3/2/2012?Update: I added the section for the ring around the end of the Kunai as I had previously left that out.
I’ve tried to keep track of each step in the process of making my first prop. I chose a large Kunai (aprox. 16 inches) because it was a nice generic prop that could apply to many different cosplays for example say a Naruto character or someone dressed as a Ninja from Final Fantasy XI, okay so maybe it is narrowed down to the ninja cosplays but those are fairly large so I figured it was a nice start. Also it wass relatively easy to make in comparison to most of the other ideas I’ve had so far. The other thing I took into consideration in my planning was wanting to make a prop that was convention friendly.
With all that said here goes.
I started out by creating a flat line model in Illustrator. To be fair this step could have easily been skipped but I wanted to build the model in Illustrator so that I could easily change it later if I decided my measurements weren’t right and also I can easily print more out without having to redraw anything. Here are the cut out model pieces on regular printing paper, again to save them for reuse later on if I want.
The next step was copying the parts onto a cardboard. I used the backing of an old sketchpad I had from college.
After cutting out the cardboard I cut out slots (forgot to mark them in my Illustrator version so I just made them free hand. Here’s a test fit before I moved on to the gluing part.
Before I moved on to the gluing I decided I’d cut out the section where the PVC pipe would fit into. I initially decided to attach the PVC pipe to the cardboard to help with the overall strength of the Kunai once it would be done. If you look at my original line art I measured out for this, well I had measured a size of 3/4th of an inch. Turns out when buying PVC piping the measurements on the pipe are for the inner diameter and not the outer diameter so the 3/4th inch pipe I got would be too large once it was covered with fabric so I ended up going with a 1/2 inch pipe I had laying around from another project. I just used a ruler to get the thickness of the pipe:
So now I was finally ready to glue the 2 parts of cardboard together. As I wanted to keep the edge as clean as possible I just used Elmer’s all purpose white glue. I added a little bit of masking tape to hold the edges in place while the glue set. I ended up leaving it set over night to ensure maximum strength.
After that I set the PVC pipe in place and outlined the shape of the pipe on the perpendicular edges:
A quick sanding (120 grit) job by putting some sandpaper on a marker let me clean up the shape even further
Now came 2 steps testing if hot glue would have a negative reaction with white Styrofoam, I used white over the more commonly referenced pink/blue or expanding foam from a can as well I hadn’t really done enough research when I bought the white sheet a why back and well I didn’t want to waste it so I gave it a shot before buying new supplies. No negative reactions to the hot glue meant it was good to go. And I began hot gluing sections I had cut out onto the cardboard:
Here’s what it looked like with all the blocks on it, hardly looks like a Kunai lol:
Now that I had this blocky mace it was time to trim the excess foam off. I started with a knife but the foam was just moving much more than I wanted and was afraid of actually breaking the foam while trimming so I ran a quick test to ensure my hot knife wouldn’t affect the cardboard. As it didn’t I switched over to the hot knife which also shaved a lot of time as well as removing the shaking from the sawing motion the knife needed. Soon it looked like a Kunai again (or a spear tip lol):
Once I had the Styrofoam ready as the filler I then added some masking tape around to cover up any gaps in the foam. A note I used blue painter’s tape over masking tape as it was handy but it was also far less tacky than I would have liked and didn’t stick as much as I wanted.
With masking tape covering all of the open gaps it was time to layer on the newspaper paper mache. I ran 2 layers over the masking tape and the PVC pipe as a base for the Papier-mache pulp:
Note: I used a 1:1 ratio of Elmer’s glue and water to make the paste.
I used a blow drier on high to help speed up the drying of the newspaper layers as after 3 hours it was still tacky to the touch. I then went with a layer of Papier-mache pulp. This wasn’t an extremely thick layer. I’d say about an 8th of an inch thickness, so that I could later sand it smooth and would have a nice even white color as a base for painting.
Note: the package said to use a 2:1 ratio of pulp to water but I ended up using a 3:2 ratio as it was too thick and not very spreadable with a 2:1 ratio.
The only part left was the ring at the end of the Kunai, I ended up finding a 2 inch wooden ring that is normally used for?crocheting?that would work perfectly. ?It cost about $2.50 for 5 rings so not a bad deal as I plan to make a couple more Kunais at some point or could always?re-purpose?them for something else.
I first used my Dremel to sand/carve out slots for the ring to sit on. ?Then I attached the ring to the PVC with hot glue. ?After the glue set I spun it around a few times to make sure the ring was on well.
To continue reading about how I painted the prop check out: Painting a Kunai Prop ? Part 2