This is a custom design I created to go with a Starfire Gladiator cosplay. We decided clubs were more fitting than swords, but the process is basically the same. This was the FIRST TIMEI have ever created a prop, so there will be a bunch of minor issues- but the point is that I could do it and you can as well! I tried to be clear with my process and include helpful pictures.
Step 1: Materials
First you need to gather all the materials! This way you won't have to pause or run around in the middle of your process to go pick something up, which I did a little. This is a general list of what I bought, from where I bought it and an average of how much it cost.
- Base: Wooden dowel (¾ x 2”) from Home Depot for ~$0.98
- Knife: Xacto- Retractable Utility Knife from Home Depot for ~$1.98
- EVA- BalanceFrom (½ thick x 24 sq ft) from Amazon for ~$22.95
- Thin- Darice Foamies Sheet (2 mm, 11.8 x 17.7, 12 pieces) from Joann’s for ~$7.99
- Warner 34436 Sanding Block from Amazon for ~$2.48
- Assorted Grit Sandpaper from Amazon for ~$7.99
- 3M 100 Medium (6 pieces) from Home Depot for ~$3.97
- Rustoleum Painter’s Touch 2 X Gloss from Home Depot for ~$3.87 (You can also get certain spray paints from Amazon for around the same price, if you have the card and want to earn points)
- Safety Mask: Generic 5 pack from Home Depot for ~$2.48
Joann's has a variety of coupons every week so if you subscribe or check out their website, you could save a lot of money!
Step 2: Outlining the Shapes
1. Create a general outline of the shapes you will need. I have added a picture of my general outline. Now all the steps are the overall order of how to make the prop, but I did whatever I could whenever I could.
2. Draw your intended shapes onto paper- I used legal-sized manila folders for some stiffness- and trace onto the EVA foam boards with a thick black Sharpie.
3. Cut and sand all pieces. I used the sandpaper at first, then decided to buy a sanding block and dremel because of how slow my progress was. The trimming/sanding took several times for me to be satisfied with it and even near the end, I wasn't fully satisfied.
- #1- cut three pieces
- #3- cut four pieces (I used scraps to make two more small inserts to fill in the sides)
- #4- 8 on each side x 2 = 16 x 2 double thickness = 32 pieces (After I actually cut out and sanded down the club, I found I only needed 6 on each side)
- #2- use the thin foam
Step 3: Gluing the Base and Club Sides
1. Cut a shallow dent into the inner sides of two #1 pieces for the sides of the base. Cut out a middle section in the third #1 piece for the wooden base to be inserted between.
2. Construction glue the middle piece and base. I used several rubber bands to hold the base and foam together and let it completely dry for 24 hours. At first I had tried to use the PL 300- silly me, I didn’t realize I needed a caulking gun- so I was pushing the PL 300 with my fingers and made them sore for days. I ended up using the Gorilla Wood Glue for everything, which worked fine.
3. After the Base piece dries, glue the two other sides on. You can also begin gluing the #4 (I forgot to write the individual side pieces are #4)pieces together.
Step 4: Priming and Smoothing
1. Prime the entire club and the #3 pieces with Gorilla Wood Glue. I used the foam brushes since the area was very large. Use 2-4 layers of glue, depending on your preference, and smooth the final layer with a little bit water from your fingertips. This is to completely prime the foam so the paint does not eat the foam. (I added a picture of #3 so you could see the difference between sanded side vs. unsanded).
2. My club ended up with some rough sides and I KNEW hand-sanding it would take so much time and so much pressure on my hands. I found this video: HOW TO: Fill EVA Foam Seams On Props- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHVL7iwijh0. The video basically explains the following:
- Roll out long strips of Jovi art clay and have water nearby to dab.
- Use your fingers to spread and smooth the clay on all sides of the club- not the broad face.
- Let it dry then sand and smooth (I tried one side letting it dry completely and harden before sanding and another side sanding after it dried a little bit, but both I used too much clay. If you realize you used too much, just sand after it's hard, it will be easier).
- I waited for it to fully dry before priming and sealing over the clay again with Gorilla Wood Glue.
Step 5: Gluing and Painting
1. Glue: Now you can glue the #4 pieces fairly evenly onto the sides. Since I did not smooth the foam and clay evenly enough, I shoved clay into the gaps after gluing the #4 pieces onto the sides and smoothed it with some water and Wood Glue. (At this point and several points, actually, I reminded myself that this is a learning experience and I will know what to do differently next time- same with you, don't be discouraged!).
2. Paint: The club (#1 and #4) is light green #2 is dark green #3 is silver. I used around 2-3 layers of spray paint for the club since it was so big, and hand painted the other smaller pieces.
3. Glue: Glue #2 and #3 and onto the club after the paints have fully dried.
4. I added this later on after the painting was finished. I thought the club looked a bit plain, so I sketched out a few designs, then proceeded with using a silver Sharpie to draw the design on each section of the club sides.
Step 6: Handle and Finish
*In hindsight, it would have been easier to finish the handle before attaching #3.
1. Cut out the thin foams into smaller pieces to wrap around the handle for some cushion. I glued these pieces on and let them dry.
2. I bought vinyl material from Joann's for a leathery look and painted it purple. I also used black puffy paint and went around it with a simple diagonal design for fun.
3. The last to do is spray paint the finish. I used a satin gloss so it wouldn't be super shiny but would be evenly coated and sealed. The final item is the first picture!