Sunday, June 2, 2013


At Anime Boston this year (2013), I cosplayed as the character Celty Sturluson, the modern take on a Dullahan from the anime "Durarara!!" (exclamations points included). Boy was this an adventure, from decision to materials to construction and then to actual physical cosplay. Let me break this down - what I did, what I would do next time, how it all went, etc. And hopefully, my documented experiences here would help inspire any future Celty cosplayers!

In truth, this isn't so much an instruction blog for how to make a Celty helmet and scythe, but more of a trial and error log, tips and advice column, and experimentation report from an amateur cosplayer. But I digress-


WARNING: This is a VERY LONG and PHOTO HEAVY POST! Read on after the break!

TL;DR points:
  • Start early! If you decide to make your own helmet and scythe, make sure you have the materials well ahead of time!
  • Plan ahead! Working with Bondo requires an extraordinarily and painstakingly tedious amount of sanding, and any sort of paintwork needs time to dry!
  • Have plenty of sleep and rest! It was interesting to note that most of my freehanding work did come in the late hours of the night and while they still managed to come out quite well, I do NOT recommend this method to others. Sleep is important, especially when working with tools and details!

(Read on!)


I based my design off the Celty figurine, and used an extremely minimal amount of formal measuring, favoring 'eye-balling' (guesstimation) and some artistic licensing. Keep in mind this is only one method out of many, and perhaps with more practice and experience, this procedure could be better perfected. As this was my first time sculpting foam and working with Bondo, I learned quite a bit about my own abilities and gained some new skills!

I ordered a yellow dirtbike helmet and a fullbody catsuit online, and they arrived the Monday of the week of the con. Cutting it close! I used the helmet as a base, while the scythe was entirely made from scratch materials. Then, a few days shy of the con, my friends helped me acquire the black gloves and black boots, which helped complete the outfit.


Stage 1: Sculpting


  • Rigid Blue Foam - The actual name for this is "STYROFOAM Brand Rigid Foam Insulation", and you can get it at DOW Building Solutions's website, or Home Depot.
  • Rasper - I personally used and preferred the Surfoam Pocket Plane, but any shaving/rasping/foam-sculpting tool will suffice here. Home Depot also sells similar tools.
  • Hot Wire Cutter - MITERS had their own hot wire cutter a member had built, so I just utilized this. If you can't access one through a hacker/makerspace or lab, you can buy one online or do without. The procedure will just take a little more time.
  • Cutting Blade (optional) - I mainly used this to extrude chunky cuts to save rasping time. As always when working with blades, be careful! I got a long cut on my thumb from not paying enough attention. Don't make my mistake!
  • Masking tape and plastic wrap - For protecting the visor in preparation for the later stages.

***Important notes (PLEASE READ!):***

  • Blue foam is CARCINOGENIC, so DON'T BREATHE IT IN. Always wear a mask and safety glasses while working with this material.
  • Work in a workshop, garage space, or something similar. Do NOT sculpt inside the house, or have fans blowing around in the work space; the foam shavings will get EVERYWHERE.
  • Work over a large garbage bin if possible. Otherwise, just make sure to contain your work so it's easier to clean up afterwards.
  • Have a working vacuum cleaner ready (preferably a hand-operated one as well) for cleanup immediately after you're done sculpting.
  • Wear old clothes to work in; you will most definitely get your shirt and pants dirty in the upcoming stages!

I used rigid blue foam to sculpt the ears for Celty's helmet, guesstimating the girth and curvature of the shapes from an image reference I found online. I used the hot wire cutter to cut the giant block into the smaller wedges, and then spent some hours sanding them down to the desired shape.

Because these forms were eyeballed, and not formally measured, they were slightly asymmetric and did not hug the curvature of the top of the helmet as tightly as I would have liked. However, I was plenty pleased of my handiwork nonetheless; I managed to get both desired shaped on the first try, from mere looking and freehanding. In the next version (if there ever is another one), I would have focused more on accurately measuring the base contour of the ears to better fit the top of the helmet. That fix would save me a lot of trouble during the filling stage later.

