How to build and decorate neck armor

We asked Rhoulette Cosplay to create a tutorial for us using Black Worbla, and she shared this great build of a decorated gorget that uses items to create detailed relief designs!

Glam Up Your Gorget
A Guide on Embracing the Bubble by Rhoulette Cosplay

One of the biggest concerns cosplayers have with shaping thermoplastics to foam is the risk of creating air bubbles. This is especially likely to occur when covering large surface areas. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how you can circumvent this problem while also adding a little flair to your piece! I’ll be demonstrating this with a gorget I bedazzled with Black Worbla.

Materials:
• Black Worbla
• 2mm craft foam
• Scissors (preferably an old pair you don’t mind using on Worbla; I recommend not using
fabric scissors!)
• Sewing pins
• Heat gun
• Contact cement (or hot glue if you prefer to use that to adhere foam)
• A respirator (if you plan to use contact cement)
• A heat-resistant surface (like a workshop table—preferably nothing plastic to avoid warping from the heat gun)
• A foam-tip brush (if you plan to use contact cement)
• Oddly-shaped accessories or small knick knacks (such as an intricately-designed hair clip, detailed buttons, seasonal decorations, etc.)
• A pattern (see below)
• A sharp blade (such as an X-ACTO knife)
• A cutting mat (do not aim your heat gun at your mat or it will warp!)
• A marker for tracing (silver usually works best)

Step 1:
It’s important to have a baseline of what you want to create to avoid wasting precious materials on a foundation you’re unhappy with. I used a page out of Kamui Cosplay’s Female Armor Pattern Collection to pattern my gorget. Alternatively, you can quickly whip you your own (but may need a friend):
1) Cover your neck, upper torso, and shoulders with clear wrap.
2) Cut out small pieces of duct or masking tape.
3) Place these pieces all over the clear wrap section that you’d like to pattern.
4) Ask a friend to help you draw out the lines in Sharpie for your pattern. Alternatively, you can also use a mirror to accomplish this.
5) Carefully ask your friend cut it down the middle and remove from your body (if you feel unsafe at any point, consider patterning off of a mannequin and adjusting to your neck measurements),
6) Cut the pattern into pieces and lay it onto paper or card-stock.
7) Trace onto paper or card-stock and cut it out.
8) You have a gorget pattern! :D If you prefer to watch a demonstration of this, check out Kamui’s Cosplay video here.

Step 2:
Make any adjustments to your pattern by drawing on outer details. I opted to work with the base of Kamui’s pattern and build on top of it. Cut out your pattern with a pair of scissors. You can also use an X-ACTO blade on a cutting mat if you find this is easier.

Step 3:
Lay the pattern on your 2mm craft foam and pin down the edges with sewing pins. Since I keep my foam rolled up during storage, this ensures the pattern doesn’t shift around a lot while the foam curls. I also recommend marking your pattern pieces prior to cutting to ensure you don’t lose track of them. I find it very helpful to have arrows pointing with the corresponding numbers to where the other pieces attach.

Step 4:
Trace the pattern with a marker. A silver Sharpie shows up best on black foam while darker colors show up best on white. Remove the pins and pattern from your foam. Lay the pinned pattern and craft foam duo onto your cutting mat. Use a sharp blade to slowly cut out the foam. Alternatively, you can use scissors if they’re not too dull.

Step 5:
Flip your gorget pattern and repeat steps 3 and 4. Since foam doesn’t have a “grain” like fabric does, you can turn it in any direction to make the most out of your material and be economical. : ) Now that you have the necessary pieces, tape them together and see how it feels on yourself or a mannequin. Draw on any adjustments, and cut off the excess foam. Less is more—it’s best to make many small adjustments instead of accidentally hacking off too much. To ensure the adjustments are symmetrical, draw and cut out on one side, flip it onto the other piece of foam, trace, and cut!

Step 6:
Don your respirator with sass, because it’s gluing time! I find that contact cement creates the strongest and cleanest seams with foam, and you don’t need very much! However, if you’re worried about toxic fumes or are on a crunch, you can use hot glue. Please do not work with contact system without a respirator or a well-ventilated work area! Along the seam where you intend to join the pieces of foam, coat both sides in a light layer of contact cement with your foam-tip brush. You can speed up the curing process by turning your heat gun on low and evenly heating both sides until it looks tacky. This typically only takes a few seconds. Alternatively, you can use a glue gun with hot glue.

Step 7:
Line up the top or bottom edge of the seams and gently press them together. If you feel it’s uneven, you can quickly undo some parts of the seam and re-attach before the glue dries. Once you’re satisfied, press the seams together firmly and wipe off any excess glue. If the glue dries in lumps that you’re afraid will show through the Worbla, use a Dremel to smooth out the seam.

Step 8:
Lay your piece out on your Black Worbla and trace with a silver Sharpie, leaving an inch to an inch and a half around the perimeter of your foam. Cut it out with a pair of scissors.

Step 9:
Take your fun knick knacks and lay them flat in whatever way you please! I found these decorative keys on sale at my local craft store for less than a buck! Ideally, find something that can parallel nicely with the shape of your piece. You don’t want anything too bulgy or else you may have to recut your Worbla.

Step 10:
Use low heat to slowly warm up either side of your Worbla piece. In my case, once the Worbla was warm (not hot) and semi-soft (not floppy), I laid it over my gorget with my keys, sticky side (shiny side) facing the foam. I worked from top to bottom, using one hand to adjust the keys (in case they moved) while pressing the Worbla down with the other. Don’t worry if the Worbla catches the shape of the accessory when it’s out of place—you can simply reheat and reshape once it’s in the right spot!

Step 11:
Once you’re happy with the position, continue to heat the Worbla over the foam gorget and accessory. Press around the accessory until a bubble mold is made from it, avoiding to touch the Worbla immediately in case it is too hot. Reheat and continue pressing as desired until the optimum detail is achieved

Step 12:
Wait for the Worbla to fully cool until it has returned to its hardened state. Flip the piece and carefully begin to slide your hand between the foam and the Worbla. As you apply slow and even force, the foam should break free from the Worbla without tearing. Pop out the accessory with your nails, a sewing pin, or simply press gently from the other side.

Step 13:
You did it! You made a fancy bubble! Carefully reheat the Worbla on low heat around the edges, avoiding the area where you detailed with the accessory. Wrap the Worbla around the edges of the foam and press down. If seams are overlapping, you can snip away excess chunks with scissors, quickly reheat, and press down to get a clean finish on the other side. I prefer not to Worbla both sides of my piece, because it allows the pieces to be more flexible, and it saves on material.

Step 14:
If you find that your piece lost it’s shape, you can reheat around the bubble design and reshape it to yourself or the mannequin (ensure it is not too hot before putting it on your neck directly!). I use pins to hold up my piece on my mannequin while I shape it across the collar-bone region.

Step 15:
Time to decorate! You can now freely use your additional knick knacks to make fun indentations and shapes! In the following pictures, I shaped the Worbla over fine details on an old, metal hair clip. You can cut out these details with sharp scissors or a hot knife. Be careful to test the hot knife on a piece of scrap Worbla, so you can get used to how quickly it slices through it. This ensures you don’t ruin a detailed piece you’ve been working hard on!

