Fondant!  The Play-doh of Cake Decorating

Fondant! The Play-doh of Cake Decorating

By Deana Whitney, Workshop Director

In every artform, it takes time and practice to develop skills that result in wowing others and yourself.  Because let us face it, the maker can see all the flaws, while most of the appreciative audience does not.  Makers, we should all try to be less hard on ourselves; let’s all spend some time having more fun and celebrating our wins this year.

To encourage this, let talk about cake decorating!  In this artform I would call myself a skilled amateur, far from being a pro, but it is something I have fun doing for myself.

Making cakes pretty is a different skill than making cakes tasty. The bakers and decorators that mange to achieve both are highly skilled individuals. The internet as a whole can teach you about baking yummy cakes. (Sidenote: the extra time it takes to make Swiss meringue buttercream icing is totally worth the time.) As a skilled armature baker/decorator I have learned a few things about working with fondant if you want to add extra visual wow to your treats.

To learn to work with fondant cheaply, grab some play-doh. Or make your own salt-dough with cream of tater in the recipe.  Like play-doh fresh out of the container, fondant needs to be kneaded a bit before shaping or rolling it. If you can build a shape using play-doh, you can make it in fondant, and probably easier, since fondant has a more refined texture. The main thing is to get your head and hands into thinking “I can do this!” Play like a kid again making snakes, trees, hearts, swords, crowns, or anything else you can think about.

 

Tools Needed:

Cake tools

Tools useful in working fondant.

Upper row: plastic rolling pin, toothpicks (2 styles), drageés, fondant combs, and shape cutters.
Middle row: Luster dust, icing tips, ruler, food-safe paint brush, and a small dish with vodka.
Lower row: Flower press mold with petal cutter, and cake spatula.

 

I’m a firm believer that amateur cake decorators don’t need to buy many fancy tools. However, I have found several more specialized items to be helpful, such as cake spatulas and a collection of small shaped cookie cutters. A smooth rolling pin will be needed, wooden rolling pins can transfer textures to the fondant and tend to stick more than plastic ones. Any paintbrush used for cake decorating should be dedicated to food use only; store it far away from regular craft paintbrushes.

When attaching two pieces of fondant together, they need a glue. Water can be used, but vodka will produce better results. No flavor or alcohol is transferred.  It evaporates more quickly than water as well.  This is very apparent when applying luster dust for added color.  Sometimes clear gel icing is useful as glue. Note, it leaves the pieces with glossy edges if extra is on the edges, which should be seen as part of the design.

For extra tools, use what is available to you. Pizza cutters, dull knives, toothpicks, cookie cutters, forks, or even the fancy shaping tools and texture pads.  Just play; let your imagination go wild making large flat panels into 3D phonebooths.  You need to become comfortable kneading and rolling your materials. Realize it is more forgiving as a sculpting medium than many realize. Fondant can be reshaped many times while it is fresh.  Do keep unused portions of fondant wrapped tight by plastic wrap and in an airtight container.  This will help retain its flexibility longer. After opening a package of fondant, if stored correctly, it can keep its fresh flexibility for weeks. If not stored correctly, it can harden overnight.

Sometimes older fondant can be used to create smaller items after it has hardened. The best results happen if the fondant was stored in a rolled-up ball.  The store-bought brands of fondant can often be returned to workable condition by microwaving it. Place a moist paper-towel next to the fondant on a dish. Heat up the fondant 10 seconds at a time, check in between rounds of heating. You want the fondant to be smashable again to knead and shape it. Older fondant can develop rough hard edges that should be cut off and thrown away.  Those bits have dried out too much. If worked into the rest of the fondant, they create weak cracking points and bad textures. Older fondant needs to be worked within 10 minutes of softening it, before it hardens again. I’ve been able to re-soften older fondant twice before trashing it as too hard and brittle.

 

marbling fondant

Image text: Steps to marbling fondant – snakes of color, twist together, mash and ball up, roll it out.

 

Marbling Fondant & Edible paper:

One of the easiest things to do with fondant is to cut out flat designs, either by using cookie cutters or by making a printed template.

For the smoothest surface texture, you will want a plastic rolling pin.  Even if your rolling pin is a serialized piece of PVC pipe. For elements that will be supported, the fondant can be rolled thin (i.e. less than 2 mm). Elements that support themselves should be of thicker fondant (i.e. over 4 mm).

Extra color dimension can be added by marbling two colors of fondant together.  take small amounts of each color and knead them together until the blend you want is achieved. For a quick even blend, make two snakes of color, twist them together, and start kneading or rolling. This works well with the metallic and solid color fondants to create shimmering fondant, as shown in the photo above.

