Props, cosplay and sci-fi shamanism

I recently scored not one but TWO Cardassian kanar bottles on eBay for only $12. I’ve seen single bottles going for $50 or more if they’re labeled with the words “Star Trek,” even if they were never used as screen props in Deep Space Nine. Targeting Trekkies ups the bid war, I guess. Sort of like labeling watch parts “steampunk” makes a single gear go for $5 — but if the sellers have never heard of steampunk, you can get a big box of “watchmakers parts” or “grandpa’s broken junk” for only $20, free shipping.

One bottle is going to my daughter who has a crush on Garak (and was heartbroken when Ziyal died). The other will be mine. I plan to complete them with matching stoppers and label replicas.

To me, there’s something super fun about props. I think it goes back to when I was a child. Like most kids, I loved to play pretend. I was Cinderella dropping my slipper (mom’s shoe), or a few years later I was raiding her knickknacks for “magical items” to use in my D&D campaigns.

After Star Wars came out in 1977, my dad bought a Darth Vader mask. He dyed some clothes black, my mom made him a cape, and he built a replica of Vader’s chest plate out of aluminum and electronic parts. It was his Halloween costume, and he scared the crap out of several trick-or-treaters.

My Cardassian “kanar” bottles. Made in Spain.

In 1982, my little sister loved the movie “Secret of NIMH.” So, my dad made her a replica of Mrs. Brisby’s magic necklace by taking a round, red bicycle reflector and covering the plastic with gold paint. He even wrote the inscription on the back. “You can unlock any door, if you only have the key.”

Those were my first experiences with the idea that you could become a kind of shaman of your own favorite movies, participating in an alternate reality with the use of masks and talismans — rather than just passive viewing and silent imagination.

An established, professional jewelry designer when Firefly and Serenity came out, I was immediately drawn to the adornments worn by the actresses, and how the jewelry reflected their characters. I started making replicas to help people who were cosplaying Inara, Saffron and Kaylee. (River doesn’t wear any jewelry, and another Browncoat jewelry artist was already making Zoe’s necklace).

You can see some of my Inara replicas here. And my Saffron replicas here.

I also noticed that Jayne Cobb wore a necklace in the movie. This intrigued me and I wanted to find out what it was. I could tell, on the big screen, that it looked like a Catholic saint’s medal, but I couldn’t tell which one.

I own the actual necklace worn by Adam Baldwin as “Jayne” in SERENITY. I have it displayed in a shadow box frame, on a replica of the shirt he wore in the movie.

By a stroke of luck, the Prop Store of London announced on that it had acquired several Serenity props and costumes, after the items were displayed at Universal Studios. I asked if they had Jayne’s necklace, and they did! So now I am the thrilled owner of the very necklace worn by Adam Baldwin in the scene where he wants to take River “for a nice shuttle ride.”

You can see a picture from the scene, and Jayne wearing the necklace, here.

It’s a Saint Christopher medal. Saint Christopher is not only the patron saint of travelers, which would come in handy when one is “out in the black,” but he also started out as a mercenary who later devoted his life to helping people across a dangerous river. Symbolic, no?

Another popular prop from the Firefly ‘verse is Kaylee’s parasol in the TV pilot episode. I painted one for a charity raffle. You can see it here.

I also make nagyx “soul stone” necklaces based on the sacred item in my Stellarnet Series. I gave one to my editor, and offer others as prizes in giveaways and book promotions.

What are some of your favorite props or items you wish you could own from your favorite shows and movies?

J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series of cyberpunk romantic thrillers, published by Carina Press. Her original jewelry designs are featured in the books “Steampunk Style Jewelry” and “1000 Steampunk Creations.”


  1. I would like an OMNI, the little time-control device from the old tv show VOYAGERS. I’ve seen some for sale online, but they’re like $700 or more.

    1. That’s a cool-looking prop. I imagine it would cost about as much to have an accurate replica made as it would to buy the ones that are for sale for 100’s of dollars. Wow.

      I admit, I spent over $600 on the authentic Jayne necklace. I wanted his flask, too (the one he drinks out of after the opening Reaver sequence, and pours the alcohol on his wounded leg, too) but it was another $600. Oh, well.

  2. Cat =^..^= · · Reply

    It’s nearing the end of 2016 and I’m still searching for a ‘Kanar’ bottle! There’s no way in hell I’d break the bank for one though!

  3. If it’s any help, the ones I found on eBay were listed as “Made in Spain spiral wine bottles” and mine do say “Made in Spain” on the bottom. 🙂

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