January 28, 2016

Tsurumaru Kuninaga sword WIP – part.1

Hello geeks!

So for my coming-later-this-year Tsurumaru Kuninaga cosplay from Touken Ranbu I wanted to start by making his sword, in good time. Technically he is a sword himself so... yo dawg. x) But yeah, you get the point...
I decided to split my progress in several parts to avoid a text wall. I also want to mention that this first part, the beginning, mostly consists of me being a disaster master – everything that can go wrong went wrong, basically. Can't succeed every time. I never do anyway, who am I fooling? trolololo.

Reference image.
What I did was that this time I decided to do things a bit differently. You see, previously I've always made wooden swords from scratch but this time I decided to try the "let's modify a toy sword" approach. With that said I bought a cheapo toy katana from Partajshop and I must admit that I was quite surprised with the quality of the thing – I was expecting something really flimsy and low-end with all the parts glued on but yeah, what I got was an extremely modification-friendly plastic sword that had all the parts easily removable by just pulling them out. Said store gets both my thumbs up for their cosplay-friendly fake samurai swords! ヽ(^o^)丿

So yeah, what I started with is your generic plastic toy katana:

This is what the sword looks like straight out of the package.
This is the naked sword, all removable parts removed.
I noticed afterwards that it's for the better that I keep the part that is the "mouth" of the sheath since it provides support for when the blade glides back in. I thought I'll just cover it with worbla because it looks otherwise really cheap and fake with that overly golden color...

The sheath comes with these two "hanging loops" on each end.
I cut them off with a scissor and then sanded them flat.
I don't know how visible it is on the photos but the sword's handle came without any kind of wrappings which is a good thing because yeah, on toy katanas the wrapping always looks like complete and utter shit. No handle wrapping (aka tsukamaki) makes life easier for me because I don't have to start undoing it and neither do I have to worry about ugly glue remains. :)

I started by making the tsuba. I decided to try my hands at the sandwich method and I must say that it... didn't go quite as planned. I almost ruined my work twice but, by some miracle, I managed to save it. I want to say a few things about it because I ended up with a hilarious fail. xD You see, at first I started heating the bottom worbla piece on my freezer's lid. I had no idea what was a suitable working space for worbla because the damn tutorial didn't say a word about it so yeah, I thought that plastic shouldn't be all that bad – WRONG. My worbla stuck to it like hell (even though glue side was up) and I had to rip it off with force, to the point the whole thing got deformed, bumpy and almost tore. Seriously, don't do the same mistake.
My second thought was to use a metallic surface. The idea was good and I was on the right track but yeah, much to my disappointment I had no worbla-friendly metallic surface to work on; the closest would have been the sink/stove area on my mini kitchen but the problem was that it's way too uneven to work on. As desperate as I was I went to the common kitchen and dug through the closets and then I found a... metallic tray. It had some intricate designs on it but because it was flat I didn't think much more about it – BAD IDEA.
So, well, I did the other side of my worbla piece and –while it didn't stick as horribly to it as with the freezer– the tray had another surprise up its sleeve...

I swear that when I saw that the worbla had stolen the tray's print nyysijä!worbla with it I was laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. xD Thank god that it's from my apartment house's common kitchen and not my mom's – mom would soooooo have killed me. I don't think anyone even uses this tray so I should be safe, lol...
Later on it finally hit me that aluminium foil might be the best surface to work on and... guess what? Of course that's what I don't have at home. So yeah, I had to call Sacchan to fetch some for me since she was coming over to my place anyway.
I need to say that I was right – tin foil is by far the best surface to work on that I've tried so far. The worbla doesn't stick to it! I guess you learn from your mistakes. But seriously, my mishaps didn't end there, no no. You see, because I did a layered design on the craft foam I had the stupid idea that I wouldn't need to glue the detail layer onto the main piece... I guess I don't need to even say that it was a bad idea too. :) Needless to say that when I had done one side (all nicely for a change) the other side moved and the second layer (detail layer) fucked up during the bonding process. I ended up with a tsuba that is not identical on both sides and thus, because the edges don't meet, it looks like shit. I tried to save it the best I could but nothing's gonna make it identical so I just have to suck it up. Oh and guess what? I also got a horrible king-size air bubble inside the damn thing too!! I did get rid of the air bubble but I had to really press down on it with my full palm, whole body weight and use protection gloves (warm worbla is warm). The problem is that because I've used my gloves for woodwork they're damaged on the surface from all the sanding etc and yeah, of course this shit caught onto the worbla and gave it a dirty and knobbly surface. HOW MUCH BAD LUCK CAN YOU HAVE IN ONE GO? щ(ºДºщ)
Note to self: fucking glue the craft foam details onto the main foam piece before using worbla on it. It will save you from raging and screwing up your project.

