately-sized spacer proved to be tricky, however he managed to locate a spacer in the form of a Halloween devil's trident being sold at Wilkinson's for 98p.
His build has given me plenty to think about, and it's also helped me reach a decison as to whether I'd make myself a new one, taking in the ways I figured I could improve things through my own build... and through the experiences Mark had.
I'm hoping to kick my wintry lethargy by this weekend and get back to work on the other handles. One of which will become my new umbrella, the others (like the one owned by mark, and another being worked on my fellow Who costimer Rob) will be sold off, either on their own or as an assembled umbrella.
So the improvements I plan to implement:
*Use a completely black metal-shafted umbrella.
*Ensure straighter drilling for the threaded rod for the handle.
*Replace the "dot" using the dolls head knobs.
*Implement more pronounced curving on the radials.
*Include shorter spacer (I've since decided that I prefer the shorter spacer separating the dot and the rest of the questionmark)
Jan 11, 2011, 9:18 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
I'm onto my second '?' brolly, I made the first one at art college 15 years ago, but the brolly was a cheap'n'nasty one, and the handle was way off, and possibly a lethal weapon due to the weight, so it went the way of the dinosaurs; about five years later I 'acquired' (ok, a belligerent customer in a shop I worked part time forgot it after a rant, and the manager saved it for me) a genuine Fox 'Paragon' umbergamp- it's the same one that John Steed carried- and I made a new handle out of an mdf-marine ply-mdf sandwich, carving it back with a spoke shave and sanding it smooth, with a couple of EMA hemispheres for the ball (I cut the whangee handle down but left the gold collar and attached the ball to it, so it still captures the prongs on the canopy), and painted it a bright red, Nissan 526 from Halfords.
In recent years I've been out and about as a Steampunk, and to compliment outfits I've been taking the '?' brolly- but I've been repainting the handle and ferrule to match the mood of each outfit- so far it's been mid blue, burgundy red and dark brown; one of my colleagues asked me how many of those umbrellas I had...
...just the one, but I have lots of paint.
I'd recommend a Fox Paragon as a base brolly, they are on eBay all the time, are of an almost unbelievable quality, and won't set you back more than thirty quid.
PS: Nice job, this is a more difficult project than most would imagine!
Jan 11, 2011, 10:06 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Thanks for the compliment. It was disappointing to see that after Dr Who Jr had posted his tutorial on YouTube, more people were contacting him to ask him to make one, rather than to say they'd made one thanks to the videos. It was a fun challenge to put it together, and seeing the finished handle was definitely the most rewarding bit.
I'll keep an eye on those Fox Paragons, might be nice to have a genuine one for my next umbrella. Do you have a photo of your current umbrella?
Apr 28, 2011, 8:58 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
It's been about three quarters of a year since I assembled my replica of the 7th Doctor's umbrella, and after a bit of searching, I can now start the ball running on assembling a new, even more accurate replica of the prop.
The first major step toward the new umbrella, getting the real deal... or at least as close as can be achieved.
I sent Chris at ClassicWhoProps a email, as of his site's last update, he now possesses two original umbrella props from the show, and after a bit of enquiry, he was able to reveal that the make of one of them was T.FOX & Co.LTD, an English company. A bit more searching, and eBay produced some results for a "Fox Paragon" umbrella, the "Paragon" relating to both a particular design utilised by Fox's umbrellas around 1852, and a manufacturer company of the same name who collaborated with FOX & Co's then owner, Samuel Dixon.
Having chased down a potential design, I scoured eBay until I won a close-looking model... which arrived today.
Already, it appears to be a close match in design to the umbrella the 7th Doctor carried in Paradise Towers:
Other matching details include the colour of the central metal tube, the design of the tips of the ribs, the loop of fabric used to restrain the material of the umbrella and the end/ferrule. To compare these elements with one of the screen-used umbrellas, please check out Chris's page covering props from the 7th Doctor's era: Link
I believe that as production went along, the Paradise Towers umbrella was modified to become the more familiar question mark handled-umbrella, which is the plan for the umbrella I've purchased.
