At long last it’s time to post this bad boy. I decided shortly after the first attempt at this piece that I could create something more accurate and easier to assemble with a bit more prototyping work and better molds. This continues from the process I used to create version 1.0 of the scepter.
Firstly, some of the issues I had with the first design. The bigges issue in the form was that the angle where the shaft met the head was much too acute and the assembly point there was crappy and not flush. Secondly, the backplate on the head where I hid the battery slot was the wrong shape, has a hard to use mold and, again, needed better assembly posts. The head also had an unnecessary detail which appeared on the spear length, but not the scepter. Finally, I wasn’t happy with the strength of the LED in the gem or the weathering of the gem.
Where I started. I first ran casts from the 1.0 molds, which were done in a tin cure silicone and, sadly, had already started to deform. You can see here how lines are uneven, there’s obvious ridges where the mold seams no longer match and there’s divots and hills on the surface. I ultimately decided to take the original prototype, assemble it fully with the blades and cast it as one piece. I had originally intended to cast the gold parts with cold cast powder as well as the silver, which was the reason for the multiple molds. However, I didn’t like the finish of the gold as a cold cast and the post-cast assembly of blades to head was weaker than it could have been had I just cast it all as one. So one piece was just the way to go here.
I also needed a better assembly point for where the shaft fits into the back of the head. I trimmed down the shaft cast I got from the 1.0 mold to match the lines of the back of the head. I then inserted a pvc pipe buck and filled the gaps with bondo.
The pipe fits the slot in the head perfectly, and the shaft lines match perfectly flush with the curves of the head. This was the most time consuming part of the whole re-build before the molding honestly.
And here you can see the newly assembled head. The reason the extra piece is still here is that I did not want to have two head molds. I’m still finishing up the full spear version, and this way I can use one mold for both lengths, and simply cut off the part for the scepter. After this, both pieces were given a healthy dose of line checking, spot filling and smoothing to prep them for molding.
Mold time! This time around I decided to make a 2 part box mold. At first I naively made the mold in a gatorboard box, not realizing just how heavy the bugger would be once full of silicone and resin. We live and learn. First I set up the prototype in plastalina clay with an overabundance of registration keys and just the right number of flow channels fortunately. Next box mold I will make my dam walls wider, these can have trouble locking.
After I poured silicone in the first side, I flipped it over and carefully removed the clay while leaving the prototype. Then slathered the already set silicone in sealant and poured the second side. Not bad for my first box mold!
For the staff, I still went with a glove mold (something I’ll be changing soon) but with better registration keys for the mother mold. This has been alright for a few runs, but in the future I’ll be re-doing this as a box mold as well. It’s a nightmare to get this to set up right, and required 25 very carefully placed sewing pins to seal up. Leaking resin has already killed one mother mold.
A shot of the box mold box! This was built in pine, and has a cap that is screwed in place each pour, to ensure sealing and support as I pour. The box mold weight 22 pounds when full of resin. You can also see here the mother mold that was destroyed by a leaking pour on the shaft and its replacement.
The shaft now sits at a much better angle and makes for a much more stable assembly. With solid resin at the assembly buck, the connection point is solid and doesn’t have to be babied nearly as much as v 1.0.
After trimming flashing and smoothing out any imperfections in the casts, the blades were masked off and the rest got several coats of primer and then several gold coats. I also cast up all of the additional hardware that attaches near the gem. These are now ready to be polished and weathered.
The old backplate turned out to be the wrong shape and was a pain to cast to boot, so I whipped up a new prototype. I cut out a piece of sintra into the new shape, rounded the edged and gave the leading edge a bit of a lip and molded that as a flat mold. I then ran a resin cast, and once the resin had hardened up to a solid but still pliable state, pulled it out of the mold. I took one of the crappier head casts and filled the battery void with clay as a base for shaping these. The resin was taped down around this with painters tape and allowed to completely finish hardening. The longer lower points of this new backplate create tension that holds the plate onto the head on their own. To keep the plate on in the right place longitudinally, I made a quick post in epoxie sculpt which fits into a hole inside the battery void. To change the batteries, just slide the backplate back about a centimeter and pull it upwards, then slide forward to reveal the battery void. The assembly screw attaching shaft to head is also hidden here.
In v 1.0, I used one 3mm standard LED. This time around I opted for a 5mm superflux 4 chip LED. These are much brighter and diffuse light to a much wider angle. I embedded one of these bad boys directly into the clear resin as I cast the gem.
And here’s how much brighter this is in the new, unweathered gems. You also get a glimpse of how I keep track of orders that involve lots of different parts and steps to complete.
Speaking of weathering, here is the difference it makes. I used cheapo acrylic paint in brown and black for this. The blades have a strange, acid etched look in the film, so I used a spray bottle filled with a mix of black paint and rubbing alcohol to achieve that. The gold areas got a typical combination of washes and sponge dabbing in black and brown. The whole piece was then given several coats of polyurethane clear coat.
And the final result. I know this prop like it’s my child at this point. I could likely blind-sculpt it in clay. It is the first of my works that will have a place of pride on my wall, and I can’t help but feel good when I look at it.
This familiarity and pride made Captain America: The Winter Soldier even better for me. Do stay for the mid-credits scene.