Friday, March 5, 2010

Magic Spear

This magical Zulu spear goes with the Zulu shield I posted about earlier. In a magical moment, the Zulu warrior draws out a plan of attack on the back of his shield with the point of his spear, the young girl then takes his cue and edits the plan, also with the tip of the spear. Here's how I did it.

I started again with my draw knife, to turn a broom stick into a believable natural looking stick.
I cut a spear point shape out of foam board and attached it to the end of the stick using electrical tape and epoxy putty.
I wired up a simple circuit using a UV-LED bulb, a push button switch, and a battery. All available at Radio Shack.
Two quick lessons I learned while doing this. First, LED lights are directional. They only work if the positive and the negative are attached to the correct sides. Before you decide that your circuit doesn't work, turn the battery over. Second, pay attention to the amount of power the bulb can handle. Before I realized the battery needed to be turned over, I tested the bulb with a 9V battery, and totally fried it. If I had looked, the bag on the LED lights stated that they were rated for 3V, good thing more than one comes in a pack. I soddered a new bulb into the system and tried again.

I used the same type of leather cord wrapping and feathers I did on the shield to help hide the wiring on the handle, and then I smoothed epoxy putty over the spear point to cover the wiring there and to give the spear a carved stoned look.

I added this muslin panel to the back of the shield and painted it with a glow in the dark paint (marketed for arts and crafts and kids rooms). The UV light acts like a pen on the glow-in-the-dark surface. It charges the paint briefly, leaving a glowing line that fades away slowly.

In the light it looks like this.
In the dark it looks like this.

I was a little disappointed in how long the image lasted, only 4 or 5 seconds, but it was still very cool and magical. In the end the drawing that the Zulu did was permanently drawn onto the muslin with green paint pen, (as we don't see him doing his drawing very well anyway) and the magic effect was just used for when the girl did her drawing.

Also, a brief plug for The DNA Trail at Silk Road Theatre Project. It opens tomorrow night and I'm pretty excited for it.

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