My goal for all of my cosplay is always to make things as cool as possible for as cheap as possible. For this sword the only things I technically bought where a sheet of acrylic, the EL wire, a can of spray paint and some epoxy resin (which I needed anyway). Everything else I used I already had for one reason or another. I also used giftcards for everything except the EL wire, so I only spent circa $20 total. lolol
Before I got started I had what I thought was a solid plan for this. I would make the hilt and the part above the blade with cardboard then I'd cover it with polyurethane for stability then paint it. I'd cut the acrylic and fit it in accordingly in with the cardboard parts then line it with the wire. I would then epoxy all this business together and it would be beautiful. No. Wrong. Everything was wrong.
Firstly, I forgot that plexiglass should actually be named plexiASS. I need to make friends with someone that has some serious cutting tools. I got a good ol' glass cutter and I have glass pliers. I thought this would work, but that was stupid. Cutting glass is super easy compared to this fucking impenetrable acrylic shit. I thought I'd accidentally purchased bullet-proof glass. I got out the dremel and decided to saw it. I started out with the plastic cutting blade because it seemed to make sense. That also did not work. I switched to the blade to cut metal and had success, but it made the edges of the acrylic look like the edge of a fucking margarita glass. I hate tequila.
So for each piece I cut I had to then polish all of the edges with the dremel. My cuts were all disastrously crooked and hideous. I wept. But then I was like, "This will be fine once I attach the EL wire."
Oh, yeah. Wear goggles and a mask, guys. I don't, but you totally should. The dremel threw off little chunks of very hot, melty plastic. I lived, but I probably inhaled plastic dust and I could have been blinded.
Why I Would Be A Bad Scientist
There is where I ran into the second disaster. Epoxy resin does not behave like my dear friend polyurethane resin. I also tend to not read instructions. I also hate measuring anything ever. This is why I've never been able to bake a cake that didn't turn out like a pile of shit. This is also why I hated all of my chemistry labs in college, but I loved the classes. I really don't like to measure. But listen - lesson learned. Thanks, epoxy!
Epoxy cannot be used like glue. When it dries it will hold your shit together, but until then it does not. Unless it's cat hair. I started out wearing gloves, but I ended up with like -25 dexterity so I took them off and ended up with cat hair epoxies to my fingers. Also, it is really important that you actually use equal parts resin and hardener. Don't eyeball it. Don't be an asshole like me. I always believed that measurements were just suggestions, but this might not be true.
What happened then was that I realized I needed to sandwich the pieces of acrylic AND the wire between more pieces of acrylic. Out came the dremel again. This worked, but my edge still look like garbage and then nothing quite fit together like it should have. The EL wire I got also had a plastic sheath, which made it a bit less flexible and it kept trying to move and was pushing my pieces of acrylic around while the epoxy was drying. I had to sit barstools on top of the sword to counter this.
After several days of doing small sections of the blade at a time, it was finally finished. I took some air dry clay to fill in the gap in the cardboard on top of the blade, painted it, epoxied it. I also covered the hilt in felt for my own comfort and because the texture of the hilt actually looks like it might be soft. I painted the hilt and then I was done! The blade ended up much heavier than I anticipated because I had to use much more acrylic than anticipated due to the sandwiching that had to happen. As a result I do need to go back and reinforce where the hilt connects to the blade. I'm going to wait to do that when I go to finish putting resin on my shield because I don't want to mix a whole batch of epoxy just for that little area.
See you at Dragon*Con! Assuming I finish my Zer0 suit in time...