Roll and blend until happy with the mix. Next, cut out the shape you want. Cookie cutters are great for this.
When you need something more irregular, find a reference image to print on paper. If you can, use software to resize the image to fit your needs.  Lay the cut-out paper shape on top of the fondant, then trace with a sharp tool to cut around the shape.

After it is cut out, smooth the edges with your fingertips or a tool like tooth-picks, chop sticks, or the special cake tools. This is how the whale seen in the header image was created.

 

Roshar Cake with fondant gems and edible map

Roshar Cake with fondant gems and edible map.

 

Edible Images:

Since most decorating amateurs don’t have a printer dedicated to edible ink, you will need to find a bakery or cake supply shop that can produce them. Blank edible paper is sold, as are markers with edible ink. If you feel up to the artwork, freehand a design using them to place on your cake.  Me, I tend to create images using Photoshop then place an order with my local store.  Note the pages are sold in standard paper sizes, so you can add multiple small images onto one sheet to save sheets and money.

When using printed edible paper design, place it on the fondant first, then add the fondant onto the cake. Cut out the design, remove the plastic backing of the paper, then lightly brush vodka on the fondant where the paper will go. This is a very light brushing of liquid. Too heavy of a hand will cause the edible paper to distort and possibly ruin your design.  If you went too light with the vodka, the edge will lift up, so you can lightly brush the underside of the paper and tap it into place with a dry finger or blunt tool.

For the Roshar gem cake, I used a clear sparkle gel icing as the glue.  This added an extra shine and glitter to the gems.   The map shown is a large edible image placed on top of the buttercream. It adds great details to the cake with minimal effort. Often an icing border can be placed around edible images, but for these applications I did not see the need for one.

 

Flower molds.

Steps to flower press molds – cut out, place, press, lift out, dry, add extra decorations if necessary.

 

Silicone Press Molds:

Flower and leaves press molds are specialized tools, so I’ve only bought a few when I had a design in mind that required them. Most kits come with a cutter and a two-piece mold. To make flowers using a press mold, start by rolling the fondant thin, 2 mm or less.  Use the shape cutter, then press the fondant with the related mold. I find it best to mark two sides of the mold to line up the design best.  Extract from mold using a toothpick or similar tool to lift it out.  If the flowers keep ripping, roll the fondant a touch thicker.  Transfer the flower to a support surface to let dry, empty egg carts or bunched up foil work well for this purpose.  After they are dried, luster dust or dragées may be applied to add extra color.

Luster dust is applied two different ways.
Dry:  Using a dry food-safe paintbrush, dip brush into the dust container.  Brush it over the surface you want it to cover. Best done before the fondant has fully dried. Good for a widespread light application of color.

Wet: In a small container, mix a bit of vodka with small pinches of luster dust. Dip paintbrush into mixture. Paint the areas you want to color.  If you’re not seeing the color intensity you want, add more luster dust to your wet mixture and repaint.  The vodka will evaporate, leaving just the color behind.
The purple and yellow-orange flowers shown above were made using this technique.

 

Sculpted Fondant examples

Examples of fondant sculptures.

 

Sculpted Fondant:

Besides whole fondant covered cakes, when most people think of fondant, they think of the elaborate sculpted decorations made from the edible clay. This is when many people start thinking “I can’t do that.”  First, give yourself a chance to try. Play with playdoh to see if you can get close to your desired shape.  Break the piece down into its simpler geometric components before worrying about the extra details, as seen in the leaf pin above. Also, try watching some YouTube videos of professionals making similar shapes. No, you won’t recreate their work first try, but their way can help guide your work. If you provide the framework, often the brain will read the intended design without elaborate additions.

To help inspire others to build 3D shapes with fondant, below breaks down the making of a few fondant decorations.

Examples:
Pokemon Ball – Roll two balls of red and white, then cut them in half. Stick them to the opposite color with a dab of water or vodka on each side. Cut a thin strip of black to put around the middle.  Add a small white circle to one side. The circle was cut out using the small hole from a #3 icing tip.

Doomslug details

Details of a fondant Doomslug.

Doomslug – Make two short snakes of yellow, one should be smaller in plumpness than the other. Flatten, until both look more oval than cylinders, curve to mimic Doomslugs upright shape.
Roll blue fondant about 2 mm thin, cut an oval shape, as seen in the photo.  Pinch the sides to stretch out the oval more, until it matches the shape of the yellow pieces.  In the photo you can see, I needed to use a second piece of blue fondant, but it just added to the ruffles. If you have a fondant ball tool, use it to give ruffles before attaching it to the worms. Or use your fingers to pinch the sides to thin out the outer most edges and make ruffles.   Attach it to the lower plumper oval portion. Cap with the upper oval worm.  Let it dry a few minutes.

