Current Cosplay Project for Otakon #2: Sailor Pluto Part 1, Some History and The Keys

Disclaimer: This post is all about Sailor Moon. Due to the long talk we can have about Sailor Moon, manga and anime, first anime series and new anime series; I’m going to only talk in parts about it but not really long details, so bare with me. I’ll say the “main 5” a lot so I’ll break it down here.

The main 5 are: Sailor Moon, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Mars, Sailor Jupiter, and Sailor Venus. They’re the first scouts to show up and ride the first season until the other scouts show up. I say “main” because usually those who are not deep into the anime can recognize them first and the other scouts after given a minute. I guess you can say that since Sailor Moon is the main-main character (namesake and all) and the other scouts are her protectors/comrades, they’re the main force since Sailor Moon is higher up on the royalty ladder than the rest.

The other scouts or the Outer Scouts who do play big roles in the series are: Sailor Pluto, Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, and Sailor Saturn. Sailor Saturn is a whole post by herself so I’ll back off on that one. I believe they show up (minus Saturn) around season 2 and stick pretty much after that.

**special note**: I’m writing this blog in the future (after maybe 2 paragraphs into the 2nd half of this blog) as in this cosplay is completed and I’m working on newer and bigger projects. I’m playing catch-up since a lot of things have happened since I started this entry and blog in general.


Hey everyone, I’m back again. I’ve been pretty busy lately but I’m back with a new post about my 2nd cosplay I’m working on. I’m working on…..Sailor Pluto!!!

Sailor Pluto Manga
Manga Accurate picture of Sailor Pluto that has been remastered

How the idea came to be came about shooting the breeze with some friends on what to do next year for Otakon (referring to planning last year in 2014) and a friend posted these burlesque versions of ALL the Sailor Scouts from Sailor Moon. Back then I wanted Sailor Venus or Sailor Mercury, but as the year went on and I learned about more creative things; I wanted to go bigger.

Burlesque sailor scouts
Burlesque Sailor Scouts and Tuxedo Mask (lol)

When I mean “bigger” I mean I wanted to build a prop. You see, my history with props has been very small and simple. Nothing complex or “serious,” just very basic simple things that didn’t require thought or actual planning. All in all, I wanted to do a cosplay that was challenging and would make me think. After I played around with the Lady Baron Samedi/Baroness Samedi cosplay in my head, working out the details and what i could do to make her come to life, I wanted to do something like that but bigger!

So, in comes Sailor Pluto. A Sailor Scout who is one of the outliers from the “main 5.” Barely seen or cosplayed really well because of popularity reasons probably, in my opinion. And of course, her iconic Time Key or Garnet Rod.

Pluto and Time key

Every Sailor Scout has a move or color that is associated with them since they all play a part in this whole storyline. The one thing you can IMMEDIATELY call out is Sailor Moon or Princess Serenity. I say that because homegirl has like what 8 or whatever different items and things. At best all the others get a move or a small item, other than their transformation stick.

The only exceptions I suppose to that would be The Outer Sailor Scouts: Sailor Uranus, Sailor Neptune, Sailor Saturn, and Sailor Pluto. All of them have some kind of weapon or primary item. Since they aren’t the “main 5,” to me, it seems like they aren’t portrayed as much or seen as “cool.” One might say the anime kind of does that for you.

When you watch the first season of the first anime, before the Crystal reboot, you grow and develop with the main 5. You see how they start out as scouts, their worries and fears, their individual personalities and takes on their past lives, etc etc. So you form that bond and can pull them out from the rest. Every one else, since they kind of just show up and at first are seen as “bad guys” until proven otherwise, they don’t get put out their or loved as much as they should be.

So with ALL of that being said, since they’re not as out their as the other scouts, it gives A LOT more creative freedom and liberties when it comes to cosplaying them!

ANYWAY! After thinking about it, wanting to challenge myself to do things to put myself out there, I decided for Sailor Pluto. I want to attempt to make a version of her that is not completely canon and not like everyone else I’ve seen on the net. I always wanted to toss my hat into the serious prop building ring and tackle the time key.

