Category Archives: Props

Steampunk Katana

This commission was a fun one to do, and went pretty quickly. The client asked for a steampunk inspired katana that had a few key details. It needed to have scrollwork, a fancy handle, and look like it is powered. So, my first step was to collect some materials.

Cold Steel plastic Bokken with cog shaped tsuka

I decided to pick up a Cold Steel plastic bokken from amazon. This base would make the sword convention safe, so she could take it to large comic conventions without any problems. After the sword came in, the first thing I did was go to the scroll saw and cut the tsuka into a gear or cog shape. Why? You know, because gears make it steampunk. 😉

The next step involved changing the grip into something more steampunk. I decided I wanted to integrate an empty C02 cartridge into the handle to make it look powered. So, I rounded the bottom of the grip, and then went to work cutting out a portion at the bottom of the handle. I did this with my dremel and a special rotary cutting tool to dig all the way through the thick plastic. After a few hours of shaping, sanding, and fitting the tank where it would sit, I moved on to the next step.

I had some red wire on hand, so I went to wrapping the uncut portion of the grip in wire. I used a spray adhesive to keep the wire in place as I worked, wrapping around the handle. The wire was about 18 gauge, so it took a while to cover the whole area. After that, I knew I wanted to keep the sword looking like a traditional katana, so I decided to learn how to do the twist wrap you see on most katanas. This project being steampunk, I naturally chose a brown suede leather strip about 36″ long and 1/2″ wide to wrap it with. After a bit of internet research and soaking the leather in cold water, I went about wrapping and twisting. The twists were a bit bulky, so I went to the vice in the shop and compressed the leather twists against the handle to flatten them out.

Stage 2: Grip wrapped in wire and leather, and scrollwork done in dimensional paint.

Next, I wanted something above the cog shaped tsuka to be reminiscent of Tesla weapons. I had some 14 gauge copper wire lying in the shop, so I brought it over to the sword and drilled holes at 1″ apart to wind the wire through the sword a few times. After that, I was to the detail stage. I took my silver sharpie and sketched a few designs on the pommel end and on the top portion of the blade. I used dimensional fabric (puffy) paint to create upraised scrollwork details.

After everything was dry, I masked off the grip and the copper wire so I could paint a basecoat. I chose white Krylon plastic fusion, which I knew would have the best adhesion. Then, I used silver and gold Rub n Buff to create the super shiny metallic effect. After I filled in all the little gaps and grooves with the Rub n Buff, I took black acrylic paint and began the antique process. I decided to leave the cutting edge of the blade nice and shiny, so it looked like it was being taken care of and used.

It was at this stage I also decided to hang some charms off the end of the sword. My wife makes steampunk inspired jewelry, so she supplied me with some cool things to hang from the pommel.

Rub n Buff applied before weathering.

After the weathering was complete, my wife assisted me in getting some photos of the finished piece. I was also fortunate enough to get a photo of the client in her steampunk costume with the prop. I’m so glad she enjoys her new sword! (Click the image to see a larger version)



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Client with her finished steampunk katana and costume

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Steampunk Huntress Mask: The Paint Process

Taking something made from plastic and turning it into an antiqued metallic color is a multi-layered, multi-step process. I have devised my own unique way of accomplishing the look, and I’d like to share it.

For the Steampunk Huntress Mask, I started with black ABS plastic sheet.


The first step was to establish the metallic base color, which in this case was bronze. I chose “Dazzling Metallics” bronze acrylic paint. After about 5 coats of this bronze paint, I had a good metallic base to work from, which you can see pictured on the left.

Next, I mix rubbing alcohol and black acrylic paint to make a wash. I do a quick wash over the whole piece and daub it with a rag for texture. Then, I mix some of the bronze paint into the black wash to make a dark bronze color and wash the piece again, but heavier this time. I daub away the excess paint with the rag, and the real texture starts to come through. After 1-2 more washes of dark colors, we end up with what you see pictured on the right. (the blue is masking tape to protect the clear lenses)


Steampunk Huntress Mask, Part 2

I didn’t get pictures of all my steps, but here’s what I did in a nutshell to the right part of the mask:

Heat Forming – I heated and formed the parts to a slightly curved shape to fit the face better and represent what’s in the original art. Then, I heat formed “wrinkles” into the wings to give them depth.

Assembly – I assembled the parts with a good strong glue, and then filled gaps and sanded edges to make everything fit nicely.

Paint – I started with several coats of high metallic bronze acrylic paint. Then, I blackwashed it lightly. Then I washed it in a really dark bronze. Then, I blackwashed it again and daubed it for texture. Here’s what came out, and I really hope the customer likes the paint scheme.


Steampunk Huntress Mask, Part 1

I received a commission to recreate the mask from a cool art piece of a steampunk era Huntress.

Here is the original art piece by

I’ll be building the mask from genuine leather and ABS plastic sheet, painted to look bronze. First, I created a vector blueprint based on what I saw in the art.

steampunk huntress mask

Then, I separated the pieces in the vector and printed the lineart at full scale to cut out the ABS pieces.


Next up: Cut out some clear, slightly domed, lenses and make the head-strap attachment hardware!