To attach it to my main piece, I simply heated the area of my gorget I planned to decorate as well as the back of my detailed Worbla, and I pressed them gently together. I applied even pressure as it cooled to cement the fine detail from the Worbla “mold”. I found discount buttons at my local craft store as well as some mismatched ones in an old cookie tin to emboss fine details into my Worbla. I discovered that waiting until the Worbla cooled also made it easier to remove the accessories. I was able to use this method to cut out tiny roses and filigrees to add intricate detail to my piece.

Step 16:
For strapping, I decided to create loops on the ends from which I eventually plan to braid multi-colored ribbons! This is a great time to gather up all that scrap Worbla! Heat up your pile with even, low heat until it begins to stick together. Knead the pile without burning yourself until it becomes one. If you have one big chunk, I’ve found that cutting it into smaller segments makes it easier to heat and work with. Once the smaller chunk is pliable, press down wth your palms and roll it back and forth into a little Worbla string. Roll outwards with even pressure to make the string longer and thinner. If it becomes too thin, simply fold it back onto itself, reheat, and reshape! I made one long, thin string of Worbla, cut it into even pieces, heated up the ends, and looped them onto the back of the gorget. I held each one in place as it cooled to ensure it didn’t flop and cool in an undesirable angle.


You can also use this string effect to frame pieces of your armor that may look unfinished. I did this to add an additional level of detail to the top of the gorget. While it was still warm, I used scissors and gently pressed small, equidistant lines into the strip.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful in overcoming air bubble issues when working with thermoplastics. So many fun shapes can be molded with Black Worbla as it is incredibly flexible, strong, and adhesive! : )

Building a Dagger from World of Warcraft

We asked Sayakat Cosplay to create a tutorial for us using Worbla’s Black Art and she shared this fun writeup on the process of making a detailed dagger from World of Warcraft!

Materials
Exacto knife
Scissors
Pencil
Paper
Craft foam
Hot glue
Heat gun
Black Worbla
Gloves to protect hands

Dagger Build
The first step in this build is to draw and size the pattern for the dagger.  I used a dagger from World of Warcraft as my reference, and altered the design to simplify the hilt, but you can use any reference you like. Warcraft daggers are generally actually quite large, and this one is no exception, coming in at approximately 22 inches in total length. It does require a paper pattern first to account for scaling and details accordingly. I draw all my patterns by hand and destroy them in the process of building, so this is one of a kind.

Draw out the pattern for your blade, and include all details. The next step is to cut out the base of the pattern in foam. This dagger is 5 layers of craft foam; one base piece, and 2 detail layers on each side.

You will need to cut up your paper pattern in order to cut out all the detail. Trace around the whole pattern once to get the base piece. Then cut off the blade pieces from the pattern, and trace the remaining shape onto foam as pictured above. Finally cut out the details, using scissors and the exacto knife, and also trace that onto foam.

Once all pieces have been traced onto the craft foam, cut them out. Next, take your hot glue, and glue all layers together to create a foam sandwich. If there are any edges that do not line up, trim them with scissors to get your foam core.

The next step is to cut out pieces of worbla slightly bigger than your piece. It needs to be bigger in order to fully cover all the edges. Cut one piece for each side. Save the scraps for the handle piece! Once cut, take one piece and start to heat it with a heat gun. I recommend wearing gloves for the part, as worbla can burn your hands when hot. Using even passes over the surface of the worbla, heat up the whole piece until it becomes soft. Carefully place it over the craft foam, and reheat it a bit to start to mold it into the details. Flip it over and place the other piece of worbla over the other side. Repeat the heating process on this piece until it starts to mold into the details of the craft foam. Using a wooden clay tool or other such tool (I actually used a pencil with the lead broken off), carefully push the worbla into the details to bring out all the raised lines. Reheat and warm the worbla as necessary to get the details to pop. Once done with one side, reheat the edges of both sides to cut off any excess worbla from the seams. Repeat the same detailing procedure with the other side.

If anything is uneven or needs to be bent, carefully reheat that section, bend and hold the piece until it fully cools and sets.

For the handle, cut up and heat small scraps of worbla to roll together into a ball. Once rolled together, roll around in the palms of your hands until the seams of the pieces are no longer visible. Smash the ball down into a rectangular shape about an inch wide, one and a half long, and about three eighths thick. Reheat the base of the blade where the handle will attach, and attach the rectangle shape.

For the handle itself, do the same procedure as above, but use a lot of scraps and heat the worbla into a log. Roll it out to a log about an inch thick and 6 inches long. If you need more scraps, heat and roll them into the log. Once the roll is big enough, flatten out the log until it is a little over an inch wide and a half inch thick. Reheat the base of the blade, and the end of the handle that you are attaching to the blade, and stick together. Since the worbla log was so thick, it will take awhile to cool. Make sure to hold it in the shape that you want while it cools. The end of the pommel can be made using the same techniques as above, shaping scraps into balls and shaping accordingly. The joints of the handle and the blade and pommel were reinforced with small worbla snakes.

The whole process is a lot of heating, shaping, and waiting, but the end result is pretty neat!

Wonder Woman Tiara

We asked Methyl Ethyl Cosplay to create a tutorial for us using Black Worbla, and she shared this great writeup for making your own Wonder Woman tiara from the new movie designs.

Materials Used:
Paper
Pen
Scissors
Straight pins
Exacto pen
Dremel
2mm craft foam
Heat gun
Sculpting tools
Worbla

Step 1:
First things first, using paper, a pen, a mirror, and a reference of Gal wearing the WW tiara, I sketched out my base pattern to fit my forehead in as close proportion to my reference as possible. I then cut the pattern out, folding it in half when cutting to achieve symmetry. Next, I
sketched out the details onto one side of the base pattern to match my reference. I transferred the pattern to 2mm craft foam. I incorporated slits on either end of the tiara for attaching straps to secure the tiara in place for wear.

Step 2:
I tend to make my patterns by way of dissection. For this, I cut the base pattern in half, and cut out pieces from it to make my first detail layer. Once the first layer was cut out, I transferred the detail pattern to foam.
Tip: I like to use pins to secure the pattern in place when transferring them to foam.

Step 3:
Once my first detail layer was transferred, I then cut the pattern once more to reveal my second detail layer. I transferred this to the foam.

Step 4:
I cut all three layers out using an Exacto pen.

Step 5:
I wanted the tiara to protrude outward a tad at the centerline so I heated a small piece of Worbla, rolled it into a thin cylinder, and superglued it to the centerline of the base foam piece.

Step 6:
I then adhered the second detail layer with super glue.

Step 7:
I wanted the edges of the central “V” shape to be thin, so I tapered them some with a Dremel tool.


Step 8:
I then adhered the final detail layer with super glue.


Step 9:
I tapered the “V” edges once more with my Dremel tool.

