- Wooden Stick or PVC pipe: Mine was about 1 foot 10 inches long
- Transparent Worbla – I get mine from www.cosplaysupplies.com . You can also use Wonderflex or regular Worbla if you don’t want the transparent look
- Regular Worbla or Wonderflex – You only need a small amount
- Styrofoam – One medium size ball and three small cones
- Styrofoam cutter (optional)
- Clay – I use “Paperclay” clay
- Heat gun (for the Worbla/Wonderflex)
- Plaster Strips
- LED lights (yellow color)
- Glitter (Gold color)
- Hot Glue and Gorilla Glue
- Painting Tape
- Black Paint
- Spray Paint (or regular acrylic paint): Metalic Gold, Baby Blue, Bright Pink
Picture of some of the materials:
The best thing about this prop is that it is easy and fairly fast to make. As usual I always like to make my props a little different from the anime/manga version. Therefore, I chose to make the top of Dark Magician Girl’s staff transparent with some gold glitter and LED lights. Anyone notice how obsessed I am with the LED lights lately? 😀
Now before I begin you have to find some reference pictures of your staff. As with most weapons there are many different variations of the weapon. Some have more details compared to others for example. For this tutorial I will be using the following reference image:
Step 1: Start by constructing the bottom of the staff. For this we need to gather our styrofoam pieces. Get your styrofoam ball and start screwing your wooden stick (or PVC pipe) into the bottom of your styrofoam ball. You can also cut your way through the styrofoam using a styrofoam heat cutter but just adding some pressure and using a back-and-forth screwing motion with the stick you can easily get through the styrofoam. Do not go all the way through the ball! Get the stick about half way into the styrofoam ball. Here is what it should like like:
Now move onto your two small cone styrofoam pieces:
You are going to want to chop both of these cones in half, which is why I marked them using a black Sharpie. I suggest using a heated styrofoam cutter. It is fast and makes for a very smooth cut. This is what the cones will look like after cutting:
After this is done you want to do the same thing you did to the styrofoam ball. You want to pierce these cut styrofoam pieces with your stick. For these you want to go all the way through. This is what it will look like:
It will be a “tight fit”. If you happen to break the styrofoam you don’t have to worry too much. You can either try again using another styrofoam cone or you can repair it using clay (which I will get to further down in the tutorial).
Now we need to place all of the styrofoam pieces on the stick in the correct order. First slip your cone pieces on. These two cone pieces should touch each other and form a diamond shape on the stick. Next place your styrofoam ball on the end. Here is the finished look:
Hint: To keep the ball attached to the stick I poured some Gorilla Glue into the hole on the styrofoam ball and let the stick and styrofoam seal together.
Looks OK so far but notice how some of the wood is peaking through and everything doesn’t look clean and stable. This is where the clay comes in. In addition if you look at the bottom of the Dark Magician Girl’s staff you will see a few more details that stick out a bit. Take a look at the reference image below and the three blue arrows pointing to the detailed areas (the pink rings):
We are now going to create these detailed areas and smooth everything using clay.
Step 2: Clay
I use a clay known as “Paperclay”. Very easy to find and pretty inexpensive. I bought mine from “Michaels” for about $10. This will give you more than enough clay for this project.
The nice thing about this clay is that once dry it is very light and cracks are usually filled up fairly well with this product.
Let’s start with the detailed areas that I pointed out in the reference picture. Roll out your clay into a long strand:
Now wrap this around the designated areas from your reference picture (the pink rings) This is what it should look like:
If you Cracked any pieces of the styrofoam from step 1 you can repair these areas using the clay as well. Just smooth the clay over the damaged area until it is smooth.
Step 3: Top Part of the Staff
While the clay is drying at the bottom of the staff we can move to the top part. Take your third styrofoam cone and repeat the process you did with the other cones from step 2:
Cut the cone in half and pierce it using your stick and slip it on the top of the staff:
When you stick the top styrofoam piece on make sure that there is a few inches of the wooden stick coming out on the other side. We will need this to attach the top swirl part onto the staff later on.