Above: Visor is plastic wrapped and masked off with masking tape
in preparation for the next stages!

Mask off the visor and insides of the helmet, clean your workstation, then move on to...

Stage 2: Filling


  • Bondo - Found in most hardware stores (or on the Bondo online site), this two-part putty helps fill in gaps and imperfections in a wide range of materials (wood, tile, metal, etc). I used it to bind the sculpted blue foam to my helmet, though Bondo is used mostly by autobody repair shops and carpenters.
  • Sandpaper - Used to sand down paint off the helmet, in preparation for the Bondo treatment.
  • Gloves - Required for working with Bondo, and very helpful when using hands to help mold the putty around the materials.
  • Popsicle sticks - For mixing Bondo, and helping to spread the putty.
  • EXTRA HAND(S) - Friends are wonderful! <3

***Important notes (PLEASE READ!):***

  • Work in a well-ventilated room. Bondo fumes are TOXIC; while short-term exposure is not as risky, you definitely don't want to be working around it for any length of time without any sort of good, moving air. Bondo smells ...terrible; work with a mask if possible!
  • Make sure the helmet visor is masked off in this stage!

I had 3 great friends helping me with this stage - kudos to Julia, Charles, and Dane! We first sanded down the area where the ears would be placed, then after mixing the Bondo resin with the hardener, we applied the goopy putty to the sanded parts on the helmet first, to provide an adhesive-like base for the blue foam ears.


Quickly applying more Bondo to the outside of the sculpted blue foam, we continued to apply Bondo, much like applying frosting to cake. Gloves and popsicle sticks, or any other spreaders, will work in this stage!

Above: Yum, Bondo frosting....

Don't worry too much about the Bondo having sharp uneven edges. As long as all the crevices are filled and the overlying shape is solid, the rough edges can be sanded away. Let the structure set and dry for an hour or so (depending on the amount).

Notice how in the picture above, some of the Bondo overlapped near the masked off areas? Try to avoid this! Hug the masking tape tight to the edges of the visor, and allow the Bondo to only touch the helmet, NOT the masking tape! It makes sanding the hardened putty flush to the helmet much easier in Stage 3.

Clean your workstation, then move on to...

Stage 3: Sanding


  • Palm Sander - Available at Home Depot, Harbor Freight (like this orbital sander), or any other hardware store. These are good for sustained work on any significantly sized rough surface needing to be smoothed.
  • Sandpaper - Good for the nooks and crannies the automatic sander can't reach. Sometimes a good manual sanding by hand is what's needed for points and edges.
  • Files (optional) - Also good for sanding, and can be found in hardware stores (like these in Harbor Freight).
  • Shop-Vac (optional) - Will make cleaning a whole lot easier. Optional because of the price; these usually populate workshops, but you don't necessarily need one for residential use. Just make sure you have an effective vacuum!

***Important notes (PLEASE READ!):***

  • This is another case where you want to work with a fan off. Sanding Bondo kicks up an amazing amount of putty dust. Wear a mask and safety goggles when sanding the ears!
  • Work in a contained location if possible; cleaning an isolated area is much easier than cleaning the entire workshop that's covered in a thin layer of sanded off residue.
  • Wear old clothes! This step is especially messy!

Though there is not much to say about this Stage, this is perhaps the most time-consuming stage. I know I didn't spend nearly enough time as I should have spent sanding this time around. Make sure the inside of your helmet is well-covered as well; it saves time cleaning the inside of the helmet after this step.

Above: There aren't a lot of pictures of this stage, as the work was tedious
and the air pretty thick with dust.


After cleaning the space, it is time to move on to....