Step 10:
Now on to the fun part! When working with Worbla, I prefer to use the sandwich method. I traced my tiara outline with about an inch to spare on all sides onto Worbla, twice. I then cut these two pieces out. I heated the Worbla pieces with a heat gun and sandwiched my foam piece between the two Worbla layers with the glue sides (shiny side) of the Worbla each facing the middle (interfacing with the foam). Using my heat gun and sculpting tools, I accentuated all of the foam details beneath and removed the excess Worbla around the edges of the tiara with scissors.

Step 11:
I next made additional details with Worbla and added them to the tiara, adhering and and shaping them with heat and sculpting tools.



Step 12:

Once the detailing was officially complete, I heated the piece once more and shaped it to my forehead.

And she’s built!

Come at me bro.

Una, The Skyhunter’s Headdress

We asked Air Bubbles to create a tutorial for us using Black Worbla, and she shared the process of making her headdress or Helmet for her Una costume, a character from Warmachine.

Materials
Black Worbla
3mm Craft Foam
Heatgun
Scissors
Hot Glue
Super 77 Spray Glue
Felt
Wood Stick

Reference and Blueprinting

Thankfully there are many reference photos for Una, The Skyhunter since she is a minifigure and character from the tabletop game, Warmachine. I took the reference for her headdress and hood and created a vector pattern which I was able to resize and print to fit my head. (Inkscape is a free program and great for this use)

Making the Headdress
Overall the headdress is quite simple, but getting the correct shape and size and keeping it symmetrical is always a difficult task! Also, since this would be going on my head, it needed to be kept light. To start, I cut the pattern out of 3mm craft foam:

After that, I traced out the foam pattern onto the new black worbla and cut out a piece that is about a ½” wider on all sides. This leaves space to fold over the extra worbla under the design. This is known as the ‘fold over method’. I chose this method over sandwiching the foam with worbla to help keep the headdress light.


Once all the piece of foam were wrapped in their worbla counterpart, I tested strength at the seams to ensure this headdress was not going to fall apart. Despite the bond between the worbla pieces being strong, I wanted to give extra reinforcement and lined the interior of the top of the head seam with regular worbla:

After that, it was all about assembly and shaping the piece to fit my head. Since the headdress goes over a hood I would shape the headdress on my head while I was wearing a hood to ensure the shape would not be too small for the actual hood.


Depending on how the hood will be secured to my head, the headdress will most likely be velcroed onto the hood and strapped to ensure it will not fall off!

It’s all in the Details

Now that the base of the headdress is done we need to add the details. At first I thought of cutting out the details in the foam prior to pressing the worbla on top, however, that would jeopardize the stability and integrity of the headdress. In order to keep the headdress lightweight, a foam overlay would be the best method. Using the same pattern drawn out in a vector before hand, I cut out another set of foam pieces, but this time with the holes cut out:


After cutting the detail out of foam I took some Super 77 glue spray and glued them down directly to the worbla. It came out to look like this:

To finish off the headdress I needed some feathers. To make a feather I printed a vector pattern of a feather from Una and cut it out of felt. To get a nice stiff feather with some weight, I cut out the pattern twice and stuck a small stick in the center. I glued the two halves and the stick with some more Super 77 Spray Glue. To tint the tip black, I used some regular spray paint (safe for felt/foam) and sprayed the tip black:


After that, just rinse and repeat to make a few more feathers and you’re done! You’re ready to be an all powerful warlock and summon your feathered friends for aid in battle.


Photos by Eurobeat Kasumi Photography

How to make Elizabeth Bathory’s Horns

We asked Jessie Pridemore to create a tutorial for us using Black Worbla, and she shared this excellent breakdown on how she made her unique horns for Elizabeth Bathory below.

Elizabeth Bathory’s Horns

Elizabeth’s horns are very unique and different than normal horns because they are flat and have a lot of deep texture. These horns are deceptive in their difficulty and it took a few methods to get exactly the look I wanted. At the end of the tutorial, I’ll show my mistakes and ways you can avoid them.

Here’s what her horns look like


I started with styrofoam discs from Michaels since I felt they were the right size.


Using the bottom of a can of spraypaint, I imprint a ring into the styrofoam

Take a spoon and slowly start digging the insides away. This doesn’t have to be perfect since it’s going to get covered and it’s going to be really hard to see the insides.

I took some sandpaper to it to make it a little more even.

Using foamy sheets from Michaels, I make rings (that will go on the outside) and strips that will cover the outer ring

Using hot glue, I cover the inside of the ring with fabric.
**THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I WILL BE USING HOT GLUE** It is VERY important when working with thermoplastics that you do not use hot glue where heat will be applied. You’ll undo the glue and it will be a huge mess.

I will be using Zap a Gap for my glue. You can order it on amazon or get it at hobby shops. It’s a very fast drying super glue (you can get even faster versions too). It’s dries REALLY fast, so be careful if you use this. Always test glues on the styrofoam you are using since a lot of chemicals eat it.

Put glue on the ring and foam

I put them under some weighs for 45 seconds to make sure it’s on there nice and good, but since we are covering everything with Worbla, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Time to glue the foam on the outside!

Go into the crevices and glue them shut. Worbla picks up on minor details and you want to make sure it’s as smooth as possible.

At this point I will be cutting out the “ridges” for the groove effect in her horns.

**TIP** When gluing down your strips, keep in mind that when you put the Worbla over it, it will make the grooves smaller. So over compensate how you place them, putting them wider apart than you would.

Using the thicker foam sheets (also from Michaels), cut out strips and start gluing them around the edges.

The thicker sheets aren’t as large, so you’ll have to do it in segments, just place it smartly and use a gap as a “seam.”

Now take a knife and cut away the parts at the openings.

Take out some wax paper. This is important because the Worbla won’t stick to it. Heat up a strip of Worbla to where it gets soft.

**TIP** I use silicone finger guards to put the Worbla into the shape because it doesn’t stick to the plastic and I don’t have to worry about the heat.

I use my finger indent the groove so I can go in with a tiny tool and start pushing in the Worbla into the groove. This is a very slow process. You don’t want to rip the Worbla.

There’s no clear shots of the side of her horns and I wanted to do something more stylistic than I normally would. I cut slits into the plastic where each groove is and start folding down each section, folding it under and into the ring.

Now I can heat up the rest and start pushing in the remaining grooves. Remember when you are pushing Worbla out, always push it away and out. So choose a center point and always push Worbla away from the point.

Now that the ring is complete, I can start working on the horns. First and foremost, I need to figure out how long they are. When figuring out how big a part of a costume is, I use my head as a basis. My head is eight inches tall. Using PS, I see how many “heads” tall the part is so that I know how big it needs to be on me to be accurate. I have determined that the smallest horn is 12 inches and the tallest 14.5.

Using a bendable ruler, I can see how long the horn is to be 14.5 inches tall. In this case, it needs to be 17 inches long.

I make a paper pattern of what I want the horn to look like.

Each horn has one foam base and two sets of “strips” for ridges.

I glue the strips onto on side. This will be the inside. The side you have to do first because it’s flatter.

I cut out a piece of Worbla slightly bigger than the piece. Heat it up and push it onto the plastic. Remember to use your wax paper!