Spines – Roll blue fondant extra thin (1 mm).  Cut into narrow strips 3-4 times longer than the slug body.  Accordion fold on your working board.  Bush vodka in a strip along the body’s back where you plan to place the stripe, one at a time. Place folded strip and adjust until you like the look.  Repeat for the strips you want.  Let dry.

Eyes were cut using a #4 icing tip. Edible marker made the smile.

Swords – For items like swords or lightsabers, wrap the fondant around a tooth pick for long-term stability and extra playability with the items. Unsupported rods of fondant are prone to breaking. Wrap the blade fondant first, then wrap the handle. If there is a cross guard do that third. Last is adding the extra details needed to suggest the exact item you are making.

Building a Tardis

Details in building a Tardis.

The Tardis – I made mine by rolling out dark blue fondant to about a6 mm thick slab. Then cut out three rectangles. Glue together with vodka. Set aside to dry.  Place a square on top to cover the seams; make it slightly smaller than the overall demotions. Form a small cylinder of white, then top with a small ball on top for the light.  Place in the center of the square. I recommend placing the light last, but in the photos you see I placed it early in the process.

Roll out white, blue, and black fondant extra thin, 2 mm. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife and ruler to cut thin strips and rectangles for the windows, coffers, and signs of the police box.  Cut two signs of white as 1-4 black “Police” signs.

Place the windows first. As you rotate the four sides, make sure the working space remains dry.  If there is too much moister, the blue color can transfer to the white fondant.

Place the strips to build the coffers. The long vertical lines go on first, then cut the short horizontal lines to go in between the vertical ones. Place on one side at a time, giving each side 3-5 minutes to set before rotating to the next side.

The window and sign rectangles can be written on with edible ink markers or Sharpies, if you don’t plan to eat the fondant* (see disclaimer below).
The last step is to roll out the platform to a size about 2-4mm larger all around then the base of the Tardis. Glue the box to the base and leave to dry.

Making a serpent.

Details in making a golden serpent.

Serpent – Start making a thick rope of fondant.  Leave one end thicker as you roll it back and forth under your hands. Work to extend the back end into a smaller point. When it’s the length needed, start shaping the head.  Look at photos of the type of snake you want. I started with the mouth placement, then moved to eyes and kept refining until satisfied.  Toothpicks can be very useful for sculpting if you don’t have formal tools.
Once happy with the shape of the snake, add texture by lightly pressing into the fondant with a tool.  For the texture shown, I used small cookie cutters.
To get a golden look, use food color spray to deepen the color.  Place on your cake with the help of a wide spatula.

 

That’s all there is!  Go forth and play with the edible clay fondant.   If you make something or have questions, please email them to: Workshop[at]jordancon.org

*Disclaimer: Homemade marshmallow fondant tastes better than every kind of premade fondant you can find. It also takes significantly longer to harden.  If you are trying to create 3D shaped figures, it is better to use store bought types.  Overall, I think of fondant as a type of technically edible Saran Wrap on cakes.  Thus, I do not make fondant-covered cakes.  I will make buttercream-covered cakes that use fondant decorations as accent pieces.

Seven Stripe – Not A Stole – Scarf

Scarf and supplies

Scarf and supplies

By Amelie Downing

No man may wear the Amyrlin’s stole.  Fine.  This isn’t a stole.  It’s a scarf.  I came up with this pattern as a quarantine “thinking of you” gift for a friend.  I liked it so much I made one for myself.

Here is what you will need to make one:

  • US size 8 needles on an 30” chord
  • About 65 yards of medium weight yarn in each color. I used Loops & Threads Impeccable and have yarn left over on all 7 skeins after making 4 scarves.
    • Brown (18920 Soft Taupe)
    • Grey (01757 Classic Gray)
    • White (1005 White)
    • Red (1532 Claret)
    • Yellow (01616 Gold)
    • Green (1242 Deep Forest)
    • Blue (35011 Lapis)
  • Suggested but optional – stitch markers

Start by casting on 250 stitches in brown.  They will bunch up and probably twist a bit on the chord, but that is OK.   I put as many stitches on the needles as I could fit.  You can place markers to help keep count while casting on, but you don’t need a specific count and will want to remove them once you start kitting.  This is the length of the scarf so don’t be stingy.   But since there is no repeating pattern to the stitches, you can make your scarf with as many or as few stitches as you want.   If you want more length and can find longer needles, I say go for it.

Start by casting on as many as you wish.

Start by casting on as many as you wish.

The pattern is 6 rows repeated once per color.

  1. Knit
  2. Purl
  3. Knit
  4. Knit
  5. Purl
  6. Knit

You’ll end up with two strips curling in opposite directions – one facing the right side, the other the wrong side.  The purl bumps will be on the wrong (back) side at the color change.

Color change line

Color change line.

