Tonight's work: beginning the styrofoam positive mold for Zhang He's claws. I had already drafted a scaled-down front and side pattern on graph paper, blown them up into a full-size master pattern (via the old-school method of drawing a 1-inch grid on butcher paper with the help of my gridded cutting mat and using that as a guide to redraw the outlines by hand - go me), and then produced front and side posterboard patterns from that. Whew. Posterboard is great for this purpose because it doesn't burn when it comes in contact with the hot wire, so you can just pin it to the foam and guide the wire along it to make a precise cut. Its other important characteristic is its stiffness. This comes into play when you've already cut out the piece along one axis and want to move on to another. When you make the first cut, the pattern goes flat against the surface of the foam. In my case, said cut always produces a curved surface, and I don't have access to fancy toys like AutoCAD that would project a dead-on front or side view onto such a surface for me, so I have to pin the second side's pattern so it pretty much floats where it would have gone if I'd been working with a flat surface. This takes some fussing, and you have to be careful with the piece as you guide it around, but it does work. Quite well, indeed.
So after all that, I have...a blocky version of the very end piece that covers most of the hand (which I did in halves that are being glued together as we speak and will then be cut along the third axis and sanded into their final contour) and three layers of foam that are also being glued so I can use them to cut out half of the mold of the main part of the claw. At least I worked out my technique pretty early in the process (I only made one messed-up, unusable piece - yay), so the rest should go by more quickly.
In other news, I had a pretty cool weekend. A bunch of my relatives from my dad's side of the family came into Pittsburgh, and we joined them all for a Pirates game at PNC Park. It had been about a bazillion years since I'd last seen a ball game at the stadium, and I really enjoyed it (and not just because we won 6-1). It's interesting to look around the field and watch how the players are preparing for the next pitch. The infielders might sneak close to the bases in anticipation of a possible double play. A man on base might slowly creep away and see if he might be able to make a steal. And the pitcher might notice said man's creepage and ponder whether to try to fake him out and then get him trapped. Several exciting plays occurred in this game, but unfortunately, I missed a couple of Pirates home runs because I was in line for garlic fries. D'oh. T'was a good time, though. ^_^