Just like with the ring, heat it up and push through the grooves taking your time. This time I’m using one of my leather working tools to drag it out. Push the edges down flat to the wax paper.

Once it cools, flip it over and glue the frame onto the other side. Cut out the grooves like you did with the ring.

Heat up the Worbla and slowly start pushing it on like you have done many times before.

Push the edges of both sides together and after it cools, cut off the excess.

Dremel the edges flat.

Heat up both sides thoroughly and slowly start shaping the horn. Let it cool.
**See end notes for a better tip on this than what I did**

Heat up the tab that goes inside the ring and push it in and fold it over. Place the horn in the position you want it to cool in.

The final horn. Though I want to play with the shape a little more. For more progress on this costume, or to see more of my work, please follow me on Instagram as @jessie.pridemore or on Facebook at Jessie Pridemore

MISTAKES


I really only made one. I should have shaped the horn after the inside layer or Worbla was put down then put of outer later of Worbla on. It would have prevented this from happening.

How To Build A Sword With Worbla

We asked Termina Cosplay to craft a tutorial for us using Worbla’s Black Art, and this was her fantastic result! See below for the step-by-step process!

The sword I use for my example is Erza Scarlet’s Flight Armor sword from Fairy Tail, but you can use this method to make any sword you want. The methods and techiniques I describe here are universal and can be used an a wide variety of projects, whether it be a sword, another kind of prop, or even armor!

Materials/Tools:
Worbla
Plywood, foam board, or Balsa wood
Insulation foam
Heat gun
X-acto, craft knives
Clay roller (optional)
Paper
Spray adhesive or tape
Writing utensils
Scissors
Rulers, yard sticks, etc.
Square
Dremel with sanding wheel
Palm Sander (if you work with wood)
Sand paper
Other Woodworking tools (if you choose to use wood)

Step 1: Make a Template

The first thing you’ll do is make a full size template for your sword. You’ll need to use this template to cut the base of your sword out. Unless you’re able to find a template already made online, you’ll need to draw one from scratch. I used a large sheet of paper, a pencil, a yard stick, a square, and some reference images to get the job done.

As long as your sword is symmetrical, you only need to draw one side. Draw one half, then fold your paper over at the center, and transfer the lines to the other side by tracing over them. Then, you’ll have a perfectly symmetrical sword template!

Some sword designs may have some extra details that are harder to draw on a flat template. Instead of drawing all these on, I only drew what was most important. This template is going to be a guide to help you build the sword in the proper dimensions, so you don’t necessarily need all the details drawn as long as you know where they’ll go. For example, mine has spikes going around the hilt. I drew one to gauge size, and left the other 7 I would need off the template since I didn’t need to draw them to know where they’d go.

Once you’re happy with your template, you’ll want to make a second one, but this time without the hilt. The first template is simply for reference. This new template will be the one you use to cut the base of your sword out. The base doesn’t need to have the hilt on it, and it will actually make things easier to not include it, so leave it off this time.

To make things easier, get another sheet of paper and trace the second template out. That way you don’t have to start from scratch!

Step 2: Cut Out Your Base

Once you have a template, its time to cut out a base for your sword. You need to use something rigid and somewhat thick that will hold its shape. I used 1/2 inch plywood, but if you don’t have the means to work with plywood, you can easily use another material, such as foam board or balsa wood instead, though you may need to use multiple layers if your material starts out thinner. Whatever you use, just make sure its at least 1/2 inch thick in the end, so you can shape the blade later.

The first thing you’ll do is stick your template down to your choice of base material. I used a spray adhesive. I sprayed a thin layer of glue onto the pattern and then stuck it right to the plywood I was using. This made it very easy to cut the shape out. If you don’t want to use spray adhesive, just tape the template down and trace the shape out.

Next, cut the base out. Since my material of choice was plywood, I used using a jigsaw. If you’re using another material, such as foam board or Balsa wood, you can simply use a craft knife or X-Acto knife to cut it out.

Once you’re done, you’ll have a nice, solid base layer to build your sword off of!

Step 3: Shape the Blade:

Now that you have a base layer, it’s time to shape the blade. This is why it was important to use at least 1/2 inch thick base layer, so you’d have room to bevel the edges of the blade. If you’re using foam board you can use X-Acto or craft knives to carve your blade, and sand paper to clean it up and shape it. With Balsa, its easy to use a sander and sand the edges all the way down. With my Plywood base, I used a large sanding drum and a palm sander to cut the bevel in. Before you start, draw some reference lines for the bevel on the blade to help keep you on track while shaping. To keep the blade from moving, you can clamp it down to your workspace with just a few simple clamps.


Whatever material you’re using, be sure to shape all the way around the base, even on the handle.


After I had the blade shaped as much as I could, I went back in with my smaller Dremel and sand paper to clean it up even further.


Your finished base layer should look something like what you see below, and it should fit right into your first template.

Step 4: Build The Hilt

Next it’s on to the hilt! Start by making a template for the shape of your hilt. Mine needed to be an oval, so I drew the cross in the middle using a ruler and a square first, and then drew the curve around it.


Once you have the shape of your hilt drawn, you’ll need to mark where the base will go through. The hilt should be able to slide right over the base and fit snugly in its spot, so measure out how large your base layer is where the hilt will sit, and draw a rectangle on your hilt template where the base will fit. I used the cross I initially drew as a starting point and drew the rectangle around the center of that.


Next is to cut your hilt out of a material of your choice. I’m using insulation foam because its simple to cut and shape. You could also use EVA foam for this if you wanted, and you’d end up with essentially the same results. Using a marker, I just traced the template, including the base hole in the center, and cut it out using a scroll saw. If you don’t have a scroll saw, a craft knife works just fine.

You’ll need to cut the base hole out too. Its hard to do with a normal X-Acto knife blade, but if you switch a flat “chisel” type blade it makes things a lot easier. All you have to do is poke down into the foam with your blade all along the lines and you’ll have a nice little hole to stick your base layer through. If your blade isn’t long enough to go through the whole piece (like mine was) just flip the piece over, use your template to draw the guide lines on that side, and poke through again.


As you can see below, the hilt fits perfectly on the sword base.


After all that, shape it up! I use a Dremel with a sanding wheel and some sandpaper. Of course, if you’re sanding foam, be sure to wear a mask! You don’t want to breath in those dust particles you’ll be stirring up!


With some patience, you can get a nice, smooth shape like you see below.

Step 5: Apply Worbla to your Base

Finally, it’s on to Worbla! First, you’re going to cover just the blade. Cut a piece out that is at least inch larger on each side than your blade is.


Then, place that piece over your blade and heat it up. Place it right where the hilt will meet the blade, heat it up, and let the Worbla fall into place around the blade. Then, use your fingers to press the Worbla down and around the edges. Do not wrap all the way around, let it stop at the edge of the blade. Be careful though! Worbla can get extremely really hot!


You can also use clay or leather working tools to help you out. Just use a bit of water with them to keep them from stick to the hot Worbla.


Once you’ve formed the entire first side, let it cool off. Once it’s cool, take a craft knife and cut the excess Worbla off, getting as close as you can to a smooth edge as possible.


