Sally Whitemane Staff Tutorial

We partnered with Duoqcosplay to bring you this tutorial making Sally Whitemane’s staff from World of Warcraft, using EVA foam and Worbla’s Black Art. If you need to make a staff for your own costume, the process below can be a great guide from start to finish! Final images by CMC Photography.



  • Cutting tools: Snap off utility knife, Exacto knife hot knife, scissors.
  • Worbla: For this project I used 2 medium sheets of Worbla Black Art
  • Eva foam: 10mm, 5mm, 3mm widths
    I also used some foam clay on this project.
  •  Paper: This will be used for pattern making anything works
  • Markers: Silver and Black permanent markers work best.
  • Brushes: For painting these are really personal preferences. 
  • Silicone Brushes: For spreading contact cement
  • Adhesives: Contact cement is what I used for this project along with wood glue. Tape is handy too.
  • Power Tools: Hand Dremel tool, heat gun.
  • Core pieces: For my prop core I used some PVC pipe and a titanium rod.
  • Gems: For my staff I used custom resin casted gems.
  • Sandpaper: An assortment of grits for hand sanding
  • Reference Images: Having images from numerous angles/lighting
  • Paints: whatever paints you like best are fine.

Pattern Making


After collecting reference images and materials I find it helpful to start by breaking down the reference image into its most simple shapes for a pattern. This pattern will be used to cut the foam pieces that make up the inside base of the prop. I used a bucket for the middle circle and I looked for the shapes in the prop reference images and tried to copy it as best I can.
To ensure each is cut the same and save some time in sanding, having patterns on paper is helpful. Once I’ve fiddled with it a bit and I am  happy with how it looks compared to the reference images I cut out the paper. To ensure symmetry fold the pieces in half and cut away any misaligned parts.

Continue this process for the rest of the prop pieces,  to ensure my prop was in scale with the resin gems I created I used one of my gems to help with drawing my paper pattern.

For this project I decided to use EVA foam as my core since it is  lightweight and easy to work with. Each layer will need to be cut into the same shape and glued together to build up the size and shape of the prop. These paper patterns will be used to trace each layer of the foam.

During the cutting process I also used my PVC pipe and metal rod to measure the channels needed through the foam to become the handle. I also wanted the top part of the staff to be removable for easier transport and storage. The top part of the staff would slide on and off the PVC pipe through the middle layer in the foam.

Foam Core: Gluing

After all the foam is cut out and the channels for the PVC pipe and metal support rod have been cut the foam layers are ready to be glued. Make sure the layer with the channels cut is in the middle layer so the prop will be centered on the handle of the staff.

I prefer to use contact cement but technically other adhesives would work for this step because the foam will be eventually wrapped in worbla. I love using these silicone brushes when I’m using contact cement. They are so easy to clean and they don’t get ruined from the contact cement.

This step of the process is relatively easy, each layer of foam gets a coat of contact cement. The internal layers for extra security I contact cement on both sides of the foam.

When the contact cement has set you should have a foam stack for each part of the prop, if things aren’t  looking perfect here no need to worry during the sanding process you can clean up any imperfections.

Foam Core: Sanding

I highly recommend using a dremel for you sanding one with a handheld portion is great for small detail work. I hold the dremel tool using the sanding drum attachment at a 45 degree angle while sanding to get the curved edges to create a beveled edge.

I used this same technique to put together the pyramid shape for the point of the staff . The most important part of this step is getting as smooth of a surface as possible on the edges of your foam. The inside is filled with foam clay.  My foam stack for the top of the staff before sanding. You can see where some of my cuttings were a little sloppy and they didn’t end up being all the exact same size.

 After sanding. The foam is going to be the base shape for your prop, the worbla wrapping just strengthens the foam core and smooths some imperfections but For the most part you want your pieces to look as shape accurate as possible to your reference images.

