Red Nebula Studios

Fantasy art, costumes, crafts,
and creative endeavors.

Commission: Reaper Scythe Prop

Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; completed blade with detail painting and weathering, and manila rope attached.

This unique scythe prop was part of a commission I did for a sad grim reaper costume based on a digital illustration of artist Annie Dunn called "Teddy Bear and the Reaper".

The blade is made from two layers of EVA foam and has a nice, rigid look to it while still being safe to carry around on a convention floor. The handle is pipe wrapped in a piece of insulating foam (basically, the same foam as used in pool noodles). I chose this foam since it was already in the correct shape, and since it reacts to a lower heat than EVA and allowed me to add the wooden texture details simply by using the tip of a hot glue gun.

EVA foam blade cut, hot glued together, and sanded down to form the blade's edge:

Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; this photo shows the initial blade cut from two pieces of EVA foam. Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; EVA foam blade halves hot glued together, cut, and sanded down to form an edge. Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; EVA foam blade halves hot glued together, cut, and sanded down to form an edge.

The "wooden" handle with initial detailing, and pieces initially assembled. The top portion of the scythe is detachable just below the blade for ease of transportation; there's a hidden screw thread inside connecting the pieces together securely.

Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; insulating foam wrapped around a pipe core, with wood texture details. Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; partially constructed scythe prop with manila rope; sample to show commissioner.

If you try to apply paint directly to foam, it will be absorbed - or worse, certain paints may eat away at certain types of foam. To prevent this, the foam must first be sealed. For this project, I used several layers of a thick decoupage glue called Mod Podge. Because it's brushed on, it gives the blade the illusion of brushed metal. It is also thick enough to fill in the gaps in the open-cell foam of the handle and make it look and feel more solid.

Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; sealing the foam with several layers of Mod Podge decoupage glue. Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; sealing the foam with several layers of Mod Podge decoupage glue.

Here, the base coat of shiny red spray paint has been applied to the blade, with a light coating of bronze metallic paint to add a shimmer.

Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; blade with initial shiny red paint base coat. Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; close-up of blade base coat, showing metallic highlight and brushed metal illusion.

Finally, acrylics are used to add weathering and detail to the blade and the wooden handle. The manila rope was soaked in water for a few minutes to make it pliable enough to tie into a secure knot that will not come loose easily. This is a good trick for crafters working with plant-based material like rope, pine needles, etc.; when wet, they become malleable, and stay put once they've dried.

Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; completed blade with detail painting and weathering, and manila rope attached. Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; completed blade with detail painting and weathering, and manila rope attached. Commissioned sad grim reaper scythe prop; completed blade with detail painting and weathering, and manila rope attached.

Here's the scythe as shown in original artwork and with the final costume:

A sad grim reaper grips a rather traumatized-looking teddy bear in this adorable digital painting - compared with the final costume!

© 2014 Original artwork by Annie Dunn of Chaos in Color. Costume mask and scythe by Sarrah Wilkinson.

Completion date: 4/15/2014 - Page last updated: 2/21/2015

Keywords: sad grim reaper, scythe, prop weapon commission, EVA foam, red blade, faux wood handle, manila rope

Categories: Costuming, Costumes and Props