Change of gears for a post. I will continue the remainder of Haseo in a little bit!
This is a tutorial I wrote for my Pandora Hearts (Alice & Oz) cosplay. At the time I did not have as much access to as many tools or materials as I do now (even now, I don’t think I would be able to bring insulation foam into my home). I also didn’t have as much knowledge about different building techniques for such large props. After explaining my method I will add a few notes of changes I would make now, or different ways to do certain parts. Although this is written for a specific scythe it can be applied to most scythes out there.
The total height of the prop is about 2.1 metres (7 feet).
The scythe certainly has some weight to it, but is very durable and is surprisingly easy to carry (there is a balance point right at the connection point between the dowel and cardboard parts).
Without further ado,
- One 1-1/2 Thick Dowel (6’ long)
- Two 3/8 Dowels (6’ long)
- Lots of Hot Glue
- Hot Glue Gun
- Exact o knife
- Solid knife
- Dark colored marker
- Light colored marker
- Glossy red spray paint
- Elmer’s white glue
- Poster paper
- Tape measure or sewing ruler
- Shoe string
Reference material. Using reference material figure out the proportions to which you want to build your scythe. The one I built was just shy of 2.1 metres (7 feet). The Alice & Oz are 168 cm (5’6”) and 165 cm (5’5”), and were un-able to touch the top of the scythe when it was completed. After you have found the height you require for the scythe figure out the rest of the proportions, length of blade, height of blade, placement of different areas like the ‘heart’.
Set these measurements aside.
After you have figured out the size of your scythe, figure out the size a rectangle would need to be to accommodate this size. I created a 16 inch by 40 inch rectangle for mine. Take your cardboard and cut 8 inch by 8 inch squares out of it. Attempt to avoid using the parts of the card board which had folds in them. How many of these you need will depend on how thick you want your scythe. Mine was six layers thick. Each layer was 2 squares by 5 squares, so I used 60 squares. However! You do not need to cut out 60 squares, you need to cut 2 and keep your spare cardboard.
Once you have cut all 42 8” by 8” squares, heat up your glue gun. Lay down one layer of squares (2 squares by 5 squares) like this by gluing the edges together.
Do this until you create a single layer of 2 x 5. Next you are going to create an ‘offset’ layer. This layer is ‘off’ of the first layer. It will only contain 4 of the squares you cut, then you will cover the rest of the areas with strips of the scraps you have.
Your next layer will be another 10 squares. Build these layers like this until you have 6 layers glued together. (layer of 10, layer of 4, layer of 10, layer of 4 and so on).
Draw on your scythe.
This will take time and a lot of measuring. If you take the time to do this correct you are much more likely to be happy with your result.
This is my sketch of the scyhe, you can see my refrence photo in the corner. It is covered in measurement lines, I strongly suggest doing this.
Cut dowel channels that are 3/8” thick. I suggest measuring and drawing these on to your cardboard by using your doweling. This will ensure it fits properly.
These are all the channels that are in my scythe. Cut down 3/8” (you can use your doweling to make sure it is deep enough, do not go too deep!
Once you are done cutting your channels for the dowels, break (try not to cut, at least break it 1/2 way) the dowels and fit them into the channels. After placing them in apply enough hot glue to make the channels, with the dowels in them, even to the surface of your cardboard.
Your scythe should now look like this.
Time for more cardboard!
Take a large, solid, sheet of cardboard and cover the entire area with it. Make sure it covers the scythe’s area at least. I suggest gluing this sheet on with Elmer’s glue, as it creates a nice solid outer edge. Do this on the back (not the side with the dowels) first. Place textbooks or other heavy objects on top of the cardboard to help it stick/set better.
Now go do something else for two hours.
Large dowel hole
On my photos above there in another noted dowel area, one for the staff’s dowel. You have two choices at the moment. You can cut the dowel hole, and insert the staff dowel, or you can
insert it later. I put it in at this stage, but I believe it would work to put it in at a later stage.
You are going to want to cut through all of the layers other than the one you just stuck on (that solid cardboard layer). If you want to put the staff in now, apply elmer’s glue to the length that you want to put in to your scythe and set it inside the hole, push it down and try to get it to sit as evenly as you can.
If you don’t want to put the staff in now, don’t. It is possible to add it at any later point (before painting), however I am not sure how ‘secure’ this will be, or how easily the staff will go in. You do however, still need to cut the staff’s hole.
Cut out the shape of your scythe using an exact o knife. Cut away each layer at a time. This may seem tedious, but it is safest. It would also be possible to use the solid knife, but be very careful with it.
No, this is not the wrong order. You cut out the share first so that you would not lose your sketch of the scythe. Apply another solid cover sheet.this time to the dowel side.
Use Elmer’s glue and the textbooks again.
Go do something else for two hours.
Now cut this layer out to be the same as your scythe
You now have a total an 8 layers on your scythe. You are going to cut through 3 on each side, all the way around the scythe.
The two left will make up the ‘center’ of the blade. Use your solid knife for this. However if you don’t feel safe/are willing to take the time, feel free to use your exacto knife.
Sealing and shaping
This is the most time consuming step there is. Get your glue and glue gun ready. Make sure you have the staff in by this point
You are now going to cover the sides in glue, ‘sealing’ them. During the phase you will shape the edges to look like a blade. Add glue slowly, and smooth it with your glue gun.
Eventually your edges should look like this.
You are now going to add string to the length of your staff.
Measure the length of the staff outside of the cardboard and divide it by 13. This is how far apart each wrap of your string is going
to be. Mark these points along your staff.
I suggest taping the string to the staff first, before gluing on the string. This allows you to see if the string look correct, it also makes gluing a lot easier.
Now glue it in place. It doesn’t take very much glue to do this just a bit smoothed along the side of the string.
“I’m ready for painting!”
No you aren’t.
Using Elmer’s glue, glue the poster board on to the cardboard scythe as smoothly as you can. Use textbooks and such again.
Again, go do something for two hours.
Repeat on the other side.
** You can use bondo or layers of gesso (or similar products) to create a smoother surface, as stated before I didn’t know/have access to these before!
No, not painting yet.
This is the fix up stage. Go back over your glue. You may wish to use sand paper and your glue gun to smooth it. A knife can be use to cut off the large lumps, the sand paper will smooth out large bumps and the glue gun will fill small holes and re-smooth. Make sure you are not using very much glue with the glue gun, but more so, pushing glue around.
Make sure your glue is fully dry and hardened before this step.
Your scythe will now look like this:
Get your paint.
I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor with Gloss in Cherry Red.
Make sure to paper wherever you are painting very well.
If you can I suggest painting outside. On your lawn in best. Somewhere no one will mind a little bit of paint.
I used my garage as it was raining when I got to the painting phase. Again, make sure to paper very well and be careful with the paint or you will be spending a while cleaning.
Apply 2-3 coats of paint to each side of the scythe.
This will likely take two cans of spray paint if you are using the same paint I have.
Make sure to give it an hour to dry between coats. Also make sure to cover the glue well so that it blends in with the rest of the scythe.
Apply a clear coat afterwards to give it a good finish and to prevent the paint from rubbing off.
After thoughts on this tutorial:
For easier storage make the rod break apart. You can to this by making a few parts screw into one another and then the top, it also makes it easier to bring to the convention if you don’t have a car, public transit with this thing is a nightmare!
For a smoother final surface use something like gesso or bondo and sand it until smooth.
Other materials for the top part: Expandable foam, insulation foam.