June 7, 2013
For my capstone project I designed and built the Science Leadership Academy mascot costume, the rocket. I decided to do this project because I felt this was something the school could use at sporting events, fund-raising events and even just use it to boost school spirit. I feel that all the SLA core values are represented within the project. From the moment it was decided that this would be my project all the way until now, the core values have been considered and returned to for guidance.
This particular project definitely took a lot more planning then I had initially thought. The idea is simple enough, make a costume but the more planning that occurred, the more questions sprang up to delay the construction. But first things first, I had to find someone who knew what they were doing. Extremely luckily for me, a family friend owns a costume and display company, Character Translations Inc., where I was able to work under careful direction. After ensuring I would be able to work here, the fun began.
The scale model phase took approximately 6 weeks. This included, choosing the main material, deciding on a basic structure and sketching and building models. After being sure of the desired structure and material, I began assembling the pieces. This involved making paper outlines of each type of piece so that they would all be identical. These outlines would then be traced onto sixty gauge plastic which would then be cut out. The next phase was assembly. Almost all the pieces on the rocket are riveted together, only excluding the inner harness, which was screwed in after riveting. After the rocket was in order, I began making the flames and fins. The flames are different sized materials that are all cut and sewn to an elastic band which is Velcro-ed to the inner bottom rim. The fins are made of hard foam that was cut, shaped, sanded, and painted. After drying, they were glued on to the bottom. At this point all major construction sections were done, so I moved onto to details. All of the plastic on the rocket was originally silver but using spray paint, I was able to add the some school colors. Before painting, sections of the rocket had to be very securely masked off to cover silver sections and fins. Once the paint had dried, all that was left to do was add the decals. Simple brown glue was used to place the “S L A” and American flags on each side. This entire process spanned over 5 months.
The main problems I faced when trying to complete this capstone were time and knowledge. Finding time to come to the work shop in Norristown was difficult. I often used Wednesday afternoons and national holidays for work time on the project. Of course, things come up and I was not always able to make it to the work shop but overall, I feel I had the perfect amount of time to complete the project. My lack of knowledge proved to make this project more testing. I had no idea the amount of work I was signing on for when I chose this project. I knew very little about costume design/production and at times, it showed in my work. Without the help of employees at Character Translation Inc., this rocket would not exist. They taught me as we went along and I learned a great deal from working with them. In the end, my original obstacles became some of my favorites parts of this project.
I am most proud of this project because it is something I can give back to the school that has given so much to me. Of course, I am happy with the way it turned out and the experience I gained but I am more pleased to be able do something that will maybe have a positive affect on the school. I learned a lot about design and construction but probably one of the more important things I learned was how to work with people in a professional atmosphere. The things I learned from the project and also the things I have learned from attending SLA for four years, are things that I will use and cherish for the rest of my life. Thank you.