18 May Maker’s Monday: black smithing but make it foam
Good morning everyone! Happy Monday!
Elliott here with another maker’s Monday for you, and this week we’re working on weapons! Both characters I play are dual wielders (although it’s becoming a recurring theme at this point that Leo can’t hit anything), which means I’m making 4 swords (and a couple daggers), so let’s get to it!
First things first: we need some inspiration. Leo carries short swords and daggers, Vel carries rapiers, and I don’t know much about either. Which means the first step to properly making some weapons for the both of them is making sure I know proper dimensions to be working with. For things like the daggers and rapier blades, some things will have to be slightly adjusted (It’s hard to care a a 40” sword when you’re only 5’4”) but it’s good to make sure you know what you’re working with for size so that you can plan out accordingly on your foam sheets.
Okay. So I’ve got my dimensions. But I’m still not the greatest weapon designer. So it’s time to head over to the images tab of google and snoop around until I can get some inspiration to go off of. In the end I landed on elven short swords, kindjal daggers, and just a standard set of rapiers. And with those in mind it was time to get to patterning.
Now before you say anything, my mom and I already made jokes about the dagger handles being phallic. I wasn’t thinking about it when I was on google saying the words “oooo pretty knife”. But I know!! I know.
Bust out that graph paper, we’ve got some patterns to make. You’ll notice here that the only blade that’s going to have a pattern is the dagger. For the swords I tend to just free hand it straight on to the craft foam so I don’t have to tape more than one piece of graph paper together to make a proper pattern for it. It’s a dual form of laziness and willingness to play God.
Got your patterns ready? Great! I’ll be using layers of 5mm craft foam to build my weapons because that’s my comfort zone. But don’t let that stop you from trying other things if you so choose! Either way, slap those bad boys on to the material of your choosing. Because I’m using a thicker foam I like to use sewing pins to keep the patterns in place while I work around them with a sharpie. For handles I’ll be using 3 layers, but blades will only be 2. The next parts are a bit tedious, but find a show to binge in the background and get to work. I chose Castlevania. 50% because it was recommended by a fellow campaign member for being a good thing to base Barovia on, 50% because my boyfriend had one meme they wanted to send me that needed context. And since Clone Wars had just finished up I needed a break emotionally before I started a Rebels rewatch anyways.
So. We’ve got our patterns cut. They’re vaguely the same size. Time to start construction! This is where the waiting game comes in. I use contact cement almost always when I need to glue anything down. So every time I want to glue something I have to wait 15 to 30 minutes per layer before I can keep going. Once you get past this part everything gets fast paced for a bit again.
Because the next part is shaping! I’ve got shaky hands, so it’s hard for me to get even cuts almost 100% of the time. Which is why I invested in a rotary tool. But before you get it out, I recommend marking down where on the blades specifically you’ll be dremeling at angle to help guide the process. I also recommend waiting until everything has been evened out with sanding before attaching your blade to it’s handle.
AND DON’T FORGET.
You don’t want to be breathing in foam dust OR getting it in your eyes. Put on a mask. Put on your goggles. Hell put on an apron. Do you have gloves that fit your hands? I don’t! And because of that they look like this whenever I dremel for like. 5 minutes. So if you’ve got them, put those on too. This is an extremely messy process, but it can be a lot of fun too! And it certainly cuts down time trying to even everything out with a box cutter or exacto knife before you do your initial sanding.
So here are the steps I take when dremeling:
- Even out the shapes
- Sand down the angles and round corners you need/make any divots or other necessary details.
- Sand down those angles again!
- Get out a buffing attachment and go over everything that’s been sanded down EXCEPT the places you’ll be gluing together.
- Take a paper towel and wipe off extra foam dust.
- Piece everything together!
Here’s what it looks like from pattern to blocky portion to final sanding.
Congrats! You’re through the building process. Next comes another waiting game. Sealing & painting. I don’t have a show to watch this time. Instead I’m writing this blog and working on homework my DM gave me. But you best believe when I’m finished I’m starting Rebels again! Please watch the Star Wars cartoons.
First up is sealing. There’s plenty of ways to go about this, but my go to is 3 layers of Mod Podge. A lot of people use plastidip as well, but remember that it eats away at foam so if you’re using it you’ll still want to heat seal your foam with a heat gun and slap a couple layers of Mod Podge on anyways to protect all the hard work you just did. The sealing process for me usually takes a day, solely based on the fact that I’m a multitasker and I WILL forget I was in the middle of sealing something while I go off and take care of everything else that’s on my list for that given day. That’s why I’m sitting at my work bench while I type this up. So I can have some semblance of a weekend around the painting I’ll have to do.
So you’ve played the first half of your waiting game. Now you get to play the second half. To paint my weapons I’ll be using acrylic paints from the FolkArt brand. They make my favorite metallic acrylics. I will also be using some master’s acrylic for the jewels at the bottom of my rapiers and two types of yarn to cover the handles of both sets of swords.
When it comes to painting Leo’s sets of weapons I’ll be using the Gray and Brushed Black colors from the Brushed Metal collection and painting them straight onto the black craft foam (it’ll take 2 coats to reach the opacity I want). In some cases I would first put down one or two layers of a plain gray acrylic so that the metal can show up brighter, but Leo isn’t too flashy of a character so I prefer the darker metal in this case.
With Vel though, we’re talking about an adventurer who was previously a circus performer so his swords need to have a brighter sheen to them, which is why I’m using a bright metallic Silver, and will be placing down more than a couple coats when I do.
Besides painting them, I’m also using yarn to cover the handles of both sets of sword. This gives me the ability to not only skip over some portions of paint drying time, but gives a nice texture to the grip while also allowing me a little more freedom with what colors I can use just in case I don’t happen to have something in my current paint stash. And all you need to attach it is a little bit of hot glue at both ends!
And once you’re finished painting everything, don’t forget to seal it! I’m still waiting for a guaranteed sunny day here to do so.
And there you have it! Go forth and make some weapons of your own! And don’t forget to come back for next week’s maker’s Monday where I’m going to be working on my belt systems!