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Creating a 5 Star Book Review Prop Cog Thing

It’s all Halo Scot’s fault.

Scot started it, with Kyder, Rune, and all the other hideously brilliant characters in Scot’s indie book, Edge of the Breach.

We’re all looking for that “Oh, YES!” moment, which only happens with food, brilliant books, good news, and maybe a couple of other things. Scot was first-page five-star! From there it was ohhh baby, I’m a little scared, hold my hand, we’re goin’ allllll the way in!

So, there I was, my first 5 star indie looming. How to celebrate? First, capture those review feels while still in the horrendous book hangover stage. You can read the results of that here. Next, we post, right? WRONG! I was not ready! You couldn’t make me! It wasn’t yet time!

But what was I waiting for? Well, about that…

I’d never get my own stories written if I blog reviewed every book I read! Solution? Feature indie and small press books I truly value. What does that look like? I steer you once more, to the finished review for Edge of the Breach by Halo Scot. (Can you tell I love it?) A lot of words, hunted book quotes, plus the part which inadvertently hamstrung the release of that review—the book cover photo shoot.

I had an obstacle. That book was a work of creative skill. I couldn’t do the book justice until I’d made an appropriate creative celebratory *thing*.

What kind of thing? Well, I’m glad you asked.

I present, for your enjoyment:


(Or How To Fail Repeatedly For Sigh Worthy Reasons)

Three Riv Rains Raves 3D printed book prop cogs, all in varied stages of finish.

Firstly, I am a rookie.

At designing, at websites and blogs, at 3D printing, at casting—even reviewing—so let’s move quickly through some of the many fails that went into creating my now fabulous Riv Rains Raves 5 Star award prop, that literally no one asked for.

Wooden letters on my table arranged in a circle, saying 'Riv Rains Raves'Riv Rains Raves 5 star book review prop cog design, as a 3D photoshop rendering.

Rookie Mistake #1:

First stop, designing. How hard could that be? It’s just a thing, extruded into being more of a thing! What could possibly go wrong? Well. As it turns out, I can’t create 3D models correctly. They are littered with faults and take ridiculous amounts of time to print. All I can plead is; I’m learning, leave me be.

Riv Rains Raves book review cog half 3D printed Riv Rains Raves book review cog on the last few passes of being 3D printed, lit with blue printer light.

Rookie Mistake #2

Next stop, turns out the standard 3D printed skirt, sticking the model to the build plate is safer, but it causes far more work in removal and sanding.

Orange 3D printed cog sitting on keyboard. Cog has the words 'Riv Rains Raves' set into the outer rim, a number 5 in the middle and two rows of five stars around that. Cog still has printing skirt attached. Orange 3D printed cog sitting on keyboard. Cog has the words 'Riv Rains Raves' set into the outer rim, a number 5 in the middle and two rows of five stars around that. Cog has printing skirt pulled off and set to one side.

But that’s fine, we’ll only need to roughly sand and detail the thing once, of course. Let’s move on and use it as a mould to cast the cog in bronze!

Riv Rains Raves cog covered in white dusting of parting powder, ready to be sand cast. Riv Rains Raves cog buried under a pile of sand in casting box, ready to be packed down.

Rookie Mistake #3

Huh. I couldn’t angle the lettering to correctly release from a sand cast. We tried to get around it but the sand said no go. *sad* The bronze casting plan was a bust!

Riv Rains Raves cog back flush with packed casting sand in box, ready to be pulled out. Closer shot of the Riv Rains Raves cog set into casting sand.

No amount of lifting, tapping, or jiggling could lift it from that sand seamlessly. No true metal gear for me! *dream in shatters* At least, not without spending a good deal of time learning how to redesign it. Did I want to do that? Ahhh no! Onwards!

Time to resort to painting the printed version. That would only take a few more hours of sanding, some scalpel work, some super glue, plus a few quick layers of paint, then finished product, right? WRONG.

Rookie Mistake #4

Hint. When drying primer, ensure you consider that the Aussie sun is far too hot for PLA 3D printer filament. BOO, HISS!

