How to skin a mutant vehicle

planFirst off, you need a plan. It can be a harebrained, cockamamie, piece-o-shit plan, but you need to have some vague idea of how you’re going to pull it off.

Sketch before you build. Figure out how things are going to connect, what they’re gonna hang on, how big they should be, where they might fail, how you can make it all safer – and then rinse and repeat until you have an art car. And that’s it!

No, that’s not it, really.

It goes a little something like this: Come up with an idea and monkey around till you figure it out. Break things. Curse. Spend too much money on the wrong materials. Cut yourself. Stress out. Curse some more. Drop stuff. Lose tools. Forget why you started this stupid project. Go to bed. Get up again. Keep cursing. It doesn’t help, but it beats quitting. Cut the wrong thing. Measure poorly. Do it over again. Make the same mistake three times at least twice. Do the math on how many mistakes that is. Curse louder. Keep going …

We bought about 1200 square feet of theatrical scrim – this lovely, stretchy translucent stuff used for “sky” backdrops, among other things. We sewed a sleeve into the long edge (all 120 feet of it).

Here’s a completed section – about 47 x 10 feet.

(Pro tip: Make sure your crewmates have fun. )

Now we have to fit the 10 segments of the “halo” – a roughly oval hoop of 1-inch EMT conduit – with butt connectors, (snicker, snicker), which have to be drilled and screwed (teehee).

Next we sleeved everything onto the halo, which we left in three sections, so we could hoist each sleeved segment up onto the top of the frame’s horizontal struts for attachment.

To do this, we ziptied plywood crooks to the top of EMT segments, and used them as lifters. (Here’s the formidable Rob< DeHart channels Galactus.

Then one man with a lifter hoisted each end of the segments (which are up to 47 feet long) and a third man in the middle walked the center of the segment up a 10-foot ladder to rest them atop the struts, and then we screwed the segment ends together to re-form the halo. Cursing, fuckups, shouting, horrible mistakes, sweat, muscle pulls and eventual success Hilarity ensued.

After that we bolted the halo down to the struts with U-clamps that look like this.


After a little (no, a lot) of draping, shifting and consulting (Rob, a clothing designer, was invaluable in this process) and a little cutting to accommodate the strut ends and clamps, we had something that looked a little like this:

A day well spent. Next: industrial automotive tailoring and blinky lights.

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