Now refer back to your reference picture. We need to do one more detailed area on the top part:
Simply repeat the process you used in Step 2. Make another coil and wrap it around the bottom part of the cone. Here is how the staff should look like now:
Good news, you are half way done with the design! All you need now is the top part!
However, before we move onto the top part of the staff we have to do one more step, and this is the plaster strips. I suggest waiting 24 hours until the clay has dried before you move onto the plaster step.
Step 4: Plaster
So first, I have to say that plaster wrap is amazing! This stuff is very similar to the stuff the doctor wraps around you when you break a bone. It is very strong once dry and you can make practically anything out of it.
There are many different products that can be found in any art store. Here is what the product looks like:
It comes in a roll and your job is to cut strips of this plaster using scissors. Now to activate the plaster you need a bowl of water. Dip the strips one at a time into the water and you will notice the strip become “goopy”. This is the plaster. Spread the plaster using your fingers along the strip and try to fill in as many of the holes as possible. You can then apply this strip to your project. You can add a little more water to help spread the plaster around. Don’t add too much though or else all of the plaster will be washed away.
Anyway, apply the plaster all around you project, covering the styrofoam (excluding the wooden pole):
You may notice that the detailed areas that you created using clay may start to disappear due to the plaster. If this happens take a strip of plaster. Roll it into a coil (similar to what you did with the clay) and wrap it around the detailed areas. Plaster wrap works almost like clay. You can wrap it, squeeze it, smash it, etc. Once again, you can pretty much create anything with this stuff.
Allow the plaster to dry for 24 hours. This stuff dries fairly fast but depending on how many layers you add on, it could take a little longer. Make sure the plaster is 100% dry before painting!
Step 5: Designing the Top Part of the Staff
So while the bottom part of the staff is drying we can move on to work on the top part. For me, this was the hardest part… Not sure why. Luckily for us the design of the Dark Magicican Girl’s staff is not very hard. It is sort of a swirl… Or a messed up question mark…. ??? Kind of… Here is what I did: I used a whole pack of Paperclay just so I could get the shape down and use it as a mold for the Worbla:
It may take a while because of how much clay is in this bag but make a big, thick coil and start swirling it around itself:
You will have to press down on the clay due to the fact the staff is not round, it is mostly flat. Make sure you keep that swirly groove in the center. It is a fairly simple design but don’t worry if you get frustrated and end up doing it several time. I did this so many times until I was satisfied.
You don’t have to wait until the clay is dry to proceed. This will allow you to save the clay and use it for future projects.
Now we move onto the Transparent Worbla!
Step 6: Worbla
I explained this in some of my other tutorials but I will repeat it here. Transparent Worbla (and Worbla in general) are mostly used for small projects, such as Sailor Moon tiaras. However, if you want to make armor or a large prop (like my Sailor Saturn Glaive) you will want to use Wonderflex thermoplastics. Wonderflex has a mesh backing which allows for more support and extra strenth. Worbla does not have this mesh backing and thus it cannot support itself very well. The good news is that the Dark Magician’s Girl staff is not so big and does not need a lot of support. Therefore, using Worbla won’t be a problem for this project.
As a side not, if you don’t want to use the Transparent Worbla feel free to use regular Worbla/Wonderflex for this next part.
When you order Worbla it comes in few sizes. For this project you should probably get at least a “Medium” size from www.cosplaysupplies.com
I got a piece of large Transparent Worbla, just because I like having more and am afraid to mess stuff up and be left with no materials.
When you receive your Worbla/Wonderflex, it will be in a giant tube and coiled up. This makes it difficult to work with:
To make it easier to cut you will have to get a few heavy objects and place it on the Worbla. Now you do not need a lot of Worbla for the top part of the staff. Place your clay sculpture that you made on the Worbla and cut around it. Leave enough extra Worbla on the edges! You don’t want to make an exact cut out! You have to leave enough Worbla to wrap around the edges of the clay.
Now take that piece of Worbla you just cut out and lay it over your clay sculpture. Using your heat gun you are going to heat the Transparent Worbla using back and forth motions until it starts to sag and become malleable. I suggest working with heat resistant gloves. Transparent Worbla needs a higher temperature compared to other thermoplastics in order to melt. It will burn your fingers! Use gloves!