 

Color change line

Color change line reverse view.

Work from the bottom up in color order

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • White
  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
Color two change.

Color two change.

2 color change.

2 color change, reverse view.

3 color ring.

Three colors, the scarf is starting to flatten.

At first there will be gaps between the color strips.  As they come off the needles and the overall shape of the scarf flattens, the curls will constrict together.

5 colors with ends.

Halfway done with loose end.

 

6 colors

Almost done with 6 colors.

After completing the pattern in blue, bind off knitwise.

I averaged about one color a night while watching TV and knocked this out in about a week.  Yes, that probably means I have been watching too much TV while social isolating, but I take productive where I can find it these days.  That leaves weaving in the ends.  As you can see, I had a break in the white yarn and had bonus ends to weave in.  But no blocking is required.  The end result…

Two Views

Make with scarf / stole and JordanCon tiara

 

RPG Module Writing Contest

RPG Module Writing Contest

The module can be in any D20 system and can be in any setting, though it must conform to the theme. This year, the theme of the Module Contest is Piety/Zealotry. Bring the light, regardless of if they wish it or not.

The Module must:
• Conform to the theme of Piety/Zealotry; it can be motivation, source of conflict, or a backdrop for the adventure
• Contain at least one combat encounter
• Contain at least one social encounter
• Contain at least one puzzle or mystery
• Be 7,000 words or less
• Conform to the Layout Template Provided
• Have premade characters for players to choose
• Be playable to a conclusion in 2 hours time
• Have all information and handouts necessary to run the module within (no refer to book x for table stats on y, etc.)
• Setting Agnostic; do not rely on back story to sell the scenario

Submissions must conform to the family-friendly standards of JordanCon and should conform to the intended audience (see the JordanCon Anti-Harassment, Diversity, and Inclusion Policies) :
• The intended audience is someone ages 13 years of age or older.
• Wheel of Time Fans are the primary audience.
• Objectionable material is grounds for disqualification; this could be disrespect for the genre, an IP, a fandom, or real people or people groups. Context is key; satire or parody is allowed but being disrespectful is not.

Modules will be judged by Jon Hermsen, Ryan Szesny, and Sean Hillman on the basis of:
• Clarity – how well your points come across on the first reading; a reader should be able to pick it up, read it once start to finish, and understand how the module is supposed to flow. It should be clear from the reading who this module is intended for, what kind of genre it is meant to be, and what sort of character, item, or setting restrictions are required (i.e., a low magic setting for a module should mention that a whole party of wizards is not intended).
• Creativity – how unique or interesting the scenario is. This could be an interesting idea for the scenario, an interesting antagonist or characters, or just approaching something from a unique perspective (i.e., a war campaign from the warg’s point of view in the Battle of Five Armies).
• Playability – how useful the module document would be in a game; this includes game flow, balance, and how well the mechanics are laid out. I.e., if all the players have a one percent chance of survival for the first encounter for a light action romp game, it is out of balance.
• Ease of use – how well the module stands on its own and supports itself; less words can leave a lot of questions and over explaining a topic causes important information to be buried in text. I.e., the GM shouldn’t have to flip 3 pages for a single encounter if they were using the document as their only source document.
• Aesthetics and Layout of Information – how well the layout minimizes flipping and cross referencing; the stat blocks should be able to be picked out with a quick flip, there should be a logical flow to the module that puts sequences in the order they are likely to appear, and things must be organized so that one doesn’t have to read the whole document to find specific information about a general topic with all information in one location.

Scores will be tallied by each judge awarding a score of 1-5 in these five categories with the highest overall score winning.

Although all applicants will receive feedback based on the reading and play test of their submissions, all modules will be judged based upon the first submission. Contestants each get one attempt to compete.

All participants will receive constructive feedback and a participation badge ribbon, and the winner will receive a certificate.

Submission deadline is March 1, 2021.

Making a Decorative Sword Mount

Making a Decorative Sword Mount

By Paul Bielaczyc

Want a nice way to properly display your Heron Mark Blade on the wall… and all the other swords in your collection? This step-by-step guide will show you how to make a magnetic sword mount using some basic products from your local hardware store… and a little bit of time, which most of us all have plenty of right now!

You’ll have to excuse some of the photos. Many of them were taken after the project was complete, not during the construction of my original project. And during these crazy times, I didn’t want to go to Home Depot to buy more.

Supplies:

Tools used:
Below is the list of tools that I used for this project. However, I will also list non-power tool alternatives in case you don’t have access to some of the ones I used.

