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The useless staff collection is growing - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 26th, 2012

09:24 am - The useless staff collection is growing

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So it's done. This is the bit where those of you who are new here find out how much of a dork I really am, and those who've been here a while roll their eyes and go "Ah yup." This one took a bit longer than the previous one because it was fiddlier, hence there are more pics.

For those who don't know, I'm currently obsessed with creating replicas of the staffs that are featured in Dragon Age. I'll probably expand to other games one day but DA seems to have almost a monopoly on cool looking ones that might actually be useful in a fight. This is the latest:




This is the one Anders comes with in DA2 - you walk into his place and he brandishes it at you. It's something of an empty threat - bloody thing only does 9 damage and it's dinged-up all to hell and only worth 2 silver 48 to sell because, well, he's poor. But it looks cool. Here's how I made it.

First, cutting bits out of wood using a jigsaw. I could have made the dragon head all in one piece but that would have required buying wood and I was trying to use what I have around, so two parts it is. Also there are the spiky bits to make the stabby part on the bottom end.



Since this staff has an obvious handle, that part had to be whittled out of the dowelling that forms the main body:



Next, the fun part. I had to learn how to do a 16 strand handle braid. Normally you'd do this sort of thing last, but because the handguards would go over it, I had to put this on right at the start and then try to protect it from the rest of the process. I think this came out pretty well for a first go:



Also necessary to do first because of moulding that needed to go over the top were the spiky bottom bits, and I figured painting them first would mean only having to touch them up at the end. Keeping them from getting broken while I did the rest of it was.. impossible. Two got chipped. Luckily, wood is gluable.



Next up, dyeing the braid that lovely shade of red, and attaching the blade that sticks out from the centre of the staff. Nice touch, this - although I'm in two minds about how useful it'd be as a melee weapon, it's still better than the usual nothing your mage has to defend themself if things get up close and personal. And, gluing the two parts of the head together using my fancy clamps and some nails and glue and wooden splints.



Then, attaching the head to the top of the staff, adding the dark staining to the ends of the leather handle cos it's old and huckery looking, and putting on the cardboard base shapes of the hand guards. They are just a guide to show where to put the mache goop.



Then, the inevitable mache goop. It's paper/plaster mache, and once it's mixed you have to apply it within half an hour or it sets on you. I've found the best way is to make about a cup at a time, and add slightly more than you need so you can sand it back.



*interlude here playing elevator music while Tats sands, and sands, and sands some more, to get it into shape*

Sanding is boring. Luckily, I have a dremel and this sped the process up some. However, I discovered that plaster mache forms a crust under which it's a lot softer, and if you go through the crust accidentally it becomes quite hard to only remove a little bit. Luckily, I have modelling clay to fix those kinds of fuckups.



The clay part is a matter of adding tiny bits to fill holes and make sharp shape edges, then adding a small amount of water and smoothing. Then more sanding. The sanding was the longest part of this process, and took about three weeks of puttering about whenever I had time to get it as good as I wanted. Then, prior to painting, the inevitable gesso:



I spent a lot of time reading about how to make wood/plaster look like metal. Most things said "Sand, sand and sand some more, then use spray paint." I'm not set up for spray painting, however since my staff is supposed to look old and cruddy and would have been made by hammer smithing rather than casting (so there'd be imperfections), I figured careful brushing over a good coat of gesso would do the trick. So, first three coats of iridescent silver:



But it's supposed to be old and that doesn't look old, so next up a wash using a colour called graphite. It's basically a dark silver/black colour, and with enough water mixed in it stains rather than paints, and settles in my carefully-applied hollows and gouges and corners:



However, the graphite has an inherent problem in that it's reflective, so even while it's looking dark in the corners, if the light catches it right it might as well not even be there. So the final touch was very careful addition of a wash of burnt umber and black paint (heavier in the corners), to make it look grimy and dirty. I've never done weathering before so I'm pretty pleased with the result.

After that it was a matter of adding the strange leather strap thing around the middle, cleaning up the splashes, and voila! Freedom's Call:



I've no idea what purpose that leather serves. It doesn't seem to hold anything anywhere. Anyway, it was made from an old gun belt I got at the army surplus shop, cut up the centre and oiled to make it dark:



And here's the newly-repaired spiky bottom. It would break if you actually hit anyone with it, but it looks the part:



It's kind of hard to get a picture of the whole thing, but here's one taken from the top of our bed:



And for the sake of authenticity, here's a compare/contast shot of me looking fierce.



You wouldn't take me on, would you? That other fulla, so not scary.


Why do I do this? I still have no clue. But while I'm still getting a kick out of it, I'll keep doing it. Next up, Cold Blooded. I think the ice will be an interesting challenge.

Comments:

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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:November 25th, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC)
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Um, yes *nods* You're a fully qualified dork, I grant you that. Cool staff, btw.
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From:medleymisty
Date:November 25th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC)
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Wow, this was really interesting and awesome and cool. I LOVE the idea, and that you have the ability to make that idea come into being...

*bows* *applauds*

The staff is beautiful and you're beautiful. :) I like the fierce look.
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From:pombagira
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC)
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whee, awsome staff lady..

you know there might have to be a staff parade at some point right?

*grins*
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From:russiandolls
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:11 pm (UTC)
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On a completely unrelated note, have you seen this? http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/nov/25/countess-amanda-feilding-drug-laws?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
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She's pretty awesome, eh?