Next, repeat the same process for the other side. Be sure to seal the edges together! If you need to, you can always reheat the Worbla to help it stick to itself.


Once you’re done, the blade should be left with a nice, smooth edge, as you see below.


If you’re having problems with the edges not sealing shut, you can always heat them back up and use a tool to press them together. This can also help get rid of seam lines.


My favorite way to get rid of seam lines is to use my Dremel. With a sanding wheel on a low setting, I just run the Dremel over the seam line, which sands it down and leaves a nice smooth edge.


Next, cover the hilt. If you’ve used insulation foam like I did, you’ll need to be extra careful here. Insulation foam does not take heat well, and will melt if you hit it with your heat gun. To get around this, heat your Worbla up away from the insulation foam, and then work very quickly and shape it over the foam before it cools off. Be sure you heat it enough so that its easy to work with. It should be floppy and completely bendable and stretchable before trying to form it over the foam.


Remember to work quickly, and try your best to press all the bumps and bubbles out before it cools. We’re only going to cover about half of the hilt with this piece, so no need to try and stretch it all the way around.


Once it cools, find a nice, easy spot to cut the excess Worbla off. With Erza’s Flight Armor Sword, had a nice edge along the center that was the perfect place to end the first layer of Worbla.


Next, repeat the process for the other side. Make sure the second side seals to the first, and then use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the excess Worbla off.


Then, use a Dremel to sand the seam line smooth.


Last, you’ll need to cut the Worbla out of the hole for your sword base I just used my X-Acto knife for this.

Step 6: Add Extra Details

Now is the time to add any extra details you might need. You can do this simply by using up all your Worbla scraps you’ve accumulated during the build! I needed some spikes, so I gathered a bunch of scraps, heated them up, smashed them together, and shaped them until I was happy with how it looked. Don’t forget you can always use tools to help you!

I repeated this process until every spike was complete. I also used my Dremel to clean up the edges and make the edges sharper.

Step 7: Attach the hilt to the base

It’s as easy as it sounds! Just heat up both pieces, slide the hilt onto the base, and press! The Worbla will glue to itself and keep the hilt on.

Step 8: Build up the handle.

Now its time to start building up the handle. How you want your handle to look will determine how you proceed. With mine, I needed a rounded end, so I built the area up with some scraps of Worbla. I just heated them up, pressed them on, and shaped them until they generally looked how I wanted. Then, I covered the whole handle with a piece of Worbla. The shape was a bit lumpy, so I then used my Dremel to smooth it out.


Here’s a tip: If you want to turn your scraps back into a flat sheet, use a clay roller! All you have to do is heat them up, smash them together, and run them through the roller to make a nice, flat sheet. I used this method to make new sheets for the details on my handle.


For the rest of he handle, I needed some “wrapping” so I made a new sheet of Worbla from some scraps, cut it to a 1 inch thick strip, and used it to wrap 1 inch thick pieces all around the handle.

I then used my Dremel to sand away all the seam lines, and then heated it back up and used a flat tool to redefine each section.


I then added a “cap” to the pommel with more scraps.

Step 9: Last Details

You might have some more intricate details that still need to be added. Erza’s Flight Armor sword has some spiky, thorny details that extend off of the hilt around the blade. To make these, I used nothing but scraps! I made the basic shape by rolling some scraps into a noodle, then I shaped it, sanded down any seam lines, and added the little spikes with more scrap material.


Then, to attach them on, I simply heated all points of contact with my heat gun and pressed the pieces together. You don’t want to heat them up so much that they start to become bendable. Instead, heat just enough to make the ends a bit tacky. They just need to be able to grab onto each other to be able to stick. Once it cools, you’ll have a hard time getting them back off!


And with the final details complete, you have a finished sword! All that’s left to do is prime and paint!


The possibilities of building with Worbla are virtually endless! My example might be Erza’s Flight Armor Sword, but you can use these methods to create anything you want! You’re not limited to what you see here!

Here is the finished project, unpainted, below!

DIY Prosthetic Cover

Prosthesis can leave a lot to be desired, especially when worn under clothing where the silhouette is changed due to the void of space. This can be specially noticeable when walking or when wind is pushing against fabric.
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One of the folks at our receiving warehouse has a leg prosthesis and mentioned the cost of a ‘shell’ cover was prohibitively expensive. When she asked if we thought a Worbla cover could be made for her, we decided to give it a try!

This was our first ever attempt and had to be done in very short sessions, so don’t think this is the only method – this is just a base idea you can expand upon!

Step One: Making a tape duplicate of the body part.
We wrapped our model’s other leg in cellophane and then masking tape to get the basic shape we’d need, then transferred that to Worbla’s Mesh Art. We chose Mesh Art because it’s the most durable of Worbla products.
Note: Obviously this would give us two left calves, but the difference under clothing was not particularly noticeable.

Step Two: Shaping
We cut out our Worbla and heated it over a piece of parchment paper (to keep it from sticking to our table). When it was fully heated and soft, we let it cool enough that it wasn’t too hot to touch, and then wrapped it around our model’s leg. It’s important to be careful of the heat! You can wear an old sock over the skin to keep it insulated if you are very sensitive to heat. Mesh art is very sticky and can leave residue, so don’t use anything you don’t want to risk getting damaged as a buffer layer.

Once we had the piece shaped, we trimmed it down and folded over the edges at the top for additional strength.

Our model's prosthetic, the tape double of her other leg for the pattern, and the formed worbla wrapped around the bare prosthetic - clearly too small, but a good start!
Our model’s prosthetic, the tape double of her other leg for the pattern, and the formed worbla wrapped around the bare prosthetic – clearly too small, but a good start!

Step Three: Padding
We needed something to bulk up the prosthetic leg, and went for as simple and easy as we could: 1/2 inch floor mat foam, cut into 4 strips. We hot glued 2 together (I actually suggest contact cement for a better bond) and added elastic and hook and eye tape for strapping. This allows our model to add the shell when she wants to without permanently modifying her prosthesis.

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Step Four: Attachments
Again, as simple as we could go: Hook and loop tape on elastic. We added this by using hot glue to attach the elastic and then layering a piece of Mesh Art over that, the smooth (glue) side down. This created a very strong bond where we didn’t have to worry about the elastic pulling away with use.

The shell of the leg and the velcro and elastic attachment. You can see the top edge of the Worbla was folded down for a smoother finish and added strength.
The shell of the leg and the hook and loop tape with elastic attachment. You can see the top edge of the Worbla was folded down for a smoother finish and added strength.
For a super strong bond, we wrapped the flastic in Mesh Art first, then attached that to the shell. The adhesive in Mesh Art is so strong we didn't have to worry about the elastic pulling out with use.
For a super strong bond, we wrapped the flastic in Mesh Art first, then attached that to the shell. The adhesive in Mesh Art is so strong we didn’t have to worry about the elastic pulling out with use.

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The finished product isn’t perfect but it does the job of filling up our model’s empty space around her leg and was done with a medium sheet of Mesh Art. It’s lightweight and the cost including elastic and hook loop tape was under $50. And of course you can paint it with spray paint, acrylics, or cover it with fabric to add your own flair!