  • Miter saw (alternative: miter box with hand saw)
  • Router (alternative: wood chisel)
  • Brad nail gun (hammer and brads)
  • Dremel with various bits (alternative: keyhole hangers)
  • Clamps (might not be necessary)
  • Sandpaper (200-300 grit)

Step 1: Cut and Mark the Trim Board

First board cut

First board cut

Cut the 1”x8” board down to 24”. I recommend cutting both edges, as the raw edge from the store can be very rough and almost impossible to sand. You will want both ends to have a nice, smooth surface for staining. I recommend cutting off a thin sliver of wood from one end, and then cut the other end at 24”. Use some sandpaper to clean up any splinters from the bottom edge of the wood (seen in the photo below).

Rough board, pre-sanding

Rough board, pre-sanding

Smooth board, after sanding

Smooth board, after sanding

Line up the molding.

Line up the molding.

 

 

 

 

 

Cut 1 piece of moulding at approximately 25 inches in length. Laying this along each edge of the poplar trim board, mark a line for the inside edge of the moulding. Using these 4 lines, position the magnetic holder on the board, and mark the areas that will need to be recessed in Step 3 so that the length of the magnetic bar will lay flush against the poplar.

After cutting, the Poplar should now be approximately 7.25” by 24”.

 

Step 2: Cut the Moulding
Using your miter saw or miter box, make the first 45-degree angle cut in the moulding.

First 45-degree angle cut in the molding

First 45-degree angle cut in the molding

Moulding profile

Moulding Profile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After carefully measuring and marking based on the length and width of your 1”x 8” board, proceed to cut 45-degree angles in alternate directions, until you have 4 trapezoid-shaped pieces of moulding. Make sure the narrower edge for each piece of trim is along the same edge of the trim.  (After making all these cuts, you should be left with a bunch of small triangular scraps since the 45-degree angle cuts have to be alternated.)

Trapezoid-shaped pieces of moulding

Trapezoid-shaped pieces of moulding

Clean up any splinters and rough edges with some sandpaper, sanding in the direction of the grain (always!).
Even with a good miter saw, the 4 boards might not perfectly form a tight rectangle, but that’s okay, that’s why we have wood putty.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Mount the Magnetic Holder

Magnetic holder

Magnetic holder


Before we mount the angled trim from Step 2 to the board, we need to prep and mount the holder to the board. Take a strip of black electrical tape, and cover the ugly yellow tape that is on the magnetic holder. This way your swords and the trim are the focal point of the sword mount, not a gaudy yellow band.

Magnetic strip covered.

Magnetic strip covered.

Now we need to carve out the 2 recessed areas so the magnetic holder will mount flush to the board. I used a handheld Ryobi router, but not everyone has one of those available. A simple wood chisel set should suffice. Remember that it is okay if the recessed areas are larger or slightly deeper than necessary, that will be mostly covered up by the moulding anyway.

Start of routing out the magnetic holder.

Start of routing out the magnetic holder.

After you are done routing (or chiseling), position the magnetic holder on the board. Use a piece of trim cut in Step 2 to ensure that the tabs are countersunk such that they don’t prevent the moulding from sitting flush to the poplar. Also make sure that the magnetic holder isn’t crossing any of our marks from Step 1.

Once this is verified, mount the magnetic holder using 2 flat head screws.

And finally, one last time, take a piece of trim and ensure that the screws don’t prevent the top piece of moulding from resting flush against the board.

 

Step 4: Mount the Trim

Now that we have mounted the holder to the board, it is now time to mount our 4 angled trim boards. Using a liberal amount of wood glue, adhere the 4 boards in position on the 1”x8” Poplar. At this point, we are only using glue so that we can adjust and reposition the moulding to get the tightest joints possible.

Position the moulding with just glue.

Position the moulding with just glue.

Once we have the 4 pieces aligned as best as possible, carefully use your brad nailer (or old-school hammer) to tack each board in place. I suggest shooting a single brad closer to the end of one of the shorter boards. Make sure the boards are all still in alignment, and then shoot a second nail at the other end. If using the Moulding I suggested, aim for the little dots or any recessed line in the pattern to help hide the divots created by the brads.

Design elements for screw placement.

Design elements for screw placement.

Double check the alignment of the boards after securing the first piece of trim, and shoot the first brad into one of the adjacent longer trim boards. Check alignment, and shoot the second brad at the opposite end. Continue doing this for all 4 boards, making sure to check alignment at each step!! This helps ensure that you don’t get to the 4th corner to find all your boards are horribly out of whack!

Note: It is better to play with and align the 4 boards all at once like what is described up above, than to align each corner with a perfect snug fit individually. One way will get you 4 pretty good corner alignments. The other will get you 3 great alignments, and one pretty ugly one. Trust me, even with an awesome miter saw that can assist with those 45-degree angle cuts, they probably aren’t going to be perfect, and thus you won’t have a perfect alignment on all 4 corners.

