Cloten’s Cane Sword

Cymbeline | Montana Shakespeare in the Parks | Summer 2021

Faux Narwhal Tusk and Antler Skull Cane Sword

The Design:

For this production of Cymbeline we decided to give Cloten a cane sword with a skull grip/pommel. This was his secret weapon, his attempt to be powerful and have control. (Spoiler!) It leads to and causes his own demise.

The shaft of the cane, carved out of oak, emulates a narwhal tusk. However, unlike real narwhal tusk canes it is not whitened. Rather I decided to keep the natural look of a living narwhals tusk to fit in the color palette of our world and serve as a reminder that although beautiful, a living creature was killed.

The skull and shark vertebrae design of the handle, carved from an antler, also pulled from real historical cane motifs. Shark vertebra were often “strung” together and turned into a cane. The skull was meant to be Cloten’s little hint that he had the power of death, hidden with him at all times.

The Locking Mechanism:

By far the hardest part of this build was the locking mechanism used to hold the blade and handle into the shaft. I made three versions before I settled on stacks of earth magnets. My other mechanisms, a locking lever and a ball latch, were not refined enough and/or simple enough of a maneuver for the actor to perform quickly and reliably.

The housing for the mechanisms were house in custom cut brass fittings that nestled together. The brass was sourced from a local metal recycling facility and then Dremel carved and machined.