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Clay Molds for Intricate Details on Worbla

Termina Cosplay shared this fantastic tutorial on how to give your Worbla intense filigree detail without hours of sculpting work!

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You can make very tiny, very intricate details in Worbla or other thermoplastics easily by making and using a Super Sculpey clay mold! It’s much easier and faster than just sculpting the details into your thermoplastic itself (and you’ll probably burn yourself less).

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I needed some tiny filigree type details for an armor build I was working on, and sculpting them into my TerraFlex directly was not nearly fast enough. So I thought, “Why not make a mold and smash the details in?” It worked so well I wanted to share the method!

First off you’ll need a pattern for your details. Just draw it out however you want it to be.

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Then use that pattern to trace your design onto a flat piece of clay. Something fairly strong is needed, so I used Super Sculpey. Make sure your pencil lines are dark, place it face down on your clay and trace over the lines to transfer the lines to the clay.

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Once you peel the paper off, you should be left with the design.

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Next, just press all those lines down into the clay with a tool. Once done, bake it according to instructions, and let it cool completely when it’s done.

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Next, Take some scraps of whatever thermoplastic you’re using, heat them up, and flatten them out.

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Also, coat your new Super Sculpey mold with a bit of petroleum jelly to prevent it from sticking.

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While the thermoplastic you’re using is still warm and moldable, smash it into your mold! Mask sure you smash hard enough to get all the details. When you pop it off, you should have a perfect copy!

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Now all you have to do is trim the edges!

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Now you have tiny intricate details and it hardly took any effort at all!

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Fabric Stamps with Worbla

Elemental Photography and Design shared this quick tutorial on how she created simple fabric stamps from Worbla and 6mm Foam.

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The plan is to create this costume using only fabric from my stash, but I don’t have something with these pronnounced circle spirals… painting that many would be time consuming by hand and I have a tight deadline so: 6mm foam pictured left, 2 circles cut out and glued together. On the right, one circle and one spiral cut by hand and then gently sanded by hand, glued together.

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The foam shapes are covered with Worbla’s Finest Art. WFA has better stretch which was important for the spiral (and they were what scraps I had handy). For the spiral, I heated the Worbla and then pressed around the raised foam working from the inside out. This is important to let the Worbla stretch without tearing, though you can see it’s quite thin at the lowest points.
I wrapped the Worbla around the back and made simple handles.

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I used normal acrylic paint for this. Top, I applied the paint with a roller used for lino-printing, which gave a very fingerprint effect.
Bottom, the paint was spread out on a flat plastic palette and the stamp was dipped in the paint.

The results aren’t perfectly opaque or even, its a bit rustic or grunge, but for a mad hatter costume the effect will work well.

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Top left: Attempting to apply paint to the stamp with a paintbrush. Not suggested.
The rest: All dipped into paint spread in a thin layer on wax paper.

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Tip: Make sure your paint isn’t too thick on the surface of the stamp, or it will create a ‘ring; around the edge of thicker paint lines (shown top)
I usually work the paint onto my stamp, then dab off the excess onto paper before applying to fabric.

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You don’t have to use Worbla for this – you could probably use just foam if you only needed to do it once or twice, but i wanted something that would be easy to apply pressure to evenly/lift up without making a mess and also be durable enough for 40+ uses.

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Squaring Up Edges


“…And Sewing is Half the Battle!” shared this great tip for getting cleaner, squared edges on Worbla armor and designs!

One drawback of hand-forming costume accessories is that they can sometimes come out looking bumpy or uneven, an appearance that persists no matter how many layers of coating agent or primer you add. An easy way to make your pieces look more “finished” and professional is to clean up the edges!

Here, I’m using Worbla’s Finest Art to make a piece of armor that has a raised edge. I built this edge by rolling a Worbla snake and sticking it on top of the flat base, then blending over the seam with another thin strip of Worbla. However, even after carefully blending the pieces, it still looks lumpy:
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And I would like it to look more like this:
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So we’re going to square the edge!
During this process, keep the Worbla warm (just enough to remain pliable, not sticky). If necessary, give it a few more passes of the heat gun from time to time.
First, press the top of the rolled edge flat. You can use fingers for this, or use a rolling pin or glass bottle if you have a large area to cover.
Next, keep pressure on the flattened top while pressing against the side with a smooth, flat object (in this case, the smooth back side of a plastic pencil sharpener that was conveniently lying nearby). Make sure whatever you’re pressing into the Worbla won’t stick to the warm plastic!
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(Pretend my right hand is holding the pencil sharpener, instead of taking the photo.)
For curved or complex forms, you can use any smooth object of the right shape and size. Drinking glasses and spice containers are convenient cylinders for inside curves:
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Work progressively along the side of your piece until you have a neat, even corner running along the outer edge. You can also use a large cylinder such as a glass and roll it along the outside edge to even out lumpy areas.
If you’re forming small designs that you can’t easily square by hand, you can use a flat-sided tool for those hard-to-reach areas. Here I’m using a dental spatula, but you could also try a butter knife or a metal nail file.
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…And that’s it! It’s an easy step to make your pieces look cleaner and more finished. Give it a try on your next project. Happy crafting!

Crafting a Worbla Gauntlet (armored glove)

Tutorial by Cowbuttcrunchies Cosplay.
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I love my worbla gauntlet! It looks cool as heck, is pretty dexterous, and can be easily made with just a few materials. To get started crafting your own, you’ll want to pick up the following supplies:

  • Black worbla
  • Mesh worbla
  • A black satin glove, mid-arm length or longer
  • Heat gun
  • Scissors
  • Posterboard
  • A silicone mat
  • Heat proof gloves
  • Flexblond

“Wait, why are there two different types of worbla included here? Can’t I just use one type? Does it matter which one I use?”

Each type of worbla has its strengths. Worbla’s finest (brown worbla) is an all-around hefty material, black worbla is smooth and requires very little finishing, while mesh worbla is strong and incredibly sticky, even against other materials. Combining black worbla for its finishing and mesh worbla for its stick means that we get the best of both worlds. While you might be able to get away with using only brown worbla, I do not recommend using only black as it will not stick to your satin glove without additional adhesive.

To begin, let’s pattern! Your gauntlet will require fifteen pieces total: three pieces each for each finger, two for the thumb, and one large piece to cover the back of the hand. If mimicking my design, each of those finger pieces will be flat above your joints and extend slightly backward to a point, which is a great way to slightly cover the next piece and disguise any edges.

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You can use the above graphic as a starting point, but everyone’s hands are different, so be sure to cut several pieces out of posterboard and experiment with how they look and fit over the satin glove. When testing, your pattern piece should overlap slightly and should not be super tight around your finger, as your worbla will be a bit thicker than posterboard.
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Once your pattern pieces are cut and fitted, transfer the entire pattern to your black worbla.