I’m going to let you know now….there were soooooooooooo many elements I put into this cosplay that this blog is going to be done in parts. This part I’ll talk about the easier things and end it with the Time key/Garnet Rod because that is a work in progress (WIP) and a lot to talk about there. I’ll start with her keys.

Sailor Pluto Crystal KeysWhen I was first going through the planning stages for Sailor Pluto, I got down all the basics that make her Sailor Pluto and what she has that makes her identifiable. Long green hair with a bun. Tall Time Key/Garnet Rod. Burgundy, black, and white color scheme. Okay, got it. I planned out what look I wanted her to have. At first burlesque was good, but it changed over to a steampunk idea since I’ve been getting into that A LOT lately so I decided to make her a burlesque-style steampunk scout. Okay, great!

Sailor Pluto Burlesque
Original burlesque idea for Sailor Pluto

As I planned it out in my head and worked over things, and of course looking up previous cosplays via Google. I noticed everyone was essentially doing the same thing. Dark green hair with a bun. Time Key/Garnet Rod. Burgundy, black, and white color scheme. All the basics nailed with some twists such as steampunk, burlesque, or victorian something. In a way they all looked alike.

I wanted something to add to the cosplay to make it stand out or add to the wonder and the “ooooo Sailor Pluto” feel of it. When in doubt, turn to the manga. So I found this picture of either a cover she was on or a colored page in the manga of her. In said picture, she had a “key belt.”

Sailor pluto keysI googled the mess out of this and seen versions people made and I wanted to make them look like metal, and not just huge clay keys with silver paint. To cut a long story short and a dream, I discovered Smooth-on and “cold casting.”

Cold casting, to be simple, is to use resin and metal powder to make something that LOOKS like real metal without using melted down metals and such.

After pretty much stalking Smooth-on’s website and this page about cold casting, and my brain exploded. To cut A LOT of details out, I basically went to my favorite art supply store on a whim and found the resin AND the silicone mold I wanted to use to make the keys!


*I’ll make a post dedicated to the magic of Smooth-on, pros and cons based on my experiences, and where you can buy their products.*

First, what I did was I took to the internet to see if there was a clearer picture of her key belt so I could accurately see the detail on the keys. I found this picture:

Key belt
Fanart of the key belt by tini

Mind you, this was WAY BEFORE Sailor Moon Crystal came out so this picture was all that I had. Either way, she did a BOMB job, so this was my reference pic.

Anyway, I took this picture and blew it up and cut out each key. When I did this the first time around, I took the cut out keys and taped them to a craft table I have and covered it in parchment paper. I traced the keys onto the parchment paper and used the traced outline as a template.

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I used the template and molded the keys by hand using polymer clay.  Polymer clay is a great clay to use for making demos of things because since it has no water in it, it doesn’t dry out unless baked at a certain temperature.

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Michael’s brand, about $10.

Anywho, I molded the keys, free handing, and they came out okay. To me, they weren’t uniform.

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Not too bad for someone who isn’t an artist or something lol

I needed the “stems” of the keys to be straight and even, so I just grabbed these plastic coffee stirrers I have. They’re basically thin, straws, so I covered/rolled them in the clay and just reshaped the keys. Oh, I almost forgot, I used these clay sculpting tools I bought from either AC Moore or Michaels to shape and smooth out the clay keys. For the heart shapes, I just rolled some clay into stripes and free handed them to a heart-shape that I liked. For the 2 other keys, the “K” keys, I used my finger and pushed a well into a clay ball; to place the gem or red stone, but that’s for later.

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When I was satisfied with my results, I baked the keys according to the directions on the package. I ended up redoing the bigger heart key at least 3 times to make the heart smaller since I thought it was too big. While making the keys, I decided to make clay balls that I will also make molds of to use for gems for the “heart” keys.

After I was finished making the clay keys and gems, I needed to make molds of them.  At first I was going to use mold builder to make molds of the keys, so according to mold builder whatever I was making a mold of had to have a sealed surface. So, I had to seal the keys. I used mod podge clear sealing spray in gloss. Maybe I did something wrong, but for me they came out a little tacky, so I went over them with regular mod podge in gloss which worked just as well.