Stage 4: Painting

  • Primer - Helps to coat a uniform sheen of paint on your object.
  • Spraypaint - I used an Acrylic based spraypaint from Blick, but those coats worked disastrously with masking tape. In the next round (if I ever recreate this), I would try another brand.
  • Stencils - These can be made with paper, cardstock, etc. I used magazine catalog pages, which actually stuck to the paint at points, giving it a faint artistic touch with its random splattering of letter and numbers at points.
  • Black Permanent Markers - Good for touchups on the black details of Celty's helmet.
  • EXTRA HAND(s) - Friends are wonderful! <3

***Important notes (PLEASE READ!):***

  • Allot plenty of time for the primer and paint to dry! If you can, plan ahead of time how many layers of paint you'd like to apply and in what order.
  • Make sure your helmet is well masked, and easy to unmask at the end! Hard to reach tape can cause you to accidentally scrape off paint while trying to unwrap it.

I took off the original coat of masking tape and plastic wrap after the sanding, and reapplied a new layer of masking tape to protect the visor, mouth guard, and the black edges around the base of the helmet.

Charles helped apply the primer to both the scythe and the helmet, and after a demonstration of how to spraypaint from him, the first yellow coat of paint was ready to go!

Above: Learning from onlooking...

In my state of sleepy stupor, I freehanded a cutout of the "S" symbol on top and the checkmark "V's" on the sides of Celty's helmet with a magazine catalog last minute, while Julia helped to create the back stencils.

Notice in the photo above, there is a white splotch on the helmet. That was where we had tested a bit of masking tape on the acrylic spraypaint coat; it had taken a good chunk of the coat away when we took it off! Instant plan change - we decided to not mask anything, and apply the stencils by just holding them up. This is where having the extra pair of hands was incredibly helpful! Kudos to Julia for helping me spraypaint while I held the stencils in place!

I had masked the visor a little TOO well. I had to dig into small crevices to unmask everything, but once all the tape was off...

I had a lovely Celty helmet! Add some black permanent marker touchups, clean up your workstation, and then head to...

Stage 5: Adjustments

  • Dremel - I used a small abrasive wheel (can be found in Home Depot, Harbor Freight, etc) to chisel out part of the inside of my helmet foam. This was just to have the helmet fit my head better.
  • Sandpaper - Used to smooth out the rough edges of the dremeled out surfaces.
  • Packaging foam / soft cushion - Used to cover the exposed foam parts for comfort and long wear.
  • Compressor with an air nozzle / Hand-held vacuum - Used to blow out or suck up the residue produced from cutting and sanding. If these aren't readily available, just make sure to properly clean the inside of your helmet before wearing it!

***Important notes (PLEASE READ!):***

  • Like in Stage 1 (Sculpting), work over a garbage bin and in a workspace without fans, else the residue will kick up everywhere.
  • Depending on your helmet, you may not need this stage, or will need this stage for adjustments outside of fitting the helmet. If you find that your helmet does not fit you to begin with, try and adjust the inside BEFORE starting on Stage 2!

The helmet I ordered was a bit tight around my forehead and after half a day of wearing it on Friday, I knew I had to adjust the fitting for Saturday's all-day cosplay. So on Saturday morning, I spent some time at MITERS dremeling out a portion of the protective foam inside the helmet, sanding it down to fit, and applying some cushiony thin foam for comfort.

Adjustments complete! Saturday's cosplay felt a lot better on my head.

All in all, all the stages were completed in less than a week:

Monday - gather materials, plan
Tuesday - Sculpting
Wednesday - Filling and some Sanding
Thursday - Sanding and Painting (late into the night)
Friday - Cosplay day 1!
Saturday - Adjustments and Cosplay day 2!


Trivia: The time it took me to create the form of the scythe was orders of magnitude shorter than the amount of time spent on the Helmet. The majority of time for the scythe was spent in drying and Stage 2 (Painting).

