Introduction: Crusader Flail
Third Prize in the
Halloween Props Contest 2015
Step by Step write up on how I created this Flail and hopefully give you the knowledge to craft one yourself you crafty little crafters :P
Step 1: Materials!
Tools I used!
2. Extruded polystyrene foamboard from home improvement store
3. Titebond 3 wood glue - just a personal favorite for sealing all of my worbla together making it very durable and smooth
4. Smooth-on XTC 3D (optional as a sealer but makes it very durable if you are grabbing the handle a lot or bumping into things)
5. EVA foam floor mats from Harbor Freight.
6. Darice craft foam (any type will do I just buy it in the big rolls)
7. Typical supplies like scissors, cutting blades, paper for templates, heat gun, sharpie, paint and some imagination!
Step 2: Have Your Reference Handy!
My reference was Johanna from Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm. I chose a different color skin but the flail remains the same in style.
I did not print any templates out I merely stared at the image via Blizzard's new cosplay kits:
and created my own self drawn with a ruler and a good eye.
Step 3: Handle
So! I missed taking a few steps of the handle as I started this project during the wee hours of the morning on a wim!
I grabbed a dowel rod from Lowe's and cut it to what I guessed was the right length with a jigsaw at my desk lol! I recommend doing this outside because it is extremely loud for anyone who is sleeping in your home.
I stared at the image reference and wrapped foam around where I assumed each different round part would be using just the EVA floor mats I cut into strips. I knew I would cover this in worbla later so it would be super strong and so I didn't have to be too clean with the edges.
I added smaller strips of the craft foam around to create the layered efffect and also covered them with worbla.
I wrapped the center grip with a piece of craft foam to build it out a bit and to be able to use my wood burning tool to create the indentions for that faux leather effect the handle has. As you can see at first the handle was quite messy with the use of the wood tool but I then cleaned it up with a little sanding(that's a cool perk of worbla is that you can treat it exactly like wood!)
With my left over worbla scraps I heated them up in a pile on my bench and rolled them out like warm pasta to create tiny strips for trim and small dots for the extra details. I used wiggly eyes for the smaller dot details.
Step 4: Spikey Bits!
For the end cap I cut 4 similar triangles out of the Worbla and made sure they were cool before attaching them together. This was so they wouldn't be super floppy during the attaching process. I then gently heated the edges and pressed the seams together to create this shape. Since there is no glue needed with Worbla you are fine to do just this however, if you feel heavy handed with the heat gun and are worried about warping your piece simply run your hot glue gun along the seams and it will melt the Worbla and prepare it for adhesion.
Step 5: The Chain!
So you can see in the background of this pic the handle a bit more in it's "naked" state. The black part above the googly eyed bit is the Darice craft foam I mentioned.
To begin the chain I got a general shape I wanted in my head and simply heated scraps of Worbla together to create pasta rolls again. I heated them up and pinched them together into these cute...dare I say that about a flail...little geometric shapes. In order to get a sturdy attachment to the base of the flail I made a big 3d triangle blob of Worbla, that I neglected to get a pic of, and crammed it into the base where the chain would begin to come out. I then attached the warm triangle around the first chain and held it as it cooled to ensure it was upright.
As you can see in the second picture I had to attached said "cute" shapes into each other and so I used a pair of tin snips, as they easily cut through this unlike regular scissors, and reheated the ends to smush them back together. Worbla is just that user friendly...it's like a warm clay!
I created another giant worbla triangle but this one I flattened out the end and crammed a sharpie through it to create a large hole that the final chain would be able to move around in for the head of the flail.
As I stared at the picture more I realized I needed a bigger spike type effect to my chains and so I heated more little bit of Worbla and built out each chain individually. This is tough because they will try to stick together as they are cooling. Better to do this before hand and not as an after thought like me!
Step 6: The Body of the Flail.
SO we have a handle and a chain right? :) WELL now time to make that super geometrically challenging mace-y part. I will say this first off...I have a hard time with symmetry! Do not beat yourself up if things don't come out perfectly machine smithed the first time. Call your mistakes battle damage or call it your "artistic" interpretation! You will get better as you create more flails...if you have a need for multiple flails hats off to you for your interesting life choice!
I cut square-ish shapes that were smaller as you went out to the tip and glue them together! Hot glue and many other glues like contact cement melt this type of foam but if you just use a dab of hot glue to hold it all together with intentions of adding Worbla later you should be fine. Just make sure it isn't on any of the outer bits as they will create ugly indents.
I then grabbed those cutting blades I mentioned in the material list as well as a sharpener...because good lord does foam dull things fast...and I begin to carve a shape down. This was tedious and messy. Sure you can go out to your workshop and run these faces against your super cool tools and have this completed really fast but I didn't have that option! :P So widdling I did! Don't breathe this dust in by the way...very unhealthy stuff. Respirators and safety and such..but that should be understood if you are on instructables.
Once I got a general shape I slowed down on the chunk, chunk, chunk style carving I was doing and begin using a heavy grit piece of sand paper along side my carving to fine tune the edges. It came out alright but I knew I was going to build up the edges with Worbla and foam later on so I wasn't overly concerned.
For my next bit I got a quick reference with a ruler to create some face dimensions to be able to transfer onto my EVA floor mats to create the box-y type look.
You may be wondering why I didn't just build the whole thing hollow like I did the spikey end for the handle...well that's a great question and maybe someone should have asked late night Jackie the same thing. This was my very first time creating something like this and I wanted a base to build on because it just felt "safer" lol. You can really use any type of "core" you wish if you feel like I did or you can just frame it out with the eva!