Foam Core: Details

Before wrapping the foam in worbla I wanted to add some more three dimensional aspects, you can purchase foam bevels premade now if you want to save some time but I like making my own from foam scraps to not waste any foam.

To create a bevel I use pretty thick EVA foam and cut it into long strips. Once I have a few strips of foam cut I draw a line down the middle of the strips. This line will be where the high point of the bevel will be, the top of the triangle shape.

The sanding technique is holding the dremel tool at an angle and sanding away the square corners of the strips down the length. Adding three dimensional details can really make a prop look more realistic. Without extra three dimensional details sometimes props after you wrap them in worbla and paint them can look a little flat and plain.

I made more than I needed for the staff top so I would have some bevels to wrap the staff handle with and for hiding the joint where the top of the staff would slide onto the PVC pipe.

Worbla: Wrapping

To prepare the worbla for wrapping the foam I spread the roll as flat as I can and do a light pass with the heat gun just heating it enough so it lays flat. Using scissors I cut the general shape of the foam out of the worbla giving extra room for the sides. The shiny side of the worbla is the sticky side so that part needs to be touching your foam for it to adhere properly. I highly recommend wearing heat proof gloves for this step.

For this prop we will be using the sandwich method. There will be a layer of worbla on the top and bottom encasing the foam core inside. Once both layers of worbla have been cut its time to heat form the worbla to the foam. The worbla needs to be hot enough that it changes color slightly and becomes completely malleable. While the worbla is still hot use your  fingers to push the worbla around the foam.

In some areas with finer details I like to use the blunt backside of an exacto knife or a popsicle stick to push the worbla into the crevices of the foam to not lose any details. Along the edges of the prop there will be some left over worbla in spots. Trim any excess worbla along the edges of the prop be sure to leave enough that the foam is sealed inside and not poking out, you can see in the image the ridge where excess worbla has been trimmed away but the two layers are still touching. Heat the edges with 
your heat gun and push the ridge down as flat as possible so the seam is almost invisible.

Worbla: Detailing and Fixing Mistakes

Worbla is an incredibly forgiving material for the most part. To fix a mistake you simply reheat the worbla and place things how you want them to be. For example on the bottom left you will see where my worbla “sandwich” didn’t quite wrap all the way around my stack of foam and there is a gap.

I heated the worbla up again and tried to close the gap as much as I could, folding the worbla trying to get it to lay as flat as possible. I then heated up a scrap of worbla to patch the hole where the foam could be seen. Any seams can be sanded down to be smooth later.

For some detailing on the upper part of the staff I noticed in my reference images that the bottom part of the staff looks like it’s been carved in versus the top part looks like it’s three dimensional. I used a soldering iron to carve the line in.

Worbla being able to stick to itself is really helpful for adding details simply cut out or shape your details when the worbla is still hot and stick it to the worbla on your prop. Any mistakes you make can mostly be fixed by heating the worbla up again which is really nice.

Worbla Sanding/Priming

The sanding step for the worbla is pretty straight forward. I start with sanding with my dremel tool and then move on to different higher grits of sandpaper by hand to get a smooth finish. You mostly are wanting to smooth out all the seams from wrapping the worbla and any lumps in the worbla. If you want a really smooth paint job that looks like metal for example then this step of the process is very important.

After sanding and getting a smooth finish that you are happy with it’s time to move onto sealing the worbla for painting. Worbla black arts doesn’t require as much sealing and sanding as classic worbla does but I still like to do four layers or so of wood glue just to remove the texture of the worbla as much as possible and give a nice base for the painting step next (right photo). Gesso or other surface primers would work for this step fine but I just like to use wood glue since it is cheap and easy to find at most hardware stores.


Staff Handle

 Before moving onto painting I wanted to finish the handle so everything could be painted at once. PVC pipe has a smooth plastic finish to prep my PVC pipe I used rough grit sandpaper and hand sanded it to rough up the smooth finish and create a surface for the contact cement to adhere to better.

