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Thread: Gothic Church Mod

  1. #1

    Gothic Church Mod

    Started thinking about this one almost 6 years ago. I decided to go ahead with making an all clear acrylic case instead; that had mixed, but ultimately disappointing, results. Someday it may be something for me to revisit.

    Unfortunately the project had no pictures to start out with. I had a digital camera at the time, just neglected to document it. I started with a case that I've had since I bought my first PC (Same case since 1999! HA!). I hate to throw stuff away that is going to end up in some landfill somewhere, so I just kept reusing my original PC case.

    I used a pair of tin snips and a hand metal nibbler (not recommended, very tiring and somewhat painful) to cut the windows in the case sides. I live in the second floor of an apartment building and only worked on it at night so I needed low noise choices. Dremel was tried but not strong enough (nor quiet enough) of an option to cut through those steel case walls.

    I then attached cardboard with liquid nails glue for a insanely strong working platform and then began gluing balsa wood to the cardboard directly.
    Here's a pic with a completed window.

    I tried various methods for stained glass creations on such a small level. Two of the more successful incarnations were the plastic beads that you can melt in an over into a multi-colored sheet of glop and this one; essentially I used a thin clear sheet with these bits of chopped colored Mylar sheet tossed on to it and a clear resin poured into the area.

    All the windows on the "West" side. Just real sunlight streaming through from my apt. window.
    There are also notches made for detachable Flying Buttresses. You absolutely can't have a Gothic Style church without the Flying Buttress.

    Close up, you can see the detail I did for the windows as well.

    All made from Super Sculpey and baked or heat-gunned, then poured into the resin as well.

    My case had a fan hole on the side that I cut back when my First Ti4400 video card was in there and nearly melting the board with it's heat signature. This turned out to be a perfect place to make a Rose Window.

    Construction was mainly balsa wood and Super Sculpey attached to the perimeter. And the internal is actually a piece of a cereal box that I ran through my printer with the pattern on it, then cut out with X-acto blade.

    I reinforced it with a layer of Super Sculpey for thickness as well.

    This is an in-construction phase of the Flying Buttresses. I don't have any pics of them attached to the computer, but suffice to say, when I came up with the idea of how to make them attach and remove easily I knew I could make this case.

    Here is a shot of the FOURTH attempt at making a brick texture come across on my mod. I tried just straight up carving on the wood a long time ago, with disastrous results. Then I mended that mistake, and attempted to just paint the texture with a sponge and dry brushing techniques. Also a flawed design. I even tried a spray on wall texturing material and that was close but it was very messy and it smelled fairly bad.

    I used that super lightweight hole filler for walls, it is a little wet to begin with but dries fairly quick. I worked in about 1 to 3 layers of the stuff. Applied base all around to give the next layers something to grab on to. I then dabbed the final layer all around with a stiff bristled paintbrush to give a texture to the blocks similar to rough concrete or granite.

    I then just went around and scratched away at the dried material making the seams for the blocks.

    Even added some cracks on one side for some up close interest viewing. (I know I took pics of those as well, just can't find them yet. I'll add them at a later post.

    Another challenge that I wanted to tackle was how to make the front of the church with doors that will open and close with the DVD/Drive/Burner. I still haven't come up with a happy solution to that idea, for now they may just be hand operated, but I'd really like them to open and close with the retraction of the burner tray and flapper door.

    The high-arch above the door area is designed along the lines of real churches of the time. It would essentially tell the story of creation, fire and damnation and all that good stuff. Once you walked through the doors you were essentially absolved of all your sins.
    I did end up making a pair of doors and then redesigned them. recently painted them as well and they look better than I could have hoped.


    All that and that's just the lower half! It really is an entire full sized case inside there, and then I went ahead and added an upper story. Gotta have some place to put the bell tower! ( But I will not be putting bells in here! Just lights. )

    The above picture is actually how the case sat for a LONG time (my wife and I had a kid and now she's almost four! yeah, that long).

    I'm waiting on some copper sheeting to make the roof more authentic looking. I tried painting it with a metal paint and then adding patina agent, it didn't turn out so well. You can see the wood grain and it kinda blows the illusion so I'm going full out with real copper sheeting about 5 mils thick (36 gauge).

