In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.....
Lucky for you, you don't have to go on any grand adventure to procure such an awesome blade (unless you want to. Then by all means, have at it!) Today, I am going to walk you through my process of making Sting for my wife. She and I are large nerds; as evidenced by my 'ible on making her a map of Middle Earth for Christmas. You can find that here.
So as a companion piece I thought I'd make Sting to hang on the wall next to the map. I could have gone out and bought one but where's the fun in that? Plus I didn't want a sharp sword hanging on the wall and some lil' whipper-snapper comes along, takes it down, and impales himself on it. That'd make a mess on my carpet.
I adapted my sword making process from this tutorial by FireLily Cosplay. Before we get started on awesome prop making, here is our laundry list for this project:
Expendable items include:
- Reference image - Google image search is your friend
- Foam core board - Available at your craft store of choice such as Michael's or Jo Anne's
- Lightweight wall spackle - Any home improvement store should carry some. You can also use regular drywall spackle but your end result will be heavier.
- Paints of choice - I used Rustoleum rattle cans for the silver, black, and clear coat (you could also use acrylics for the sliver blade but I liked the look of the rattle cans better)
- Cheap $1 acrylic paints from Michael's for the gold, silver in the handle and pommel, the brown grip, and black wash.
- Foam floor mat for the wall mount shield. (This could be made from plywood if you so desired. I was cheap and had the mats on hand) I got mine from Harbor Freight but you can get them online too
- Air clay - This is the air drying clay I used. It dries hard and is super lightweight
- Wood glue - You could also likely use white glue or many other adhesives to hold your foam core boards together.
- Sand paper - Various grits ranging from coarse to very fine
- Glow-in-the-dark Paint - I came across various ones online but this is the one I went with
- Small paint brushes
- 2 Rare earth magnets - Michael's, Jo Anne's, or online
- Picture mounting hardware - You can get this from any home improvement store. You just need one of the small saw tooth pieces that goes on the back of a picture
Reusable items and tools include:
- Clamps - I got a cheap 8 pack from Harbor freight about 4 years ago and they still work fine
- Sharp cutting instruments like an exacto and/or a utility knife with the breakaway blades
- A heat gun (this was used for the shield. If you use a wooden shield, you wouldn't need this)
- Clay sculpting tools
- Spackle tools/spare credit card for spreading spackle
- Ruler - for ruling
You don't have to use the same items I used nor do you have to get them from the same places I got mine. That being said, let's go on an adventure!
Step 1: It Was As Good As a Short Sword for the Hobbit
So after scouring the internet for an image I liked of Sting, I used a photo editor of choice such as Photoshop to enlarge the image to the size I wanted. Then, using Microsoft Paint, I printed the enlarged image over multiple pages and taped them together. I cut out Sting and taped it to my foam board which enabled me to trace around the outside of the blade. I removed my master, retaped, retraced, then repeated this again, giving me three copies of sting. I then cut out all three copies of Sting and placed them on top of each other to get an idea of how they'd all fit. I then numbered them so I could glue the sequential numbers to each other (side 2 to side 3, side 4 to side 5).
I then applied wood glue to the pieces and clamped them together, ensuring they were as lined up as I could and let them cure. After I had the three base pieces glued together I felt I needed to add to the grip so I didn't use a ton of clay to build it up. I glued two small pieces to the grip and again let that dry.
Using my utility knife I cut at an angle along the blade so that the edges were thinner than the middle of blade. I then sanded both the blade and the handle down to make them both a little smoother.
Step 2: “I Will Give You a Name,” He Said to It....
After the blade and handle were roughly shaped with cutting and sanding, I applied spackle to the blade. I left that to dry and in the meantime I applied air clay (also called paper clay) to the grip and pommel. I ultimately changed my pommel design from the original design of the blade to make it my own. Once the spackle was dry I sanded it down and further shaped the blade. I added some air clay to the blade and tip to reinforce it since the tip was so thin and I knew that if it wasn't enforced it would break. Once the clay had dried I sanded the whole thing down starting with a low grit 80 count paper then moving up to a nice 320. Air clay can be smoothed so nicely! I added more clay to the hand guard and began shaping it with my clay tools. Once it had dried I further refined the shape with sand paper and then gave the whole thing a nice smoothing out.
Step 3: “And I Shall Call You Sting”
When painting the blade I first hit the whole thing with two coats of primer filler. It filled in a lot of the small imperfections in the blade, clay, and spackle. After letting each coat dry, I did two coats of flat black enamel letting them dry between each one. Finally, I did two coats of metallic silver. Once they were all dry, I hit the whole thing with two coats of matte clear coat to protect it all.
Rather than free hand drawing the designs on the blade, I used my original print up and placed it over my painted Sting. I used a sharp poking clay tool to basically poke a template through the original print up and onto the blade. This made it much easier to create the designs on the blade and guard. I then used a flat edged clay tool and basically carved the Elvish into the blade and guard.
Using my Glow paint I found online, I painted into the Elvish to create the glowing effect. In the films, the entire blade glows. I experimented with trying to get a good even glow on the entire blade but couldn't get a coating I liked which is why I opted for just the scripting to glow.
As a side note, the glow paint I used, as nearly every other glow in the dark object I've seen, has a slight greenish/yellow hue to it when it is dry. This also contributed to my not wanting to coat the whole blade as the blade would have then been off colored.
Using my cheap acrylics, I painted the handle brown and used my silver acrylic to paint a spiral leaf pattern up the blade. I mixed gold and silver together to get a good combo of the two and painted the guard with that. I hit the whole sword with my clear coat again then using a small amount of black paint and water, I did a wash over the guard and scripting to pick up the details. It added a small but effective bit of weathering to the sword.
Step 4: This Is Sting. You've Seen It Before, Haven't You.
For a wall mount I wanted to make a shield that the blade would hang on but could also be removed from to look at. That is one reason I made it from kid friendly materials rather than getting a metal one!
I started with a shield template I found online and I found the Elvish scripting which is the famous "One ring to rule them all...." I printed that up and checked sizing and adjusted it to the size I wanted. I then traced it onto the foam and using the same pointy tool method punched the Elvish scripting into the foam. I then traced back over it with an exacto blade to make the cuts deeper into the foam. After I had all my designs in the foam, I hit it with my heat gun. You can also likely use a hair dryer on high but it would take longer. With the foam, since it is an open cell foam, hitting it with heat will cause the cells to close and shrink which is why anywhere there are cuts in the foam it will expand the lines. That is the only difference between the 3rd and 4th picture. I then sealed the shield with some white school glue so when I paint it the foam wouldn't absorb all my paint. I then painted the shield with two coats of my black enamel from a rattle can and then two coats of flat clear coat. I then painted all the scripting with Gold acrylic and hit it again with clear coat to protect it all.
On the back of the shield I cut a small recess for a rare earth magnet. I glued that in place and also attached a picture frame mount on the back as well. In the back of the sword I fixed a magnet into the guard handle and painted over that with the same Silver and Gold mixture. I clear coated that to ensure it was safe against friction since that is the point that the blade touches the shield.
Step 5: He Remained Very Happy to the End of His Days, and Those Were Extraordinarily Long.
That's it! Enjoy your new cutlery! If you make one please post it in the comments! I'd love to see them! And don't forget to vote for me! Thanks!