 For the top and bottom part of the staff I used 5mm EVA foam sheets and one of the thick foam bevels I made earlier to help the foam curve around the PVC pipe I used my heat gun to heat the foam up first.

The middle part of the staff looks like a thick leather fabric wrapped around the handle I knew finding the fabric I needed would be difficult so I decided to  use strips of leftover worbla to wrap the staff.

With the worbla heated up and malleable it wrapped much like fabric does and contact cement was not necessary since the worbla sticks to itself pretty strongly. To keep a fabric-like texture on the middle of the staff I did not seal the worbla with wood glue but did do a few coats on the EVA foam sections.

Gem Casings

Some other details I wanted to create before painting were some gem casings for my resin gems that will go on the bottom of the staff and on the ribbon that hangs from the staff. I used 5mm foam and traced the gem shape and cut out.

After cutting the shape out I sanded the squared corners of the foam so they were more rounded with my dremel. Sanding details like this just make things look a little more polished. Once I was happy with the sanding I heat sealed the foam.

For backing I used a really thin EVA foam that the gems can be glued to after painting the casings. I glued the casing using contact cement to the backing and made sure the gems would fit well before letting the contact cement set in place. For the larger gem casings there is a front and back side.

Once I was happy with how everything was looking sanding wise, the foam had been heat sealed and the contact cement was set, I did a few coats of wood glue to finish the casings for painting.   



As a base coat layer just to cover everything I used gold hammered textured metallic paint on the majority of the staff except for the middle “fabric” portion I painted satin red. I wanted my prop to match my armor so for the top coat I used the same acrylic paints on the prop that I used on my armor.

To add some more detail and dimension to my prop I added some blackwash and weathering with watered down black acrylic paint. I find these sponge brushes handy for giving a subtle black gradient to the edges and the crevices of the prop to add shadows and highlights. First I apply some of the black paint in the crevice and then dab the sponge.

After Everything is spray painted and black washed it’s time to glue the gems in. I glued my gems down to the staff with contact cement. Here is a side by side picture of before and after adding my blackwash shadows. I did some blackwash/ageing along the whole prop. I really wanted it to look used and aged and not like it was just made brand new.

Putting it all Together

One of the final touches for the staff is the red fabric the gems hang from on the top part of the staff. I purchased some 4in. wide satin ribbon at the craft store using a dab of contact cement I folded the ribbon edge in to create the pointed shape the gems would attach to. I did not measure the exact length I just tried wrapping a few times before cutting the ribbon how I liked it best.

With the ribbon cut and all the paint dry on the staff I glued my gems and casings onto the ribbon and the bottom of the staff with contact cement. I did go back over these with a little bit more blackwash painting just so they would appear more melded with the prop and not like I just glued them on top of the prop.

Finally it is time to put all the pieces together! The ribbon can be wrapped around the top of the staff and the pyramid shape can be put on the top of the metal support rod to hide the top.

Here is the PVC pipe (I painted the tip of it to camouflage it even more with the gold of the staff) sliding into the channel of the top part of the staff.

Final Detail Images

Making Aloy’s Spear from Horizon: Zero Dawn

Horizon: Zero Dawn is an amazing game and has a wide range of costume designs, weapons and weapon modifications to craft your perfect Aloy, be she a stealth or melee focused fighter in your run. 

Pretzl Cosplay used Worbla’s Pearly Art to make Aloy’s spear for her costume, and shared the process of making it in this video below!

You can also find her blueprints for this build to make your own on her Etsy


Poison Ivy’s Monster Staff

Methyl Ethyl Cosplay made a wonderfully creepy monster staff for her Poison Ivy costume and shared her process with us!


