Codex Staff Building Tutorial (The Guild)
So you want to make a Codex staff? You should do it! 😀 This was my first prop-building project and I learned so much. Keep on reading to find out how you can learn from my mistakes. 😉
Firstly, I would definitely recommend checking out Greg Aronowitz’s Codex staff tutorial videos that he recorded with Felicia Day. They are extremely informative and hilarious to watch even if you don’t plan on making the staff! Links are all below~
From this point on I’m going to assume you’ve checked out Greg’s awesome tutorial videos and blog posts! I watching the videos several times before and during your staff creation process. He lists out all the needed supplies on his blog, but below I combined the lists in alphabetical order and detailed where I bought each item.
|Supply||Notes/Where I Bought It|
|1-1/2” PVC pipe||Local hardware store|
|1-1/8” inner diameter plastic tube||Local hardware store|
|12”x12” leather||I bought a single piece of leather from Amazon here, but I would recommend checking out your local Tandy Leather store instead.|
|12”x12” and 8”x8” pieces of 1/8” (3mm) Sintra plastic||I had a hard time finding any cheap plain sintra plastic, so I ordered a blank white 24×24 piece from DisplayIt.com. I later found that you can also buy it from CosplaySupplies.|
|2” PVC pipe||Local hardware store|
|3/16” rough hemp twine||Amazon|
|3M Spray 77 adhesive||Amazon|
|Band saw||Did not buy/use. Instead used a dremel.|
|Clear casting resin||I originally bought a 16 oz from Amazon, and then I bought more from Jo Ann’s when I ran out! (To avoid this, buy the 32 oz one here!)|
|Cordless Drill||I already owned one; but Amazon or a local hardware store should have one|
|Cyanoacrylate glue and kicker||Glue on amazon; I did not buy/use a kicker.|
|Dental wax spatula||Did not buy/use|
|Dremel bits, preferably sanding drums||Amazon|
|Drill bits||My boyfriend already owned them|
|Evergreen styrene stock, various sizes||I didn’t buy this — Instead I used some small thick plastic strips I had lying around.|
|Fine tooth hobby saw||Local hardware store|
|Gold spray paint||Amazon|
|Green pearlescent spray paint||Amazon|
|Hammer||Local hardware store|
|Hot glue gun||Amazon|
|Magic Sculpt Epoxy putty||Amazon (I got Apoxie Sculpt)|
|One 1-1/8 “ wooden dowel, 48” long||Local hardware store|
|One 1-3/4” drywall screw||Local hardware store|
|Paper tape, 1”, 1-1/2”, and 2”.||Amazon|
|Plastic polish, scratch remover||I bought the Novus 1, 2, 3 plastic polish and scratch remover from Amazon|
|Polyester resin dyes (green and red)||Kitkraft.biz|
|Primer spray paint||Amazon|
|Rough files (flat and half-round)||Amazon|
|Ruled circle template||Amazon|
|Sandpaper, grits 80 100, 120 240, 320, 400, 600||Amazon and local hardware store|
|Screw tip||My boyfriend already owned it|
|Small right angle ruler||Amazon|
|Soft rags or shammies||Local hardware store|
|Stir sticks||Local hardware store|
|Tamiya Red clear acrylic||Amazon|
|Two 1-1/2” clear plastic hemispheres||Kitkraft.biz|
|Two 4-1/2” clear plastic hemispheres||Kitkraft.biz|
|Two 6” clear plastic hemispheres||Kitkraft.biz|
|White acrylic paint||Amazon|
|Xacto knife with #11 blades||Amazon|
Work in Progress Pictures!
- 6 pieces of the Sintra wings! They’re not identical, but they’re sanded, assembled, and ready enough for epoxy.
- Here are the wings and rings after having all the edges epoxy sculpted and then after it dried overnight, and I sanded the excess epoxy and made it all smooth. This was one of my favorite parts of the project. I really like working with epoxy sculpt. Pro tip: Toilet paper holders do wonders for holding the rings while they dry!
- Primed, painted, and assembled!
- Perfectionists: Beware! It takes forever to sand/polish the tops of the larger domes after you cut off the bumps. The more patience you have, the better it will look!
- These are the inner domes which go inside of the larger domes. The insides are spray painted. You can scrape off the extra paint on the edges with a file. Try not to use too much spray paint on the inside of the domes, else it will run.
- The ladder worked well for balancing the staff and holding the red orbs. I made a few extra ones, and I’m glad I did because most did not turn out so well!
- Such a huge mess! See “Resin pouring difficulties” and “Orb cleaning difficulties” below.
Now, learn from my mistakes! 😉
Time for the fun part! Here’s how I messed up and my tips to avoid doing what I did. This is really the main reason why made this post, as a supplement to Greg’s tutorials based on my experience. 🙂
- Consider portability: The finished staff is 5 ft, which is too big to fit in your luggage on a plane. I really wanted to cut the wood dowel and have it screw together so it would separate for travel. I used a drill press but could not get the two pieces to line up properly. I gave up and just made the staff as a whole piece, but now I can only transport my staff when I’m driving to a convention. Instead, I would recommend trying to find a shop that will drill the pieces for you, and use a threaded insert or t-nut to attach them. I’m making another staff for my RF Online Cora Warlock cosplay, so I will try this technique then!
