Project 5 - Sun Shang Xiang Soul Chakram

One of my more challenging armoring projects. I made these prop weapons for my Dynasty Warriors 4 cosplay (first worn at Animazement 2004.) I wanted to make these weapons because they looked kickass and I knew they would be sure to have a huge "wow" factor. I also knew, however, that I could never make them out of wood or metal (I lacked the equipment and skills to do so. And even if I HAD been able to use such materials, I knew I would never have been able to lift the chakram once I had finished with them.)

I decided to use foamcore board as the base material for the props. I cut two large circular rings out of a sheet of foamcore with a craft knife, matched them up to see that they were the exact same shape and had the same width on all sides, and then hotglued them together into a single thick ring. I then glued one side of the ring to a large sheet of styrene plastic and, using my craft knife, I carefully cut the ring free of it. I repeated the process on the other side and soon I had myself a thick foamcore ring with plastic on both sides. I then cut a loooooong strip of plastic (about 1/2" wide) and glued it to the outer edge of the ring. So now I had a ring that was completely encased in plastic. To complete the chakram, I had to have TWO rings, so I repeated the entire above-mentioned process.

That done, I set to work on the blade of the chakram. I worked out the shape of the blade by placing newpaper under the rings and tracing out a pattern for it. I then used the pattern to cut two identical blade-shaped pieces of plastic. Lining up the edges of the blades together, I lay some hotglue in between them (at the outer edges only) and pressed them together. I pinched off any excess hotglue with my fingers and scraped the edge of the blade clean with my fingernail. (Later I would sand the edge smooth with model sandpaper, which is available in the model section of most craft stores. Do NOT use regular sandpaper, as it will only scratch up the surface of the plastic.)

I achieved the thickness of the blade by taking 1/4" craft foam and gluing it between the two sheets of plastic at the inner edge of the blade. (I cut it to shape so it would fit snug around the "holes". You can see the white areas in the blade in the picture below. Those were the areas where I had glued the craft foam.) I used sturdier foamcore pieces to thicken the sharp pointy edges which hung out at the sides of the chakram. (Craft foam doesn't have enough support for those areas, which are always getting hit or bumped by something. Or someone.)

The center arced blade that sits in the middle of the ring (and which seems to serve no real useful purpose as far as the weapon is concerned,) was made by cutting foamcore into an arc shape and carving it so that it had a center ridge with two curved edges sloping down from it. I laid down a strip of thin curved craft foam upon the center ridge to give it more depth and to give it a cleaner edge. (Note the black strip which runs through the center of the blade: that's where I glued the craft foam.)

The next step was to apply the decoration to the outer surfaces of both foamcore rings. For this early project, I made the raised decoration by cutting out hundreds of tiny pieces of craft foam and plastic and hotgluing them to the surface of the ring. (Later on in my career, after I discovered that I could apply hotglue itself to a surface of a prop and create the same type of scrollwork with less effort.)

The gemstone decorations were plastic pearl buttons from Michael's.

Once the construction of the rings and the blades had been completed, I began to paint them. After I had carefully wiped the surface of the props to clean them, I used spray paint to apply the initial coat.

Once the first coat had dried, it was time to paint on the fine details. I antiqued the ring section by mixing gold paint with black and dabbing darker areas of paint onto the ring around the surface decoration. (To the raised decoration itself, I applied pure gold paint to make it stand out more.) The blades were a bit tricky. To the arced blade which sat in the middle of the ring, I painted silver in long, clean streaks to each edge, to give it the appearance of a sharpened blade. For the larger, shaped blade, I mixed silver paint with black and dabbed short strokes of randomly shaded paint over most of the blade's surface, to give it the appearance of a ground surface. To create the sharply polished edge of the blade, I used long, thin clean strokes of pure silver about and inch long and 1/4" thick.

I painted the gems using green metallic testor's model paint and once everything had dried, I assembled the pieces of the chakram together with hotglue. Once the hotlgue had cooled, I painted the interior surfaces of the rings and the ends of the blades (being careful to cover every inch of visible surface.)

When the paint had completely dried (after a day or two,) I set about making the handle. First, I cut a strip of cotton batting and wrapped it around the undecorated section of the ring at the bottom of the chakram for extra padding. I then cut a long strip of red velvet, hemmed all the edges and painted a Chinese pattern onto it with a dark fabric marker. After the marker dried, I wrapped the velvet around the cotton batting and secured it by wrapping a length of purple braid around it. I tied off the braid and sewed its ends to the velvet to keep them from fraying.

That being done, I had to repeat the whooooooooole process to create the other chakram.

Here's that they looked like once I had finished them:

The weapons were a big hit with the congoers at AZ, and I don't think my costume would have made nearly the impression it did without them. I spent at least 20 hours and about 40 dollars on supplies to complete them.

If y'all have any questions about this project, feel free to e-mail me.