I knew I wanted to coat it in some good solid glue type stuff to protect it, all signs pointed to gesso being the best option, but also kind of expensive. Luckily, I found a recipe for homemade gesso. Well, I say homemade, mostly it just told me to mix regular joint compound and Elmer's glue all until I liked the consistency and go. I described this in my last post. So that's what I did.
White goo! So I smeared it all over the staff, let it dry, and then sanded the hell out of it, and then did it all again. And again.
It was a lot of sanding. And it ended up all white and smooth and pretty.
I also needed to make some changes to the heart for the head, the garnet orb wasn't fitting correctly, it didn't look right and I couldn't figure out why. I eventually realized it was because the orb is supposed to go directly where the two sides meet at the bottom point, not inside the heart. So I had to cut a section out of my heart.
It was a little terrifying cutting into my heart like that. Seeing a cross section of the inside was kind of cool though. I used the hacksaw to cut and then my dremel to round out the cuts to neatly fit the orb.
I then gesso'd and sanded my hearts as well.
While my various layers of gesso were drying I went ahead and made my paper clay that I planned to use to make the cone at the top of the staff that the heart rests on, and for other little details on the staff. If you look in the above picture where the orb is in the heart, you might be able to see that I added some paper clay to the ends to mold perfectly around the orb so that it actually fit perfectly. It worked pretty well. If you're wondering, the recipe for the clay came from here: http://dahlhartlane.blogspot.com/2011/10/how-to-make-paper-clay.html
As you can see, it has a pretty rough texture. I made a cone out of toilet paper rolls to be the size and shape I wanted and then covered it in the clay. I had intended to use the paper clay for the little bits along the outside of the heart just below the gold balls, but it was too sticky and difficult to work with, so I actually ended up making those out of Sculpey, interestingly enough, the leftover Sculpey I bought to make my earrings for this costume. That worked way better.
I just sculpted them while looking at reference pictures. I put the cone in the oven with the sculpey because it goes in at a pretty low heat and I was quickly running out of time on this project, I couldn't afford to wait two days for it to dry. I then managed to completely forget about these things and left them in the oven for like an hour. Luckily due to the low heat nothing worse than a little discoloration happened.
Haha, oops. Since I planned to paint everything though I wasn't too concerned. So then lots more sanding and dremeling happened. It took some effort to get that cone smooth and then get the grooves carved out in it, but I did it. I also had to cut grooves for the key pieces to fit in the side of the staff, which was way more difficult than I anticipated so the grooves weren't as deep as I planned, but I got them deep enough to work.
The cone is a little lumpy but I'm not entirely unhappy with it. It just got hot glued to the top segment of the staff and then I cut a thick craft foam circle to fit inside the top to cover it. I glued it to the top of the wooden segment inside the cone and then all around the edges to get it secure and make a nice platform where the head of the staff was going to rest.
For these I basically dug the grooves with my dremel, and then filled them with glue and wedged the key pieces in there, making very very sure to line them up straight with each other.
I had thought I would use my dremel to dig small grooves at the top and bottom of each Styrofoam ball, but I ended up not doing that, I liked the way it looked and I was tired of working with the dremel.
I finally attached the head, I basically just hot glued the shit out of it. I went with hot glue for all the attachments just because of how quick it sets. I didn't attach the gold balls yet because I still needed to paint the staff. I knew I'd have to repaint the garnet orb, but it just worked better to have that in already.
Finally on to painting! First was priming. I loved this primer, it went on so smooth and nice, made everything look good. And I could sand it when it was dry, although I didn't really need to. By the time all my coats of primer were dry it was getting dark out so I had to relocate to the garage to do the silver paint.
I did two coats of the silver, it was just one of those metallic silver paints. Didn't have any issues here either. Spray painting is usually pretty straightforward and easy.
Finally I got to put it all together! Painted the garnet orb, glued on the gold balls. It all came together so neatly. I love the way it came out. (Don't you love the contrast of the first attempt at the staff just leaning there all curved by the pretty straight staff?) I mean, I can still see flaws and some day I think I'd like to redo this when I have better tools, but for what I was working with I'm pretty pleased.
This was the last step, the wig for my costume. I wanted to combine the two wigs I bought to make one really thick wig. I almost didn't do this, but I got the staff done Friday night and had all day Saturday before the Halloween party to kill, so I went for it. It was tangly and tedious but I got it done.
Oh, another random accessory I threw in since I had some extra time, I made a little chain key belt! It doesn't look anything like the one Sailor Pluto actually wears, but it gets the idea across and I did make it with my little Sailor Moon pendants that I have, so they all fit the theme at least. Just a fun little bonus. If I ever take this to a convention I'll make a more accurate one.
The End Result:
Dude, I look pretty hot. Everything came together beautifully and I was so happy about it. I did learn some things I'd like to alter, the snaps in the crotch of my leotard are the biggest pains in the ass in the world and I need to change that, they come undone super easy but are damn near impossible to snap. And I think I should just sew the skirt on, I hated worrying about the snaps coming undone all night. I had to take the boots off towards the end of the party because heels like that kill my feet, but that's was expected. All in all it came together really well. And I won the costume contest. Got me a new shot glass. :D My staff took a little abuse at the party, it has some dings and scratches, and one of my friends accidentally knocked the small heart off the top, which is an easy fix. I actually had fixed it, but the staff fell over this morning and the heart fell off again along with two of the gold balls. :P Still easy fixes. I think I'm going to take my super fine sandpaper to the staff to smooth out the little dings, repaint the silver, and then coat the whole thing in polycrylic just to protect it. I didn't have time to do that for the party, but I think it needs to be done. I'd like to do some detailing and weathering with some black paint anyways. So I'm still gonna touch up the staff a bit just for my own entertainment. But all in all it was a success. I'm so freaking proud of this costume.
Before I go, Bonus Pic! You can kind of see my red contacts in this one. :)