As you can guess, being a purveyor of custom parts can cut into personal customizing time. Most of my creative effort goes into designing and promoting new parts. Also, the minniquins you see all over the store site provide an outlet - putting a lot of my skills to the test. Lately I've been challenging myself using advanced techniques - one of which I plan to introduce in the article below.
Much like the rest of you I tend to run into creative roadblocks when dreaming up a new custom minifig. "If only this piece existed'
is often uttered in my lair. Granted, RedBean and I have the advantage of conjuring up our own pieces, but our magic has limitations leaving it up to adventurous individuals to hack, color and reanimate existing pieces into something new. One of these techniques is called the Part-Fusing method. It generally involves taking two separate and distinct pieces and cutting them up to fit together, thus creating an entirely new part.CONCEPT & RESEARCH
To celebrate the new season of the Clone Wars my son and I wanted to take a crack at coming up with a Cad Bane minifig (which ended up being a minniquin). As many of you know a wide-brimmed western-style hat currently does not exist leaving it up to us to find a way to manufacture our own. After investigating several official & non-official parts we decided the LEGO Wizard hat had the widest diameter at the brim. of course the pointy top portion of the hat simply does not fit with the hat Cad Bane wears so we had to locate another adequate substitute. The top of the Indy Fedora appears to be the closest shape to the top of the Cad Bane hat. CUTTING
If you don't already have a Rotary (Dremel) tool set - consider your talents supressed. Save up for one and/or ask for one for your Birthday or Christmas. Use the Rotary device with a cutting wheel to take the bottom off of the Fedora and the top off of the Wizard hat. You might find that a pair of low-profile mechanics gloves provide a bit of confidence. Steady hands are a must.SMOOTHING
They key to getting two pieces to fit together seamlessly is to ensure exact lines on the opposite pieces. While a cutting tool and steady hand can do most of the work it will take a finer approach to complete the masterpiece. I used a cardboard emery board (file) along with assorted fine-grit sandpapers. It probably goes without saying to use the file and/or heavy-grit paper first to even out the lines, then use the fine-grit paper to smooth things out. I managed to get perfect lines on the first try diffusing any potential frustration during this project. Sand paper is your friend.FUSING
Once you have the pieces cut to your specifications it's now simply a matter of permanently connecting them together. I use various types of Super Glue. Do not use Model Glue as you need an instant bond to prevent any slipping. I personally do not apply the superglue directly. I prefer to leak a few drops onto a disposable surface and then use a (long) sewing pin to dip and apply the glue in smaller amounts. Place small dots around the perimeter then use the pin to spread the glue around - covering the entire gluable surface. This method keeps your fingers way from the glue which can inadvertently end up on the surface of your part/s. If your finger touches the glue at any point, drop what you are doing and wash up. Resume when your hands are clean and carefully place the top portion onto the bottom portion and insure proper placement. After 20 seconds apply a bit of pressure to help eliminate any gaps. Let sit for at least 2 hrs.TOUCH-UP
If you did it right all that's left is a nice coat of paint. Krylon Fusion is highly recommended due to its fast-dry, quick-bond nature. A few coats and you are good to go. Let dry overnight to avoid any accidental fingerprints and you should be okay. Feel free to clear coat with semi-gloss if you are paranoid about excessive contact with the piece.
Next I will report on the Duster jacket Cad Bane is wearing.