 As you can see in this photo, I assumed my cuts were going to be perfect, and when I got to the 4th corner the gap was pretty obvious and required a good amount of wood putty to fill.

Alignment of corners.

Alignment of corners.

Step 5: Prep the surface

Now that the trim is mounted to the poplar, it is time to do any necessary clean-up to the raw wood before we can paint/stain.

  • First thing, clean up any wood glue along the seams that might have oozed out when the boards were nailed together. A damp paper towel works fine.
  • Second, if anything doesn’t look like a tight fit, you can use a variety of clamps to press the boards together snugly. If you do use clamps, you will probably need to wipe off any excess glue again. If if didn’t squeeze out before, once clamped, it will!
  • If you do need to clamp the boards together, set it aside for about 2-4 hours (read the instructions on your particular wood glue for working time).
  • The next step is to fill any voids using wood putty. Make sure your putty is stainable, not all wood putty is! I prefer to use wood based products found online instead of the DAP plastic wood options found at Home Depot. The smell and Prop 65 warnings are a little scary on plastic wood. Use the wood putty to fill in any gaps in the corner joints, or in any gaps between the trim and 1”x8” Poplar board.
  • Set the project aside depending on the working time for the particular putty product used. When it’s time, come back with some high grit sandpaper and clean up and smooth any areas that required putty. Also go ahead and sand the entire surface and sides that will be stained just to clean up any rough patches.

Step 6: Staining and Painting

Follow the directions on the stain, and apply the stain to the front and sides of the project. Try to avoid getting any stain on the magnetic holder, as it will leave a sticky residue on the metal.

Typically after applying stain, you will leave it on the surface for a few minutes and then wipe it down with a paper towel or rag. When wiping, try to wipe perpendicular to any grooves in the moulding (grooves highlighted in green). This technique will wipe more stain from the raised areas of the wood, while leaving more in the grooves, resulting in darker recesses.

More stain will remain in the recessed areas.

More stain will remain in the recessed areas.

After the stain is dry, use some inexpensive black, acrylic craft paint to paint any of the recessed areas near the magnet that are not stained. Unlike stain, if you accidentally get some acrylic paint on the magnet, acrylic paint will dry and can be easily scrapped off, instead of being a sticky mess!

Black paint to hide missed stained areas.

Black paint to hide missed stained areas.

 

After staining the sword mount, I like to leave the project in an out of a way place for a few days to allow the stain to off-gas and fully dry. A covered back porch or a basement both work well.

Step 7: Cutting a Keyhole Slot

We want our sword mount to be flush against the wall. First this looks very clean and professional, but a flush mount is also more secure as the mount is more solidly resting against the wall behind it.
There are a few options for making these keyhole slots:

  1. They make a keyhole router bit for routers and Dremels. This option is pretty self explanatory; follow the directions that come with the bit.
  2. You can use a drill, a Dremel, and a few more common Dremel bits to achieve the same effect. You will need a larger drill bit, a smaller drill bit, a Dremel cutter bit, and a Dremel straight router bit.
    Needed Dremel bits.

    Needed Dremel bits:

    • Drill a large hole with the larger drill bit.
    • Drill a second hole with the smaller drill bit approximately .5 inches above the larger hole.
    • Use the straight router bit to connect the 2 holes along their centers.
    • Finally, lower the cutter bit into the larger hole, and follow the same line as above. This will create a groove for the screw head to slide along.
  3. Lastly, if you don’t have access to a router or Dremel, you can use something like this piece of hardware to achieve the same effect using only a chisel (I think).

Step 8: Mounting to the Wall

Most likely you will not have wall studs directly behind where you cut the keyhole slots. Even if you space the 2 keyhole slots 16” apart, to center your sword mount, they probably will not align with hidden studs. But that is fine. That is why they make some truly incredible drywall anchors. These are my personal favorite. Rather than drilling a hole and tapping them into place, they are self drilling, and stop once they are flush with the surface of the wall.

Once you shoot the screws into the anchors, they split open and lock the anchor into place. You can also play with the depth of the screws in the anchor to ensure a nice snug fit between the wall and the sword mount. Some other types of drywall anchors don’t give you the flexibility to adjust the depth of the screws, another reason that I prefer these.

Step 9: Mount the Swords

Now it’s time to hang your collection on the wall.
A few things to keep in mind to avoid injury or a scary crash in the middle of the night.

  • If you used the recommended magnetic holder, it should have no problem holding the weight of most swords, allowing you some play in positioning them higher or lower on the mount.**
  • If you use a weaker magnet, the cross guards might have to rest on the upper lip of the wood. This can severely limit the space on the mount, which is why I suggest the holder that I listed up above.

