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Will Meyer Sculpture


-- by Will Meyer

For the 2015 Gallifrey One convention my wife and I decided to dress our son, Vincent, as a partially destroyed Dalek.

It's built around an existing stroller with a high chair/booster seat stuffed in it. It's made of foam board, poster board, mat board, and expanding foam. The skin is a faux metal poster board, the bumper is pipe insulation, the hemispheres are polystyrene. The dalek is basically a poly filled circle skirt with tentacles and a giant googley eye. It is sturdy, but not intended to be an heirloom.

When we realized that our son would be four and a half months old at the time of the 2015 Galifrey One, we knew we would incorporate his stroller into any costume. We built this Destroyed Dalek around a Graco FastAction ClickConnect stroller, but you should be able to do this with simple modifications with all sorts of strollers.

The big trick is making it fit around the stroller. We had to fudge actual Dalek dimensions to make this work. I joined Project Dalek and downloaded a few of their plans but that was really just a jumping off point. The dimensions of our Dalek won't matter to you unless you are using the exact same stroller and booster seat. The process for determining the dimensions is described in detail.

Below is a more or less step by step description of how we built the Dalek.

You'll need foam board, poster board, tacky glue, 3 or 4 cans of expanding insulation foam, maybe three feet of 3/4" pvc pipe, a foot of 1/2" pvc pipe, a small plunger, 12 feet of pipe insulation and 23 4" smooth styrofoam balls (or 4"(10cm) Christmas Ornaments).

The dalek was built in three major sections, the skirt, the ring and the shoulders. I've also identified the gun box on this diagram. If you can't figure out what the arms are you probably shouldn't try building this.

   The Skirt

The main raw material was foam board. I bought a few 30"x40" sheets at Staples, and a bunch of 20"x30" at the 99 cent store. For some reason, the ones from the 99 cent store cut much cleaner as well as being cheaper. But there were a few pieces too big for the 20x30 sheets. Pictured at left is one of them.

This is the base of the skirt. As you can see, I sized it to fit around the base of the stroller. The footprint of our stroller is approximately 22.5"x33". Be sure you leave room for the front wheels to turn all the way around. The front wheels are slighly narrower than the rear, which works nicely with the shape of the skirt. It ended up being 30" wide by 38.5" long.

These are the dimensions (in inches) that I started with. I ended up making the nose a bit pointier once I saw it on the stroller. Measure, measure, measure, but ultimately you're going to fit this thing on the stroller and have to eyeball it.

The next step was to cut the top of the skirt out of the base. You can use the same piece which guarantees the same shape. In this case, the top was 75% of the size of the base. Just as the base needed to be go around the wheels, this needs to go over the tray. The skirt hangs from the tray and the joints for the sunshade. You will have to find points you can hang your skirt from as this is the support for the entire structure. The sunshade itself was in the way so I pulled out the wire that supports it. For our stroller, the skirt ended up being 19" high so it wouldn't interfere with the wheels, though we did have a little rubbing by the end of the weekend.

After cutting out the top, I then cut a rectangle out of that so that it could fit over the stroller with the seat sticking out.

You'll want to trace the top of the skirt onto another piece of foam board for something we'll build later.

To build the panels I found a few boxes that were 19" high and taped the top and bottom to them after carefully centering everything. I made vertical struts with the right slope to provide extra structure.

Figuring out the slope is easy. As you'll recall, the top piece was cut from the bottom. So, the width of the bottom piece at any given point is the difference between the two pieces. So let's say the side of the bottom is 4" wide. That means I have to cut a 19" high piece where the top is 4" offset from the bottom.

The pieces were all attached with duct tape. There wasn't enough surface to surface contact for glue, so tape was the way to go.

Before cutting the foam board I used newspaper to make patterns for the skirt panels.

To do this I stretched newspaper over the frame I'd built and marked the edges for the panel. I'd then cut out that piece of newspaper and use it as a pattern to cut the foam board.

I did this one panel at a time and attached each foam board panel with duct tape as I went along. Each piece of foam board added rigidity to the structure and gave me something to push against when stretching the next piece of newspaper.

Masking tape is good for holding the patterns in place. It's not too sticky and if you're careful you won't rip the newspaper (much).

And with assistance from our seven cats, I assembled the skirt.

Since the whole thing hangs from the top of the skirt, I added some reinforcement. I folded triangular sections of foam board and ran them along the edges of the whole. I also reinforced all the seams with expanding insulation foam.

Insulation foam is great stuff. It's also really nasty. Use it outside because it creates terrible fumes. You'll also want to wear disposable gloves or you'll wind up washing your hands with acetone. You'll want to do this over cardboard or paper or something you can throw away. If it drips on something it's really hard to get it off. Also remember that it expands. The bead you squirt out will swell to maybe five times it's original size.

Vincent didn't actually sit in the stroller or the car seat that attaches to it.