Next cut out fourteen rectangular strips of mesh worbla that are a little wider than the length of each finger piece. This rectangular strip is what will be attached to your glove , which is why we will be cutting it out of sticky mesh worbla instead of black. Each ring will eventually be attached to the glove on one side and the black worbla on the other, overlapping a little bit to form a ring on each of your fingers.
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Take your heatgun and warm your first finger piece until you can bend it into shape. This should be the lowest fingerpiece that rests just above your knuckles. While wearing your glove, fit the piece around your finger and allow it to cool. Once cooled, remove it and set it aside. Eventually you will end up with the following formed black worbla pieces and mesh strips:
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Put on your glove and slide on your finger pieces on to test the fit. They should sit snuggly but with a little room to spare – remember that you’ll be adding mesh worbla strips so you do not want the black worbla to be too tight already. Make any tweaks to the point size and fit before moving on to the next step.
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Heat your mesh worbla strip to a high temperature but do not burn the worbla – you want to make sure that you have applied enough heat, otherwise it may not stick as well to your fabric. I highly suggest wearing your heat proof glove on your free hand when handling worbla this hot. Simultaneously apply your heatgun to the short, flat edge of your black worbla piece. Heat the flat edge to a mild to moderate temperature but do not heat it so much that the entire piece begins to lose its shape – we just want enough heat on the bottom so that it will bond to the mesh worbla, but not so much that we lose the shaping work we already put into it. Take your strip and wrap it completely around your finger, just above the knuckle on the satin glove, pressing firmly to the fabric. Very quickly slide your black worbla piece over your finger and press it into the still-hot mesh worbla. Hold in place until everything has completely cooled. If you see a little bit of mesh worbla poking out, don’t worry! That distinction will go away once you’ve primed and painted.
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Repeat these steps for the second and third joint as you move down your finger, this time attaching the mesh worbla strip just above your second joints. Repeat again until all of your fingers are covered.

Finally, heat up a small piece of black and mesh worbla and fuse them together, placing the black worbla over the mesh grid pattern. Trace your hand back posterboard pattern onto this double-thick piece and cut it out. Generously heat it and then press the mesh worbla side onto the back of your gloved hand.
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At this point you may also create a bracer to compliment your gauntlet! If a bracer is included in your design, tuck the edges of your satin glove up past the bracer opening, so that everything appears to be one piece.

The beauty of black worbla is that not a lot of priming is required for a smooth texture, which is nice because priming and painting a gauntlet is a tricky process. I found that it was easiest for me to put the gauntlet on and then brush on flexbond with my free hand. Two coats primed everything quite nicely. Allow to dry and then finish up with your favorite paint!
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*Photography by パラパラ Productions

How to Create Worbla Feathers

Tutorial by Cowbuttcrunchies Cosplay
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For Tsukki’s Legend of Karasuno cosplay, I decided to go with a heavy crow motif, and what better way to do that than covering myself in feather armor? I ended up crafting close to 100 in total between the shield, gauntlet, and pauldrons, using a few different tweaks for different armor pieces. However all of my feathers were made in one of two ways: either by sandwiching worbla around foam for a very thick, large feather, or by stacking two pieces of worbla for a thinner but very sturdy feather that is thick enough to etch deep details into. Read on for these two methods!

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These feathers are rather thick, and made from two pieces of worbla sandwiched around a piece of foam. I only recommend this if you need very large feathers that are not heavily layered, such as the ones on my shield or the longest feathertips on my gauntlet. These do not layer particularly well due to their thickness. However, experiment depending on your own project! Terieri made wings of three feathers in this fashion, using foam.

If possible, use worbla black for the top, detailed portion of your feather, and then use worbla mesh for the bottom (or worbla’s finest if you do not have any mesh on hand). I used only worbla black for some feathers and it was noticeably less “sticky” than either mesh or finest, to the point where I had some difficulty with my sandwich popping apart in places. If using just worbla black, make sure that you apply a high amount of heat before pressing your sandwich edges together. Worbla mesh is a fantastic sandwich backer due to its very sticky nature, and also adds extra stability to prevent breakage if you cut your feather ticks particularly deep.

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1) Trace your feather shape onto a piece of 2mm or 3mm thick craft foam. If you’re a fan of “ticks” or gaps in the feather, be sure to add these as well. Cut the entire feather out, and clip the ticks with the nose of your scissors.

2) Cut out a piece of black worbla and mesh worbla that is a bit larger than your foam template. Heat both of these pieces thoroughly until they are nice and floppy.

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3) Place your mesh worbla smooth side down onto your silicone mat. Place your foam feather on top and then place your black worbla over that. Being careful not to trap any air, use your fingers to thoroughly press your black worbla into the mesh worbla all along the edges of the foam, including the tick marks. If your worbla begins to cool too much, just heat it up again but try to concentrate that heat along the edges if you can.
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4) While the worbla is still somewhat soft, use your scissors to cut around the edge of the feather. Take care not to leave a few milimeters between the foam itself and your scissors – you don’t want to accidently cut into the foam itself. Use the nose of your scissors to also cut away the excess worbla in your tick marks.

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For my pauldrons and most of my gauntlet, these feathers are made from just two pieces of worbla pressed together. These feathers are much thinner than sandwich feathers, and you will have an easier time layering them. For some I used black worbla on one side, others I used one side black and one side mesh worbla – however for the most part this doesn’t matter a lot. Mesh worbla WILL be less prone to snapping if you are cutting particularly deep ticks into your worbla; however the double thickness of any material will make it quite stiff.

1) Start by tracing your feather pattern out of paper for use later. For my feathers I included a few “tick” areas that will look to be gaps. I found that it helped make my feathers look a bit more realistic.

2) Cut out two pieces of worbla that are a bit larger than your pattern. Use your heat gun to thoroughly heat both pieces, and then lay them on top of each other. Take care that you don’t accidently trap any air between the sheets, and then press the pieces together.
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3) Trace your feather pattern onto the worbla. Re-heat the worbla once again until it is soft enough to easily cut, and then cut your feather shape from the plastic. Use the tips of your scissors to snip out the tick areas.

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Now that your base is finished, it’s time to etch in a few details. Remember that there’s no one right way to do this – you can go as cartoony or realistic as you like.
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1) Use your pen to draw a line down the center of the feather where the quill will lay. Next, sketch several lines running from the quill, upward toward the edge of the feather. You may not find these steps necessary once you become a feather expert, but at first I found them very helpful when needing to know where to press my tool in the next step.

2) Heat your feather again to make it a bit soft. Use your clay tool to begin etching lines in your feather, from the quill to the edge. I like my feathers a little cartoony, but you can always clump these lines closer together and make them lighter for a more realistic look. If your feather starts to harden again, don’t worry – hit it with your heatgun again until it softens up. I usually have to re-heat once or twice per feather.

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3) This step is optional, but I really liked the semi-cartoony, semi-realistic look this extra step gives. Once all of your lines are etched, use your clay tool to press inward on the edge, at either every or every other etch line.
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4) Cut a skinny strip of worbla around the length of your feather. Heat it with your heatgun and then roll it until you’ve created a very thin noodle. Heat both the noodle and your feather one more time and then press the noodle down the center to form the quill.