20150227_232708I made 3 “gems” because I wasn’t sure exactly what size I wanted so I just made 3 sizes I thought were pretty good for the “heart” keys.

After the keys and gems were completely dried, I went to use the mold builder but it was already cured (I’ll do into more details about that in the Smooth-on blog) so I had to go elsewhere. At the time, I already bought the resin I needed for the cold casting.

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Smooth-cast 325, colormatch

So after more research and a trip back to my fav art supply store, I got Oomoo 30, which is liquid rubber.

20150316_234703I watched at least 2-3 vids from Smooth-on before I made the mold so I ended up doing it twice, using different methods. The first method I used was to just make one single layer mold of all the keys and gems.

From the vids, I learned that to make molds I needed to make a “mold box.” A Mold box is basically a box that shapes the mold and hold whatever you’re using to make the mold from (liquid rubber, silicone, etc). I went to Home Depot and got these polycarbonate sheets and these straps. I made a giant box using hot glue to hold the corners together. Then put the straps on as tight as possible without breaking the seams.11115587_10152880031112144_8258633382180919204_n

I then used modeling clay on the bottom edges of the box to keep the liquid rubber from leaking if I missed spots with the hot glue. I also glued the keys and the gems to the wooden table using hot glue as well. I then sprayed the inside of the box and the keys with a mold release spray. UBER NECESSARY so you can easily remove the mold and what you’re casting.

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I mixed a small batch of rubber and poured it but it only covered the keys and missed the gems so I just mixed all of it.

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The small ripple line you can see is where I poured the last bit of rubber over the first batch that started to cure.

After about 6 hours (or when I came back home from work), I broke down the box and started to peel the mold off. I encountered a problem when I did it, but after messing around with Oomoo 30  a lot more I figured where I went wrong.

First mold of the keys
First mold of the keys

Where I went wrong was this: I didn’t seal the bottom as much as I thought. You see, when using liquid rubber it goes wherever there is an opening. Like any liquid really. Only problem is that unlike other liquids, it cures and remains. So, when I was gluing the keys to the table, I didn’t use enough to really create an adequate barrier so the liquid rubber wouldn’t be able to go under the keys. For future reference, use clay and I’ll tell you why later.

The mold of the gems came out well, so there is that.

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I just cut it away from the keys, when I was trying to pull the keys out. I used an x-acto knife to cut a line over the keys and gently pulled them out so the actual mold of them would remain in tact and not get a nick or tear.

After I removed the keys, I mixed the Smooth-cast 325 with the brass metal powder (and a few drops of so black tint) and poured it into the key mold. In essence, it took about 10 mins for the resin to set and I had to work really fast. Didn’t know that at first so I had to make more. But here are the results from the first time.

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Honestly, I can’t remember which keys I did the buff process Smooth-on talked about, but I think I only did 2 because the rest were still “soft.” What you don’t see much in this pic, is that since the molds were “okay,” I had to cut and trim to clean them up. After letting them set for a bit, I decided to make the molds again because I didn’t like how the keys looked on the back. Remember when I said the rubber slipped under the keys because I didn’t use enough glue? Well the mold got a cast of the glue marks as well.


On to the second method. I’ll skip by this real quickly since the keys turned out the same as the picture above. The method I did to make the new molds that I ended up using was the 2-sided mold or the “sandwich mold” as I like to think of it as.

Basically what you do for this method, which is a little longer than the first, is you take one a cast of one side of whatever you want make a mold of and then you make a cast of the other side.

For this method, I used Oomoo 30 so I had to space it out by 2 days since Oomoo 30 takes 6 hours to cure and I work best at night and I have an early morning day job. I did each key individually.