We used a Fisher-Price booster seat that we found at the Mattel store. This simply sat on top of the skirt. I liked this because it was designed for a baby. He could be strapped in and it was very comfortable.

Youíll have to find a booster seat youíre comfortable with. You probably already have something since babies have so much stuff. A booster high chair is the most convenient. Ikea makes a really cheap highchair sold separately from its legs that could be rigged to work.

This particular seat/stroller combo was really tight and secure, it's just wedged in there. It could be strapped down for added security if needed.

   That ring at the bottom of the shoulders

There's this ring at the base of the shoulders. I built it as a separate piece. This may not have been the best way, but it worked.

This is where you'll use that tracing of the top of the skirt. If you didn't do that, just turn the skirt upside down and trace it now.

Now you want to draw a smooth curved shape like the one to the right. This has to fit outside of the top of the skirt. I used some spare pieces of poster board and had my wife hold them against the paper to form a nice smooth curve that I traced.

cut this piece out of the foam board and put sort of a 3" skirt around it with poster board. You can see this in the picture on the left.

This is a really flimsy piece, so I ended up folding some triangular sections of foam board to reinforce it. I also used the insulation foam.

You'll want to cut a hole in this big enough for the base of the booster seat to go through. In the completed pictures you'll see there's a notch in the front. Don't worry about that until you've built the shoulders.

   The shoulders

I ended up building the shoulders twice because I didn't pay close enough attention to what an actual Dalek looks like.

The top of the shoulders should be a circle. On the New Series Dalek it's around 21.5" in diameter. On the stroller Dalek it ended up being about 19".

The shoulder section is a bit complicated because it's both sloped and curved. The base of the shoulders is a slightly smaller version of the ring at the base of the shoulders. I ended up making the shoulder section 10" high. Initial construction was much like the skirt. I taped the top and bottom to a 10" high box, then added vertical struts as you can see in the picture above.

To skin it, I once again used newspaper to make patterns.

Remember you are going to be cutting out a space at the front of the shoulders for the gunbox, and at the back of the shoulders for the stroller handle.

You wind up with curved pieces like the above. Don't worry about the cut outs for the gun boxes right now. Just make your newspaper patterns and then use those to make pieces out of poster board and wrap that around the frame.

I wound up dividing the skin into four pieces, each roughly a quarter of the whole. This prevented me from needing a really big piece of poster board.

   The Gun Box

The gun box is simple. It's just a rectangular solid. Inserting this rectangular solid into the curved surface of the shoulders is not simple.

I made a little jig for determining where to cut the shoulders to put in the gun box. Mine was made out of an envelope box. I put some wedge shaped pieces of foam on the bottom that raised it to the angle I wanted the gun box to sit at. I taped a wide piece of foam board to the bottom of the shoulders and placed the jig against that.

Then I held a ruler against the jig and extended it until it touched the surface of the shoulders. I used this to mark points. I attached other pieces of foam to the box to help hold the ruler still and to make the top of the box the same depth as the gun box.

You can tell it's an American Dalek by the cupholders.

Keep in mind that you want the bottom of the gun box to hang below the bottom of the shoulders.

Also remember that the gun box is not the full width of the shoulders.

By connecting the dots I marked the lines I needed to cut. I did this on both sides then fudged around a bit to make sure it was symmetrical.

After I cut that out I was able to duct tape the gun box in place. I went over the seams with masking tape.

I also cut a large rectangle out of the back of the shoulders for the handle and seat of the stroller to fit through.

I then cut a notch out of the ring deep enough and wide enough for the gun box to rest in it while the shoulders sit flush on the top.

With that done I added a few panels to the front of the shoulders to fill in the gaps.

   The arms

The arms are pvc tubing. 3/4" with 1/2" inside. The sucker is the head of a plunger. Go figure. You'll want to use a hacksaw to cut the tubing. And you'll want to leave an extra 4" or so at the base to attach it to the shoulders.

I glued the telescoping pieces together. I wish I hadn't. The sucker arm was the bit I was most worried about getting damaged. I ended up drilling holes through and putting a screw to hold it in place because I wasn't sure the glue would hold. The glue did hold, but with the screw I didn't need it. And if I hadn't glued it I could have easily detached the end of the arm to make the whole thing easier to transport.

For the bases of the arms, I cut a 4" styrofoam ball in half and spraypainted it. This was when I discovered that spraypaint eats that type of styrofoam. I was too lazy to do it again and just painted over the cracks with water based paint.

I used a hole saw to drill holes in the ball halves at angles so the arms wouldn't be sticking straight out. I also drilled a hole into the gun box. I drilled a hole through the base of the plunger arm and put a long screw in it. Then I propped everything up and filled the gun box with expanding foam. The foam is ultimately what is holding both arms in place.

