Table Top RPG Creators Corner — Prop Crafter Ash
by Anton Kromoff
Welcome to the table.
I had a chance to sit down with Ash and take about her creative inspiration and process.
Anton Kromoff: Hello Ash and thank you so much for sitting down with me and talking about your craft. Your various online galleries showcase a variety of swords, shields, and fantasy-style props from role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and Skyrim. Tell us a little bit about the craft person behind the craft.
Ash: Thank you so much for reaching out, I’m thrilled to be here! Hi, my name is Ash and I make stuff. I’m a prop maker/sometimes cosplayer from Australia. When I’m not making stuff, I like to play video games and create compelling backstories for my D&D characters. I’m currently playing in a short series of connected one-shots as a water genasi fighter/sorcerer named Damp.
My parents used to say that when I was a kid, I would say “I have an idea!” and run off into my room to build things and it filled them with terror. I’ve been cosplaying since I was 16ish, but over the course of the past few years I have started to prefer making props rather than whole costumes, it’s much less daunting.
Anton: In your bios, you mention being an ANZ member of the Mentor’s Guild. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Ash: Yeah absolutely! In May 2020, the first trailer for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla dropped. I have been an AC fan since I was in high school so I was pretty stoked at the new game news so I sat down and over that weekend, made a version of Eivor’s raven clan shield. Laura from Ubisoft ANZ reached out to me and asked if I would like to get early access to their cosplay guide when it was ready and I said yes, of course, I would love that.
I made a few more Assassin’s Creed related props over the course of the year and then in November, Laura reached out again to offer me a place in the Mentor’s Guild and I wholeheartedly accepted. It’s a really great initiative set in place by Ubisoft internationally to recognize people who can help shape the future of the AC community. As Mentors, we have been recognized for our passion for both the series and the content we create, as well as our attitude in the community. It’s a fantastic opportunity!
Anton: Recently you have showcased a replica of Dusk’s sword, Dusk (art above created by @agarthanguide) being an elven warlock played by Erika Ishii (@erikaishii) on Critical Role Campaign 3. Can you take us through what your process was from inspiration to completion?
Ash: So, I’ve been following Erika for a while and they retweeted their character’s art after their first appearance. I opened it in a new tab and stared at it for maybe five minutes before I decided “yep, I’m gonna make that”. I spent an hour researching rapiers and creating the first design of it, which ended up being pretty true to the finished piece.
I cut my patterns out of MDF wood, the blade onto 9mm and the guard and blade spiral onto 3mm; the blade was pretty straightforward, I just cut it out, made a center line and sanded it to shape, but the guard and spiral I had to manipulate I soaked them in hot (but not boiling) water, set up a few jigs using a lot of clamps and bent and twisted them into shape. It took a few days for them to dry because we were going into winter at the time, but once they did, they were set. Then it was just a matter of picking out the final shape from the wood, cutting and sanding it down to shape, sealing everything so I could get a nice, smooth finish to it and painting it!
The crystals are made of resin, I have a handful of rough quartz points here so I made a silicone mould of them and just made as many as I thought I needed using clear resin afterwards. I sanded the handle entirely out of meranti, used my files to get a good spiral onto it and then once it was painted, inlaid silver wire into the groove. Putting everything together was almost a spiritual experience. I definitely cried a few times because I could not believe it came together with so little issue. And having Erika Ishii themself say such wonderful things about it made me very warm.
Q: Where do you draw your inspiration to create?
Ash: In terms of items, I like beautiful things. I like being able to take a raw material and mess with it and in the end, have something beautiful. And I like challenging myself! Last year I made the Dagger of Death’s Flowers from Resident Evil: Village simply because I didn’t think that I could, but eventually, I settled into the rhythm and was able to figure out the tiny, individual details and it turned out pretty fiddly, but beautiful. Things with beautiful details or interesting shapes or patterns all inspire me. And sometimes, I just want to make stuff!
In terms of people, Adam Savage first and foremost. I watch his one day builds when I create because he is just genuinely so enthusiastic about the things he creates and the process he goes through to make them. If I’m ever feeling uncertain about a build, I look at his work because his enthusiasm is genuinely contagious. I’m also inspired by my best friends, Vic (@vic_crafts) and Beth (@megabethbob). They are both fantastic cosplayers and creators and I love watching their ideas blossom and come together. Their out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to creation inspires me to push myself further every day. ❤️
Anton: Can you let us in on what any of your current projects are?
Ash: Honestly, even I don’t know! I tend to start things that I abandon quickly, and then the projects that I do finish tend to surprise me when I get them done. I think I might want to make some daggers next, and I have some axes that I’ve been working on for the last 2.5 years for a friend that I’ve been slowly chipping away at. I have been working on a dream project for 4 years, I might finish it this year. I also might not. It really depends on what strikes my fancy at any given moment.
Anton: Thank you so much for allowing us to talk with you about your craft. Please let our readers know where they can follow your work and keep up with what you are creating.
Ash: Thank you so much for the opportunity! You can catch me making stuff over on instagram.com/ashmakesstuff and making stuff and rambling about a lot of things on Twitter @ashmakesstuff