The big craze in Tamriel ever since mid 2013 was the Elder Scrolls Online. As a long time fan of the series, I knew I'd have to build something from the game as soon as possible. Luckily, I got into a beta test early in 2014 and immediately started grabbing reference pictures for a new build. One of my favorites was the dagger wielded by the veteran wood elf nightblade class, which (I assume) is the shadow dagger, crafted in the bosmer style. The first step was to create a digital blueprint from the scant reference pictures I had.
When everything was scaled properly in photoshop, I printed a couple blueprints and cut out the sections from one of them. I wanted this dagger to be a bit longer than the Nordic Dagger, so I decided on 18 inches. These templates were traced onto 2 mm sintra and cut out with an exacto blade.
The elevated sections of the dagger were traced and cut out of 2 mm styrene to achieve the recessed detail area down the center of the blade.
All parts of the blade were then laminated together using super glue and clamps.
The actual tapered blade of the dagger was created by filling in the area between the styrene and sintra with bondo, then sanding it down with a dremel sanding drum and 80-320 grit sandpaper. A couple passes of filling and sanding created a nice smooth surface.
The detail in the recessed part of the blade was made from the same material as the crossguard. I applied wet apoxie putty into the beveled area and used a sculpting blade to shape the pattern. The hilt was very roughly shaped with apoxie and sanded to a nicer shape once fully cured.
To get a nice reflective finish for cold casting later on, the blade had to be free of imperfections. I used a couple coats of spot putty to fill in sanding scrapes and dents, then sprayed a couple coats of filler primer. I wet sanded the blade with a 320 grit sanding sponge, 800 grit sandpaper, and 1500 grit sandpaper until it was smooth as a baby's bum.
The hilt of the dagger was crafted in a similar fashion. I used apoxie to sculpt around a sintra base, and sanded it to perfection after it cured. I gave it the same wet sanding treatment to prepare for molding.
To attach all the parts together, I stuffed epoxy putty info a hollow plastic rod, then lined up the plastic rod between the blade and hilt. It was a little tricky to get everything perfectly lined up but I got what I wanted after a couple tries. The prototype has been finished!
With the master ready to mold, it was time to make a mold box. This mold was a little larger than normal, so instead of claying the bottom half I traced out the shape of the dagger onto a sheet of styrene and cut it out to act as the barrier between halves. I still used plasteline (hard modeling clay) to get nice seams between the halves as well as to create registration keys for the mold.
It was pretty tricky making a mold box out of cardboard, since I usually use Legos for the walls. They're versatile and easy to reassemble to the exact same shape as before. Once you tear cardboard apart, it usually stays in pieces. Luckily, I only had to try once to get this one right.
For these daggers, I wanted to do something special. Instead of painting the casts, I wanted to powder the molds to take out the painting process completely. The powder on the molds gets imbued to the surface of the casts, so I powdered aluminum powder over the blade and magic gold powder on the hilt and crossguard.
Casts were then poured in smoothcast 300 with black dye and aluminum powder, a technique called cold casting. Cold casts can be buffed with fine steel wool and polished to achieve a metallic shine. It also adds a realistic weight to the piece.
After casting a whole bunch of daggers, polishing them, weathering them, and wrapping the handles with faux leather, this project was a wrap!
Thanks for reading!