Props help make the costume, and if you’re short on time or proper tools, you can always commission others. If I ever needed a prop, Harrison Krix at Volpin Props would be at the top of my list. We’ve featured his work many times before, and his builds always look clean and screen accurate. One of his most recent projects is a Magister’s Staff from Dragon Age, and it doesn’t disappoint. Krix was hired by a cosplayer he met at Dragon Con this year for the gig.
He started with the bird-shaped heads on the top of the staff. He’s been wanting to practice his skills with sculpting clay so after making an armature, he used Chavant medium weight clay to sculpt the basic shape:
This shape was refined with various hoops and rakes to smooth out everything as much as possible. I also added a couple plastic bearings for eyes and fiddled with the “eyebrows” for way too long.
I needed two copies for the staff head, so a simple block mold was made and cut in half with an exacto to make a dirty 2 part mold. The halves were poured first, since the teeth on the beak of the sculpt have significant undercuts and this mold had no vent channels to get rid of trapped air. After the copies were made, a bit of sanding ensured they were smooth and crisp.
The rod portion of the staff was anything but simple. It’s twisted and not twisted uniformly. It’s loose at the top and is more tightly wound at the bottom. Krix decided to carve the top portion of the stuff from 10# urethane tooling board.
This was reduced to a sort of square spiral with a series of sculpting hoops and chisels, then refined freehand with rough grit sandpaper until the snake bodies took shape. The cross sections of these parts are a rounded triangle that rotates as the spiral contracts. Sounds like a headache, but it was actually a lot of fun to carve.
With the upper section blocked out, another chunk of tooling foam was turned down to round stock before the next pass of carving happened. This smaller section was a bit easier since the shapes are mostly just repeating down the length of the rod.
Read more about the build at Volpin Props. He shares a lot of fascinating information and photos about the casting process. Volpin Props has also made the staff available for purchase.
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