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Paper Mache Sword and Scabbard

Here are my construction notes (WIP) for Asuna's Undine sword, a rapier-like sword. For a more katana-like sword with a guard, scroll down to Stripes sword WIP.

Asuna's Undine Sword

Paper mache sword

Material List

Paper mache sword
Cardboard: I made a Sketchup diagram pdf (skp file) of the sword and printed it out and taped it together. Then I traced it out onto cardboard. I used wood glue to glue a wooden dowel through the middle of the sword. I used popsticle sticks for the parts that stuck out. No matter what shape is used, there should be something inside the cardboard to give it support: wooden dowel, wooden plank, etc. If you do not have cardboard, you can use posterboard. Poster board will be thicker than cardboard.
Paper mache sword Paper mache sword
Scotch Tape: Next, I wrapped the 2 cardboard pieces together with scotch tape. I made sure to hold the pieces tightly together and to overlap the tape on every turn. The sword should start to have a three-dimensional look now.
Paper mache sword
Scotch Tape: I made sure the scotch tape overlapped itself so that all the cardboard was covered.
Paper mache sword Paper mache sword
Paper Mache:
  • Newspaper strips
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Dash of salt (~1 teaspoon)

I ripped newspaper into smaller pieces, making sure none of the sides have straight lines. Straight lines will not blend as well. I made paper mache mix from 3/4 cup flour + 2 cups warm water + dab of salt. It's roughly a 2:1, water:flour ratio, but I like to include a little more water. The salt prevents molding. Then I dipped the newspaper pieces into the mix and put it on the sword, taking care to tear the newspaper whenever there was a corner or bend so that it would stick on better. I put it directly under the sun so that it dries faster. After the first layer is completely dry, you can add another layer. I recommend 3-5 layers.

Asuna sword Paper mache sword
Details: I cut the sword's raised designs from 2mm craft foam and glued it onto the blade with foam glue (any glue will work). I also used Creative Paperclay to make the raised details on the hilt. The paperclay takes about a day to dry.

Scabbard

Paper mache Scabbard Paper mache sword Paper mache sword Paper mache sword
Scabbard: I cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of a rectangle. I used the length of the sword as a guide since it's supposed to fit inside. I used mod podge to glue leftover blue fabric onto the cardboard. The color is irrelevant since it won't be visible from the outside, but it'll protect the sword and strengthen the cardboard. Then I made the cardboard curve around the sword in a box and scotch taped the ends together. I covered the entire Scabbard with scotch tape and then paper mache.
Paper mache sword Paper mache sword Paper mache sword
After the paper mache, I added 3 coats of mod podge, followed by 3 coats of gesso. The mod podge fills in any gaps from the paper mache, and the gesso acts as a primer for the paint. Then I proceeded to sand it, starting with medium grit, followed by high grit. After sanding, I spray painted primer, white paint, and glossy finish.

At this point, I was ready to paint the blade. I used painter's tape to cover up the raised details and hilt, and then sprayed primer, silver spray paint, and glossy finish onto the blade.

Paper mache sword Paper mache sword
Then I used painter's tape to cover up the parts of the hilt that I did not want to paint. I used acrylic paint on the raised details and then removed the tape and painted the rest of the hilt. I went back with a small brush to get into the hard-to-reach parts. I also used acrylic paint for the details on the blade.

After I finished painting everything, I added 5 layers of glossy varnish onto the sword and scabbard.

Finished Product

Asuna's Undine Sword Asuna's Undine Sword Yang Xiao Long Cosplay
The sword is very light and cheap to make. It was light enough for a child to hold easily!

Other Props

Cardboard and paper mache can work for many different props. I used the same approach for Rena's cleaver.
Paper mache cleaver Paper mache sword Paper mache sword Paper mache sword
I cut out the cleaver from the cardboard twice and sandwiched a wooden plank inbetween. Then I added scotch tape and paper mache.
Paper mache sword Paper mache sword
Next I added gesso, spray paint, and varnish. I put creative paperclay on the handle to make it thicker and painted that with acrylic.

Stocking's Stripes Sword - katana with guard

I made the blueprint for Stripes (skp file) in Sketchup and freehanded the hilt.
Paper mache sword
Instead of cardboard, I used poster board as a base. Poster board will make the sword thicker than cardboard. I stuck a dowel rod on the inside for support. After taping the main blade together, I cut out 2 pieces of poster board for the hilt. If using cardboard, I'd probably use 3-4 pieces. Then I taped it down really well.
Paper mache sword
Then I added 4 layers of paper mache, ~3 layers of gesso, acrylic paint with painter's tape sealing off some parts, and glossy finish.

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