I think the fact there’s two of us is a big help. I’m the nagger. “So about those plans for the rifle?” “Is there any grunt work I can do for those Demo grenades?”… that sort of thing.
A lot of time can be sunk into making props, and that can either be by choice or by underestimating! A big thing is knowing well in advance of a con about what you want to have done and ready. A year is not too long to start, but it can leave you open to getting sick of working on it. I don’t think we’ve had that problem yet, though. I suppose it depends on whether you work best under pressure or not. Some people wait until a relatively short period of time before the con before starting work, finding that the approaching deadline gives them the boot-up-the-butt they need. I favour working quite in advance because then if something goes awry or I feel it can be done better, then I have that extra time up my sleeve.
Going to a con and getting a positive reaction from others is one of the biggest motivators, so capitalising on that soon after a con is also a good tactic for staying focussed.
If you’ve got a project that’s overwhelming you, working out a schedule is key. Break the whole thing down into smaller bits/goals and commit to working on it consistently so you chip away at it gradually. Complicated props aren’t the ones that should be left too soon before the con. Stress can easily make you lose focus and ruin a prop.
And if it’s any consolation, with any of the stuff I’ve made for cosplay, after I’ve finished, I want to remake it, usually because I’ve realised I’ve done something wrong or I’ve worked out a way to do it better (that’s usually why I do a toile for any clothing first. I’ve done several toiles for the Medic coat and I can STILL see where I can improve on it). Don’t be dismayed by that. That’s part of the whole process of learning and it shows you’re ready to level up and take the next challenge to get those props or that outfit looking even sweeter!
It’s not so much that we wouldn’t want to do it as whether it’d be viable for both buyer and seller.
Large props like the Sniper rifle or the Pyro flamethrower take a huge amount of time to do, and so would cost far more than anyone’d be willing to pay, and that’s before shipping is taken into account and that alone can be prohibitive. Plus I’m not sure what kind of potential trouble can be caused by shipping fake weapons. Authorities get understandably overexcited about that sort of thing.
Hats would be a nightmare to ship as well. I’ve seen what postal services and couriers do to packages, and without forking out your firstborn in DHL fees I wouldn’t be confident that the hat would get to its destination without be squashed, broken or set on fire.
We don’t really have anything set up that’d allow us to make props that we could easily replicate and that’d be light. I know aeronik would really like a vacuum mould set-up, but being renters of an apartment, it’s not possible. There has been talk of trying some casting for smaller items (like Sniper bullets or Pyro flame cannisters or perhaps a pistol) but that’s yet to be explored.
If you were based locally i.e. east-coast Australia, then perhaps something could be arranged that wasn’t egregiously expensive, but if you’re overseas, I think it’d definitely be too pricey.
It would be lovely to be involved in prop making a bit more seriously, though. We do try and post in-progress info for what we make so that people can get a bit of an idea how to approach making the same item themselves.
Maybe try searching some cosplay forums for prop maker contacts. You might be able to find someone close to where you live. Plus, I’ve often wondered if there are educational institutions for theatre design (or something similarly related like special effects make-up, or film) that’d allow their more advanced students to build props on commission as part of their coursework.
My partner’s making a massive blog post about the making of his Sniper rifle. Will post a link to it when it’s done for those of you who are interested.