Resin Casting Jon Snow's Longclaw Direwolf Pommel

Introduction: Resin Casting Jon Snow's Longclaw Direwolf Pommel

About: I'm Mark and I run Ginton Forge! Ginton* Forge recreates the iconic pieces seen on film, video games or anime and placing said item in your hands. Because owning an item from the very thing you’re into i...

Around last year, I bought a foam version of a very popular Game of Thrones sword at the mall. It was fantastic, swooshable and looked like metal considering it was built from lightweight foam. It also had most of the details right--the handle, the blade and the guard.

All except the pommel (the butt of the sword that looks like a red eyed wolf), which looked nothing like the actual prop. I like it when things look AND feel like the real thing, and same as what I did with the Fremen crysknife, I set out to make Longclaw pommel that closely resembles the onscreen prop.

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One can argue that Longclaw--Jon Snow's Valyrian steel bastard sword--is the most recognizeable, if not the most iconic weapon in the fantasy series by HBO, Game of Thrones. The blade itself is plain enough, but what truly sets it apart is the gorgeously sculpted albino direwolf mounted on the pommel. In the books, it is described: "The pommel was a hunk of pale stone weighted with lead to balance the long blade. It had been carved into the likeness of a snarling wolf’s head, with chips of garnet set into the eyes." Lord Commander Jeor Mormont gave Jon the Mormont family's heirloom sword, which initially had a silver bear for a pommel. The old pommel had burned away during a wight attack, and had been replaced with a direwolf pommel fashioned after Ghost, Jon's pet albino direwolf.

The onscreen prop of Longclaw has a beautiful, eye-catching design. It is detailed down to the individual teeth on the snarling wolf's mouth, with eyes polished to reflectiveness that made fans speculate that the sword "blinks" in some instances (no, it was just really shiny). Longclaw very much part of the ensemble of one of the most popular characters, Jon Snow (played by the newly-wed Kit Harrington), and it's allowed the character to perform feats like slaying White Walkers, wildlings and a number of enemies. This makes it one of the most collectible prop pieces in the Game of Thrones series.

There are currently Longclaw replicas available in the market. However as these reproductions are machine-made, the details on the direwolf sculpture do not resemble the onscreen prop. You'll notice that the "snarling" mouth is closed, as it is easier to mass-produce in that way. While this makes the direwolf quick to make, this also sacrifices a lot of detail.

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In this Instructable, I will be going through the steps in handcrafting a Longclaw pommel that is as close to the Game of Thrones prop as possible.

Step 1: Planning the Two-Part Mold

Resin: Just Like Your Ice Cube Trays

Resin is a wonderful medium that starts as a liquid. This liquid is made to flow into a mold, often made of rubber silicone, then made to harden and set, which allows it to permanently the shape of its mold. In this way, resin captures shape and form down to the tiniest of details.

Resin casting is very much similar to how ice cubes are made on your ice tray in the freezer. Those are straightforward one-cast molds that are designed to pop out easily from its mold.

The Challenge With The Direwolf

Tha main challenge in casting Longclaw as a one-cast mold is that when it sets into the snarling mouth shape, it ends up biting into the mold it was cast in; it wont make a very good ice-tray mold. Casting Longclaw in one part results in needing to break apart the mold to get the resin cast out. This is like needing to destroy the ice tray to take the ice out, and I needed to figure out an alternative so my silicone mold would not be a one-use deal.

The Direwolf Needs to Be a Two-Part Mold

As you can see in the Illustration, Longclaw needs to be made in 2 parts:

1) lower jaw and head

2) upper jaw and head

As you can see in the picture, the upper jaw and the lower jaw with the rest of the pommel needs to be separately cast--later on, I'll show you how to put them together.


Step 2: Start Off With a Master Sculpt

In resin casting, it's very important to begin a project with the best possible sculpt. We call this the "master mold" or "plug". The project is highly dependent on this plug as the resin will be an exact copy of it.

For the master mould, I studied a lot of screengrabs from Game of Thrones (see photos), paying close attention to the direwolf teeth. I chose the highest quality images I could find, finalized the dimensions that matched what I saw onscreen, and turned this into a 3D file, for 3D printing.

The obvious question here would be: why not just mount the 3D printed pommel as the finished work and save myself the trouble of casting it? For one thing, a 3D printed pommel is very light and just doesn't have the weight of something "sculpted from pale stone". When creating a prop replica, immersion is key, which is why using a resin to match the weight and feel of the direwolf is important. Not only should it look like Longclaw, but should feel like it, too.

In the photo above you'll notice that I had had the direwolf head shorn across the jawline, separating upper jaw from lower jaw. This will help later on as I cast the two separate parts of the mold.