The umbrella is in need of some TLC, the material could use a clean (and possibly even a dye session, as the fabric has faded somewhat). The fabric loop has sadly been ripped, with the metal ring that would fit over the button long since lost.
Despite these minor issues, I feel this umbrella will lend itself well to the cause, and once finished will allow me to retire my trusty, but broken older 7th Doctor umbrella. So, for those wishing to produce a more accurate replica, or for those wishing to set their 7th Doctor costume at the time of Paradise Towers, this is almost certainly the model of umbrella to go for, if you have a bit of cash to spend and you're able to locate one.
That's all for now.
Apr 28, 2011, 3:13 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Wow, thanks for posting all of this. I made a "?" umbrella years ago. Unfortunately I didn't have this level of information on hand so I made it out of a huge golf umbrella. I've been meaning to go back and make another out of a slightly more accurate base umbrella.
I did make a second one, but I thought it would be cool to combine the bent acrylic with a lightsaber hilt on the umbrella. I'm very pleased with the glowing red umbrella handle. I've been tempted to do a Blade Runner umbrella too, where the shaft of the umbrella lights up. Unfortunately I never open my costume umbrellas at conventions so nobody would ever see the shaft.
Apr 28, 2011, 3:24 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Interesting info- thanks for sharing. I'll be on the lookout for one of these as it looks like a good umbrella also for a John Steed which I'm slowly working on putting together.
Apr 29, 2011, 9:39 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Thanks for sharing the info.
This is also one of the best replica handles I've ever seen. The curve, thickness of the plastic and 'roundness' of the ends all give it the correct gravitas.
Really good piece of work
May 4, 2011, 11:49 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
OMG !! I couldn't believe how easy this was to do ! I made a basic handle in 50 minutes flat. First I quickly knocked up a jig out of rubbish I found in the garage, threw a 25mm acrylic bar in the oven, straight in at 250c for 15 minutes no messing about, onto the jig, dropped it into a bucket of cold water to set jig an all, and hey presto. Not having a grinder I pondered on how to round the end of the handle. Easy !! Heated it up with an electric heat paint stripper until it went soft and formed a glob on the end, grabbed a wet cloth and quickly smoothed it round. It came out virtually perfect in about 6 minutes. A quick smooth with wet and dry and hey presto, it's absolutely perfect, it doesn't even need filling
Last edited by Oblivion; May 4, 2011 at 11:54 AM.
May 4, 2011, 2:38 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
You lucky sod! Nice.
Working the new handle has been slow going, between a lot of free time I'd alotted to the project being taken over by non-prop things, and getting to grips with my new variable-speed electric drill for making the rounded ends (previously I used to use a battery-operated drill).
Not sure when they'll happen, but I'll be trying to get the fabric dyed black again, and restore the missing thread that's allowed some of the edges to become frayed.
May 4, 2011, 4:56 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Beginners luck, but I'm still laughing about it this evening - shockingly simple. I'm hoping to have the entire brolly finished by Sunday I'll post some pics when it's complete.
Last edited by Oblivion; May 6, 2011 at 6:57 AM.
May 7, 2011, 4:32 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Finally finished it
May 7, 2011, 6:30 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Looks great. Something I've been looking into is try locate some appropriately-sized black plastic tubing, that'll allow me to slide the dot so I can open and close the umbrella, but without exposing any of the metal of the shaft underneath.
Yours is now pretty much accurate (excluding weathering) to the second umbrella Chris at classicdoctorwhoprops owns:
May 7, 2011, 8:54 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
That's the very brolly I've duplicated, and it's as it appears in 'The Curse of Fenrick'. Onto a new project now, but what .....................
Last edited by Oblivion; May 7, 2011 at 1:16 PM.