  2. #2

    Gothic Church Mod

    It's kind of funny...for the past few months, I've been sitting in my architecture class and thinking of how to turn a case into a Gothic building. It's interesting to see how you've done it so far (and how it differs from the way I was thinking of how to do it).

    As for getting the doors to open, have you tried using a spring? That's what the drive tray doors use on most PC cases as it is. Maybe try place a small nail head in the middle of the door and another about an inch or two inside the case (assuming there's room) so one end of the spring can connect to the door and another to the case...when the drive opens, it'll push the doors open (extending the spring) and when the drive closes, the doors will do so, too, because of the spring. Don't know if you've tried that, yet, or if it's feasible for this case. But if the can't attach a nail to the case (glue, not nailing it in...since that'll most likely ruin it) maybe you can attack the nail head or paper clip or whatever would work best to the cd drive case?

  3. #3
    Painted XcaliburFX's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Ga ... U.S.A.

    Gothic Church Mod

    Excellent job dmcgrath, very well executed indeed. I like it

  4. #4

    Gothic Church Mod

    Thanks guys.

    @Enamor84 - I have kinda of been kicking around the idea of just putting springs on the doors and having them pull back on their own. That seems to be the most simple choice in my mind. Automating it to a solenoid, or some other device, is also an option but it seems unnecessary.

    My hurdle there is the doors do not extend out as far as the tray does, when the tray retracts, it hangs on the doors when there is a spring attached, see pic below. Not really a huge problem, but something I will work out in the final assembly stage.

    I do want to point out that from the beginning, I wanted this entire case to be able to be ripped apart to it's skeleton. Every piece is attached via a secure and strong screw setup. Even the top piece, which is a mixture of balsa wood, foam board and cardboard pieces has metal anchors in them for the screws. The only piece that doesn't come off, mainly because it was not necessary, is the inner front part. I originally built it to house a fan there but found out after building it that a fan fits in the case just as easily now that I relocated the hard drive.

    If you look in the open side there you can see that everything is upside down as well. The case is standing on it's head mainly because that put the Rose windows in exactly the right spot for my needs. The case had a fan position originally on the bottom front and then I cut one on the lower side of the case as well.

    A little flat black base coat in preparation for my several days I will be spending dry brushing, I'm sure.

    The doors are mostly done, I used brass plated pins to make the nails in the door spines. Although I did end up painting over them anyway. I also used a wax based bronze material for the door inlay color; even the hinges are little plastic ones but, with the wax rubbed on them, they looked terrific.

    The rear of the top section will have little detail beyond the windows with stained glass inserted in there. I intended it to house a couple switches (maybe in the future) for lighting, but I'l probably end up putting them next to the power switch located on the top of the unit.

    A couple more construction shots. Working with balsa wood is great, not only is it easy to cut and shape, the end product is really very light.

    The upper front facade. the three knights are actually miniatures I bought online from the amazing artists at Confrontation (Rackham) Miniatures.

    All the guys in the alcoves are more or less identical. I created these by making one in Super Sculpey, then making a mold of it with household silicone caulking from a squeeze tube. Once that dried I just poured in plaster every 5-7 mins per mold until I got 21 of them (7 for each side).

    I also went with a brick texture on the top, but not with the wall spackle. I carved it straight into the four or so layers of paint I already had on the upper part. Hopefully that will be sufficient for detailing the top part.

    Also found some of the cracks I made in the facade texture.

    And on the rose window.

    And just a tiny bit of dry brushing, just to see I'm heading in the right direction. Although honestly with just the brown on there, it already looked so nice I didn't want to continue. :wink:

    Till next time, it'll probably be an update with the real copper sheeting added to the roof. (Fingers crossed on the patina stage!)

    And then I'll wire it all up, light it and then shut it off for a week or so to paint. I really want to paint it all in one pass for consistency reasons.

  5. #5

    Gothic Church Mod

    The details are amazing on that...

    As for the door, you could try putting a ramp where the tray would hit it. That should force the tray slide along it instead of hanging.

  6. #6

    Gothic Church Mod

    The details are amazing on that...

