There are a lot of variations of these blades around. Specifically, the difference between the swords the collectable figures hold (lower two) and those more accurate to scenes from the series (top) I didn't check the manga; chances are there's a myriad of other variants there as well. Cathy and I decided to go with the top option.
The first part of this build started with the hilt "wings." These started as a piece of styrene patterned to the same dimension as the profile of one wing.
I added styrene "dams" to this, and used these sections to mark off where the upper ridges should be. By filling the areas in with apoxie sculpt and sanding to shape, I knew exactly where the lines on the part should peak.
A little bit of sanding later, and this part was put under silicone rubber to mold and make an identical copy. The silicone used here is Smooth-On's Oomoo rubber. I only needed a couple pulls, so mold longevity wasn't an issue.
While this was setting up, I started work on the giant blade portion. I needed things to be light, but still rigid enough to be handled for several hours. The central spine and handle of the entire piece is a PVC pipe with an oak dowel embedded down its entire length.
This spine was extended to the width of the blade by cutting a set of 1/4" thick oak boards to act as lateral reinforcement. These were first zip tied to the blade to glue them into place...
...and after the glue dried, the board was fiberglassed onto the center wooden dowel using 2 layers of glass fiber cloth and polyester resin. I also beveled the edge in order to get this center spine to fit better around the blade "sleeve" which I created in the next step.
For the exterior of the blade, I trimmed two long sheets of foamcore into wedges and shaved a V-shaped notch into their center, as well as tapering the outer edges. This will make more sense shortly, I promise.
After taping up the seams and slipping the foamcoare blade sleeve over the wooden spine, the basic form starts to take shape!
This was affixed to the wooden spine by slush casting Smooth Cast 300 into the cavity at the back of the sword. At this point, the whole assembly weighs about 2.5lbs.
To strengthen this outer skin, I brushed polyester resin over the foamcore shell. In retrospect, epoxy resin would have been a better idea, since the polyester soaked through the paper outer section on the foamcore and dissolved the foam underneath, necessitating cleanup later on in the project. Live and learn...
The tip of the blade was an exercise in weird technique. I knew this had to be very robust part of the sword, since the most likely pose with a 5-foot-tall blade will be holding it upright with the tip set on the ground. I made a small box out of cardboard, set it around the blade end, and filled it with Smooth Cast 300 resin.
It took a long time to get from there to here, spent mostly on my belt sander, but the end result was a solid resin tip. Rigid and definitely the strongest part of the blade.
The open edges at the back were covered with styrene plates
To make the pointed tip that leads up to the cross guard, I lathed a bullet shape out of a poplar dowel, then vacuumformed a couple of copies in styrene.
Getting these in place required a bit of hackery to the shaped outer blade section in order to get them to fit....
But after adding a bit of epoxy resin as filler (learned my lesson from the polyester from before!) The shape was blended back into place.
The cross guard and pommel sections were lathed from blocks of urethane casting resin. Blanks were created by filling cardboard tubes and allowing them to cure.
After some time with the lathe, the following parts emerged: Pommel...
...and cross guard sleeve.
Quick mock-up before primer
Clare's insignia was carved into the blade with a dremel tool. Since this cut into the foam a bit, the cavity was carved deeper then filled in with urethane resin to make an even and level recess.
After a coat of primer, the shape is nearly ready for paint.
The wing sections on the crossguard are affixed to the blade handle with an ABS dowel that passes through the entire center spine. I wanted to make sure these were as stable as possible, as they might take a random hit now and again since they sit so far outside the width of the blade.
Finally, paint! The blade was coated with Krylon silver, and the hilt/crossguard was done with testor's enamel. Lots of gloss clearcoat went over the weathering in order to keep the layer of grime and dirt intact.
The final detail was a smattering of Yoma blood on the first 1/3 of the sword. If you've seen the anime, there's a TON of blood flying around.
A few shots of the final piece, out in the elements, taken by my friend Dan Almasy. The leather handle wrap was done by Cathy after the sword was finished.
If you're interested in the rest of the process behind the build on Clare's armor, check out my write up on that project here.
More shots of the process are available on my Flickr stream for those interested in a little more background behind the build.
Thanks for reading!