May 7, 2011, 11:08 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella
Curse you clever people making me want to do this myself, after so long of trying to get someone to mass produce these :P
Jun 30, 2011, 7:23 AM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella v2.0
It's been just shy of a year since I finished my questionmark umbrella replica, and some of you who frequent dw_cosplay may've seen a post I'd made, where I detailed a recent purchase, a genuine Fox Paragon umbrella, the type used on at least one of the screen used props (you can check out that post here: link.
I'd purchased this umbrella with the specific intention of converting it into a brand new, more accurate replica of the 7th Doctor's signature prop. I can finally show off the work I've managed to achieve so far, but first, I think I owe you guys an explanation as to why there's been no work until less than two weeks before London Film and Comic Con, the event I'd intended to have it finished for...
My existing umbrella's final event (although it's retirement had been postponed several times) was intended to be Collectormania 17, on the final weekend of May, where I'd be meeting Alex Kingston and having my photo taken with her (a great event and experience with her, but that's a story for another time). Unfortunately the buses to Milton Keynes at 5:00pm on a Sunday are one every two hours, and not wishing to wait in Milton Keynes for more than a hour and a half, I located a coach that would be able to take me to Bicester where I could then catch the train home.
The plan seemed to be going well, as I arrived at Bicester within a half hour, and I approached the station building... and that's where I befell a triptych of badluck. As the ticket office neared, a train going my way arrived, leading me to rush over to the ticket machine, and in my haste, pay too much for a ticket I didn't need. Purchasing the (incorrect) ticket in record time, I began to make my way over to the staircase to get the the platform on the opposite side of the tracks... only for my train to pull away. I decided to proceed over to the far platform so I could wait for the next train, and due to a couple of passengers walking up the staircase and taking up space, I wasn't able to fully see where I was walking and, thinking I was putting my foot down on a step, I actually misjudged my footing and went down on my right ankle badly, spraining it.
I wasn't able to walk or put any weight on the foot for the better part of two weeks, which led to all of my prop projects screeching to a halt. Things have since resumed and finally, I've made some progress with the umbrella. There were a number of things I'd wished to improve over the original, such as the curves on the ends of the questionmark, as well as how the dot slid over the tips of the ribs and the paint application on the wooden section of the end/ferrule.
On the two screen-used props featured on ClassicDoctorWhoProps, the dot of the questionmark has been used to keep the ribs of the umbrella closed in addition to the fabric loop. Sadly this wasn't easy to achieve with the thick wooden tips on the cheap umbrella I'd purchased for the previous build, but the Fox Paragon is a much more superior design, featuring thinner, metal tips, which are substantially easier to work with. I'd previously used the end cap of a curtain rail for the dot on my previous umbrella build, but this time I'd been pointed toward a more suitable alternative by my friend Mark, a "doll head knob". The doll head knob features the same flattened base as the dot pictured above, and they've also been partially drilled, giving me a starting place to drill the hole through the top of the knob so it can be fitted onto the umbrella shaft. Also pictured is a length of plastic that I intend to use as the spacer between the dot and the upper section of the questionmark. More on that later.
The first step was modifying the knob so that it would fit onto the umbrella shaft. A hole equal to the one on the base of the knob was drilled through from the underside through the top (the pictured example is actually of my first attempt, and is larger than it should be, but it was worth illustrating the stage despite the mistake.
Once I was satisfied with the location and size of the hole, I selected a 16mm flat bit and excavated enough material so that I could slide the plastic I'd be using for the spacer between the dot and upper portion of the questionmark in place:
The next step from there was modifying the dot to accomodate the tips of the ribs. I marked out eight points to drill the dot so that the tips could be slid into the dot:
In place, like so:
The fit is quite snug, even more so then my first attempt, it'll actually take a bit of a tug to free the ribs of the umbrella if I wished to actually use it as an umbrella (and heck, Sylvester only once used his as an umbrella!).
Already, there is a great deal of improvement over the old umbrella. The new dot is going to make likes look more trim and tidy, and I won't have the ribs clashing with the dot.