    As for the door, you could try putting a ramp where the tray would hit it. That should force the tray slide along it instead of hanging.
    Good idea, I'll see if I can work something into the tray.

  7. #7

    Gothic Church Mod

    I ended up just grinding the edges off the tray door, since it was detachable. I also made a spring design, for now at least, that is workable. It is strong enough to hold the doors closed but easy enough to open by the tray motor.

    There is one spring on there and parts of an elastic lanyard I had laying around to hook to the eyelets.
    I tried two springs alone and it was too strong for the tray motor. But the combination of the elastic attached to the spring was workable.

    I will keep looking for a type of torsional spring that will do the job instead. I'm still not happy with it but it will have to do until painting is done. I rarely use the thing anyway.

    Then excitement!!! I got a sheet of copper delivered from Florida to California in only about a day and a half. Just standard priority mail, I expected a much longer wait. The people at are definitely going to get my business again.

    Of course this was only the beginning of the roof. Once I got it mounted on there I wasn't totally happy with my final fitting of it. This worked out in my favor because I got inspired to use more Super Sculpey!
    Gothic churches are all about the little details, so I created one of my own, and a way to mass produce it. Then with a little freehand touch up with the dremel (only about 4 hours of having that drill on, haha!) and voilà .

    With sculpting finally done, and paint nearly on my horizon, it was time to wire LEDs for the windows.
    Having never done this before, I can only thank the information on this website (and the fact that the website exists) for all the places I went to learn how to do this properly the first time.

    I was happy that the light balance from top to bottom is pretty equal. The top actually has a tube
    cathode in it to light the entire unit. Easy that way, since it's empty up there.

    I also used a reflective mylar sheet behind each light at the window. It really helped cast it out of the window more, and is non-conductive.

    The front of the computer had me wondering; how was I going to light it and make it non-obtrusive, but still colorful and fun to look at?
    There is a approximately a 1" gap from the computer case to where the rose window is located, I decided to make a loop of colored plastic. The stuff is usually best made flat and kept that way, but I made a 1 inch trough with aluminum foil and poured the beads into it. Then when it came out of the oven I wrapped it around a cylindrical mold (a Quaker Oats container!).

    I had to put it back in the oven and then bend an edge down more. Trimming the stuff is messy, if you use a dremel saw it makes a gummy stringy mess. If you use a pair of shears or heavy duty scissors, the stuff has a tendency to fracture. If you use a more conventional slow saw style, it will shatter or gum up the teeth. I prefer to just mold it to the shape you want and then hope for the best.

    Here it is mounted, and with a few wraps of EL wire around it. I am very happy with the result and the overall effect makes me want to keep it lit all the time.

    I think that's it for now. One more side to light and then some wire cleanup that would just be redundant or boring. So I'll probably have my next update in the painting stage sometime in the next week.

    Hope everyone had a great Turkey Day!

  8. #8
    The Main Man Dewayne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Gothic Church Mod

    WOW this is a great mod that shows that you can create just about anything from a case. You have used many different styles to get what you want and that is what modding fun!

  9. #9

    Gothic Church Mod

    Oh boy, it's been a while since an update has been forthcoming.Life does tend to get in the way at times.

    I just fried my video card so I am using the onboard video. (Thanks ASUS, for making such a great MOBO I don't even notice a difference in my day-to-day activities). (It's also kind of funny that the ads running on the side of my page are BOTH video cards.)
    But the video card dying has prompted me to keep painting this thing, and after another all day event, I'm nearly done with it.

    Also had to replace a cathode tube in the machine too, it's old and already pooped out.

    One of the harder parts has been prematurely aging my copper roofing. I have a spray bottle full of a patina solution and it's working pretty well. Kinda neat green. I guess I could've gone with a home made roof and just painted it, but this is better (in my head, at least).

    As I write this, I realize I don't have all my newest pics re-sized and uploaded. I guess it will have to happen on the 5th.

    Happy 4th everyone!

    ~Wavey Flag~

  10. #10

    Gothic Church Mod

    Gothic Church is incredible! The detail shows true skill and imagination. Sorry to hear about your video card but nice to know the onboard video picke dup and ran with it without a hitch, yaaaaay Asus!!

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