Press the Worbla onto your clay sculpture and wrap the edges of the Worbla around the edges of the clay. Also make sure to press the Worbla into the center crease of the swirl on your sculpture. Here is what the finished product will look like:
Now we need to repeat this process on the other side of the clay sculpture. Carefully separate your clay sculpture away from the Worbla that you just shaped. It should separate easily. Worbla doesn’t really stick to other materials very well, other than itself.
Flip your clay sculpture over:
Smooth out any lumps and make sure you define that center swirl indent. You are going to repeat the same steps that you did on the other side of the sculpture. In the end you should have two pieces of Worbla:
These two pieces should fit will together along the edges. The inside should be hollow. This will be where the LED lights and the glitter will be placed.
Now if you are working with regular Worbla (that is not transparent) or Wonderflex, you can skip the next step and go to Step 8.
Step 7: LED Lights
So now is the time to install the LED light strands. There are many LED lights on the market. I usually try and find lights that have a small battery pack that I can hide. I usually find these lights on Amazon.com. Hopefully this link stays up but these are the lights I get: click here
You can get them in many different colors. For this project I ordered yellow color. I ordered two for the project.
Take one of your Worbla pieces and get your hot glue. Following the edge of the Worbla you are going to hot glue the LED light strand to the Worbla (glue the strand to the inside of the Worbla piece!) Make sure the battery pack hangs out of the bottom part of the swirl, so start glueing the LED lights from the bottom, and then work your way upwards and around the swirl, covering all of the edges. You may have enough lights to make a “zig-zag” design through the middle at the end (see the pictures below for reference). Glue small pieces of the LED lights to the Worbla. Don’t just pour glue all over the Worbla, it will mess up the transparent look. Add small glue dots and press the wire into the glue and hold it until it completely dries. Here is what it should look like:
Now you need to do this exact same process for the other transparent Worbla piece.
Before moving on. We need to do one thing the center swirl in the middle. To show off the swirl and give the impression that it is a swirl design we need to paint this part a dark color to show the detail. Get your black paint and paint the center swirl. Paint on the inside of the Worbla (the side where you placed the LED lights). You can paint it on the other side if you want, but it is more likely to peel off:
Step 8: Sealing the Two Pieces of Worbla Together
Now is the time to seal the two pieces of Worbla together. Once again use your gloves because you need to pinch two pieces of very hot Worbla together. You are going to heat only the edges of the 2 Worbla pieces (where the extra plastic is around the main design). Work slowly and make sure that both the pieces of Worbla stick together. The center of the swirl (where the LED lights are) should still be hollow. You are just combining the edge pieces of the Worbla together, not the whole Worbla. Now DO NOT seal the bottom of the swirl. We need to place the wooden stick in this area soon, so it needs to remain open. Here is the finished look once the two Worbla pieces are sealed together:
Battery packs should be hanging out the bottom of the swirl.
Step 9: Painting
So now we are going to move onto painting the bottom part of the staff which should now be fully dried. However, I will note. If you do not like how smooth the bottom part of the staff is (plaster may have made some lumps) feel free to sand it and apply more plaster if you would like.
First, paint a layer of Gesso on the plaster areas. Gesso will fill in any holes from the plaster strips and create a smooth area to spray paint on. Let dry for about 2-3 hours. Now for the fun part. Painting on the colors!
Now, I will give some advice. Even though you places plaster strips all along the styrofoam you may have missed a spot. Not all spray paints are meant for styrofoam. Read the back of the spray can label and make sure it says “suitable for styrofoam.” You do not want to buy a spray paint to then find out it ate through your styrofoam underneath.
Start with the blue and spray your whole staff part blue. Now you may notice something when you come to the wooden staff part as you are painting. Large ugly bubbles:
Don’t panic. This happens a lot when you are spray painting wood (mostly why I use PVC pipes). If you run into this problem sand the wooden pole with sand paper and repaint it. The paint should go on smoother:
The ball at the bottom of the staff and the triangle piece at the top of the staff was painted gold (or yellow) and the round detailed parts should be pink. It may be difficult to paint these areas without messing up the blue. Use painters tape. Personally I had trouble getting the pink on. I broke down and finally just painted it on using a paint brush (see the image in the next step to show the finished paint job).
