Heavenly Axis Staff – Step by Step

A bit behind on posting the step by step on this piece. This was a rush order, so I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked to, but I will do my best to fill in the gaps with words.

Design

The staff design from the game, some changes were made to allow it to actually fold up and allow for durability.

I first heat formed some PVC pipe for the basic handle curves. I decided that using the tension from two slip elbow pvc joints would be the best bet to make the handle collapse as it does in the game.

The head was carved in several layers of insulation foam. After this I also cut out the mouth. This was then gessoed and got a layer of bondo.

The first of many layers of bondo over heat formed wonderflex for the flower petals. There are also stacked layers of wonderflex towards the end to smooth the transition from handle to cap.

As you can see, it requires quite a lot of sanding once it cures. Over the course of this project I did find a few tricks for getting it even smoother during application.

First sanding, somewhat rough, but another layer of bondo would be covering this. I also took the time to confirm my color selection with my client.

More and more bondo and wonderflex. At this point, the head has received a layer of bondo, then a layer of wonderflex over it.

The pivot point, I ended up needing to switch one of the elbows to increase the distance between the flower petals.

The beans/mitama details were first sculpted in plastalina, this is the sculpt about halfway through.

The plastalina prototype was molded in silicone and I started casting hollow resin versions.

The antlers are insulation foam and paper mache around a double galvanized steel wire base. This was then covered in wonderflex and a few layers of bondo. The lower halves in this shot have this treatment, while the upper parts are the raw foam carvings.

Even more bondo! Never have I sanded so much.

Close up of the head and antlers. After this I decided to give the head yet another coat of bondo. Here is a bit of a gap in photograhs. After this, the last few mitamas were cast and smoothed out a bit, the handle, head and joints in the antlers got more bondo and I did the final sanding. After that, the pieces were primed and painted.

Nearly done, touchups, clearcoat and a few details to go. This is the staff folded up. I adore these bright colors.

I did all of these gradients by hand with a paintbrush. Unfortunately my studio lacks an airbrush.

I didn’t take any photographs of doing the head cap where the antlers attach. It’s a solid resin cap, with galvanized steel rods helping to anchor it solidly into the head. I achieved this by stabbing some galvanized steel wires into the head with about an inch protruding for additional anchors, then made a paper “mold” in the shape I wanted and added a rectangle of insulation foam where I wanted the channel for the antlers to go. Resin was poured into this, and once cured I simply removed the paper and foam and sanded it to the final form. Unfortunately, the first time I did this, I accidentally placed the steel wires right where I needed to drill the screws to hold in the antler loops, so I had to take a hammer to the headcap to start over. I can say with absolute certainly that this method made that headcap -very- sturdy! Took me a half an hour, pliers, a hammer and a power drill to get the thing off. The second time I was much more careful where those anchor wires went. I also used the paper mold technique to make the diamond shaped gem at the top.

Another head shot. The spheres are just birch balls, painted and drilled.

The beads and big gem laid out. The gem is actually a cast left over from another commission for Serah’s Tear.

A full shot of the extended staff, now time to add a half a dozen coats of protective clearcoat. I used Pledge Tile and Vinyl Floor Finish as my clearcoat, this is the product that was once known as Future Floor Wax, it’s very durable and high shine, and it smells nice too, a nice change from all the fumes I have to deal with.

Beads and gem now properly strung, with a hidden knot, all with burnt and bandaged fingers on my dominant hand! The things I’ll do to fish out the last snow crab claw from the boiling pot.

Completed staff – Folded

The complete piece, folded up. The handle rotates, and the antlers come out of slots in the headpiece and can be anchored either up or down with screws in the back.

Completed staff – Extended

The complete piece, extended. The staff is just under four feet long and weighs less than four pounds.
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2 Responses to Heavenly Axis Staff – Step by Step

  1. Just happen to find you….NICE work…..enjoyed…you are a talented artisan. Looks like a LOT of sanding efforts.
    http://www.wonderflexworld.com

  2. Stellar work and nicely documented!

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