Again I was back on the phone, asking more sign companies specifically about the CNC machine and including questions about bit depth and the like. Most did not have the machine and those that did prepared quotes that were well beyond what I wanted to spend, many in the region of my first sandblasting quotes. Discouraged and put off by the sheer amount of effort involved, I turned my interests elsewhere.
For a long time the project was shelved. It still haunted my thoughts from time to time and since I still wanted the soap, I decided to try and carve it myself using some insulating foam, a Xacto knife and my logo template. After many hours stolen over a few days, I had a painted foam Fight Club soap replica. To achieve the look I wanted, I cut the letters from half inch thick foam and glued them to a foam base made to look like a bar of soap. The result satisfied my needs for having something in my hands that resembled the actual prop, but because the foam was soft and didn’t cut easily, I didn’t achieve the look I wanted since much of the finer detail was stripped away.
The project was shelved again. For a while I thought I reached the solution when I went to a bank and inspiration struck when I saw a thick rubber stamp with raised letters. Calls to companies that made these custom stamps resulted in more disappointment since the depth they could achieve was limited. The project was again shelved.
A few months later I felt the need to get the soap project going again. I called up Bill again and asked him if he still remembered the project. He didn’t. I re-faxed and re-emailed the materials. He called me back immediately, said he did now remember, and said he would still be willing to do the project. After having the time to think about it, I realized I was willing to pay the $100 for nothing else but to never have to think about this frustrating project again. We agreed to lower the depth of the raised letters to ¼” which he hoped would be enough to cut the fine detail. In final preparation, I resized my logo, drew the outline of the bar of soap, and resized the entire drawing many times until it matched the relative dimensions of the soap I had approximated from pictures and the trailer.
I sent the final vector art to Bill as an email attachment. After many months of fretting over the project I was finally handing it over. Nervous at the results, I sent him a deposit so he could get started. A few days later, much sooner than expected, he called me to say it was done. I asked him to ship it to me. He did, and I tracked the package anxious to see the results. On the scheduled delivery day, my heart sank as 7:00pm rolled around, the last possible time UPS would deliver. I was severely disappointed but knew it would have to be there the next day. The next day too, I faced the same inexorable result. I called UPS customer service and they told me the package was left in their warehouse. They said they’d attempt delivery again tomorrow. The next day I saw UPS leave my apartment complex as I drove in from work. I excitedly checked my door for the package or a note. Nothing there but my old doormat. Furious now, I called UPS and winded through my story with the representative. She said she’d have someone call me back. A few minutes later a customer service representative called me back, apologized and said he’d get in touch with the driver so that I’d definitely get the package. An hour later the package was there. Smaller than I expected, and simply placed in a bubble envelope and not a box as I expected, there it was. Apparently it had been misplaced at the warehouse. I thanked the driver and anxiously opened the package.
Here it was—the fruit of my labor. Upon first seeing the brown block, it all seemed worthwhile. The letters were perfect, the depth just right and the fine detail striking. I was really excited to paint the sign pink and did so excitedly that night. The results were, to my amazement, disappointing. The sign, which had looked really good unpainted, now looked cheap and tacky. The next day I stripped the paint from the prop. It smelled awful, having absorbed the pungent odor of the paint stripper even after it was dry. In desperation, I placed it in some baking soda in a Tupperware, amazed at the strange twists of fate that brought me here; staring at my work covered in, of all things, baking soda.
Eventually I decided the best way to achieve the uniform pink look of the movie prop was to make a mold using my original, and cast it with pink resin. This involved learning how to make molds, which I had wanted to learn to do for a while anyway. When the mold was finished, I could even cast it using homemade pink soap if I wanted to. Mold making turned out to be a laborious but satisfying task and somewhere during the process of mixing liquid plastics and mixing molds, I could not help but marvel at my strange journey that this obsession had brought me to. Nonetheless, it was finally finished and it looked good.
Thinking that I was done with Fight Club soap forever, and relishing that thought, through yet another strange twist of fate that is not without irony, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the mold used to make the original prop from the trailer. The real deal. The big kahuna. The thing I had wanted in the first place now ended up in my hands after sinking so much time and laborious effort into developing a replica. At a point like this, what could I do but smile.
After casting my first bar of soap from this mold, it exactly matched the pictures I had studied so carefully over the past year. Now being able to judge the accuracy of my own soap by comparing it to the original prop, I saw that my soap was amazingly close to that of the original. The actual soap used in the trailer was slightly smaller than my routed version. Also, all the edges are rounded in the original prop, whereas in mine only the corners are rounded. Amazingly, the depth of the letters that I was so concerned about was about the same. I had come full circle. Searching for replica, I made my own with much effort, and eventually found what I wanted in the first place. A frustrating journey to be sure.
If asked whether I would do it all again, amazingly, I think I would. Not for the soap so much as for the journey I’ve been on. It’s taught me much about art, prototyping, mold making, and surprisingly much about myself. Today it is with some pride that I display my Fight Club soap replicas on my desk. Now, rather than a symbol of my affection for the movie, it’s become a symbol of my determination. And that’s something I’m really proud of.