So as you can see I added the EVA to the outsides and did this for the entire thing. It is extremely difficult to reheat Worbla that has been applied directly onto the Extruded Polystyrene as it melts at a low temperature and you will likely lose the shape you worked so hard to achieve. The EVA provides it with enough insulation that I could heat it to death and didn't deal with any caving in issues.
Step 7: Worbla and Beginning the Details.
Now to build up the outer "belt" piece for lack of flail terminology....with some foam. This will allow me some support structures for that "cross' type detail that connects on each face to form the spike corners.
The second photo shows you how I came up with the pattern for that detail on some old brown paper I got in a shipping box. I really used my artistic eye on this and hoped for the best! I could probably scan this up if anyone needed it but it's really not that hardcore. You could alternatively, as I have in the past, blown up the images Blizzard gives you and print them at home and cut them out. I've done this before with trim and writing details that can be hard to replicate. Set printer to print on multiple pages if you aren't tech inclined and it will auto blow it up. Might not be exactly what you are looking for but it will give you something close enough if you aren't comfortable using any software.
The third image shows the template itself and the one I used for the triangle top as well. My pattern making skills are very advanced as you see! lol
You can see how I lay my patterns on to the different types of foam used in this project and cut them out with a hobby knife. I use my sewing pins to hold paper templates on to foam often because it's quick and easy.
I then cut the same shapes out of Worbla with a 1/8th inch seam allowance to be able to fold over the edges of the foam after heated. Once the foam pieces were covered in Worbla and still warm I gently would lay them down over the faces and hold them in the fashion I wanted them to stay in until they cooled. This happens really quickly as we aren't heating it up gain after attaching the foam and Worbla to each other so they aren't super hot any longer.
If your face isn't sticking well just give it a blast with the heat gun around the seams and smush it down with your finger. Some serious science yea? :P
Step 8: More Hollow Spikes
For the outer spikes on this part of the project I decided against the Worbla only hollow style I used for the end cap on the handle and built it up with the foam backing like we just used on the edges.
As you can see I drew a general placement for where I knew the detail needed to lay and then had to think three dimension-ally on how to build it out. I did this by cutting out 4 test pieces in foam and masking taped them together to see if it made sense. You can keep trimming edges down easily with foam and it's a quick template mock up before adding all the Worbla.
My first one covered in Worbla was the correct shape so I used that foam template to cut out the pieces for all 4.
I heated all the pieces and adhered them to the foam and then the foam seam to each foam seam until I had 4 tee pees.
I then heated the spot on each face where the triangle needed to go and heated the base of the triangle where it would attach to ensure good adherence and bam! A spike was born.
You want to make sure you don't heat up the entire triangle when doing this because if it does cave in on you, you no longer have access to pop it back out with your fingers. Best to let it fully cool and just hit the edges. If you are nervous about messing this bit up remember you can always heat the trim with that hot glue gun! High temp preferably.
Step 9: Sanding.
I am a messy crafter and could spend more time cleaning up the edges with my heat gun but it's just not the way I do it. The more you hit Worbla over foam with heat the more likely you are to get gas bubbles trapped under the surface that are being released by the foam. You can solve these with little pin pricks into the Worbla that you can push the air through but I'd much rather have my nice clean surface and hit it with a Dremel later. More than likely you are going to do a wee bit of sanding anyway if you aren't using the same primers as me.
So sand all you feel like you need to but let's talk about making that surface smooth in the next bit!
Step 10: Priming or Making That Surface Smooth!
I didn't go out of my way to make this extremely smooth as I wanted it to be semi organic and look like hammered metal. If you are someone who wants it super smooth I will tell you my tried and true go to method is always a couple of coats of wood glue, Titebond 3, 1 coat of primer paint, and 1 coat of Smooth-on XTC 3D with a light bit of sanding at the end for huge imperfections that made it through. Again, respirator for this bit.
This is just my method and I am not saying it's better or worse than anyone else's it's just that no one else's has worked for me the way mine does. The wood glue insures that all my widdly bits and spikey things don't go popping off with general convention wear and transport. It is truly the epoxy of wood glues. I will never not use this majestic stuff. The primer coat is essentially so I can see my imperfections more clearly. Worbla is grainy and multicolored which makes it trickier for the eye to spot small imperfections. It is better to give yourself a uniform color like gray to really check behind yourself. Smooth-on is a laminating type resin that I apply with a brush in small batches and it self levels creating a mega barrier between your hand and any paint job or in thin coats a self leveling primer that takes paint like a champ!
In this case. I used the wood glue, primer, xtc as mentioned above and got a nice durable finish. I hand brushed all of the handle pieces and a lot of the large piece except for the gray/metallic parts. I used my airbrush for those. Paint is really up to you and everyone has what they love but for me it's liquitex heavy body silvers for metallic hand finishes and createx airbrush paints at the moment. I have a menagerie of paints and am always trying new things but for now those will do.
Step 11: Time to Flail!
I hope this was helpful for you guys! It is my first real tutorial write up and I must say it was pretty challenging...I am not so great at the explain of the things. I often feel like a scatter brained kindergartner finger painting on the wall.
Here is a pic of the final flail in front of the work in progress pic for the rest of the costume. My friend Stephanie constructed the other pieces minus the front of the shield, which I did in a painstakingly long day!, and I painted everything for her so she could be super cute and battle ready!
Go make something super epic and feel like an armored B A! :)
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