It has been a bit of time since my last post. I am hoping this post will make up for the recent silence. Our family has been focused a bit on some family issues, but mostly I have been pouring my spare time into Halloween related tasks. Halloween has always been an opportunity to let our creativity loose around our house. I have to admit that, prior to J joining our family, I had developed a bit of a talent with prosthetic and makeup special effects. Unfortunately, most of those skills were used to create effects not exactly kid friendly, so I have had to redirect my costume skills for awhile. I have instead turned to pumpkin carving and costume fabrication as my new Halloween creative outlet.
This year J wanted to be an astronaut. J is still very motivated by all things science and a trip to the local aeronautical museum gave J an opportunity to tell AT Mom and AT Dad about a specific interest in space related science. It shouldn’t be that surprising, after all J did take an interest in model rocketry this year too. Oh, and there was that family art project to redecorate J’s room too. Ok, I guess we should have seen this coming.
Talking with J, we quickly came to the idea of J wearing a space shuttle flight suit and fabricating some add-ons to J’s wheelchair to make it look like J was in a shuttle seat. J’s AAC computer would actually become part of the costume and could be made to look like a flight control computer (instead of seeming out of place, or blocking view of the costume). I did a little searching online and came across this Space Shuttle costume for a child in a wheelchair. That was all the inspiration I needed. I decided to go with white poster board for most of the body, but did use white cardboard for the front (easier to cut the needed cutouts for J’s AAC device). The tri-fold poster board made a great side body and wing. I originally tried to use white duct tape to keep the wing at about 90-degrees, but that lost its shape over time with gravity. So I added fishing line between the body and the wing (the one warning here is we had to keep an eye on J’s hands so they wouldn’t get caught up in the fishing line). The fishing line held the wings in place and were invisible to the eye.
I knew we would have to navigate narrow openings, like going through doorways, so I needed a way to minimize the shuttle’s added profile to J’s wheelchair. Since the fishing line meant I no longer needed to keep the wing joints rigid at 90-degrees, the solution was to simply take advantage of the tri-fold joint of the presentation board. I added a small Velcro dot to the wing tip and body. Viola! The wings now could fold up against the body and stay there when needed.
The sharp black border on the wings and rudder are two rows of electrical tape. This gave a consistent width of the strip as well as a very visually appealing shade of black with a bit of sheen (electrical tape is a vinyl tape). I then drew on the windows by hand (yes, they are not as lined up and exact as I would like – I should have drawn them on before assembling the shuttle). I drew the NASA logo on the rudder (not pictured, it is behind J’s arm), added the lettering for United States (with stylized flags) and the shuttle name. We decided on Discovery.
For some added detail, I attached on of J’s adjustable support arms to the chair. I then attached J’s stuffed Miss Baker doll. (Miss Baker was one of the first two US monkeys launched into space.) This was my attempt to have Miss Baker performing an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA, aka Space Walk). I ran out of time, otherwise I was trying to figure out how to make a satellite shaped candy bucket and have Miss Baker holding onto it as if she was doing repairs. Btw, did I ever tell you that AT Mom thinks I get a little carried away with these things? I guess it is time to start planning for next year. That was J’s costume, you may be wondering about our Jack-O-Lantern’s…
This year J was an astronaut. The monkey is Miss Baker, named for one of the first two US monkeys in outer space. She is attached to the “shuttle’s arm” doing an External Vehicular Activity (EVA, aka Space Walk).
When it comes to our family Jack-O-Lanterns, each year J helps me choose a theme for our pumpkin carvings as well as helping to create the designs. I then go to town on the carvings. This year we choose to compliment J’s costume and go with a space exploration theme. Another change this year is that we only went with two pumpkins. We usually do three to four jack-o-lanterns. This year we picked out two pumpkins on an early trip to a local farm. We had planned to get back to another pumpkin patch for a couple more, but never did find the time.
Obligatory before shot of our pumpkins this year.
Our original design used the tall skinny pumpkin to depict a shuttle launch scene, complete with launch rocketry. My first sketch onto the pumpkin felt very busy and it was not apparent how to carve the drawing so you could distinguish the shuttle from the launch rocket system. So I changed gears, with J’s feedback, and decided to carve the shuttle in flight on one pumpkin flying towards the second which would have a space scene. It was a quick carve and the result wasn’t my best but wasn’t my worst either. I would consider the carves a success considering the last minute nature, and the fact that until the day of I was planning on doing a zoo animal theme.
After a quick carve we have a space shuttle flying towards a space theme.
You may notice that both Jack-O-Lantern’s appear to have a similar logo incorporated into the carve. That is the logo from the http://www.3ELove.com website. They refer to it as their “international symbol of disability awareness”. I had discovered their website recently and ordered a shirt from their “Proud” series. It was on the front of my mind on this day and so I decided to find a way to include it in my carves. Who said Jack-O-Lantern’s couldn’t be advocates as well?
A close up of the space scene. The logo in the upper left is from http://www.3ELove.com.
A close up of the space shuttle. The logo above the space shuttle is from http://www.3ELove.com.
A really out of focus picture of the two jack-o-lanterns lit up.
A close up of the space shuttle lit up. I tried to get the affect of the exhaust flame.
A close up of the space scene.