Anubis – Staff & purse

Ankh sketch

I’m calling the hanging ankh a ‘purse’ even if it isn’t actually a purse… basically it’s just an ankh that I’ll end up carrying, so I’m calling it a purse.


1) The staff started off as a bamboo pole that I had (I had actually planned to give it away, but never ran into the person I was going to give it to – so I re-purposed it for the Anubis staff).

2) For the ankh itself, I started off by drawing an ankh on my computer (so I could make sure it was even, and then easily size it up and down for a pattern), and then measured the diameter of my pole (approx 1.5″) and printed off the ankh pattern so the base of the ankh would accommodate the pole.

3) This I cut out of styrofoam. I cut two copies out of a thin foam (leftover packing material, not purchased) and then cut the top half out of a thicker foam, then cut side pieces of the thinner foam as well. Basically the bottom of the ankh is an empty box, while the top is solid, so that the ankh will fit over my bamboo pole.

4) I taped the bottom half of the two full ankhs with masking tape, and then taped the full ones on either side of the half, thicker foam piece. Then I taped in the side pieces.

From there I covered the whole thing with masking tape,  to make the ankh a bit more stable, as well as to prepare the foam for paper mache.

Top half of the thicker foam attached to the full ankh for the staff

5) I really loved the extra dimension that SamUK made on her cosplay staff (visit this link – it’s gorgeous!) using craft foam, so I also cut out some additional shapes from craft foam and glued them onto the ankhs before covering them in paper mache.  I just used hot glue for this step.

6) From there I covered the whole thing with paper mache (just using white glue and warm water plus a ripped up newspaper. I only used one layer of paper mache, since I didn’t really need to add any extra bulk.

Close up of some of the detail with the foam covered in paper mache and wood filler

7) Next -wood filler.  I picked up one tube, and about half way through the ankh for the “purse” and the staff I realized that I was going to need more…. either way – I smeared the stuff on, then smoothed it with my hands, and when it was still cool to the touch but drying I sort of “buffed” it with my hands.  (I actually did this on one, and less so on the other – and the buffing really helped make the sanding a lot easier…)  A few hours later (I went for sushi in between!) I sanded the ankh.  The sanding didn’t really get it quite as smooth as I wanted, so I went  onto the next step…

Smoothed out wood filler

8) I have NO idea if this is the right thing to do – but I used a tiny drop of warm water on my fingertips to smooth the filler even further, let it dry again (but this time overnight) and then lightly sanded it again.

9) From here I wiped off the remaining dust and spray painted the ankh black as a base coat. I was sad to see a lot of the details of the additions seem to fade away with the matte black colour.

The ankh spray painted black

10) Then I spray painted it copper, and finally I painted with gold spray-paint. I really didn’t like the gold, and really liked the copper, so went back in and added a few ‘highlights’ of copper as well. The gold just didn’t look ‘metallic’ enough for me.  Once that dried,  I went in with black acrylic paint to bring back out the details and ‘age’ the gold a little bit, before spraying the ankh with clear varnish.  It’s funny.. I spent so much time sanding to ensure that the smooth parts were smooth… and then went back in with the black paint to bring out all of the defects. Hahaha

Finished paint job

11) Of course, from there I had to attach the ankh to the pole itself!


The flashlight inside the channel in the ankh

1) For the ankh that I would carry, I took the same pattern as the ankh for the staff and enlarged it so that the top loop would accommodate my hand (since the ankh is shown often carried in the hand rather than by a cord in most of the carvings – rather than my inspiration statue).

2) This I cut out of foam core (again, leftover from another project, rather than something I purchased for the purpose) twice, like the previous project. I then cut the same ankh out of styrofoam that is thicker than the foam core, but thinner than the thick styrofoam I used for the staff ankh.

I found the styrofoam fairly easy to cut with a box cutter (with my self-healing mat under to protect my table) but the edges are ragged.  On the other hand, the foam core has nice clean lines, but is much more challenging to cut.  The foam core is also quite a bit heavier than the styrofoam – not seriously heavy by any means, but noticeably heavier.  The result is also much firmer, and not as ‘spongy’.

3) Next, in an effort to accommodate a small flashlight (so that my ankh might ‘glow’) I cut out a channel from the inner foam.  I hope that this works, but it’s not vital for the prop, so if it doesn’t I won’t be devastated…

4) Then like the previous ankh, I layered the foam core, styrofoam and second foam core ankh and taped them together, then fully taping the ankhs for firmness and to give the paper mache something to stick to.

Two ankhs, taped up and ready for paper mache

5) Just like the ankh for the staff, I added on some details with craft foam using hot glue, then covered the whole thing in paper mache. From there I added the wood filler, sanded, water-smoothed, and sanded again.

The two ankhs before painting

6) From here I wiped off the remaining dust and spray painted the ankh black.  Then I spray painted it copper, and finally I painted with gold spray-paint. Like the staff ankh, I really prefered the copper to the gold, so went back in and added more copper to highlight the peice a bit.

7) From there I went in with black acrylic paint to bring out the details and ‘age’ the gold a little bit, before spraying the ankh with clear varnish. From here it’s good to go; I just need to drop in that miniature flashlight!

Hey there Pinterest users!

Make_a_light_costume_accessoryI’m updating this post to add a Pinterest-friendly how-to guide. Just click the image for a full-size version.

One comment on “Anubis – Staff & purse

  1. […] white fabric. I wound the fabric around the top of the pole, and then put the ankh down over top.  Click this link to read the full post about the staff.  I would have liked to paint the pole gold, but I wasn’t sure that the bamboo was the right […]

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