**No matter what, this is IMPORTANT… you want to make sure that the weight of the portion of the sword above the magnet is about equal to the weight below it. If you attach the swords too high so that the swords are top heavy, a good door slam, or any vibration really, can cause the imbalanced sword to pivot like a pendulum with the magnet working like an axle. As it swings, it will most likely knock the others swords around, or off the wall, stabbing anything and everything around. I speak from personal experience. I had to patch a 2 inch gash in the drywall (and put on a clean pair underwear!) after hearing a frightening crash about 10 minutes after proudly hanging the swords on the wall.

Finished Sword mount

Finished Sword Mount

The Land RPG Charity Event

The Land RPG Charity Event

Aleron Kong is putting on a charity event to promote his RPG, The Land. The event will be held the Saturday of Jordan Con, and details are as follows:

ARLA01-01: Hoof & Arrow The Virsmen grow ever bolder in the Tor’Valek Valley, and their raids upon the farmers of Arladon have sparked fears of famine and strife. One noble house wants to reestablish a defensive border against these raiders, and seeks help in raising awareness to their cause. Will you help defend the people of Arladon, or seek to profit off their lack of security? A one-round introductory adventure for 1st and 2nd level characters set west of the Principality of Arladon.
When: Saturday 4/18, 10am-2pm

FALD01-01 Glitterhearth Hark and Horror! A Gnomish home has been overrun by foul beasts. Armed mercenaries are needed to make it habitable again, but how can they honor you without access to their prizes? Will you enter the Hearth of Herronton and give the Gnomes a happy jubilation? A one-round introductory adventure for 1st and 2nd level characters set near the Sovereign City of Faldspar.
When: Saturday 4/18, 3pm-7pm

DURG01-01 Missing Links In the Red Venom Plains, food is as valuable of a resource as any sparkling metal or mineral. A flock of pigs has gone missing from the stocks of Durgendale, and a call for mercenaries has been issued to retrieve them. Can you return the pigs to their pen, and bring their captors to justice? A one-round introductory adventure for 1st and 2nd level characters that begins in the Commonwealth of Durgendale.
When: Saturday 4/18, 8pm-12am

Space Slug Adventures in Creation

Space Slug Adventures in Creation

While reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson, I fell in love with many of the characters. Spensa and Skyward Flight are fun worth spending time with, if you have not read the book already. The non-human characters became my absolute favorites. After Isaac Stewart created an amazingly cute depiction of Doomslug, I had to create one for myself. The little yellow and blue space slug can pull at you with her gentle fluting. This November, readers find out more about Doomslug in Starsight. In support, I thought others might enjoy creating their own space slugs.

My mission was to create a slug pattern to create a cuddly Doomslug that mimics Stewart’s design. After some experiments with dart lines, curves, and other sewing tricks, I hit upon the proper shape to mimic Stewart’s rather rounded artwork rather than using a pattern that looks like an Earth slug (footnote 1).

Making your own space slug requires a handful of tools and a moderate skill level at sewing. The included pattern and instructions will walk you through the process.

Sewing Supplies:

Required:

  • ½ yard of primary material
  • ½ yard of accent material
  • ½ yard of fusible interfacing medium weight
  • Spools of thread of matching colors
  • Cotton or polyester stuffing
  • Black fabric material for eyes
  • Black and white embroidery thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing pins
  • Scissors
  • Bobbins

Optional Supplies:

  • Walking Foot for your sewing machine – Highly recommended.
  • Roller cutting blade
  • Metal ruler/flat edge
  • 1/8 yard Double sided interfacing for eyes

More Optional supplies for an internal weighted pouch:

Reason – This gives the slug more heft and allows it to balance on its own better.

  • ¼ yard of third cotton material
  • Poly-fil pellets – up to 1 pound
  • Cotton or polyester batting

Note on Material:

Any material can be used to create your space slug: cotton, fleece, flannel, velveteen, etc. When working with the thicker sections, a walking foot will save you a number of headaches. If your fabric has a nap, including velvet or micro fleece, it’s best to cut your pattern pieces one layer at a time. Double check that the nap direction is the one you want. Ideally the nap will flow smoothly from the front to the back. If you plan to use velvet, please read this helpful tutorial before cutting your pattern pieces.

I bought a bright polyester velvet for many of my space slug creations. The one shown with straight spines was made with pure plush fleece, which is incredibly soft.

Pattern:

The pattern is printed on three pages of 11”x17″.
It will create a slug approximately: 6” tall x 13” long x 16” around.

Scale up or down to change the size of the slug. The ruffle and spines pattern need to be altered less, they are fine for a 15% +/- in size change. Brandon Sanderson said my original design was “just a tad too big.” The original design was 10% larger, creating a slug: 8” tall x 15” long x 20” around.

