"Fighting evil by moonlight... Winning love by daylight... Never running from a real fight... She is the one named Sailor Moon!"
In the world of Sailor Moon, Queen Beryl is the commander of the dark kingdom. Basically she's bad news! I was commissioned by the Otherworld Theatre Company to create Queen Beryl's staff for their Sailor Moon Musical they are putting on. Yes i said it.. SAILOR MOON MUSICAL!!! Musical?? Anime?? Costumes??? HOW COULD I RESIST?! Let's get started on showing the build.
- Insolation foam
- 2 PVC adaptors
-Empty Peanut butter jar + lid
-Plasma Ball Lamp
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Step 1: Reference Pictures
Before I ever start ANY costume or build, I look up a ton of reference photos from various sources and put it in a folder. The more pictures from different angles, the better.
1. Actual photos of the character/ prop from its source (movies, comics, action figure, etc)
2. Cosplay pictures. You can see what has been done, what you like, what you don't like, how to improve on a design. You can also start getting an idea of different poses you think you'd like to do.
3. I start looking at art work. I usually look up things via google images, deviant art, tumblr, etc. This way, you can see different renditions of a character through a new perspective and once again, start thinking about what you like, don't like, etc.
4. Use your own imagination. Think about what you want, how to make it your own original design, what are some tricks you think you'd like to incorporate.. perhaps you want to try out a new technique with this build, etc
5. If you can draw, I sometimes will take all my reference sources and start drawing out my own design.
For my design, i knew i had to incorporate an electrical glass sphere, i wanted it long, and i wanted the prongs to look more like claws.
Step 2: Foam Base
1. I started by make a foam base out of insulation foam. i used a bowl as a template for the diameter. (pic 1 + 2)
2. I used my exacto knife to cut the foam and then i started slicing away the unneeded areas. I knew i wanted to make the head of staff be more segmented, as if it were bones. So i carved with that in mind (pic 3)
3. For the claws, i started shaving down long pieces of foam, as if they were bones of a finger. I eventually decided to shave the ends to a point (not pictured). I held the pieces temporarily together with a tooth pick. (pic 4)
4, disregard the big hole in the center of the piece. i initially thought i would put the pvc pipe all the way though, but later opted for a different design. this is why it;s super important to have a blue print before hand. it helps you avoid unnecessary cover-ups like me !!
Step 3: Worbla
Worbla is a thermoplastic and comes in a sheet that has the consistency of fritos corn chips. All you have to do is heat it with a heating gun till it turns soft and then you can wrap it around whatever you need it to. When it cools, its hard!
1. Once you have all your joints and fingers assembled, you can start applying strips of warbla to the entire claw. i used various miscellaneous tools to push the warbla into the crevasses . Continue this process til the whole head is encased in warbla (pic 1-5).. by the end of it, it should look like a deep fried upside down tarantula,
Step 4: Lighting
So when i was asked to create this prop, it was requested that i incorporate a lightning ball, so that when the actor touched the ball, it would generate an electrical stream. (pic 1) It was a cool concept, but the problem was that the ball that was provided to me by the company was a little smaller than most of the reference pictures i saw. Secondly, it was glass so that meant i had to figure out a way for it to attach to the top of the claw prongs.
1. Dismantle the lightning ball to see what you are working with (pic 2), When i did, i realized that the glass ball had some sort of substance in the middle glass tube that allowed the stream of electricity to touch your fingers when it made contact with the live wire.. Yeah, it was live because i touched it and got a bit a shock. DONT DO THAT!
2. I wanted to figure out a way how to make the glass ball attache to the claws, but i eventually realized that the i could heat the warbla claws to the desired position and then tension of the claws could clamp around the rubber band and the glass ball itself. I just told the actress that she couldn't use the staff for fighting or swinging. i mean, it IS a glass ball.. (pic 3)
3. i realized that as long as i could have the live wire touching the substance in the center of the glass ball, it would create the current. So i decided i would house the on off switch, and the battery pack inside the base of the staff head. (pic 4)
4.now, i had to figure out how i was going to have that whole claw head/ bulb thing attach to a PVC pole, while also giving the actor a chance to change out the batteries when needed. I figured out that the second tier of plastic base of the lightning ball was JUST a little bigger than the lid of a peanut butter jar.i could use that as a cap for the battery, and then stick a PVC adapter into the bottom of it. continue reading, it will make sense.
5. i used my dremel to cut off the top ring of the plastic base. (pic 5)
6. then i took the cap of the peanut butter jar, but i also took off the thread of the jar itself. that way, the jar could still screw onto something. (pic 6)
7. I took the clear thread end of the peanut butter jar and i attached it to the bottom of the claws hand..that way, it kept the battery pack in place. Now you can screw the bottom of the claw head (which has the clear peanut butter thread) into the lid of the peanut butter container. (pic 7)
8.i took the PVC adapter (which will eventually attach to the PVC pipe) and i encased it in some insulation foam, (pic 8)
8. then, i glued the whole pvc adapter/ insulation foam ring into the bottom of the lighting ball base. (Pic 9)
9. Remember that the peanut butter jar lid fits pretty well into the lightning ball base, so Hot glue that lid inside (pic 10)
10. i covered the bottom in worbla just so the textures would remain the same when painting. plus, it made it more secure. don't cover the thread of the peanut butter jars, so you can unscrew the top if you need to change the batteries. (pic 11)
10. I knew that i would need to elongate the wire so it could still reach inside the glass ball. What i did was i took a paper clip, attached it to the live wire, and stick it through the center of the base (where that giant hole used to be). (pic 12)
Step 5: Pole and Tail
I got the hight of the actress and figured out how long i needed to make the pole, especially when i knew how big the head was, and i still needed to add a tail. The nice thing about this is, PVC is easy to cut, so if it's too tall, it can be trimmed down easily.
1. i wanted to give the staff some texture instead of just being smooth. i took my dremel and put some texture into the pvc pipe itself. This would also be useful when painting, because it would all shadows and differing colors to be inserted within the grooves and cracks. (pic 1)
1. I took some pink insulation and carved it into a rough cone. (pic 2)
2, i put a hole at the bottom that would house the second PVC adapter. (pic 3)
3. i covered the whole tail in worbla, glued in the PVC adapter, and attached it to the PVC pipe. (pic 4)
Step 6: Finished!!!
All that is left is to paint the staff. i covered it in primer and then covered it in lighter grey paint. once dry, i covered a watered down black paint on top and quickly wiped it off. i just wanted the black to get in the nooks and crannies of the staff.
The actress was able to use the staff, the Sailor Moon musical was awesome, and the universe was saved once again. Please check out the theater group Otherworld Theatre Company for more amazing shows!! .