Tools used:
Heat Gun
Utitility Knife
Rolling Pin
Sculpting Tools
Paint Brushes
Materials used:
Expanding Foam
Paper Clay
Wood Filler
Styrofoam Ball
2 Polyethylene Cylinders (diameter: 1.5”, length: 70”)
3mm Craft Foam Sheets
Mod Podge
Acrylic Spray/Liquid Paints
Spray Filler Primer/Plastic Primer
Tape/Cling Wrap
Clear Acrylic Spray
Pledge Floor Care

I began by making the monster head.

First I took the Styrofoam ball and cut it in half. Using a spoon I hollowed out each half to create the mouth area. I then heated scrap strips of Worbla with a heat gun and connected the two halves by adhering them to the Styrofoam, while holding the halves into the desired position (creating an open mouth effect) and letting the Worbla cool. Once cooled, the base head shape was complete.

Next I used rocks to hold the Styrofoam base in place (mouth down) and sprayed the back of the head with expanding foam. Once dried, I carved the foam with a utility knife and smoothed it with sandpaper. I then repeated the process on the front of the head around the mouth area, propping it up with rocks, spraying it with expanding foam and carving/sanding it once dry. I filled in the grooves left from air pockets in the foam with wood filler.
This next step is optional, but I wanted to achieve a smoother surface before covering the head with Worbla, so I took paper clay and rolled it into a very thin sheet with a rolling pin. I then covered the outside of the head with the clay sheet, let it dry, and sanded it smooth. Next, using my heat gun I covered the outside of the head and the inside of the mouth with Worbla.
To make the lips I measured the lengths I would need to cover the bottom and top edges of the mouth. I cut the end of one of the polyethylene cylinders to the length of the longer of the two lip measurements. Using scissors I then cut this cylinder in half, width-wise, to create the base of the top and bottom lips. I further cut the lips into shape, tapering the ends, and making sure each fit around the mouth edges properly. I then covered the lips with Worbla and adhered them to the head via heat.

Next I sprayed expanding foam onto a work surface (I used carboard) into the rough shape of a tongue. Once dried, I carved and sanded the tongue into shape using a utility knife/sandpaper. I filled in any grooves with wood filler.
Using the same method as before, I rolled paper clay into a thin sheet using a rolling pin. I covered the tongue with the sheet, let it dry and sanded it smooth. Then, using paper clay, I made teeth and plant tendrils to cover the top and bottom of the head.
Finally, I covered the tongue, teeth and tendrils with Worbla and adhered them to the head via heat. I heated scrap strips of Worbla and rolled them into thin cylinders and created organic root/vine-like details snaking off of the head tendrils; and with that the head was complete.
Now, to form the rod of the staff I took the two polyethylene cylinders and cut them to the desired length. Using my Dremel I narrowed the cylinders in the grip area of the staff so that, once formed, my hand would be able to fit comfortably around it. I cut leaves out of EVA foam to attach to the staff (4 for the base of the staff and two for the middle section of the staff). Using my heat gun I then covered each cylinder with Worbla. (*Note: polyethylene does not take to heat well and does deform when it gets too hot. This step has to be done with caution. If I were to try this again I would experiment with wrapping the cylinders in duct tape to mitigate the heat applied to the foam.)

Once the cylinders were covered, I snaked the two cylinders around each other and heat formed them together. This step takes patience. The Worbla has a tendency to rip when being twisted in this manner, so taking this step one small portion at a time (heating, carefully, intertwining and letting cool) slowly working your way along the length of the staff is highly advised. I also had to make sure I aligned the two sections I narrowed for the grip together correctly to ensure I’d have a comfortable area to hold the staff.
To further smooth out the Worbla scrap pieces (as shown above) I later heated the area and smoothed out the edges with sculpting tools.
My staff was then fully constructed:


Thanks again to Methyl Ethyl Cosplay for sharing this with us!

Fay Staff Tutorial (Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE)

Many thanks to “…And Sewing is Half the Battle!” for sharing this Worbla tutorial with us!


fay artbook

Fay D. Fluorite from Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE. Artwork by CLAMP.