And what she says is right. It makes me wonder if my oh-so-slow progress at education will cause me to miss the boat completely tbh.

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From:russiandolls
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
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We can only hope... But I'm pretty sure that people will be fighting over this issue for many years to come.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
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Actually, it's Aura of Constipation, a little-known Tevinter spell from the Entropy school. Not for the faint-hearted.
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From:bekitty
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
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Cool staff!

As far as Cold Blooded goes, I foresee the use of a whole lot more titanium dioxide. And metallic blue and silver paint. And quite a lot of varnish. Yup. :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:58 pm (UTC)
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I've actually found this stuff that's a combination of some sort of self-setting resiny type stuff and ground-up quartz. I'm quite keen to play with that and some paint, to see if it produces anything like the result I'm after.
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From:bekitty
Date:November 25th, 2012 09:59 pm (UTC)
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Ooh, sounds really interesting. And possibly not quite so time-consuming, we can only hope.
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From:richdrich
Date:November 26th, 2012 04:00 am (UTC)
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Isn't ground up quartz another way to describe sand?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 26th, 2012 04:43 am (UTC)
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Well, kind of. But most sand contains ground-up shellfish and various other kinds of rocks as well. This stuff is deliberately made using transparent crystals from what I can tell, so it'll (hopefully) be somewhat more translucent than standard sand.
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From:richaarde
Date:November 25th, 2012 10:04 pm (UTC)
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Dorky or not, you did a great job. Very nice.
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From:mundens
Date:November 25th, 2012 11:45 pm (UTC)
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So that's cool'n all, but now you gotta make one out of compressed foam and liquid latex, so we can have LARP-safe staff battles like I was doing yesterday at the Dell. :)

Seriously, it does look cool, IIRC it was the one you had in the lounge when we came round for the, ahem, party Friday before last?
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From:tatjna
Date:November 26th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC)
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Yep, that's the one. And I would love to have a go at making things from foam, although I'm not sure it'd maintin structural integrity at staff dimensions. Do you know where to get it from so I can have a go at it?
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From:mundens
Date:November 26th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
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The structural integrity is maintained by using fibre-glass (or carbon fibre, if you're rich) cores. For official games there are rules about how much length of un-supported foam must be at the end of a pole-arm to make it "stab-safe". The latex layer also acts as a sort of exoskeleton, so they are surprisingly firm when completed.

I haven't made any myself, but when I asked a similar question of a local friend recently, this is the response I got :
There's a good & detailed how-to here

For short weapon cores we use 10mm fibreglass fenceposts, like these ones. I understand Bryn has a source in Christchurch for longer ones suitable for polearms, but its basically the same sort of thing. Otherwise, you can use kite spars or sail battens. I cap the top with a short cylinder of foam and wrap it in duct-tape.

For foam, I have tended to use camp-mat from the warehouse. $12 - $16 for a 1.8 x 1m roll. For glue, its ADOS F2. $20/L from Mitre 10. Latex comes from various sources; for paints I've tended to use Student Acrylics from Whitcoulls or the Warehouse. Though I have been having trouble with my latex fading, and I'm still trying to work out which combination of paint and latex is causing it.

Outer coating I've used Armourall, for the shiny look, or matt spray varnish. Both seem to work at protecting the weapon a little and stopping them from sticking.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 26th, 2012 01:52 am (UTC)
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Good to know, thanks!

Although, perish the thought of wrapping a carefully-crafted stave in duct tape!

The horror.
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From:mundens
Date:November 26th, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
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No worries, and I think he's talking about putting the duct tape under the latex & paint, basically just to hold the foam on. :)
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From:pundigrion
Date:November 26th, 2012 01:55 am (UTC)
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Likey!
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From:meathiel
Date:November 26th, 2012 06:33 am (UTC)
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Wow - looks great.
Just a question, though - what do you do with the staffs when they're finished??? Are you doing LARPs? Or are they just for fun ...
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From:tatjna
Date:November 26th, 2012 08:19 am (UTC)
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At the moment, nothing much - just keep them in the corner and occasionally look at them and feel pleased with myself. When I've finished the next one I'll build a rack and display them in the hallway. If I ever get the urge to do cosplay I guess I'll be sorted.

Hopefully I'll get over this obsession before I end up filling my house up with them, eh? ;-)

PS They can't be used for LARPs because you could actually hurt someone with them. I'm keen to have a go at making LARP-safe ones though.
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:November 26th, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Oh it turned out beautifully!!

I love weathering things. You did an excellent job with that! Also, I am very impressed by the leather braiding.

There need be no purpose, "a thing of beauty is a joy forever", right? :-)

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From:tatjna
Date:November 26th, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
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It's true - although I don't want to end up like my Mum, so surrounded by things of beauty that she made that she could barely move in her house! ;-)
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From:downwardlashes
Date:November 27th, 2012 06:54 am (UTC)
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Whaaaaaaat. Way to make everyone else look boring, thanks! :P
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From:tatjna
Date:November 27th, 2012 08:37 am (UTC)
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Heh. You wouldn't say that if you were witness to all that sanding! You'd say, way to make everyone else look sane. ;-)
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From:fushia_darkness
Date:November 27th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
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Dork? Yes. Cool dork? Yes. Nuff said :)
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