The spacer I'm planning to use is actually the plastic core of the till receipts we have at work. When the paper's used up, we end up with just the plastic core that we throw away... but having noticed some came in a very dark grey, I felt this would be a perfect choice, meaning I could avoid any paint being scraped due to movement of the dot and spacer. Obviously for those following this topic for their own build, you'll have to utilise something a little bit different, but hopefully you'll find something similar.
That's it for now. The next stage is going to be working on the new handle, and possibly mounting it to the umbrella
Jul 4, 2011, 7:12 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella v2.0
The weekend just gone has been very, very productive.
Turning my attention to the newest handle I'd be making (this would mark the 4th questionmark handle I'll have made to date) I resumed work on the time consuming process of grinding the ends of the acrylic into a dome. I'd already made a fair-sized dent in curving the end of the rod some time ago, and so it was simply a case of carrying on where I'd left off... or so I thought.
I don't know if it was because I was out of practice, or that my Dad having used the grinder during the previous week that'd changed something, but in trying to sculpt the curve the grinder rendered it far lumpier and uneven than previously experienced... to such an effect that I thought the rod was now going to have to go on the backburner and I'd have to start over.
It's then I recalled something that Oblivion had remarked on. In making his own replica of the umbrella, he'd used a heat gun to warm up and then mold the ends of the rod into a dome. Wishing to try the method out, I took the "spoiled" rod and blasted it (whilst rotating it) for a couple of minutes...
And I think the results really do speak for themselves. On the left, a ground rod, on the right, a heat blasted one.
Impressed with the result, I worked on curving the opposite end (which was completely flat) and fine tuning the end that had already been heated. Eventually I got the curves to a point where I was pleased with them, and I then ran some sanding paper over the acrylic to sand down the bubbles that'd grown in the surface.
That evening, the handle was ready enough to put into the oven, and once cool, I applied some body filler to smooth out some of the rougher sections, such as the bubble crevasses and the odd gouges that'd been created by some of my tools.
I'll definitely be using the heating method from now on, where it once took a couple of days to finish curving both ends of the rod, it took less than a hour with the heat gun, and in addition to the speed of things, I feel the gradient of the curve is much better than on the acrylic that'd been curved using the grinder.
With the body filler having been allowed to set overnight, it was sanded down and then washed to remove the dust (so that I could then discern which bits were smooth enough, and which still needed to be sanded further).
Once the sanding was finished, I drilled a pilot hole and then enlarged that to fit the threaded rod. I then proceeded to drill the base of the handle with the 16mm flat bit so that the spacer could be slid into the base of the handle, a process that wasn't without a significant complication:
I still had the fragment of acrylic, and I'd considered gluing it back in place... however I found that I'd have to modify it a little with my Dremel in order to get it to fit in position with the spacer in place, and despite spending a short while on carefully dremeling away the acrylic as carefully as possible, the results were less than satisfactory. To that end, I opted to try recreate the fractured section with the body filler, and I think the results were successful:
Happy with the work I'd achieved, I primed and painted the handle and dot before putting them to bed to dry overnight, and this morning I had this to show for my efforts:
This time I'd opted to go for a shorter spacer, more closely matching the two umbrellas as seen on ClassicDoctorWhoProps.com. with the paint dry, I started test fitting the elements with the umbrella in order to work out how much threaded rod I'd need between the top of the umbrella shaft, and where the opening mechanism was located:
Happy with the test assembly, I cut the threaded rod to length. I then set the handle parts aside and turned my attention to the next stage I'd have to go through before I could fix them into position. Dying the canopy material.
During the course of it's life (this umbrella could easily be over half a century old), the fabric of the canopy had become faded on the outside, stained by rust from the ribs on the inside, and become partially frayed on one of the eight segments. To address the first two issues, I'd purchased a pack of Dylon black satin dye from my local haberdashery to try restore some of the original colour and to hide some of the internal marks.
Following the instructions on the packet, the umbrella was submerged inside a poster tube with the dye/water solution, and stirred for nearly a hour...