Step 3: The Silicone Negative Mould

Earlier, we compared casting resin to freezing water in the ice tray. If resin is the ice, the silicone negative mould is the ice tray itself--what holds the liquid into a shape when it sets.

To create a negative, one must essentially cover the master mould (whether as a single or in multiple parts) and get an impression of its shape and details. One the silicone sets and hardens, you remove the master mold, and therefore have an empty shape that can then be filled with resin.

I have detailed as much as I can my process for silicone mouldmaking in the photos.

Step 4: Mold #1 the Lower Jaw, Part of the Head and the Rest of the Pommel

(Please refer to the pictures for a more detailed explanation)

Using the lower half of the master mould, I created a silicone negative mould of the lower jaw. Note that I cast it with a head without an upper jaw first. I also designed the silicone to open up at the back of the direwolf, making the cast resin easy to take out.

Once the silicon cured and hardened, I cast it in a coffin made out of plaster of paris, which opens crosswise.

Step 5: Mold #2 the Upper Jaw and Head

(Please refer to the pictures for a more detailed explanation)

Same as Mold #1, I covered the upper jaw and head of the master mold in silicone and let it cure around its form and shape. Then I cast it in a plaster of Paris "coffin" that opens crosswise.

Step 6: Using Resin

The resin I used is a clear-cast polyurethane resin. It's pre-activated, meaning I just need to add a hardener into the resin to make it cure and harden. There are many types of resins out there, each with its own curing formula. Whatever type of resin you use, it's important that you use the following:

  1. A respirator mask (mine is a 3M 6300) to protect your lungs from the resin fumes
  2. A weighing scale (best if you can find one that measures up to 2 decimal places for higher accuracy) so you can mix different chemicals in the proper ratio
  3. A calculator

To achieve the look of "pale stone", I used a white toner additive to mix into the resin. Here are the steps to coming up with white resin:

  1. Pour the required amount of clear resin into a plastic mixing cup
  2. Add the white toner (mine says 2% of the resin, though I added a bit more to make sure the resulting cast is thoroughly opaque)
  3. There will be gobs of toner in the mixture, so mix well. I use wooden tongue depressors available from the local pharmacy, or popsicle sticks.
  4. Once the white-toned resin is mixed, add in the hardening agent (my particular mix says 3% but it will depend on the sort of resin you use)
  5. Once activated with the hardener, the resin will begin curing, finishing at around 30 minutes. Make sure you pour this into the mold before it begins to harden, (Otherwise, the resin will harden into the form of the plastic cup).

Step 7: Casting Eyes

According to the book, Longclaw's eyes were made from "chips of garnet". I referenced what actual garnet looked like and a "dark, deep red" color matched the descriptions from the book and what I saw in the series. Rather than paint red eyes over white resin, I cast the eyes separately for a more realistic touch.

I made eye negative molds by applying silicone into both eyes of the master mold. For good measure, I made multiple pairs of negative eye molds so I could cook numerous pairs of eyes from one batch of red resin.

For the resin, I used clear cast dyed with "Ruby Red" and "Jet Black" in a 2:1 ratio, respectively. The mixture looked almost black like blood, but once it cures, it goes a few shades lighter.

So, that's how you make eyes :)

Step 8: Cast Mold #1 in Resin

Pour in the white-toned resin in Mold #1 and wait for it to cure for 30 minutes. I used around 200 grams of resin to fill in my mold.

Also note that I inserted a rod of bamboo into the resin, held in place by a silicone stopper. This is so that when the resin cures, the bamboo rod is held in place, and I can use it to hold the cured resin as I clean and polish it.

Step 9: Take Out the Cured Resin Mold #1

While curing finishes around 30 minutes, I let the mold lie for around 4 hours or even more, taking note that the direwolf teeth are thin and flimsy and may need more time to harden than the rest of the piece. If I take the resin out too early, the teeth may still be in a still-curing jelly state that can snap off easily. Some projects I leave overnight, just to be sure. Patience is key here.

Using the opening I made at the back of the mold, I slide out the cured resin. Note that the mold has a lot of extra parts that need to be trimmed. I do a general once over, and cleaned out the trimmings with a hand sander. I made sure to clean the head part, as it will undergo casting once again, this time to join with the upper jaw.

Step 10: Cast the Cured Resin Mold #1 Into Mold #2

(Please refer to the pictures for a more detailed explanation)

This step is slightly different from Step #8. Instead of just pouring white-toned resin into the mold, I also have to superglue the "garnet" eyes into the eye sockets of the mold, then insert the resin cast with the lower jaw into Mold #2.

Most of the difficulty here is making sure that the resin doesn't spill out of the mold as I slide in the lower jaw. This took a lot of practice resulting to many failed casts and misaligned teeth. It also helps that (again, through trial and error), I've determined the right amount of resin to place in the mold, which is about 18 grams.