- Sintra plastic: In Greg’s tutorial, he and Felicia cut the sintra plastic for the staff’s “wings” using an exacto knife. Felicia struggles to do so (and it is really amusing ^-^), but I also found it nearly impossible to cut the sintra plastic with an exacto knife. I could not get it to work quickly, accurately, or safely. It was quite frustrating to feel like I was hitting a roadblock at the beginning of the project…so, boyfriend to the rescue! After I traced the pattern for the wings out on all the sintra plastic, my boyfriend cut it out using my dremel. The edges were really messy at this point, but i was able to sand them down and then smooth them out using the epoxy sculpt. I would recommend using the dremel outside or in the garage because the sintra plastic gets hot and melts a bit when you use a dremel on it, and the fumes are toxic. Also, it will make a huge mess! It was not smart to do this part indoors. >_>
- Don’t breathe the resin: Do not use resin in the house, even if you have windows/doors open, and be sure to wear a respirator! You will regret it if you don’t. I tried doing it in my walkout basement with the doors open, but forgot to put on a respirator until the fumes started getting to my head… it was not pleasant! >_<
- Resin chemistry: Be sure to get the ratio of resin to catalyst correct! I accidentally over catalyzed my resin, and the small red orbs didn’t turn out so well. Also, there is a bit of cracking at the top of my green orb.
- Resin pouring difficulties: In Greg’s video, he uses tape to create a kind of “bowl” around the base of the staff, and then pours the resin in the hole using a high pour. Felicia pours too much resin, and it creates a bit of a struggle, but the resin still stays within the tape and a crisis is avoided. We tried just using the tape, and made a huge mess all over the orb. I then tried using a tiny funnel. The most important step here is to make sure your pour hole is big enough for the funnel you’re using before you start pouring resin… otherwise, you will have to use a dremel to make the pour hole bigger, and will get chunks of plastic mixed in with the resin in your orb. >_< Once the pour hole was big enough for the funnel it went pretty smoothly, just pour the resin slowly. It is very important to not use a plastic cup for your resin! Greg uses paper cups in his video, but I did not test paper cups. After the resin started pouring out of the plastic cup I tried to use, I just decided to destroy a glass from my kitchen and that worked well. Regardless, this part was such a horrible mess, haha.
- Orb cleaning difficulties: After the whole resin pouring mess ordeal, there was resin and goo all over the orb, plus the hot glue from the seam that had to come off. I would say this was the most depressing part of the project for me, because I sat on my basement floor for a very long time attempting various strategies to peel, scrape,and scrub all the goo off the orb; in the process, destroying all my fingernails, accidentally cutting myself with an exacto knife a few times, and having my head hurt from resin fumes even while wearing a respirator. T_T Yeah, it was not fun. I couldn’t really find an effective strategy for this part, besides realizing that I put too much hot glue on the seams, and the resin pouring was just way too messy.
- Twine gluing: In Greg’s tutorial, they superglue the twine to the leather just at the intersecting points. I did this initially, but it did not hold up for the first convention. I went back and glued additional parts of it. Try not to use too much glue though, because it will darken the leather.
- Sealing the paint: Consider using an acrylic paint sealer on all the painted parts individually before assembling them with the resin orbs. I used Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer, but I only did 2 coats, and paint was still rubbing off after the first convention. I’m not quite sure if if the sealer or paint was the problem. But after that, I just touched up the paint and didn’t attempt to use any more sealers. Later I bought some Shellac and Liquitex sprays, and I haven’t experimented with them too much yet.
- Don’t cut yourself: I cut the leather for the middle part of the staff with an exacto knife with a new blade. My boyfriend was trying to assist, and I managed to slice us both with the knife! I nearly lost my index fingertip, and I sliced his middle finger up pretty bad. My finger was so bad it cost me a lot of blood and my first ever trip to urgent care. Felicia Day, I BLED FOR YOU! /creeping
Most importantly… love the flaws! You made something and now it’s yours, and it’s awesome. Even though my process of making the staff was not close to perfection, I still really love the way my staff turned out!
I so love cosplaying Codex. I love Felicia Day and The Guild is my absolute favorite; I’ve lost count how many times I’ve watched each season. xD At Geek Fan Expo 2014, I won Best Performance for my dance of “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?”. It was a blast!
Here’s some more information about the rest of my Codex cosplay:
- My leg wraps are stuck on my legs with a ton of double-sided fashion/body tape. This is the only method I’ve had success with. It doesn’t look the best when sitting down, but it will stick on for most of the day if you use a lot of tape!
- Shoes are always the hardest part for me! I am currently on my 3rd pair of shoes for Codex. I tried two different heels and gave up on them due to pain/blisters/misery. I wore one pair of heels most of the day and for my photo shoot in the park at Geek Fan Expo, and then switched to flat sandals for the costume contest and rest of the day. I have a new pair of wedge sandals that look close enough to Codex’s shoes so I’m hoping these ones are comfortable enough to wear a whole day! 🙂
- My gold colored headband and necklace were bought on eBay, and then I glued red plastic gems onto them.
- The dress, wrist wraps, and knee wraps are store bought.
- I commissioned the corset from the lovely Fire Lily Cosplay!
I later met Felicia Day in my Codex cosplay at her book signing in Toronto!
Thanks for reading!