3D printed Riv Rains Raves cog which has warped due to the sun. 3D printed Riv Rains Raves cog which has warped due to the sun, as shown side on.

But that’s Ok. We’ll be utterly disheartened for a while then print a new one, next time with the ‘smooth finish’ ironing setting for the top layer. That’ll speed the painting up, surely? *sigh*

Riv Rains Cog shape starting 3D printing for the second time. Last third of 3D printing process for Riv Rains Raves cog number two.

Rookie Mistake #5

Seems like a good time to note that for some projects, the final ironing function manages to erase half the details, rip up the surface, and smudge up the rest after hours of painstaking printing. For this project, it rendered the whole thing a useless, flightless frisbee. How thrilling. Try, try again?


Narrator: But she didn’t try again, not for months. She became disheartened with the entire process and shunned it in disgust.

***Far too many months later.***

Right. The rookie days are over. Back in black! *cracks knuckles*

Final Riv Rains Raves cog at the very start of being printed in black, blue printer light showing the start of the internal grid. Final Riv Rains Rave cog half way through being 3D printed, blue printer light showing internal grid structure of print.

Should we have dared to dream? Were we witnessing the one? Three’s the charm?

Final Riv Rains Raves book prop cog. This one in black, slightly messy but showing all letters and details on face. 'Riv Rains Raves' around outside, number 5 in center, surrounded by two groups of five stars. Close up of the center detail of the final Riv Rains Raves cog, showing the raised center and number 5, plus two sets of five stars. Surface is still rough with printing lines.

I wasn’t sure we’d make it, but YES! It was a bit of a rough finish but it was a workable cog! Straight on to prepping…

Final Riv Rains Raves cog in my hand, sanded and with details neatened. Final Riv Rains Raves cog in my hand, showing off its coat of grey primer paint.

*keeps the damn thing out of the sun at all times*

Riv Rains Raves cog freshly coated in shiny copper paint, still drying. Riv Rains Raves book review cog in my hand, glittering in the sun wearing its copper paint.

Hmm. Heck, the copper was pretty, but not the right colour or look for the job. It photographed pasty and dull unless in direct sunshine. Always check your lighting and surfaces, Hearties! We named that one a character building layer and forged on.

Final Riv Rains Raves 3D printed cog, shown with finished and hand worn brass paint. Lettering around the edge reads 'Riv Rains Raves' with a number 5 in the raised center surrounded by two sets of five stars. Close up of 3D printed Riv Rains Raves cog, showing the raised center with number 5 recessed, plus the two rows of five stars, as well as the copper paint peeking through the brass where it has been hand worn.

*gets hopeful this might actually turn out…*

The brass coat was gorgeous! (Which I neglected to photograph before aging it, out of excitement to be moving on) But I’m a steampunk addict, which meant it was too damn pristine and shiny for my taste. Lucky, I knew just how to sand in some wear patterns to uncovered that lovely copper.

Help! We started to believe all over again! While terrified of ruining it, I braved transparent acrylic artist paint in burnt umber and a very tiny brush to make the grooves POP!


Well, that was easy! Not sure why it took so long. I’d like to thank my husband, my mum, Halo Scot for inspiring me… oh, where are you going? Don’t you want to hear more? Hey! Come back! I STILL LIKE YOU! WE STILL HAVE TIME!

Flat lay of Halo Scot's book cover for 'Edge of the Breach' lit up on a tablet at night, lying in the red wind swept sand amongst bleached desert bones and a rusty chain. Brass cog lying beside it reading 'Riv Rains Raves' Plus 5 stars. Text on image; Book review. Image by Riv Rains.

*smug face* That’ll do, Riv. That’ll do.

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Riv Rains

Riv Rains is an author of steampunk, YA, dark fantasy, and creator of far too many things. Many more of her projects would be finished if she wasn't also captain and chief for two kids and a husband. If you know how to clone her, she would appreciate hearing from you. If not, while slightly crestfallen, she welcomes you to continue perusing the spawn of her tumultuous mind.

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