I haven’t seen one of these up and I got asked about it so I thought I’d give it its own post. ::I apologize in advance since I don’t have pictures of the scythe with all these steps but I have templates and such for other things that I’m going to post to give an idea::
Materials you will need to make a basic scythe out of insulation foam
: or a prop in general:
- Insulation foam: you can get an 8 by 4 foot sheet at most home centers:: Home Depot, Menard’s carries the pink one I use, Lowes carries the exact same stuff in blue. It comes it different thicknesses, ½ inch, 1 inch and 2, I usually use 1 inch and if you hit a sale it will be about $7 a sheet. Also they will cut it for you if you ask. If for some odd reason you get a place that just refuses a box cutter can cut it down quickly to fit into the car.
- A light marker and a dark marker to trace the basic shape with: make sure whatever you use has a soft tip so it doesn’t press and mark the foam:.
- Boxer cutter (the kind with the breakable tips so that it is long enough to get all the way through the foam on the first cut) and/or and X-acto knife depending on the detailing.
- Sandpaper (You will need at the very least a coarse paper around 60 grit and a medium paper around 80 – 100 grit. A fine grit would be nice for final touchup but it's up to you)
- Elmer’s wood glue (for fixing breaks and paper mache)
- A bowl or cup – for the glue
- Paper strips for paper mache ::there are other ways to strengthen foam props but I find this one to be the cheapest and safest, even though it takes the longest.::
- A pvc pipe (I used a ½ inch pvc for 1 inch foam)
- A measuring tape – So you can make sure the scythe won’t be too big to get into a con.
- Spray adhesive – if you are going to build up areas rather than buying thicker foam (ONLY use this on the treated parts of the foam, if you use it on a sanded piece it will dissolve the foam.)
- Toothpicks (If you break a piece while working on it you use a few toothpicks to hold it together with a little Elmer’s glue so that it isn’t weak)
- PVC Socket – If your scythe is too tall for con regulations you can cut your pvc pipe and use this to easily connect it (I bought one of these at Home Depot for 17 cents lol and my hand covers it is pictures so you’d never know it was two pieces) Anyway a socket simply looks like this. They also sell connectors that screw together if you want it to be more secure.
- Spray Paint – NEVER use this on exposed foam it will eat away the foam just like the spray adhesive does I use it for quick coverage though.
- A template - If you have a really complicated scythe/prop using kraft paper is easier than free handing. I used it for my claymore because everything had to be even as well as my keyblade.
- Painter’s Tape – To hold the template down as well as help lay out designs for the paint
- Paint Brushes - If you are using spray paint and tape you will need to do a little touch up in the end, a package of cheap paintbrushes are prefect since you can't clean the spray paint off easily anyway.
- Disposable cups - To spray paint into for touch up.
The first thing I do is get a reference photo of the scythe and cut a rectangle out of the foam so it is easier to work with. I wanted to have the scythe be as big as the rules allow which is 4 feet in any direction. Since the foam is already 4 feet wide all I did was select the height I needed. I used a 2-foot by 4-foot piece for Bridget’s scythe. Since the shape was so simple I freehanded it onto the foam with a light sharpie. Don’t worry about mistakes just get everything where you want it. After I got the proportions right I took a darker sharpie to trace the proper lines to guarantee no mistakes. Make sure to leave about half an inch of foam where the handle will be added.
Next is cutting the rough shape out of the foam. Make sure you have a fresh blade on the box cutter and don’t just drag the knife through but slowly cut in an up and down motion. While the dragging motion will work if you are following the grain of the foam if you are going against the grain the foam will just be ripped out in little chunks and that could potentially ruin your prop if too much is marred. Your freshly cut shape will look something like this
. If it breaks don’t worry it’s a clean break and can be fixed after you cut the entire shape out. ::the claymore broke straight across the handle, if you look closely all it took was about 6 toothpicks and a layer of Elmer’s glue left to dry. Also you can see how extremely rough the edges are, that’s from me dragging the blade because I was in a rush lol:
If nothing broke then you can start sanding and skip this paragraph. If you had a break you will have to add some glue on the top and bottom of a few tooth picks and stick them in the foam half way, add a layer of glue to the foam and then attach the other piece and let them sit over night pressed together to dry.
You will start shaping the scythe to have pointed ends rather than blunt ends starting with the coarse grit. Be careful with the coarse grit because it can remove the foam pretty fast, once you have the basic curves you want use a softer grit to work slower. After a little shaping through sanding you will end up with something like this
:yay the last of the non scythe pictures lol:. You can see that I broke a spike tip lol so if that happens just repeat the gluing stage.
If the scythe you are making isn’t flat than at this stage you can start adding additional parts. I used foam for all of my buildup parts and so I redid the cut and sanding steps but I didn’t sand the treated part of the foam. By not sanding that part: the shiny part with the writing: I just sprayed some spray adhesive on it and applied it. It only took 15 minutes to dry. After the added on pieces my scythe looked like this
. Here you can see the extra ½ inch of foam I told you to leave where the handle is going it is to help strengthen the hold for the next step.
Take the box cutter and cut a straight line in the extra part of foam going vertically. Be careful not to break it off. This part is going to go inside the pvc pipe to help strengthen the hold. Before you stick it in the pvc pipe you will have to do two things. First you will have to sand a gap in between the cut like this
so that the left over foam can slide into the pipe without adding pressure to the scythe blade. Second add a layer of glue to it and after attaching it to the pipe let dry over night. Here
you can see what it looks like after the pipe is connected. Please note that I didn’t stick the pipe all the way through, that is a separate pipe on top that was attached using the same method. Also you may have to sand part of the left over foam so that it can fit into the pipe without having to be completely jammed in.
That was the end of the easy parts. Those first few steps only take a few hours of actual working time and since you are paper maching over the entire thing it doesn't matter if it isn't 100% smooth.
Paper mache the entire thing :I use two layers of paper mache which is 6 layers of paper - you shouldn't layer more than three pieces of paper at a time or it starts not drying right: The paper mache helps additionally strengthen the pipe's connection.
Once you are done paper maching you can start adding coats of glue making sure to let them completely dry before adding the next. I think I added like 15 coats of wood glue to my scythe which ended up cutting my leg open lol so I don't think it requires so many ::though it did survive countless bumps without any signs of damage::. With other props I usually only add 4 to 5.
After you are done adding the coats of glue you can take that fine grit (100 and up) and lightly sand the scythe so that it is smooth for painting. ::Please note I skipped this step on my scythe since the multiple glue layers made all the imperfections less noticeable but they are still there close up
but they don't show up in most pictures so I don't mind::
Before painting you should cut your PVC pipe to the proper height. I always do this last so that I know for sure that I haven't surpassed the prop height limit while paper maching ::for Bridget's scythe I added to spike at the top and didn’t know how tall it was going to end up so I waited:: Also before painting if you did cut the pipe attach the socket to one of the ends and glue it in place.
I paint using spray painting by marking off areas with painter's tape but you can use anything. I find this to be quicker though since it doesn't show brush lines and dries in 15 minutes or less.
It may need a little touch up after you remove the tape which is why you may need brushes and cups ::if you are using acrylics you don't have to worry about touch ups
The final painted and touched up scythe turned out like this
And you're done =)