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.
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.
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.
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)
Did you enjoy my post? Be sure to “Like” the post below and leave a comment!