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maandag 13 mei 2013

The Dwarven Hammer, part 1

For a few years now, I’ve been attending the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands. It’s a really fun event, with all sorts performances, shops and people in amazing costumes. In the past, I didn’t really put in an effort to dress up properly, but now I finally decided to start working on a real costume.
Every year, there’s a theme. Last year, it was pharaos and mummies, and now it’s dwarves, hobbits and dragons. You’re not required to follow the theme unless you want to enter the costume competition. I decided to go for a dwarf costume!
I’m not gonna make everything from scratch, though. Most of the clothes are bought from fantasy stores. The weaponry is entirely home made, though! This includes a warhammer, shield, helm and cloak. In this article, I’ll describe how I made the hammer.

The head of the hammer is made of styrofoam. I bought the cheapest styrofoam plates I could find and cut and glued pieces together to form the head. To reinforce it, I put a piece of PVC tube it it for support. The finished head is coated with acrylic resin and painted.
I used acrylic resin for coating it instead of polyester (wich is more readily available), because it doesn’t contain solvents that damage the styrofoam. The resin I got is, in fact, intended for coating styrofoam sculptures!
The handle is made from PVC tube, coated with a wood texture printed on paper. The reason I did this instead of using a wooden handle is to save weight, and because it’s easier to connect it to the head.
Here’s a list of all the materials I used:

  • Styrofoam sheets, 2cm thick
  • Hot wire cutter
  • Hobby knife
  • Liquid nails
  • PVC tube
  • PVC T-section and connector
  • PVC glue
  • Acrystal resin
  • Acrylic paint
Dwarf equipment usually has straight lines and angles, so that’s what I wanted to put in my design. The cross-section of the head is hexagonal. This has the added advantage of being easier to make than rounded shapes. The patterns on the head are inspired by Celtic knots.
The shapes on the handle are made with a wood burning tool. Since I think dwarves are miniature Vikings, I thought runes would be a good addition the the design. Here are a few sketches I made before I got started:

Getting started
Allright, so the first step was making the hammer head. For support, I started with a T-shaped piece of PVC tube, put together with a few short pieces of tube, a T-adapter and a straight connector. The connector is for attaching the handle afterwards.
Here is a series of pictures showing the various steps. Everything is cut from styrofoam sheets with a hotwire cutter, and glued together with liquid nails. Although the head looks big (actually, it is really big, bigger than I had in mind) it’s not heavy at all.
After everything was put together, there were still some gaps between the parts. A hotwire cutter isn’t exactly a computer controlled laser cutter, so it won’t fit perfectly to a tenth of a millimeter. I sealed all these gaps with more liquid nails. Now the entire thing was sealed, I made some last corrections to remove as much imperfections as possible. Here are a few pictures of the styrofoam construction:

The last picture shows the more or less completed head with all gaps sealed with liquid nails. It's very light, but already quite sturdy. In the next step, I will coat the entire thing with a layer of acrylic resin.

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