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Project 6 - Link's Mirror Shield

I decided one day, as a project, to work on Link's Mirror Shield from Legend of Zelda. I also thought I'd take pics along the way and write up a tutorial about it, as I thought this would be an ideal project to demonstrate how to create a generic prop shield using my methods.

Plus... the Mirror Shield is just so damn cool...

I decided to use foamcore as the base material for this prop. I cut out the shape for it and plotted out where I would put the border of the shield and the surface decoration. Then I had my cat, Moon Dog, inspect my work.

She didn't pay much attention to it, so I took this as a sign of tacit approval. The next steps were to lay down the foamcore shape onto a sheet of styrene plastic, cut around it, then hotglue the sheet onto one side of the foamcore.

Next step was to take a strip of leather (NOT vinyl. Vinyl would have had a bad reaction to the paint I was planning to use), and hotglue it to the side of the foamcore which had the plastic glued to it. This would be the handle for the shield. (I made sure there was enough space underneath the handle for me to fit my hand through.)

Since I knew the glue wouldn't be strong enough to hold the handle on, I took a needle and thread and ran a few stiches through both ends of the handle, like so:

I then glued strips of plastic over the ends of the strip, to hide the stitches. Next step was to cut out and hotglue a sheet of styrene to the front of the shield. (Now both sides of the shield were covered with plastic.)

I made the border by cutting out wide strips of craft foam and fitting them to the edges of the shield. (Foamcore or thick insulation foam could've also been used to create the raised border.) I knew one layer of foam wasn't going to be thick enough, so I cut out two strips of foam and glued them together. The strips had mitered edges (meaning they touched against each other at diagonal angles.)

I wrapped the border pieces with plastic (like a tortilla) so there wouldn't be any raw, exposed edges. I made four bends in the plastic to create four planes.

I glued one edge of the plastic roll to the front of the shield. I then applied glue to the underside of the wide foam strip and laid it down over the plastic along the edge of the border. Then I folded the plastic towards the back of the shield, gluing the plastic and foam together on the top surface as I did so.

I wrapped the border piece with the plastic and glued the back edge of the roll to the back edge of the shield. (I had to trim the edge to make it level before I glued it. I also then had to carve away any excess plastic at the sides of the piece where it joined with the other border pieces.) I repeated this process of applying pieces until I had the border finished.

I'm guessing the photos are a lot clearer than my explanations. Oh well. In any case, this was what I had at this point in the process.

The next step was to apply the raised surface decorations. I cut out the flat shapes, hotglued a layer of plastic sheeting to their top surfaces, then glued them to the surface of the shield (making sure I had them set in the right positions on the first try. Hotglue makes a terrible mess if you try to lift and move a piece that's already been glued down.)

Once the surface decoration had been applied, it was time to paint it. (Actually, before I could paint anything, I had sunk some hooks into the back edges so I could attach a carrying strap, but I've skipped explaining that part.) I decided to spray paint the border and the back of the shield first, so I masked off all the areas I didn't want painted at that point with newspaper and tape.

I used Testor's Red Metallic Flake model and spray paint for the border and back of the shield, (taking proper safety precautions while painting; doing so in a well-ventillated area and so forth.) After it dried, I removed the newspaper and set about painting the front of the shield. Since I wanted it to have an ultra-shiny mirror finish, I decided to use Silver Leaf Rub 'n' Buff compound rather than metallic paint, (which is not as reflective.)

I had some problems with the silver leaf. For one thing, it required an arm-numbing amount of buffing to get it shiny. Secondly, it wound up looking awfully streaky. I ended up applying several layers, buffing the surface with my bare fingers, until I got what I felt was a satisfactory result. I wasn't perfectly mirror-like, but it was a lot shinier than paint, and a lot safer than glass (I might try using silver-backed tagboard, if I were ever to make this prop again.)

In this back view of the shield, you can see how I painted the handle and attached the strap (which makes it possible for the wearer to carry it slung across his back like Link does in the game.) The strap has hinged clips so it can be detached from the shield, and a buckle in front so the length of the strap can be adjusted to the size of the wearer..

On to Project 7: Fuuma Shuriken from Naruto

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All anime characters featured are copyright their respective owners.
All costumes created by and all pictures property of Amethyst Angel c. 2005