Please note: When I made this prop (in a three-day panic before Gen Con) I was not intending to produce a tutorial on the method, so the only photos I have are the ones I took for my own documentation. I’ve had so many questions and requests that I’ve tried to put together a tutorial anyway, but since there are several steps that I don’t have any pictures of, you’ll have to employ your reading comprehension skills to follow along.

Materials Used

  • 1″ extruded polystyrene insulation foam
  • Worbla
  • 1/4″ PVC plumbing pipe
  • 1″ x 6′ wooden dowel
  • epoxy resin
  • plastic magnifying sheets

tracing pattern

Paper pattern pinned to foam and traced with marker.


Since CLAMP was courteous enough to provide several clear references of the staff, one of which is shown above, I used a line trace from this image and enlarged it to the desired size. (If you don’t have access to a projector, cosplayer Sam Hawkeye has helpfully shared her line trace on her own staff tutorial here. You can print the image in sections on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and tape the pieces together to make a complete pattern.)

The paper pattern was then secured to a square of 1″ thick insulation foam with straight pins and traced with permanent marker. Make sure whatever you use to mark or make notes on the foam has a soft tip, as ballpoints or pencils can cut into the foam surface.

(Preserve your paper pattern; you’re going to need it for several other steps!)


cutting staff

Cutting foam using coping saw (left) and steak knife (right).

Cutting the foam was delicate work, since there are so many internal curves in the pattern. I didn’t think I could use my jigsaw on the curved parts without breaking the foam, so I hand-cut the shape using a coping saw and a serrated steak knife. (Go buy a cheap steak knife for this. Please don’t use your good kitchen knives for cosplay projects.)

Once the basic shape was cut, I shaved down any areas that weren’t symmetrical and used sandpaper to smooth the edges. I also cut down and beveled the spikes that point inward toward the floating crystal.

Since the dowel rod was the same diameter as the foam, I cut a one-inch-wide slot from the center of the headpiece and tapered the sides down. To keep the Worbla from warping over this uneven section, I cut a piece of thin plastic (actually an old temporary license plate — you can see the numbers showing through in some later pictures) to cover the break and provide a smooth base surface for the plastic.

I used the same technique for the finial at the base of the staff, though I unfortunately don’t have in-progress photos of that piece.


I cut sections of the thin PVC pipe and used a heat gun and some heavy metal wire to shape them into the appropriate curves. I drilled into the insulation foam using a broad Phillips-head screwdriver and inserted the tubing between each arm of the headpiece. (Sorry, no photos of this step, but you can see the unpainted tubing in later pictures.)

Close-up of Worbla covering foam

Close-up of Worbla being applied to foam. Front edges have been melted down; back edges (with green lines) are not yet heated.

Worbla on headpiece

Worbla covering one side of staff, with dowel inserted to check fit.


Next I covered the entire surface of the headpiece with Worbla, a low-temperature thermoplastic that softens and behaves almost like clay when it’s heated. The front and back were traced onto the Worbla from the same pattern I used on the foam, and then cut with about a 1/4″ buffer to provide enough edge coverage (though the Worbla stretches when heated, so there was a lot of recutting and adjustment as I went). I laid out the Worbla and heated one section at a time with a heat gun, folding the edges over and making sure there were no air pockets trapped underneath.

It’s important to note that insulation foam will dissolve if you aim a heat gun at it directly, so be VERY careful where you’re pointing the heat when softening the Worbla!

The same technique was used for the finial, though I cut and applied the Worbla to run a couple of inches higher on the wooden dowel, as it was going to be permanently attached. (The staff and headpiece break apart for transit.) I reinforced the tip of the finial with six to eight layers of Worbla to make it SUPER strong, since that is where all the weight and impact would be focused as it was set on the floor/carried/leaned against things.

