eu-phemia reminded me that I wanted to do this, so I’ll tackle it as best as I can! Sadly, a lot of the hidden blade-making process was undocumented for a number of reasons, the biggest of which being how stressed I was about finishing this costume by the time I was able to get some serious work done on the blade. Also, I would have waited to get home before typing this, but one of the straps on the bracer is a bit broken right now, so there’s no sense in taking pictures of a broken prop. XD
Featuring the lovely Lorena as the Elite Courtesan, taken at NYCC. Photo credit unknown - let me know if you took it, or know who did!
I’m going to tackle this tutorial in two parts: the blade and the bracer.
There are many, many ways of making a hidden blade! Some involve sliding mechanisms like drawer sliders, others are smaller slotted pieces that fit together like one of those plastic lightsabers. Mine was made of a retractable tai-chi sword:
I got the idea from Chris Rymer, one of Sheila’s friends who is an Ezio cosplayer. He apparently followed this YouTube tutorial, though I ended up watching it once and then never referring to it again, mainly because the Inverted Hidden Blade has a slightly different design than the standard Assassin Hidden Blade. I think I would probably alter my design to make a more classically-shaped hidden blade and go with a drawer slider-type design, but this suited my Smuggler costume perfectly.
I’m not going to lie, guys: the sword I got was a piece of shit. The handle had to be cut open because the screws were horrible, and the extending pieces would sometimes stick together and UGH. I’m not going to say “don’t use it” because the blade is beautiful and works marvelously, but it took work to get it to that point.
Now we bump into one of the many reasons why I didn’t document this process well. I’m a very, very lucky girl with a helpful family, namely a grandfather who runs a construction company, and a father who would have been an inventor in another lifetime. While I flailed about pinning leather and adding trimming, I was able to hand off the blade to my grandfather and say: “Can you get one of your guys to cut these pieces shorter?” He also ended up getting them to make a new tip for the blade out of what I think was aluminum, which you can kind of see in pictures:
The color difference between the “point” piece and the rest of the structure is clearest in this picture. I would have painted it, but doing so risks getting the blade jammed. I only did a little bit of light weathering along a few edges to make the blade look more worn.
What we ended up with was three pieces (the “casing,” the middle, and the point of the blade), which needed to be … oh, I’m totally blanking on the word right now, but it’s the idea of sort of crimping the front and back openings so that the blade pieces can’t go flying through. For some reason the word “flange” keeps coming to mind but I think it’s incorrect. But yes, that was done, and then we sealed the back with a wooden end piece that my dad carved, and that we glued down once the bracer was done and the blade in place.
Speaking of the bracer….
Now the design of the bracer made this a bit tricky:
The design is kind of weird here. The blade sits on top, there are funky straps, I don’t believe there are any real seams or openings…. Naturally, being a horrible perfectionist and overachiever, I Went For It.
In-progress shots. I actually ended up making another top plate, but still!
Using the tutorials at Armormaking for the Fiberglass-Phobic, I used craft foam and styrene to make the bracer and top plate (where the blade would sit). The seam of the bracer is actually hidden by the top plate and closes with a zipper. In order to achieve that, I installed a zipper to two pieces of scrap leather and then glued them to the inside of the bracer.
The top plate also has a bit of leather on it, and I quickly found that cutting the leather to match the raised pattern was a huge pain in the ass. What I ended up doing was scrapping this one (or maybe scraping off the glue?) and waiting until I had the leather installed to draw the design in hot glue and paint it silver. This, of course, had to wait until the blade was done and glued and all the grommets punched in and gahhhh.
The two pieces were attached to each other by leather straps. I attached one end to the bracer right by the seam (with a few additional glue points for added support) and the other to the top plate, so that the plate can swing off and I can get the entire structure on and off easily.To secure the other side of the plate so that it didn’t flop around, I installed hooks and eyes on the leather strip so that I could hook it in place once the bracer was zipped up.
I wish I could give you a visual, but this is the part that broke! It required a lot of reinforcements and I used three kinds of glue. It held for the con and photoshoot, but ended up breaking when I was carrying it around in a bag a few weeks ago. It won’t be a terrible repair, but I haven’t focused on it since I’m not planning on wearing Lia to PAX East. ANYWAY.
After all of that was in place and the blade was done, I cut the leather shape, added the grommets, glued the blade and wooden piece down, laced it all in, glued the leather down, made the glue designs, and then voilà! The blade was done. I just did a bit of weathering and detailing to the bracer to give it a nice, worn-in look, and I was ready to wear it.
And there you go! I wish I could have gone into more detail and shown more pictures, but I’m limited by my own lack of photodocumentation of the process, need to repair the piece—and, of course, the fact that I’m typing this from work. Which I should get back to. Oops.
I hope this helps, eu-phemia!
Beautiful gif of the blade in action by Kat!
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- aicosu said: Chris Rymer is his name! <3 Great Tut by the way! I’ll have to bookmark it in my database!!
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