My first sandwiched worbla piece done.
It's fugly but it'll suffice... I guess.
Because my apartment has no spray paint friendly area shower doesn't count and because it's cold as all hell outside I couldn't paint at home; I had to wait until I had my furniture makeover & redesign class in school on Thursdays. During said class we work in a garage and yes, my teacher totally approves that I do cosplays in school, lol. So yeah, I bought some glossy white spray paint and started spraying the sheath white. I did several coatings but –because I'm horribly impatient with waiting for spray paint to dry– I ended up with a less-than-perfectly-even surface. Oh well, I have a fair chance of getting the ugliest spots covered by random details later anyway.

My creative "where to put it to dry" solutions.
With the sheath turned white it was time to add some worbla details on it. No, just kidding – I decided to start working on the handle first. Oh boy, I need to say that I was up for some serious shit... as if it wasn't bad enough already.

Read ahead for a disastrous PU-foam story. Learn from my mistake and fucking don't do it yourself, okay? Thanks. Oh, and warning for foul language ahead. 

Okay, so after some brainstorming with my teacher and one of the, err, I guess he counts as an extra teacher/helper, we came to the solution that I should use PU-foam (aka expanding foam) to fill out the gaps of the handle. I had taken with me my barely used can of PU-foam and started shaking it and preparing it for use. But yeah, as you know my luck is as shitty as that of Donald Duck so of course nothing came out when I pressed down on the "trigger" on the straw piece that I had screwed in place. Nothing. Nada. Nope. I started twisting and turning the straw and heard some soft clicking sound and hoped that it was the "turn the nozzle to activate it" sound but nope, still no foam came. At this point I started getting both frustrated and confused so I just kept turning the plastic straw around until it fucking locked itself on the can's screwable plastic mouth piece. Fuck me. :) Now I got even more irked and because I was ashamed to go ask someone for help at this point, for such a simple thing, I decided to try and do it myself and oh lordy lord do I hate myself when I catch myself thinking like this things never end well when I don't ask for help, especially when my gut feeling tells me that I should.
Okay so, I seriously got so frustrated that I just thought that it would be a good idea to start from the beginning and so I tried to pull off the straw from its attachment point on the mouth of the can. Horrible idea, okay I accidentally ripped up the whole damn straw, with the can mouth/dispenser still attached to it. >_> They were really inseparable, lol...
Now I just had the black rubbery pipe-like thing still standing and if I peeked into it I could see the foam in the can, oops. I just felt so lost and so infuriatingly stupid and self-hating that I had no choice but to ask the extra teacher what the fuck I should do now. He just casually told me that it's possible to buy a new mouth part for the can. He also wanted to check if the foam hadn't hardened already since he said it does that after a while and, well, I had had mine for over half a year. He looked at me and said: "you can also do like this take something thin and stick it to the can! :D".


I kid you not as soon as he poked whatever thin object into the can a loud explosion was heard across the whole garage, followed by "PFFFSSSSSCHHH" and then foam started gushing out of the can in all possible directions! It flowed so rapidly that it was uncontrollable and it ended up on the floor, into open cardboard boxes, tables, walls etc fucking everywhere, basically.
It was like trying to stop the goddamn Niagara Falls, except that it was Foamgara Falls.