Once the front and back of the headpiece were covered, I cut long one-inch-wide strips of Worbla (the same as the thickness of the insulation foam) and carefully applied them around all the curved edges. This was one of the most time-consuming steps, as each piece had to be laid out, heated, smoothed, blended at the edges, and measured and cut carefully to fit around the PVC tubes. Since Worbla fuses to itself, the edge pieces adhered easily to the overlap from the flat side pieces, and patching around the tubes was easily done using little scrap pieces.

Worbla detail

Designs cut from Worbla and fused to base layer.

When the entire surface of the headpiece was covered with Worbla, I began cutting the designs that decorate both sides. First was the raised edge that runs around the circumference of the staff. I used the same pattern I’d traced before to cut two more headpiece shapes from Worbla, then trimmed the outer 1/4″ or so of those so I had a piece that would fit exactly around the outer edge of the staff. As before, I laid it out and heated it a section at a time to stick the Worbla to itself.

Once that piece was attached, I copied designs from the CLAMP artwork and cut out each tiny curve and jewel setting using scissors. (Do not use your best scissors for this; cutting plastic will damage the blades and hinges. I utterly destroyed two pair of scissors and a set of kitchen shears for this project.) Where the designs overlapped or had more dimensionality, I cut multiple layers of Worbla and stacked them. These pieces were also heated and applied to the base layer of Worbla.

Surface Treatment

The entire staff — headpiece, rod and finial — received at least three coats of extra-thick varnish to smooth the surface, fill cracks and prepare it for painting. Then the whole thing got a base coat of metallic gold spraypaint.

The headpiece and finial then got two to three more coats of detail paint. The “background” behind the designs was painted with a custom blend of metallic acrylics in a darker shade to add contrast to the designs; the raised details with twists or loops had shading added to add more depth; and finally the edges had artificial shadows added to make them stand out more from a distance.

crystal pattern

Paper pattern used to make floating crystal.

staff crystal

Finished crystal with embedded threads.

Floating Crystal

I wanted the central “floating” jewel to resemble a quartz crystal and appear as if it had some mass, so I used plastic magnifying sheets, which distort light in much the same way as a solid crystal. (I got mine at a local store; you can find them many places online as well. Lenticular plastic will give a similar effect.) I designed the pattern with paper first, then cut it from plastic, folded it to create facets, and glued the edges together.

Since I knew I was going to be suspending the crystal from the staff points, I glued the threads in when constructing the crystal so they were solidly anchored. I used pale blue thread, which would show less in photos than a bright white. (Note: After a couple of cons, I swapped this out for transparent jewelry cord, which is more durable.)

hot awl

Punching through plastic and foam with a hot awl.

threading crystal

Crystal support threads run through plastic.

I waited to install the crystal until the entire staff was finished and painted, as I didn’t want it scuffed or damaged while I was moving the headpiece around to paint. I used a hot awl to melt holes through the points in the top that would support the crystal. (Keep in mind that if you heat part of a metal tool, the entire piece of metal gets hot. Use appropriate heat protection.) Then I threaded the support threads attached to the crystal through the eye of an extra-long needle, ran them through the holes I’d made with the awl, and tied them off on the outside. I secured the lower individual threads with a dot of glue to keep them from pulling through the holes.

There are six points of support (two at each of the top corners and one at each bottom corner), with the threads pulled taut. This tension keeps the crystal from wobbling too much when the staff is carried.

resin gemBlue Gems

The round blue gems were cast in epoxy resin, using a custom blend of dye and glitter for tinting and effect, and were backed with aluminum tape to reflect light. I used plastic measuring spoons to create the graduated sizes. Please refer to my resin tutorial for more information on casting.

Finished Product

I had to shorten the staff slightly, as it was initially too tall for indoor use, but now it measures a touch over 8 feet in length. The headpiece slides off for transport, leaving the pole at 6 1/2 feet and the headpiece at around 2 1/2 feet (the overlap is about a foot).

Photos by Karmada Cosplay.



Thanks again to “…And Sewing is Half the Battle!” for sharing this tutorial with us!