My name is Wendy Allison, and I live in New Zealand. We don’t get many cons here and, until recently, I had never cosplayed. I’ve always enjoyed making things, though. Looking at something and thinking, “That’s cool! I wonder if I could make it?” is pretty much how my brain works. Sculpting, sewing, fabricating, costume making, electronics—you name it, I’ll have a go at it. I love taking a two-dimensional idea and making it a reality. I’m also a huge Dragon Age fan.
It all started after watching my mage carry her double-headed dragon staff around in Awakening. I got to thinking what a work of art it was. Not only was it cool looking, but unlike the staffs in a lot of other games, it looked like something that could actually work as a weapon. Naturally, I started to wonder what it’d look like in real life, which led to planning and sketching and then to a huge mess in my living room that… hasn’t really gone away since.
My first project was the Enchanter’s Staff Tier 7 from Awakening, then Freedom’s Call from Dragon Age 2. By the time I finished, I totally had the bug. The Cold-Blooded caught my eye next; making that giant ice crystal sounded like just my kind of challenge.
The shaft is dowelling and the vanes that hold the crystal were cut from hardboard with a coping saw. The crystals were made from polystyrene pieces glued together to make a big enough lump that I could carve into shape. The process for the ice on the crystals and shaft mostly came about through trial and error. My first idea—using layers and layers of varnish—melted into sticky little blobs! Eventually, I settled on a layer of ground quartz cement dyed in blues and whites that were covered over and over and OVER again (oh man, it took like 8 coats, each with a 2 day drying window) with glossy heavy gel artist’s medium.
The vanes were mounted in slots cut into the top of the staff and screwed into place. These were then covered with Sculptamold. The fastenings were cut from craft foam and glued on with hot glue, and then the whole lot was covered in modeling clay to cover joins and to create a smooth surface. This staff also has a codex entry, so I carved 9 notches into the shaft for the number of Templars killed by Adain of Starkhaven. The final coat is a mix of bronze, green, and silver paint dabbed on with a sponge with touches of white for the frosting.
Two days after I finished, someone threw down a cosplay challenge, and I ended up making an apostate mage costume in 24 hours for Au Contraire, a small sci-fi con in Wellington. It was my first cosplay, and I really enjoyed myself! I won a small prize for my costume, and there were a lot of questions about how I made it. People liked the staff best of all, and I loved being able to say, “I made it!” when people asked where I bought it. Even more, I love meeting other makers to swap ideas and techniques and when people get inspired to make their own things based on what I’ve done. I think it’s fair to say that I’m hooked now and that I’ll be going to more cons in the future.
Speaking of the future, I get the feeling this adventure is just beginning. Right now I’m making a dagger for the apostate costume. When I’m done, I’d like to make the Blade of Mercy with internal LED lighting, a UV Staff of the Magister Lord, the Regalia of Weisshaupt mage armor, and… I have enough projects lined up to keep me busy for a long time!
Thanks to everyone reading this! I hope you enjoyed it and might be inspired by it. Also, thanks to the creators of Dragon Age for a game that’s given me hours of playthroughs and even more hours of creative inspiration.
PS: I have more details on how the staffs were made here:
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