In light of Simons thread about his damaged VMO2 and disgusting treatment regarding its recasting I thought I would post this project up that I have been working on recently, I hope it gives Simon an assurance that things can be repaired and without losing any of the original makers attributes to such an important and iconic piece.
Sometimes you are asked to do something that no matter how good you think you are, you still feel apprehensive about taking the task on. This for me personally was one of those times.
A good friend of mine was at an event in Portugal and just as he was kitting up to appear as Vader disaster struck... the face plate of his VaderMaker VMO2 helmet fell to the ground breaking the tusk off and shattering the fibreglass about an inch or so into the cast. I've repaired a similar problem before for another friend but this one was far worse in comparison and what made this more nervy for me was the fact that this was a helmet made by our very own Graham Campbell, his VM01 & VM02 helmets are considered to be one of the best Vader helmets in the world and is a lasting memory for an extremely talented man..... How do you take this on and do it justice? was my first thought. Its easy to just get a bit of filler and paint the thing but what you need to do for items like this is to not lose the original feel of what Graham wanted to achieve right down to the texture of the finish.
So after a bit of thought, then doubt, and finally a sense of duty the project was started. Normally I don't document my projects (much to some's disbelief lol) or show off the process apart from the finished product, this was a bit different for a couple or reasons. The first was because the owner is a good friend and I hate to see anyone feel bad, second because this was Grahams work and I had been asked to repair an awesome piece as best I can to its original look.. Thirdly and more importantly for my friend and the UKG was that without the work being done we would be missing a Vader for CE.
I am pleased to say that we WILL have this Vader for CE and with a faceplate that I am extremely proud to have finished. I hope that the man who made this would be pleased
Below is a documented account of the rebuild for your enjoyment
When my friends VM02 helmet went crashing to the floor prior to the event I think its safe to say that he must have felt like packing up and coming home, the guys who were there found a majority of the broken pieces and attempted to superglue the pieces back together for Vader to go on with the show. Personally I wish this had not happened so my advice to ANY Vader is IF YOU BREAK A TUSK, COLLECT THE PIECES AND PUT IT ALL AWAY! :
The problem with glueing the pieces is that in this case the pieces were fixed uneven and with gaps making a full repair that much harder, however thats how it was given to me so the repair although problematic continued. There was even another piece wrapped in selotape fixed inside the helmet for repair.
Once I had convinced myself with a method for repairing, the single piece was fixed in place and the area was filled, first stage was the main gaps and cracks, once dry a light sand off and second layer of filler, this time heavier making it easier to sand down without losing any of the original shape.
Sanding seemed to last for ages, fine then extra fine followed by super fine paper, many times applying more filler if spots were noticed. The hardest part here is to not lose the original shape and end up with a ski slope look to the side vent, the old prop advice that I give to many was the main factor here... "take your time".... sometimes even walking away and coming back an hour later with a fresh look works to avoid tunnel vision.... to me it was that important
Next up was the painting... an extremely fine dusting of primer then a couple of layers of a 50/50 mix gloss black were applied, a few drying hours later a couple of discrepances in the surface showed thru, the first was a small 2mm area that the painted would not take to, the second was that the paint expossed a small hairline fracture. Its dissapointing at this stage to find this sort of thing but it does happen so back to the start of taking the new layer of paint down, more work with filler and sanding and hopefully fixing the problems.
Once satisfied with the new surface a new layer of primer was applied and an evening of applying almost dust like layers of paint to the area and much patience to blend in with the original work
At this point you must simply step back and leave everything, if you convince yourself more should be done you run the risk of over doing things, I put this job away for two days before looking at the work and smiling
Finally another nice sunny day meaning that I could insert the tusk (a seperate problem of rethreading the inside, but i'll deal with that tomorrow) and get a couple of shots of the completed piece in natural light.
I have to admit that I have done some very pleasing work in the past on many props but with the added desire to compliment the original work, this although small is probably the most pleasing job I have done. Not only is the repair a good one, but the paintwork blends seemlessly, even down to the texture of the fibreglass.
This Vader can now go to CE :cheer
Oh and i'd like to personally thank my apprentice for all his assistance and advice on the project