Time taken: 7 hours (total for shield: 12 hours).
Materials: Already prepared shield blank, wonderflex, thick eva foam for padding, black wool felt for backing, hot glue, super glue, rub ‘n’ buff, black paint, scarlet paint, mod podge.
Tools: Craft knife, scissors, pen, metre ruler, heat gun, glue gun, paint brushes.
Techniques: Plastic thermomoulding, painting.
Difficulty level: Moderate.
When we left off, the fabrication of the shield was complete, but it was bare plastic. The next part is putting the heraldry on. I was originally going to paint this, but I realised on looking at the pictures that the part with the flaming sword is actually a layer of metal with the sword cut out, and the shield has a matching band of the same metal around the outside:
So I changed my plan and decided to add a layer of Wonderflex. The shield was a bit wobbly and delicate around the edges anyway, so I figured this would help reinforce it.
First step, measuring the width of the band around the outside and where the central plate will sit, then drawing it both on the shield and on the cardboard template.
Then I went around and fixed the straight edges with a ruler, and cut it out with a craft knife. I realised I’d drawn the sword too high, so when I went to transfer the shapes to the Wonderflex, I moved it down by 5cm so it was more central. I ended up with two pieces:
The next bit is somewhat fiddly – heating the Wonderflex so it sticks to the surface of the shield. I did it a small bit at a time, working from the centre. It’s important to make sure it aligns with the surface of the shield, and also to prevent air bubbles forming underneath. The Wonderflex doesn’t stick immediately when you’re putting it rough side down, so it can be moved if it’s not quite right.
Any bits that haven’t adhered perfectly can be fixed with a drop or two of superglue.
Then it’s a similar process to put the band around the outside. I cut my pieces twice as wide as they needed to be so that when I line the inside of the shield with fabric I don’t have to go right up to the edge because the Wonderflex will cover that. Also, it adds more strength to the part that’ll have the most stress on it.
Now it’s ready for preparation and painting. I’ve always thought that plain Wonderflex with no primer has the perfect texture to represent worn, hammer-smithed metal. And because I’m using Rub ‘n’ Buff which is a wax (sticky and flexible) instead of a paint (brittle and flaky) on the Wonderflex bits, the only prep I did on that was to smooth the joins with some modelling clay. The rest, I did the clay smoothing, and added gesso for the paint to stick to, then sanded it for smoothness.
I didn’t take any pics of the painting process, however it was pretty straightforward. Gesso first on the non-Wonderflex bits, then mars black in the sword and flames (2 coats), then magenta with a touch of burnt umber to darken (burnt umber is the most awesome mixing colour ever) – 3 coats. Then I added the Rub ‘n’ Buff straight onto the Wonderflex. A little bit of it got onto the painted surfaces as part of the polishing process, so each of those got one more coat.
Then weathering. Again, burnt umber mixed with mars black in a watery wash. Here is where the unprepared Wonderflex surface really came into its own – all those little pits and hollows picked up the paint and it settled in there, looking for all the world like the fine vaguely rusty patina that Cullen has on his shield. I’m rapt with how this came out and will definitely use this technique again:
Finally, the whole lot was covered with finishing varnish – gloss for the red and black, satin for the ‘metal’. All of this work also went into the small pieces that fold over the edges onto the back of the shield, because they won’t be entirely covered by the backing. The backing is black wool felt, and was cut to shape and then attached painstakingly with a glue gun to cover up the padding and bare plastic:
I wasn’t as careful with this as I perhaps ought to have been, however it does the job and I’m happy enough with it.
And in a pinch, it’ll work as a brolly!