Making a Pokeball Purse with Worbla’s Mesh Art

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To celebrate the new Pokemon Sun and Moon, how about making your own Pokeball purse? Elemental Photography and Design shares this tutorial on how she made her fashionable purse with Worbla’s Mesh Art.

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My friends and I have been working on Pokemon Gym Trainer/Leader Sailor Moon costume mashups, and the chance to accessorize with the silliest things just couldn’t be passed up. I decided my Mercury needed a Pokeball purse, and made one in the style of a round clutch. You could totally use this to make a B-bomb or Chomp purse design, or anything else that would use that very round body. (Now I want to make a BB-8 one…)

You’re going to need:
Worbla Mesh Art
Heat Gun
Water
Masking Tape
Fabric for lining
2 small earth magnets
Mold release
a ball or two domes to shape over
paint and various craft tools
Something for a strap
Some sturdy wire

First, I formed the two halves. I used an acrylic sphere (the sort used for Christmas ornaments, that many people use for their boob-armor) and coated it in hand lotion. I know a lot of people use Vaseline (petroleum jelly) to coat their shapes so the Worbla doesn’t stick to them, but I knew I’d want to stick things to the inside of the Worbla later, and Vaseline is really tricky to wash off, whereas hand lotion comes off with soap and water. I’ve used sunscreen before, too.

I used Worbla’s Mesh Art for the body, because it’s much stronger and doesn’t need to be double layered on a shape like this, unlike Finest or Black Art, and it also takes the dome shapes like this fantastically. Mesh Art also smooths out incredibly well.
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If you haven’t made a dome like this before:

Cut a square larger than your dome you are shaping on by a solid 4-5 inches. Heat the whole sheet. Wet your hands! Drape the sheet over the dome and start pressing down, with wet hands. The water helps with the heat and also helps your hands glide and shape without sticking. You’ll get the start of the dome – then heat section by section and smooth out as you go. Use a metal spoon with a bit of water to smooth out seams and bumps by rocking the ‘bowl’ of the spoon over any troublesome areas.


I worked in several stages, first heating the worbla sheet and getting it as close to the bottom of the dome as possible, then trimming off the excess…
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Then shaping it even smoother, then trimming off the remaining excess.

Want a trick for popping your shape off the dome? Use your spoon the way you’d scoop out an avocado or kiwi.
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Once I had both sides, I put them together over the dome (held together by some ribbon here) to see how the edges looked.

Next – WASH YOUR WORBLA! Otherwise your mold release will keep it from sticking on the next steps, and that’s a pain!

I decided what part was going to be the front and what part the back of the purse. The back would be going ‘inside’ the front, so I heated a strip of Black Worbla to wrap around the lip of the dome to give it a clean edge. I used Black Worbla because I thought the smoothness would be nice, but honestly next time I’d use Mesh Art for this part as well, as it sticks so nicely to itself. You have to heat and attach carefully so that you don’t warp your dome shape. Keep checking it over your original mold as much as possible.
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I reinforced the front dome of the purse with a 1 inch strip of Mesh Art applied to the inside. The trick to attaching this without warping is that Mesh Art loves to stick to itself – so I made sure to heat up the strip properly, then only very very quickly heated the dome – and pressed the ‘smooth’ side of the strip along the inside of the dome. This is why the washing is important – I forgot to the first time, and my Worbla strip fell right off. After some soap and water it stuck perfectly. (I totally forgot to photo this. Sorry!)

Next, you need to make your hinge. I cut away a small section at the bottom of the purse domes to make room for the hinge itself. I created the hinge by folding a piece of Mesh Art in half so it was double thickness, then in half again over a twist of wire. I kept the wire moving back and forth so it didn’t get stuck, and pulled it out when the Worbla was cool. Then I cut that sheet in half, and I had the two opposite sides for my hinge.
Not something I could really photo in progress, so have a drawing!
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Just like the reinforcement strip, I attached the hinges by heating the hinge itself the most, and then mashing it into a mostly cold (and therefore solid) dome.

Next, I created the ‘lip’ that was going to hide the opening of the purse. Now I could have made this purse so that lip was horizontal and where the traditional line of the Pokeball went – but I wanted this purse to be really useful, and I didn’t think I’d have a way of keeping it shut at a con if it opened towards the ground. So a vertical opening it was going to be! I made the lip of 3 layers of Black Worbla heated and shaped together first, then I heated the Mesh art while it was on my dome shape, and applied the Black Art band all around it. When it was mostly cool I made sure my back of the purse would fit inside it, and did a bit of tweaking around the bottom of the hinges to make sure the pieces played well together.
** If I did this again, I would just use Mesh Art for this part as well. I thought the smoothness of the Black Art would be a benefit, but Mesh Art is so smooth anyway and it would have been easier to attach.

Next I spray painted my base color. This was silly, because I needed somewhere to attach my strap! So I sanded the area with the spray paint and cleaned it with some acetone, THEN made a noodle of Mesh Art (because Black Art can tear under stress) and created the little ‘handle’ bits for the chain.

I also remembered I wanted a magnet for the closure to be extra secure. I used 2 earth magnets, which I tested to make sure they would work through Worbla. One I sandwiched in a strip of Worbla, and that was attached as a tab on the side of the purse that went ‘in’. I marked how far in the tab sat, and then heated another strip of Worbla and mashed that into the ‘front’ dome, with the magnet positioned underneath it. Unlike gluing the magnets in, this way I don’t have to worry about the pull ripping them out of their glue.

Next was lining! I made a pattern by covering the original mold shape with tape and drawing out the pattern, then transferring that onto fabric. I cut 2 extra of the triangles, because I would need both the lining for each side and the side wall that keeps your stuff from falling out. There are totally neater ways to do this, I just wanted something fast.

I stitched the pieces together to get this sort of rounded pyramid. I then turned under the top of the side triangles and stitched those down, and glued them into my dome. These are the ‘walls’ of the purse and are also what determines how much the purse will open. I’d usually use a contact cement for this, but mine was dried up, so I used FabriTac instead. Then I glued in the lining, flipping under the raw edges and trimming excess as I went.

All that was left to do was apply some paint and add a strap!
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And Tada! My very own Pokeball Purse.
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Build notes:
I’ve worked with a lot of Worbla, and did a bunch of testing with Worbla’s Mesh Art when it came out – still, I didn’t realize how well it would take the dome shape or how smooth it would finish. All the painting done on this project? Without any primer! Look at how nice that is!
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I did only paint the front of the Pokeball for time, and I realized when I got to work that the hinges were left unpainted – small fixes before I wear this at a con.

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