This is supposed to be a partially destroyed Dalek. A dalek with its chest open would have been great but this allowed me to get away with building a lot less. Like the gun arm. The gun arm I cut at an odd angle and stuck some wires out of it so it would look like it had been damaged.


The metal look is SpectraSteel, by Spectratek. It's poster board that looks like sheet metal. The pattern is called Brushed and for some reason it's not listed on their site but you can buy it in 20"x30" sheets. You can contact ereyes@spectratek.net or mstromberg@spectratek.net. I think I used 5 or 6 sheets but couldn't swear to it. I reused my patterns (erring on the side of making pieces too big because I could always trim) and covered the skirt and shoulders with this stuff. I used modge podge to glue it to the surface. Other bits I just spraypainted gray.

The bumps are 4" smooth styrofoam balls cut in half with a jeweler's saw. I then smoothed the cut on a belt sander. There are 4" (or 10cm) clear Christmas ornaments that split in half so you can put something in them. Those probably would have looked better, but they would have cost more.

As you can see here, I didn't trust glue alone to hold the bumps in place. I stuck toothpicks in the skirt and stuck the bumps on that with some tacky glue.

A proper Dalek has four rows of bumps. Mine is shorter and has only three.

The high chair barely fit in the shoulders and didn't really leave room for Vin's feet. Cutting some battle damage out of the front made room for him.

I also cut a panel out of the back and reattached it with clear packing tape so we'd have some access to the basket under the stroller.

I used two 6' lengths of pipe insulation to make the bumper. I unrolled the insulation until it cracked a bit so it would stay more open and duct taped it to the bottom. I also put some tacky glue along the top edge and held it in place with masking tape until it dried.

I then used spray paint and added some burn marks and general weathering. And that's pretty much it.

Dalek. Vin Dalek.

   The soft bits

     -- by Crystal Meyer

Making my son into an absurdly adorable intergalactic killing machine was a lot of fun.

Youíll need about a yard and a half of fabric that gives a bit for the show side, about a yard of fabric with no give for the underside, a small bag of polyfil and a giant googlie eye or felt squares in black and white.

I chose a nubby knit fabric in a cartoonish fleshy pink tone and a cotton broadcloth in a dot print to evoke suckers.

To make the body, youíll basically make a circle skirt. The costume is worn like a tutu. To make a circle skirt fold your fabric in half then in half again to get a square. You should have an open edge and a folded edge. Measure your little Dalekís hips. It is better to go to small than too large. You can always cut away more. Most circle skirts donít fit because theyíre too big. Divide the hip measurement by 6 and round down. (Easier to correct too small than too big later), Measure down the fold and across the fold make a mark at each point. Fold the open edges toward the folded edge to make a triangle. Do it again until you have a piece you can cut easily. Cut across your points for the waist opening, and across the shortest piece of fabric for the hem. It's a lot like making a paper snowflake.

Open your fabric, you now have a donut. Your little Dalek should be able to slide this donut over his/her hips (Daleks have no gender, right) If so, cool, if not, make it a little bigger.

Measure on your Dalek how long you want the body of the dalek to be. From that point to the hem, cut out tentacles. Cut the tentacles on the over fabric 175% of the width of the under fabric ones.

Sew the two layers, right sides together, along the edge of the tentacles leaving the center of the donut open. Nudge, ease, and edge the upper fabric to fit the lower fabric, this will create curves and spirals.

Turn the donut right sides out. Set aside to make the eye.

If you have a googlie eye skip this step If you donít. Measure the size you want your eyeball and cut a circle of white felt for the eyeball and a circle of colored felt for the iris and a smaller one still for the pupil. Layer these like an eye and glue or sew them together. You could put a bit of polyfill between the layers for a more 3D effect if you wanted to.

Grab your felt or googlie eye and some large scraps of the upper fabric. Cut out two squares big enough to hold your eyeball with a 3/4 inch seam allowance. Cut one square across to form two triangles. Hem the long edge of your triangles. These are your eyelids. Place the two triangles, on the square, right sides together, sew the edges. Turn your pocket out and youíve got a place to put your eyeball. Place your eyeball inside then fold the edges under the back. You may want polyfill under the eye to give it a more 3- d look if youíre using felt. Pull the eyelid into a position you like and using a hand needle sew it into position. Then, using the hand needle, attach the eyeball pocket to your Dalek tutu. Fill the tutu with polyfill as desired then sew up the waist with a hand needle. You could now cover the ugly edge with a bit of bias tape if you wanted to. I just rolled mine a bit to the inside and sewed it down.

The hat. I started with a beanie in a similar color. I made tubes from scraps of the upper fabric from the tutu and fashioned them into a brain pattern sewing down the corners with a few stitches from a hand needle.

The chair. I didnít like the way they high chair looked so I covered it up. Drape the larger scrap over your booster seat. Cut holes for the straps if needed. Ta Dah!

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