Dovahkiin's Skyrim Daedric swords
The year after my Sylvanas cosplay I decided to try full armour and challenge myself. I started on the project very early and I had access to more materials. Daedric was one of the most loved armour sets of the game, simply because of the way it looks. It comes with a variety of weapons, and of course, my first choice was the bow. But, things had to be different, so my second choice was the sword. I could go for the long, two-handed sword, or 2 short(er) one-handed.
Firstly I had to figure out how I would carry all that armour, plus the weapons, to Cyprus, for the convention. A long sword felt very cumbersome and really hard to fit into my luggage. Also I had to picture what my character would look like and how she'd move, and it felt that holding and swinging 2 swords suited me better.
And there it was. Daedric blades for my Daedric armoured Nord!
We had just moved into our new flat, thousands and thousands of km away from home. We travelled light, which means I didn't bring anything with me. I went out and bought a checkered notepad, ruler, tape, measuring tape, pens, and pencils. I had no mats, no tools, no computer, not even internet. I had to order everything, slowly, over the next few months and set up my new workspace (yes, it was my livingroom, again). So I took my tablet, downloaded some reference pictures and started working on the swords. I had to make patterns, without a computer, or graphics software. Yes, first world problems, I know.
Finished the pattern, traced it on a 5mm foam board and cut it out.
For the 3D effect, I had to cut extra layers and glue it on the main body.
Contact adhesive is my friend!
And so the carving starts. The foam board is so light and fluffy, a rotary tool would destroy it. Specifically on the edges and details.
There was no sanding. All the curved and round shapes were just shaving with the precision knife and the cutters
Foam board is just an accident waiting to happen, especially if it isn’t supported by a spine. It doesn't even need any strength or impact to break. I could just wave it around, pretending I'm fighting, and it would just break in half from air resistance. This is why I usually end up covering my weapons with thermoplastic. For this specific project I chose black Worbla because it doesn't tear as much as the normal one, and it's smoother (it requires less priming and sanding). The following is the pre-primed swords, covered by the thermoplastic alone. Light as a feather!
My least favourite part: priming and sanding. The most annoying thing is that this is the most time consuming part of the crafting, because you have to wait for each layer of the priming agent to dry. In this case, Gesso. After 3 thick layers, I sanded the surface and painted it with the base colour: black. Then I added masking tape and painted the first metallic colour
And here it is! With 2 layers of silver patina and a layer of graphite (colour) on all the non-blade parts. Crafting (casually) both swords took, roughly, 3 days. 12 hours in total. Happy times!
Now, a small warning. Something I learned the hard way, 10 hours before the convention. I was finishing up my costume, adding the final touches, rehearsing my stage presentation, when I accidentally dropped one of the swords. It wasn't the first time I dropped them, especially that night. They survived travelling in a non hardshell luggage, stuffed with clothes and squishy things. They survived being jumped on, by my super energetic, medium sized dog. They survived being stored for months, in a room without A/C, in the Cyprus summer. And one of them decided to break, hours before the convention, before the contest, after a week of sleepless nights and constant work on the costume.
I realised then that foam board is a great alternative to EVA foam: it's cheaper, lighter, easier to carve and shape, BUT it's not that solid. It will break eventually. And if you used it for a prop, having your weapon or accessory break during (or before) the time you're using it, can be a very disappointing experience. I was lucky to have it break the night before. I took some kebab skewers, pushed them into the blade part (with a lot of hot glue) and then I drove the hilt over the exposed skewers. After the glue cooled down, I fixed the seam with leftover Worbla, and painted over the broken part. Even the people who knew about the broken prop, couldn't tell them apart. Now I know. Never again a lightweight material, without proper support.