Stage 1: Construction

  • Birch plywood - I used two thin planks of plywood, as I thought one would be too flimsy and weak. In hindsight, one plank would have been fine for just costume purposes.
  • Long PVC pipe - These can be found in Home Depot; choose a diameter to your liking and if you want, use a semi-long pipe in conjunction with a removable short pipe. This proved tremendously helpful during the Convention, as I could carry the scythe easier with it detached in two pieces, joining them together only for pictures.
  • Bandsaw / Jigsaw / Handsaw - If you're doing this as a one time fling and don't have access to a bandsaw (which most people don't), a jigsaw or handsaw will suffice. It will only be used to cut the plywood into the shape of the blade.
  • Epoxy - This more structurally stable adhesive is used to conjoin the plywood blade to the PVC pipe.
  • Extra Thick Cyanoacrylate Superglue (optional) - Thick superglue to hold the two pieces of plywood blades together. Optional if you opt for only one blade.
  • Heat Gun - Found in any hardware store (Home Depot, Harbor Freight, etc). This is used to create the bends in the PVC pipe.

***Important notes (PLEASE READ!):***

  • Apply generous amounts of adhesives and allot time for the scythe to dry! Though supple, light, and not sharp, this is still a prop weapon. Take care to make sure your blades are securely adhered to your PVC pipe!

I sadly didn't take pictures of cutting the blade, but the process went something like this: 1) Stare at the photo on Google Images, 2) use photo-reference to freehand the curve of the blades on the plywood with a ballpoint pen, 3) cut along lines with bandsaw. The top bit of the PVC pipe, where the plywood would be slotted in and adhered to, was more accurately measured, as I didn't want that joint to loosen in the middle of the Convention, and then milled out. Charles then helped to apply the heat gun to the PVC pipe so we could form the bend in the staff. After the Epoxy was applied to adhere the plywood blades to the PVC staff, we set the scythe to rest on a table to dry.

Above: Supergluing the blade after the Epoxy had dried at the hilt. Do this before!

Above: Setting weights to help adhere the plywood blades together.

After the adhesives had time to dry, then move on to...

Stage 2: Painting


  • Primer - Helps to coat a uniform sheen of paint on your object.
  • Spraypaint - I used the same Acrylic based spraypaint from Blick that I used for the helmet. The scythe was much easier to spraypaint, as it only required layers of black. One can was barely enough to coat the entire staff twice.

***Important notes (PLEASE READ!):***

  • Work in a well-ventilated workspace, and wear masks if you can!

The scythe really took on a character of its own once the black spraypaint was applied, and it was quite exciting to see everything start to come together, as this was the faster of the two homemade items (Helmet and Scythe) to be completed.

Above: Working in the garage that houses a version of the solar car...
Hmm. Better be careful where I aim the nozzle.


I went as part of a mini Durarara!! cosplay group with Charles (Shinra), Julia (Izaya), and her friend Haley (Shizuo). Overall, the weekend was a success! I saw a handful of Celty's, and a whole lot of Shizuo's and Izaya's. Charles was strangely enough, the only Shinra. (The other labcoat cosplayers turned out to be Okabe from Stein's Gate, haha.)

Above: Celty and Izaya!

Above: Celty, Izaya, and Shinra!

Above: Celty, Izaya, and Shizuo!

Above: Durarara!! group shot! Can you spot me?

I posed for quite a few pictures, had to have my visor propped open at times to allow for breathing, and was incredibly glad my face was hidden while I was wearing the catsuit. The scythe knocked into a few people, but thanks to my friends, the journey was much less painful than it could have been. Enjoyable and fun, I'm happy the costume came out alright and in time! Next year, hopefully I can step up the game even more!


  1. Kevin (Okabe #2) here! ^^ Omg Cyn, that's freakin amazing work you did for that cosplay! Must have been freakin hot as anything wearing it though. Will you be going to Otakon this year? Unfortunately I can't due to certain circumstances; sad face and rage, because there are so many awesome guests this time around. ARRRRRRGH!

  2. Hi it's me again! I thought I would share this with you since it seemed to be something you would like. I'm foaming at the mouth here just looking at it. Plus I love this series.