Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dresden Files Personal Effects: Part 1

This post is the beginning of a longer-running idea, an ongoing look at a project I'm in the middle of. I will be refining ideas in this space, posting progress, listening to advice and ideas, and likely making some mistakes throughout.

The project is recreating some of the personal effects of Chicago's only professional wizard, Harry Dresden. If you aren't familiar with the Dresden Files book series by Jim Butcher, I recommend checking a few out if you're a fan of magic, modern noir, and sarcasm. He's one of my favorite protagonists, and while I doubt I'll ever make a book-accurate Harry Dresden cosplay or anything (I'm at least half a foot too short), I wouldn't mind making his pentacle necklace, shield bracelet, and blasting rod. You know, the stuff that easily fits in a single display case.

I'll go ahead and point out that I'm creating original props based on their appearances in the books. Nothing against the Dresden Files television series, but I just didn't click with their portrayal of Harry's world and I'd like the chance to make these things in my own fashion.

So we look to the props and their descriptions themselves: The pentacle necklace was a gift from Harry's mother and is described as being an upright silver star bound in a circle, about the size of someone's palm, and can emit a bluish glow at will. That last part will be the hard one, but I have a few ideas about making two versions of each prop, one "hero" or wearable everyday one and another specialized one. So, there may be a resin casting with some LEDs in the future. We'll see.

This one should be pretty straightforward: I intend to build this one out of flat pieces about 2.5" across, cut to match my geometry, filled, sanded, and then molded to make metal-looking copies. Who knows, I may eventually try to cast it in real metal. That would be cool, but way outside of what I can do right now.

The blasting rod is another study in two parts: I want one that is the regular prop, likely designed with a holster to wear on the right hip, and detailed to match the (somewhat loose) description in the book. The second version will be some artistic license on my part, as I kind of want to approach the Hellfire version as a lit-up prop with orange runes up the side and a glowing tip, likely built off a clear acrylic rod with a copy of the texture applied over and LEDs in the base to light up the length of it. Both versions would features runes down the sides and a leather-wrapped handle.

The shield bracelet is, IMO, the most open to interpretation. We know it jingles, it has shield charms all around the edge, and is worn on the left wrist. The detail I'm conveniently discarding is that Harry usually tucks it up his sleeve and shakes it down into place when he needs it. That suggests something thinner, somewhat like a tween's charm bracelet, all of shields. Not awesome. Plus, pretty easy to make. Booooring.

So, my thought to step up the shield bracelet is a cuff patterned off various kinds of medieval armor. A leather base has chainmail laced to it, and studded along the center of the cuff would be custom sculpted and cast shields. I've been playing with some ideas for closures, as I'd like to avoid just snaps like most leather cuffs. I've done snaps before on a leather wrist piece and it doesn't match my medieval armor vibe. Right now I'm playing with a cord of some kind coming up and capturing one of the shields so the cuff is closer to seamless. If your inner fan won't allow the departure from canon, assume it's the new shield bracelet he made after the last one got all burned up. I've thought about also making the original one, simpler chain charm idea, and weathering it for all the burns.

This one was the original idea, still with dangling charms. This is being changed.
This is the one I'm furthest along with. I learned how to make 4-in-1 chain mail from a website, bought a couple packs of 7mm jump rings from the jewelry store, and got to chaining. Much like crochet or knitting, The first couple rows are difficult and the remainder get easier and easier. There's something satisfying about all those little rings just laying down when they're properly attached. Which also means when one pokes up weirdly, you know something went wrong. In all, I strung about 6 or so inches of chain mail for my bracelet, but I'm still playing with exactly how many rows I need for my idea, so I can't give an exact total yet. It's around 250 rings. I did not do the wrap-and-cut business described on that site, as I was concerned that my home made rings would be softer and wonky compared to the commercially-produced sort, and the idea is already labor intensive enough without making them as well.

I have added respect to medieval artisans now. And I already thought blacksmiths were bad ass.
I've also cut a cardboard template for testing how I want to attach the chain mail to the cuff, and I think I've decided to trim the leather just a bit wider than the chain and punch holes all down the sides, lacing a leather strip through the cuff, out a ring, and around the edge, spiraling down the sides of the bracer. It looks good, feels secure, and gives a decorative finished-looking edge to my cuff, as I'll not be using heavyweight leather for this. I tried some elaborate knotting on the short ends, which I may use, but it is time consuming for a detail that will be tucked along the inside of my wrist for the most part. Not that that has stopped me in the past.

The earlier idea involved wrapping and doubling back, down the entire length. No.
So many knots. And they daisy-chain on the back. Why. Why would I do this to myself?
Future posts will detail progress my work on the Dresden Files collection. It may expand into some potions bottles, his energy-storing rings (which may need a Phantom-style punchfist emblem), and possibly a light-up skull for Bob. If the show can be said to have gotten one thing totally right, it's how awesome that skull is. Pretty much just that. Jump in if you have a cool idea for something from the Dresden Files universe, advice on these builds, or questions about my process.

1 comment:

  1. I'd love to see you do a 'Bob the Skull' Resin skull with runes and eyes that light up with some sort of motion sensor? You could even get all techy and make it say stuff.