Remember doing shit similar to this during chemistry class in school?
Yeah, something like that.
I swear every goddamn inch of foam came out like a mad erupting volcano from hell and it felt like it would never end. The teacher assistant guy was running around with the foam fountain in his hands and I followed after; neither of us had expected that the foam would be so, err, explosive, and we both were, quite frankly, panicking. When it finally ceased (it seriously took several minutes) I was surrounded by a sticky mess. When I looked around it finally hit me that around me were the scattered remains of my almost filled can of expanding foam; my almost unused can was all wasted and that, I tell you, made me feel wasted that was material for several cosplay projects down the drain. My jeans ended up being a sacrifice to the angry foam gods and so did my expensive winter shoes and, almost, my Sonata Arctica hoodie as well (thank god I had rolled up my sleeves!!).

This is what the can looked like once the foam explosion finally ended...
I spent several hours after class trying to salvage at least my shoes from the grip of the sticky goop of hell. I first tried to wash it with soap and water and scrubbing vigorously with one of those more robust brushes but lolnope, it didn't do shit – the brush seriously went and died before even a centimeter of the foam came off. I also got some of the foam residue on my fingers and I washed my hands thoroughly with soap 3 times during the first 15 minutes (countless times afterwards too) and rubbed my hands like no tomorrow and it barely did anything; I swear the foam residue stuck to my fingers so hard it felt like a second skin (especially when trying to peel it off), except a lot tackier – this crap is impossible to get rid off.
Regarding my shoes I sat for over an hour with a blade from an exacto knife just carving off the fucking foam, painstakingly slow, from my shoes. I was so angry I was gritting teeth and just wanted to kill something. No wait, correction I wanted to drown something in PU-foam.  
Do you know that feeling when a stupid disaster happens, that ends up costing you a lot (both in materials and time), and you just try to joke/laugh it off with your classmates but inside you are about to break down and start crying/screaming because you hate your life and your fucking constant shit luck so fucking much? That's exactly how I felt.

I got some foam where it was intended at least... very overkill though.
I think I'll gladly just end this post here because it's starting to get way too infused with my deluxe bad luck. (ノ_ _)ノ Maybe things will go better in the next episode of this project... or at least I goddamn hope so. I'm getting really sick of this Donald Duck curse that's been plaguing me for the last few cosplays, ughh.

Thanks for reading my... err... explosive foam experiences and unintentional worbla prints, I guess? xD If nothing else I hope you won't need to experience these mishaps yourself, lol.
I also guess it would be uplifting to hear about the not-so-successful cosplay making stories of others, so feel free to share your bad luck adventures with me so that I don't have to feel all alone in this misery, huaah.  ╮(─▽─)╭
~ Shiro Samurai out.


Firith said...

...seriously, I've read this twice and I'm still speechless. :"D I guess that I should start to call you Donald then... xD

I hope that you have more luck with the rest of this project! :DD

FankiKitsune said...

Paras alusta worblan kuumentamiselle on pahvi. :D

Anonymous said...

Use baking paper when working with worbla. It's meant to be kind of non sticky.

Sipsinekku said...

I started counting how many bad ideas you said you had but lost the count. Foamgra Falls. Seriously. :'DDD I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh at this.

I hope you have more luck in future and get your costume done and still be in one piece after that!

Aki Ame Ōkami said...

I did almost the exact same thing with expanding foam. I was making a ridge for a cauldron and my foam wasn't working right... Well lets just say its not just you that has bad luck with that. It does eventually come off of skin and shoes, the jeans might not be so lucky. This week has been a disaster, I have come so close to finishing multiple projects just to find out that I am missing just one piece, or the customer wants to add this or simply that its not gonna work. So this might make me a terrible person but your posts really brightened my day. Hang in there and craft on!

~Aki Ame Okami