...where it was then then eventually removed and placed outside to dry. Sadly the dye didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, but the canopy does appear to be darker, and hopefully when folded up, the marks will be less obvious.
With the fabric dry, I masked off the metal ferrule and covered the fabric so that the wooden end and open cap could be primed and then painted in Ford Radient Red.
Once the paint had dried, I removed the masking tape and newspaper so I could do a second test fitting, which allowed me to clear out the channel drilled into the handle to allow me to mount it onto the threaded rod, and to compare it against my previous umbrella build:
Although unfinished, the new build is definitely better, and looks closer to the screen used prop.
Additionally, it's here that we can observe the differing sizes and dimensions of the replica handle when compared to the screen used one. The fanmade handle is too long, and 5cm or so could be taken off of the length to make it more accurate. The diameter of the inside edge also appears to be a few centimeters smaller... and it could mean that instead of getting three-and-a-bit handles from the metre's worth of acrylic rod I ordered, I could potentially get four whole handles and a bit of acrylic left over.
The dot on the other hand looks to be the right size in proportion to the thickness of the handle, and appears pretty close in size when compared to the screen used prop.
I just wish I could get a hour to study one of the genuine ones so we'd have some definitive measurements to work from.
The final bits of work to sort out are replacing the button loop so that the canopy fabric is held tight against the shaft, restitch some of the canopy, and apply some clear lacquer to the red painted sections. All being well, the umbrella will be finished and ready for LFCC this Saturday!
Last edited by Kingpin; Jul 12, 2011 at 6:02 PM.
Jul 12, 2011, 6:03 PM - Re: Doctor Who - The Seventh Doctor's umbrella v2.0
In the final installment of Updating the Umbrella, I'm pleased to present the epilogue.
The preceeding year had been certainly provided a lot of info into the wear and tear a prop like this is subject to following 12 months of conventions, fortunately it's not as high maintenance as some of the extremely elaborate costumes that are on display, although that is not to say that the wear and tear the umbrella suffered weren't considerate: the greatest when the wooden shaft split, and the threaded rod for the handle slid out, leading to paint damage on the "dot".
As things stand I believe the handle faired better (it only suffered from paint chipping when it fell onto the staircase at the train station) because it didn't have the layer of finishing under the paint which the first dot did. Fortunately the doll head knobs were left unfinished, so I'm confident this problem won't arise, especially as the spacer and the rips of the ribs won't be rubbing against the paint finish.
The previous 365 days had also given me the opportunity to rethink another element of the build, painting the Ferrule/End/Open Cap. Having failed to leave a section unpainted, I had double the determination not to repeat the same mistake, and I was thankful that with the masking tape, I was able have a nice crisp edge between the painted and unpainted sections after applying the clear lacquer:
This build also allowed me to restore the umbrella a little. Although I wasn't very successful with dyeing the canopy back to it's original black, with the help of my Mum (who is the superior needleworker) we were able to restore the loop that keeps the ribs against the shaft when the umbrella is closed, featuring a rubber grommit, and the original button:
The lessons have helped lead to a neater, more accurate replica of the 7th Doctor's umbrella. Although the cheaper wooden alternatives are plentiful, I do honestly think it's worth the added expense of getting a genuine umbrella, if the chance comes up.
Still, even with the second umbrella now complete there are still areas in which there's room for improvement. I still need to see if there's a better way of mounting the handle to the metal shaft. Although I'd like to avoid drilling it if I could help it, it's not a method I've completely rulled out.
Additionally, due to being unsuccessful with getting measurements of one of the screen-used umbrellas, I'm going to look into whether I can make some estimated guesses on the handle dimensions, assuming my Fox Paragon's measurements are close, if not identical to the screen-used prop's. For that I will be intending to stick with the 35mm acrylic rod as detailed in Cedric's build, as I believe that's pretty close in size to the real deal.
That concludes the third and final installment of Updating the Umbrella.
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