First, I took some molding clay, flattened it out to make a thin, flat base. Then I pressed the key into it. I took a little bit of clay to shape it around the key so no liquid rubber will leak underneath the key. I then took a small ball of clay and shaped it with my hands into a small cylinder-like shape. I stuck it to the bottom of my key. It will be the pour spout. When you make 2-piece molds, you need a hole to pour the resin or whatever into the mold. It sounds junky, but I’ll point it out in a picture. After everything was shaped and fitted, I took the plastic sheets from the first mold, cut them in fours and made a miniature mold box.

11102615_10152938367462144_6351948637406433572_nI took some clay and sealed the sides so the oomoo 30 wouldn’t leak through. I also put in hex nuts for “registration keys” into the clay base. The registration keys or nuts function so when you make the other half of the mold and need to connect the 2 pieces of the mold, you’ll know you’re not off because they’ll be able to fit snugly.

Just like the first method I did, I used moving straps or secure the mold box. I can’t tell you exactly how much oomoo 30 I mixed since it was essentially a guesstimation.

11041206_10152938367882144_5505712846649988453_nAs you can tell, I only did 2 keys. I did this as a trial-and-error, in case I needed to adjust what I was doing. Also, I broke apart a popsicle stick to use to push the 2 walls of the mold box apart. When using the straps, the box started to lean inward because I tightened the straps so the stick was to make sure the mold stayed even and straight.

After 6+ hours, I broke down the mold box and gently peeled the mold off of the key and clay base. I don’t have any pictures of the “heart” keys since I just came home and saw they turned out well and immediately started working on the second set of keys, so I’ll continue using the pictures I took when I finished making one half of the molds for all the keys.

11173401_10152938367152144_1437384267705533461_nThis is what each half of the molds look like when I pulled them from the clay base and clay key. You see the holes of the registration keys/hex nuts and the shape of the key and parts of the grooves and smudges I made in the clay. Don’t worry, those won’t effect the casting. You see the small ball of clay at the bottom of the mold? That is the pour spout. You will need to keep this in the first half of the mold you do, or else when you pour in the liquid rubber for the second half you’ll fill in the pour spout and will have to make a new hole to pour into.

After I pulled each half from the clay base and key, I pretty much set them back up the same way; using the plastic squares to make a mold box and to secure them with straps. The only difference this time around is I used a mold release spray so when I pour the liquid rubber onto the first half they won’t stick to each other.

To apply a mold release spray, you basically follow the instructions on the can. I sprayed it in short bursts on the mold itself and the plastic sheets. Then I took a regular paint brush and worked the spray into the mold and box. I let it dry then sprayed again but didn’t work it into the mold this time.

I encountered a small issue with this time because I used the wrong mold release spray. The mold release I linked earlier is a universal mold release spray and in the following picture will help me explain better.

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As you can see in this picture, there aren’t any registration keys and the reason why is because of the spray I used. At the time, I didn’t know there was a difference between the universal mold release spray by Smooth-On and Mann Ease Release 200. The difference is simple. The Mann Ease Release 200 can be used on FRESH silicone. MER is a mold release that stops silicone from bonding with silicone, because silicone sticks to nothing else BUT silicone. So essentially what happened was this, when I filled in the mold box to make the 2nd half of the mold the silicone filled in the registration keys and bonded to the 1st half of the mold. I was left with a small, rectangle of silicone with the clay keys stuck inside.

It wasn’t a problem, I just had to cut open the mold and get the keys out. But as you can see in the picture above, they came out well so there was no issue. Just a mini pain. Another change I made was to some keys I added a 2nd pour spout. I did this because for some of the keys the resin didn’t fill in each spot with the 1 pour spout.

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I didn’t take too many pictures of the in-between but what I did was I buffed out the brass in the keys so they were shiny and then used Rub ‘n Buff in Silver Leaf over the brass. The keys have a silvery-gold kind of look to them.

To finish off the keys, I made castings of the gems from the gem molds I made when I first started this mold making process.

I attached the gems to the heart keys (bottom) via gorilla glue and domed or poured resin into the little bowls in the other set of keys (top).

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After the glue dried and the resin cured, I “aged” a huge bobbin ring (ring to hold your bobbins for sewing) using brown alcohol inks. I used keyring tags for the loops on the keys to get them on the ring. And that was that.

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