Whenever I do Thor-oriented things, I am forced to yell that. It’s like ‘foooooore’ in golf. I do not play golf. I have never played golf. I do not know why I yell that. But I do. If you hear somebody going, ‘THOOOOOOOOOOR’ at a convention, it’s probably me, and I apologize in advance.
Back to the task at hand. The task at hand is me (hello y’all), making a big sexy Mjolnir for my Lady Thor costume. I had a dinky plastic one that listed to starboard for a while but I really wanted to make my own, because when you think about Thor, you think about Thor having a Totally Sweet hammer. Sorry for the terrible iPOD/webcam pictures—-I wasn’t sure if this would actually work, so I didn’t document it very well. There are a few steps I’ll have to describe without the aid of pictures.
First off, I secured some Styrofoam and glued it together into a big Styrofoam block (please note you need special glue that won’t melt your Styrofoam—-ask your hardware store dude/chick to assist you here). I waited for it all to dry, and then cut it into the general Mjolnir shape, going off the shape of my Dinky Plastic Hammer. This is harder than it sounds. Once I had it all nice and shape-y, I cut up some plain white fabric and soaked the strips in Tacky Glue mixed with water. The glue-soaked strips were then wrapped around the Styrofoam, like paper mache but with fabric. In the below picture you can see the half-wrapped Styrofoam chunk and some strips of ready-to-be-soaked fabric sitting on the bench beside it.
Done! I waited for it to dry out, making sure to keep turning it so it didn’t stick to things and so as to let it dry evenly. Drying took a few days. If you’re curious what the whole fabric thing is for, it’s to provide the clay (yup, clay is happening) a good firm base to grip on. Below is a picture of the hammer head so far, dried out. I also promise I don’t USUALLY look like a stoned zombie. I save it for special occasions (don’t you guys feel lucky?). 😉
Okay, after that picture we get a big ol’ leap in time. My apologies. I was busy freaking the hell out. You see, at this stage I put the clay over it, pushing it in well so it stuck to the fabric and smoothing it out over the hammer head. It looked beautiful. It looked PERFECT. I was overjoyed. I left it to dry overnight. I came back in the morning and . . . it had all cracked up like a champion. You know when mud flats dry out and crack up? Yep. That. That happened.
It. Was. Awful. There was muttering. There was cursing. There were incoherent messages to people who had the misfortune to be friends with me on social media.
When calm was again restored, I looked it over and found that the clay was still stuck pretty well to the fabric. So I patched the clay cracks up with more clay and did my best to smooth it out. It cracked all up again. I finally managed to get it down to a whole bunch of small cracks and fewer giant terrible cracks. I rationalized that I could fill in the little cracks with paint. At this point I also made a little circle out of clay (Mjolnir has this little round stick-uppy bit with Nordic runes on the top of it, which I will show you in a later picture), dried it out, drilled a hole in it, and nailed it into the top of the hammer.
HOWEVER. Before I did the clay thing at all, I put in the handle. My handle is an old wooden axe handle we had sitting around. I cut the axe handle down to the length I wanted, carved a hole into the bottom of the hammer head, and shoved that sucker in there, gluing it with more of the Styrofoam glue. The clay, when it was applied, was smushed right up to the base of the handle, disguising the ragged fabric/Styrofoam edges.
Then, painting. It took a lot of paint. I used acrylic craft paint, mixing shades of silver for the right color. I put about two bottles on there, total, waiting for it to dry out in between. It worked pretty well to gum up the cracks. The end finish isn’t smooth, but it looks really very neat, more authentic and hand-forged. I like it. But seriously, it takes a lot of paint and a lot of coats, so set aside a good bit of time for that.
The last thing I did before the next picture was a handle covering/grip. For this, I went to the Dollar Store and found some cheap faux-leather belts that looked suitably realistic and decently aged (funnily enough, the exact shade of belt I decided upon was an Iron Man belt—-yay, Avengers solidarity! As a side note, I also now have three Iron Man belt buckles that I don’t know what to do with). I cut them up and wrapped ’em around the handle, gluing them in place as I went. For extra security and natty good looks I hammered small silver nails in wherever I started gluing a belt on and at both sides when I ran out of one belt and went on with another. I attached the end leather loop and let both ends of the loop trail down the sides of the hammer a bit, where I glued and nailed two bands of leather around them and over another thin strip capping very end of the hammer.
This made the end loop Secure As Hell. Which it HAD to be, because that’s what you hold on to in order to spin the hammer if you’re going to spin it, which I certainly intended to do. I’ve spun it quite a bit, and it’s always remained solid. So yeah. Nail everything you intend to put any kind of stress on. Another thinner leather band went around the very top of the hammer where it joined onto the head, both to balance out the bottom bands and because the clay/wood seam looked a little bit choppy, as of course it would. This made it look much more professional.
There we go! See the nattiness of the nails? See the loop held down by one end cap and two bands? See the mildly crackly finish? It was at about this stage that I started to feel pretty good about things in general.
Above, you get a closeup of the nails. At the bottom they’re holding down a seam of two belts joining together; at the top they’re holding down the two top bands. Just below the nailed bands you can see a partially covered third band, and at the bottom of that is the only really screwed-up bit of the handle. I didn’t cut the belt at the correct angle, so it’s not lying flush—it’s got a couple of thin gaps. But that, thankfully, is the worst mistake on the handle.
The loop from another angle (with helpful construction happening in the background). It was at this stage that I held my breath and very carefully drew the designs on the short end-sides of the hammer head. My Dinky Plastic Hammer had much more involved Celtic-style designs, but I did not do this, because I do not have that kind of skill. In the Things Anne Can Draw category, we find A: Cartoon Sheep, and B: Mostly Straight Lines. Instead of a fancy Celtic thing I came up with my own design and did it using a Sharpie marker and a really small paintbrush. This was incredibly unnerving because if I screwed it up, it would be very hard to paint over. I ended up with only a couple glitches, and they painted over just fine.
It stands up on its head really quite nicely. It was at this point that I (with the tiny paintbrush to end all tiny paintbrushes) painted the runes around the little circle on top of the hammer. I first looked up a bunch of different Nordic runic alphabets and picked the one that most people seemed to agree on. Then I had to figure out what I wanted it to say. ‘Stop, Hammer Time’ was certainly in the running, but it was too short. I almost ended up using ‘The Hammer Is My Penis’ (familiar to all Dr. Horrible fans everywhere), but it (heh heh) was also too short. My runes ended up saying ‘Stay Calm, Be Brave, and Wait for the Signs’—-the closing line from my favorite childhood radio show, the Dead Dog Cafe.
Above you can see the head of the Sexy New Hammer compared to the head of the Dinky Plastic Hammer. You can’t see all the runes on the new hammer due to glare, but I promise they’re all present and accounted for.
And here we go! Finished at last! (And hallo there, size difference, how YOU doin’?). The hammer is working out extremely well. It hasn’t broken at all, despite me taking it to a convention where it got whacked on things and multiple people ‘tried to heft it and failed’, letting it crash to the ground (which was quite funny, but made me fear every time for its safety). It stood up to all punishment nobly, including me tripping over it several times in the hotel room, and it’s exactly the right weight—-heavy enough to feel solid, yet light enough to carry around for long periods. I am overjoyed with this thing. It’s a great size for my costume. It’s generally awesome. I love this hammer.
Have at it, Mjolnir-builders!
I hope you find this useful!
If you are confused about any of this, feel free to post demanding a explanation. I promise to furnish one. I cannot promise that it will be a helpful one, but I will try, and that’s really what counts, isn’t it?