Cutting Directions:

Lay out the Body Pattern pieces on the main fabric. Match the nap of your fabric if applicable.
Cut matching pieces on interfacing as well. The second cut should be a mirror to the first.

Body Pattern pieces are:

1D Pattern PIece

Mirror of the pattern pieces 1D.

 

  • Body Side (1A) – cut 2
  • Body Base (1B) – cut 1
  • Face piece (1C) – cut 1
  • Top curve (1D) – cut 2
  • Top side (1E) – cut 2
  • Head Top (1F) – cut 1
  • Eye (1G) – cut 2

 

Accent Pattern pieces cut on accent fabric:
Body Ruffle (2A) – cut 1 – Cut on a double fold – Needs to be at least 40″ to go around the body with extra gathering. For a fuller ruffle, cut a longer piece or sew two pieces together.

Spines (2B) – cut 4 – Zig-zag spines should be cut on a double fold – Need to be between 50″ to 60″ to have enough length for deep loops.

Internal pouch – no pattern, no interfacing – simply cut a rectangle 20” long by 4” wide.

Note: The accent pieces are all long rectangles. It’s easiest to square up your fabric on a self-healing mat. Cut in strips with the help of a straight edge and using a roller blade cutter.

Design Choices:
Before you start making your space slug, you need to decide which style you are going to make. Besides fabric choice, each creator chooses the style of eyes and spines they want to make. For the eyes, pick if you want to use fabric eyes or if you will embroider them.
The spines are the harder choice, and often driven by your fabric choice. Thicker fleece will be very difficult to turn into the zig-zag loops.

Spine option 1: Zig-zags – Requires more material and more sewing skills. Your spine strips will each need to be between 50” to 60” in length. Thus the “cut on the fold” note for the pattern could represent a double fold. This design better mimics the official Doomslug design, but are not true spines.

Option 2: Straight Tubes – Requires the spine stripes to be the length of the slug’s body, about 14” each, if you don’t resize the pattern. These are much easier and quicker to attach.

Spine Opt. 1 (right) and Opt. 2 (left)

Two different spine designs. Opt. 1 – Zig-zag (right) and Opt. 2 – Straight (left)

Sewing Directions:

Body pieces have a seam allowance of ⅜”

The full sewing directions with helpful images are found here and can be printed easily.
The basic sewing order of operations are:

  1. Sew the spine tubes together – four of 2B
  2. Sew the Ruffle – one of 2A
  3. Iron the interfacing to all the body parts – 1A to 1F.
  4. Pick the type of eyes you want to create.  Attach or sew them onto the face piece 1C.
  5. Sew the lower body together: 1A (2 pieces), 1B, and 1C
  6. Sew the ruffle 2A onto the lower body piece.
  7. Pin the Spines 2B to first 1D for each side.
  8. Lay 1E on top of the spines, sew together.
  9. Attach a Spine 2B to Half of 1F.
  10. Attach 1F to one side of the top body.
  11. Layout and attach the Spines to the joined 1F and 1E piece.
  12. Attach the other side of the body to finish the top half of the slug.
  13. To attach the two halves together – Right sides of fabric together, line up the center of the piece 1F to the face 1C. Pin around the body. Be sure to leave an opening at the back or on a lower side for turning the body right side out.
  14. Create the internal weighted pouch by sewing a simple pouch.
  15. Fill with poly-fil beads, then sew closed.
  16. Wrap pouch with batting, stuff into the slug body.
  17. Use cotton or poly fiberfil to stuff the slug body to the density you wish.
  18. Sew the opening closed. I hand-stitch mine.
Slug body before finishing

Bottom and top half of the space slug body before joining them together.

Enjoy taking your space slug on adventures!

Sanderson and Doomslug, 2019

Brandon Sanderson with Doomslug at DragonCon

 

Doomslug group, DragonCon 2019

Gathering of Doomslugs at DragonCon, 2019.

If you make a space slug, please share your creation with me, Deana Whitney, either by emailing me at Workshop@jordancon.org, sharing it on Instagram at JordanConInc or Doomslug_Adventures, or showing it directly to Isaac Stewart at Izykstewart.

Note: This Space slug pattern is for fun and personal use only. You may not use this pattern to create a for-profit item. Deana Whitney is the creator and owner of the sewing pattern. Copyright of Doomslug is held by Dragonsteel Entertainment, Inc.

All photos copyright by Deana Whitney, 2019.

Footnote 1:

My first version of Doomslug was made for the signing party, but it looked like an earth slug.  To create it, I enlarged the Delilah Iris by 200% to create a 8” long slug. The back spines are a rectangle piece accordion folded, whipped stitched closed, attached to the back piece, then cut in random spikes. The bottom ruffle was another enlargement of the base pattern piece.

Earth Slug

Slugs from the Delilah Iris pattern.

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