Thursday, 7 April 2022

Lindon's Badges - A Gift from Cradle

For the love of Cradle

The badges of Wei Shi Lindon

A Brief Introduction

For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, I am a massive fan of the book series Cradle by the extremely talented American author Will Wight.  The series is best described as a magical martial arts epic wherein the main character Lindon, progresses through various levels of mastery punctuated by some truly amazing set pieces.  I cannot recommend them highly enough and I would definitely urge you to listen to the audio books which are narrated by Travis Baldree - I've never heard audio books like this before; his inflection and tone change so dramatically and specifically for each character that you know exactly who is speaking and there are a lot of characters in these books...

The levels of competence and power which can be achieved by Sacred Artists (Will's equivalent of a magic user / martial artist / spiritualist) are defined by stages of advancement.  These are expressed in the novels by materials; copper being the first rung of the ladder, progressing through Iron, Jade etc.

In the first book, Lindon is given a wooden badge sporting the Unsouled (worthless) character.

In the second novel Soulsmith, Lindon discovers a box of 8 medallions which represent the levels of advancement as physical emblams:

"The first row contained a badge each of copper, iron, jade, and gold. That much he expected. But the second row moved from halfsilver to goldsteel to materials he couldn't identify. One of them was a deep, fiery red, and the other a blue so rich it was like a Forged slice of the sky."

The image and importance of these badges is so strong in my mind that I was inspired to create them physically in a display box which I intended to send to the author himself as a sort of thankyou for making such an amazing book series that's given me so much joy and inspiration to keep pushing through my own difficulties and hardships!

The Unsouled and Soulsmith Badges

Designs & Sculpting

Both of the badges which I needed to sculpt already existed as drawings in the form of cover art:

Lindon's wooden Unsouled badge from the cover of the first book in the Cradle series 'Unsouled'

An Iron Soulsmith badge from the cover of the second book in the Cradle series 'Soulsmith'

My badge sculpts in Super Sculpey (after the moulding porcess)

As the Soulsmithing badges all have the same design but in different materials, I only had to sculpt two badges then cast various copies in resin.  I sculpted both badge designs in Super Sculpey then created silicone moulds so that I could cast the badges in resin.

The moulds look a little beaten up now, but they took a fair bit of abuse during the casting process!


Casting the badges was pretty straightforward if a little time consuming as I only had one Soulsmith badge mould to work with!  I cast most of the badges in a plain grey resin and painted them in metallic colours.  3 of the badges (jade, red and blue) were cast in clear resin with pigments swirled into the resin.

The fiery red badge curing on the radiator looks just like a fried egg!!

The finished Medallions

Once I'd finished casting the badges, I painted each one to resemble the correct materials. I then painstakingly hemmed 8 lengths of blue satin ribbon (as described in the novels) which was then tied to each badge with a look knot.  I rolled each one and used a widened paper clip to keep each one neatly folded for display.

All 9 badges after painting, sealing and threading 

The blue and red badges were deliberately cast to be semi-transparent

I was really pleased with the bamboo texture I achieved on the Unsouled badge - it's a very close match to the cover artwork!

Display case

I the Soulsmith description, it notes that the 8 badges are displayed in a single case in two rows of 4.  I hunted high and low for a box to accommodate them, but couldn't find one that I liked in this configuration.  In the end, I managed to find an antique slide topped box approximately 40cm long that I could use to display the badges in one row.  It was too perfect in depth and length to resist, so after weeks of searching, I made this concession and ordered the box!

Although the box was old, it was in fairly good condition, needing minimal restoration work

I had to carefully remove some paint marks from the outside of the box and re-varnish it

I carefully measured the interior then designed a 3 tier insert to hold the medallions.  I painstakingly cut this from 0.5cm foamex

Once the three layers were cut from Foamex, I lined the three components with self adhesive black felt. This took a frustratingly long time...

...but was worth the effort!

Once the three layers were inserted snugly into the case, it was ready to be filled with badges!! 

A close up of the 3 layered inserts.

The final display

All 8 badges - I was pleased with how distinctly different they all looked

Copper Badge with Verdigris effect

Iron Badge showing slight signs of rust in the recesses

Jade Badge - semi-transparent resin glazed with a rich green gloss

Gold Bade - I gave the classic gold a deep rich tone

Halfsilver Badge - as this isn't a real metal, I had to distinguish it from the iron badge.  I made it a much lighter silver with a slight bluish hue

Goldsteel Badge - as it had to look different to normal gold, I painted this one to resemble fool's gold which is lighter with hints of green and purple.  I always think of it as peacock gold!

Fiery Red Badge - semi transparent red resin with swirls of yellow and orange. Glazed with transparent gloss red. 

Deep Blue Badge - Transparent blue resin with sky blue swirls

On the inside of the lid, I place the description of the medallions from Soulsmith on some aged paper

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this little side project and I was super happy when Will received it safe and sound all the way over in Florida!  Will was really pleased with the collection and I hope it brought him as much pleasure as his book series has brought me!  I certainly can't wait for the next instalment!

Maybe I'll be revisiting Cradle again with another project in the near future...

A load of old Dross?