In this segment of the Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey’s costume series we’ll show how we made Rey’s staff prop using “scavenged” parts available from Home Depot for around $50!
It is important to note that these instructions will make a nice prop staff for a Rey’s costume, but it will not be 100% screen accurate. If you want a truly accurate version to match the movie prop there are currently 3D printed staffs, with all the correct detailing, available for sale on www.etsy.com.
To make this scavenged parts version of Rey’s staff, I first read the outstanding tutorial provided at:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Reys-Staff-Star-Wars-The-Force-Awakens/?ALLSTEPS , which uses a system of 1/2″ PVC pipe sections, connected with electrical tape and coated with plasti-dip. The basic idea of the instructables tutorial is to add plastic parts over PVC pipe to build it up and add details, making the final staff look like one continuous piece of steel.
Armed with this helpful information I decided to make some alterations when making my staff. First, I increased the pipe size from 1/2″ to 3/4″ to make the staff more rigid. Next, I decided to use a single piece of pipe approximately 6 feet long, instead of joining several smaller sections together.
Most importantly, I added a bilge hose which simulates the detail of threaded steel sections on Rey’s staff.
During construction I also added as many “scavenged” pieces to the staff as I could to make the staff look as authentic as possible. Several pieces came from old faucet repair parts, but sprinkler parts are also a good option. Any pieces made of plastic that look like something made of metal will help to make the staff look more like the movie prop.
After purchasing these primary parts from Home Depot, I went to work boring them out with a Dremel tool to make each piece slide over the 3/4″ PVC pipe. Using online photos of the staff for reference, I laid out and marked each piece on the PVC pipe to achieve the overall look I wanted.
The bilge hose was easily cut with a hacksaw into several sections to make the threaded areas on the staff. I also cut the ends off of two 3/4″ PVC caps to cap off the ends of the staff and give it a finished look.
For the “fins” I used some 1/4″ thick scrap luan wood cut to size with some of the material removed from the edge to create the appearance of a double fin. There are 3 sets on these spaced evenly on Rey’s staff. To make the upper details I also used thin pieces of wood and rounded the edges.
Once the process of cutting, boring, and test fitting pieces was complete, the length of the pipe needed to be determined. I checked the location of the staff straps on the parts layout and cut the PVC pipe to the proper length for the staff. It should be around 6 feet for most people, but it does need to be sized to the height of the person wearing it so it does not end up out of scale or hitting the ground when it is slung across the wearer’s back.
After determinig the proper length, I began the gluing process. Starting at one end each piece was slid onto the pipe and glued with Gorilla Glue, a strong multi purpose adhesive. Gorilla Glue expands as it cures, so it’s best to use it sparingly. I secured some pieces with rubber bands to keep them in place until the glue set. As described in the Instructables information, I used black coiled telephone cords wrapped around the pipe and glued in place for both of the “grip” areas on each end of the staff. The bilge hose fit slightly loose over the PVC pipe, so I first glued some thin wood strips to those sections to effectively shim underneath the hose so it fit snugly. After letting the glue dry, I used some pliers and coarse sandpaper to add some distressed & damaged areas on various sections of the staff, since Rey’s staff should be worn and appear heavily used.
Next it was time for priming and painting for an authentic looking finish. Primer is important to give paint a nice surface to adhere to. I used rust color red primer in a spray can. When using spray finishes, it’s best to shake the can well and use short spray bursts in a sweeping motion across the item being painted and to apply thin coats. I added a small amount of textured spray paint on various areas of the staff to help simulate the look of a rusty surface.
After the primer dried I used a series of sponge blotting and washes with brown, black and rust color acrylic paint to create an old rusty looking surface on the staff. The finish is lighter than the movie version, but I liked the overall look and highlight of the details from the rusty finish. When I was satisfied with the rust coloring I used silver and gunmetal colors applied by drybrushing specific spots to add the final highlights. After the paint dried I used a matte clear coat to seal and protect the paint.
The middle section of Rey’s staff is wrapped with several different colored fabrics. This was created by using scrap fabric and leather cut into thin strips and wrapped around the staff. Each end of the sling attaches to Rey’s staff using H-shaped leather attachement parts with a D-shaped ring in the middle.
I used dark brown scrap leather, to make these pieces, but the movie version appears to be made from black leather with gray weathering. Each leather attachment end has a set of 2 snaps to secure it to the staff. I used standard snaps from Hobby Lobby which include the setting parts to install them. They can be easily attached using just a hammer and a punch or other tool to make a hole in the leather.
The movie prop uses a thick canvas strap that appears to be from 2 vintage Enfield style slings with raised edges that were sewn together. Replica Enfield slings are available at military surplus stores or on ebay if you are trying to achieve screen accuracy. Being on a budget and in a rush to complete this prop before Halloween, I used an inexpensive fabric trim which was approximately 1 inch wide. The fabric trim was then looped through a sliding buckle to allow the length to be adjusted.
The final step was to weather the strap with some watered down acrylic paint and attach each end to the staff using antique brass swivel snap hooks similiar to the parts used on the movie prop. Currently, the staff is one continuous 6 foot piece, but for transporting it you could split the staff into 2 sections. This can be easily achieved by cutting the PVC pipe into 2 pieces in the center of the fabric wrap section, then gluing a male and female threaded PVC adapter on each side to create a threaded joint. When assembled, the fabric wraps will cover the threaded joint.
I was able to get this piece completed by Halloween and was very happy with the final result. Rey’s staff is the defining prop for her outfit and made the costume immediately identifiable as Rey, even before The Force Awakens had been released in theaters!