I left Mold #2 to set for a few hours. Again, with these things, patience is key.

I take

Step 11: Do Some Initial Cleaning, Then Wash the Pommel With a Bone-white Color.

(Please refer to the pictures for a more detailed explanation)

After Mold #1 and 2 is successfully cast:

1. I did some initial cleaning on the mold itself, taking out the obvious excess mold lines with my hand sander or Dremel tool (I use a Dremel 3000 for the finer details)

2. In between detail work, I continue washing, creating layers in the paintwork and at the same time revealing any imperfections I want to edit or smooth out with my Dremel tool.

Step 12: Mounting the Pommel on the Handle

(Please refer to the pictures for a more detailed explanation)

Before I went into sanding and polishing, I mounted the direwolf head on the handle of a foam sword.

The foam sword generally got Longclaw's look right, except for the pommel. I take off the pommel to replace with my own, and started the fitting process. The sword handle had a dense polymer rod to keep the foam in a straight shape, and I retained the rod where the old pommel was attached to

Using a drill, I bore a hole starting from the base of the pommel. If you remember, I inserted a rod of bamboo into the pommel. This made it easier to drill into the soft bamboo pulp instead of hardened resin. Be careful with your measurements though: you don't want to drill through the mouth of the pommel. Also, we want to make sure the sword rod is a straight fit through the pommel.

Step 13: Sanding and Polishing

There's no way around it. Resin looks like cheap plastic unless you sand it to smoothness. Here are some tips on my process.

  1. Go up the grits. I went from 60 grit up until 2500 grit sandpaper. The more grit levels in between, the better. You can go higher than 2500 if you can; some even use Oslo paper to finish of their work.
  2. I used the wet sanding method, which keeps the particles out of the air and in the water (so you don't inhale it!) and also allows me to check if the surface is smooth as I can easily wash off particles by submerging the pommel.
  3. You don't always have to remove paint manually by sanding it off. Feel free to edit paint by applying an adhesive/superglue remover to parts you don't want paint on, such as the eyes.
  4. As a finishing touch, use Turtlewax or other polishing compounds. I used the Super Hard Shell Wax and the Carnauba Cleaner wax, in that order, to achieve the premium polish that I desired. On wide surfaces I used a cloth, on harder to reach areas, I used the polishing bit on my Dremel tool.

Click here for a 360-degree view of the fully polished and painted Longclaw pommel.

Step 14: Mount the Pommel Permanently

I had to make sure that the pommel doesn't fly off the sword handle when the sword is swished. Here's how I mounted the pommel for a permanent bond:

  1. To ensure a strong bond, I drilled holes into the core rod where the old pommel was mounted.
  2. I poured activated resin into the pommel before sticking the core rod into it. Liquid resin would then flow through the holes in the rod and creating resin bars through it when it solidifies. This is better than just applying adhesive--there's still a chance the pommel might come off.
  3. I left the resin to cure and bond overnight.
  4. The next day we swung the sword around and thankfully, the pommel didn't fly off the handle in mid-swing.

Step 15: Bring Out the Furs and the Camera for a Photoshoot!

No crafting is complete without a photoshoot with the new Longclaw! I used an old faux fur scarf and an IKEA TEJN rug for a nice "Winterfell" effect.

This has been one of my more challenging builds to date, and took a lot of trial and error before I ended up with the results I wanted. If you're trying this project out, don't give up! The end result is very much worth it. You will be rewarded with a formidable weapon when winter (and Season 8!) comes.

My next steps for this build:

  1. Installing the pommel securely on a hiking pole
  2. I also had a smaller version of longclaw 3D printed so I can customize it in smaller items. A local coffee shop has already ordered a Longclaw handle for a portafilter

If you're interested in upgrading your Longclaw, I'll be making a fully-finished Longclaw pommel available in my shop, which is named Ginton Forge. You may also read up on my resin projects in my blog, www.gintonforge.com.

Thanks, and if you have any questions, please do send me email at contact@gintonforge.com or at the comments section!

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    6 Discussions

    Lloyd, thanks for your comment! Let get back to you on this!

    This looks so good. Great, and tedious, work. Side note, I like your sandpaper organization idea; so smart. Lastly, it's funny you asked about putting one of these on a trekking pole because the entire time I was thinking, man I want this on a walking stick!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you liked it.

    As for the sandpaper--I used to bunch them all together and realized I could save time hunting for the right sandpaper grit by just organizing.

    I read your walking stick Instructable and I love how intensive your directions are! I'd love to top off a similarly crafted wooden stick with a Longclaw pommel, too. I'll updating my Instructable when I'm done sticking it the trekking pole :)