Step 10: Attach the Swirl to the Staff
So now is the time that we combine the Worbla swirl piece to the staff. This is pretty easy. Slip the top of the wooden stick into the bottom of the Worbla piece. Use your heat gun to heat the Worbla and press it against the stick until it holds firmly. Make sure that the battery packs remain out. You don’t want to seal them inside the swirl; how will you turn on the lights? Here is how it turned out:
We have one last problem to address: The batteries. Where can we hide them?
Step 11: Hiding the Batteries
Now I have to admit. When I got to this point I started to panic. I usually have a plan on how I would hide my LED light batteries, but for some reason I completely forgot all about them during this project. Luckily for me I came up with an idea. Notice the reference below and the area circled:
I figured I could use this era to my advantage and make a “pocket” to hide the batteries. This pocket would fan out from the pink coil below and have enough room to hide the two batteries.
Time to get out a spare piece of Worbla/Wonderflex and cut out a rectangle piece that is long enough to wrap completely around the top of the staff while leaving enough room to fit the battery packs in. To do this you can tape your battery packs to the side of the pole and then wrap your rectangle piece of Wonderflex/Worbla around the area. Heat the thermoplastic and make sure the bottom is formed just above the pink ring towards the top of the staff. I don’t have a perfect picture of this but scroll to the next picture to get the idea.
You now need to cover this area in a layer of plaster wrap:
Let this area dry and you will have a perfect hiding spot for your batteries. Also and easy place to access the on and off switch
Here is what the staff now looks like:
The batteries are hanging out as the plaster dries. You may think it looks a bit… Odd. However, this white area will now be painted gold which will blend well with the lights (and the addition of gold glitter in the next step).
Step 12: Glitter!!!
Completely optional. But I wanted the swirl to appear more gold/yellow. Especially when the LED lights were off. Although these lights last for a long time I did not want to risk running out of battery power during the convention (to avoid this, buy some spare batteries for your lights, FYI). I thought glitter would be unique and something that I have never seen done before. Sort of like a “snow globe” but without the water inside (trust me, I seriously considered trying to get water in there. Maybe for a future project I will try that).
So get a jar of gold/yellow glitter:
Now we are going to have to open up the Worbla to get into the hollow part. However, before we do this you are going to have to make sure that the transparent Worbla is sealed everywhere else. Once we pour glitter into this it will find an escape point and leak everywhere… And it sucks. So you better do this outside until the whole thing is sealed. For me I find a couple of holes down in the battery hiding area. I heated the Worbla using the heat gun and tried my best to make sure the Worbla was sealed to the wooden stick. However, the LED light strand which attached to the battery compartment created a small hole. To solve this problem I just dropped some hot glue over this area to seal the openings. Once you think your swirl is fully sealed (trust me you will still find a leak after this). Pierce the top of your swirl with some scissors or a knife and begin to fill the swirl, keeping an eye out for anymore leaks:
You don’t want to fill up the whole swirl with glitter (maybe you do, your choice). I didn’t want the staff to become too heavy and I did not want the LED lights to be covered up with all of the glitter. I filled about 1/3 of the swirl with glitter before I sealed up the Worbla again using a heat gun. Now shake your wand and look for any leaks. Trust me… You will find one… Murphy’s Law. Continue to seal these areas using your heat gun or hot glue. Eventually you will get it 100% sealed. So now when you turn on the lights and stroll through the convention hall you will have an amazing glitter wand! It looks really cool, trust me!
Finally I added one final detail, mostly to the fan area at the top of the staff. I wanted to blend this area a bit more with the glitter-filled swirl so I added some glitter patterns to it:
Totally optional, I just love shiny and glittery things
And finally (drum roll), you are done with your Dark Magician Girl Staff!
Wasn’t too bad right? Here is the finished project:
My Dark Magician Girl Cosplay:
For more pictures of my Dark Magician Girl Cosplay check out the cosplay page!
Hope you had fun and that this gave you some ideas and tips for your own cosplays! Now go forth and create a masterpiece of your own!