Rejoyce in your glorious birbness!
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Creating Yuri’s Eros Crystals

Cowbutt Crunchies Cosplay did this introduction to Crystal Art and tutorial for Yuri’s Eros crystals for us as an initial test of Crystal Art. Take a look at their process below!

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Cosplay Tutorial: Creating Yuri’s Eros Crystals
(also)
An Introduction to Worbla’s Crystal Art

Need a transparent object for your cosplay? Worbla’s TranspArt has you covered, but what about a three dimensional object like a gem? Better yet: how about one that will flex with your fabric? Forcing flat sheets of TranspArt to do your bidding can be a little tricky, and working with clear resin is tough for even experienced cosplayers. Instead, we had the chance to experiment with a new product called Crystal Pellets, which is a super easy alternative for making small semi-transparent items that flex even after hardening!
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Crystal Art come in small, clear beads that meld together after you apply heat, which means they are great for pressing into silicone molds or just molding by hand. If you’ve worked with opaque friendly plastic in the past, this is a very similar product – these beads can be heated with a heat gun, in a toaster oven, or even in a pot of near-boiling water (always be sure to heat them in a pot you do not use for food). If using a toaster oven or a heat gun try to place your pellets on silicone of some sort to keep them from sticking to plastic surfaces. These pellets can be re-heated again and again after cooling so like most of Worbla’s line they are completely re-usable with no waste product – if you make a mistake, just apply more heat and try again!

Heated Crystal Art feel very similar to TranspArt in its ‘moldable’ stage, so your pellets will become fairly hot while heating. To keep from burning your fingertips, be sure to wear some sort of protection such as heat-proof gloves. Be warned though – hot crystal pellets are good at picking up ANY sort of dirt or residue, so if you’re like me and use your gloves to mold Black Worbla, you may end up with tiny flecks of plastic residue mixed into your nice, clear pellets:tumblr_inline_oqdet2xChI1qlkkai_500
Yuck.

Instead I liked using these silicone finger tips, which provided just enough protection so that I could moosh the pellets around. They’re also much easier to clean residue from. You can pick either these tips from most craft stores in the Mod Podge accessories section, or heat-proof gloves from cosplaysupplies.com.
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For my first Crystal Art project, I decided to mold several clear “ice crystals” for Yuri’s Eros costume from Yuri on Ice. This seemed like a perfect choice for crystal pellets since the crystals need to be transparent but flexibility is a huge plus, since they would be attached directly to fabric.

Optional pre-crystal prep: Creating your mold

For Yuri’s ice we created our own silicone mold, but if you have a pre-made mold, skip straight to part two!

Materials required:

  • Hardening clay (Paperclay, wet clay, etc)
  • Aluminum foil, Legos, or other barrier material
  • Silicone (Smooth On Rebound-30)
  • Mold Release
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Disposable cup and popcicle sticks

1) To get started, sculpt clay versions of your ice crystals from any sort of hardening clay, ideally something like paperclay or wet clay that can be sanded. Allow to dry for several days until they are completely hard.tumblr_inline_oqdetkCZtY1qlkkai_500
2) Once hardened, sand away any imperfections in the clay to try to achieve a smooth, flat surface.

3) Create a container with tall walls for your silicone mold. We used aluminum here, but Legos or even Tupperware works great too!tumblr_inline_oqdeu2RClb1qlkkai_500
4) Place your clay pieces in the base of your mold, leaving a bit of space between each object. Spritz the bottom and sides with mold release.

5) Put on your non-latex gloves and mix your silicone in a cup per the manufacturer’s instructions. We like to use Smooth On’s Rebound-30, which is a two part mixture that sets up quickly. Pour your silicone into your container, completely coating your clay pieces, and allow to set.
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6) Remove your hardened silicone mold, remove the clay pieces, and clean any residual clay dust from the mold using rubbing alcohol.

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Forming the Crystal Art

Now time for the fun and easy part!

Materials required:

  • Crystal Pellets
  • Silicone baking mat
  • Protective gloves or silicone fingertips
  • Heat gun, toaster, or other heating device

1) Pour a small amount of crystal pellets onto your baking mat. An easy way to estimate how many you need is to first pour the pellets into your mold and then add a small amount of extra pellets to make up for the space you will lose when the beads are squished together.

2) Heat the pellets using your desired heat tool.

If using a toaster oven, put the temperature on the lowest possible temperature. My oven only began at 275 degrees, which was unfortunately a little hot, so if this is also the case for your oven be sure to keep a careful eye on the pellets and take them out very quickly!
If heating in a pot, like the toaster oven you do not need much time at all in this heat. Pop your pellets in hot but not boiling water, and remove when the plastic turns glassy.
With a heat gun, place your temperature on low and begin to evenly heat the pellets. They will begin to stick together very quickly to form a solid mass of pellets:tumblr_inline_oqdeybaTO21qlkkai_500

3) You can then kneed this mass together to form a solid, slightly more opaque shape.

Remember – do not OVER heat your pellets or they will burn! Keep your heat gun moving at an even pace. Discoloration is a sure sign of burnt plastic:
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4) If your plastic begins to stiffen slightly, heat it again until it forms a slightly glassy ‘sheen’ like in the below photo. The plastic should now be malleable enough to easily press into your mold.
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5) Place the plastic into one of your molds and press down hard with your fingertip. Continue pressing until it has filled every space in the mold. Allow to set for several minutes.

6) One hard, remove your new ice piece from the mold. Repeat this process for your remaining ice pieces.
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One of the cool things about Crystal Pellets is how flexible they are even after molding! This is perfect for Eros because the piece will flex with the fabric. Bear in mind however that the thicker your piece, the less flexible it will become.
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It’s also important to bear in mind that your final piece will not be perfectly transparent. TranspArt will also take on this slightly cloudy appearance once you heat it to a moldable state. Folding and heating the plastic immediately caused the pellets to cloud up slightly – this is not very noticeable with flat pieces but the thicker your plastic piece, the less transparent it will look. We tried a few experiments to see if it was possible to smooth the pellets into a solid form while still maintaining transparency, but unfortunately you really do need to work the plastic at least a little bit in order to mush it into a solid shape. Heating the plastic directly in a silicone mold will smooth out the front but not the back or center, and even heating in a toaster oven at 300 degrees will not be enough to completely remove the trapped air.
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Above: Pellets heated in a silicone mold in a toaster oven. The pellets picked up more residue than usual, creating a cloudy look. You can also still see trapped air bubbles in the center of the plastic. This is really not a great way to heat your plastic.

The best method we found for the clearest result was to heat the pellets once and then form your shape without re-kneeding or re-heating. This gives less opportunity for dust or residue to accidentally find its way into the plastic.

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Just like transpArt, Crystal Art can be easily dyed using any sort of color that ‘sticks’ to plastic! In the Cow Clan house this means sharpies or iDye Poly, but you may find other options that work too.

1) To dye your Crystal Art with iDye Poly, heat a small amount of dye in a pot that you will not use for cooking in the future. Heat your water to hot but not boiling. We do not want to completely melt the plastic or it’ll be a little tough to clean out of the pot. If you do not have a non-cooking pot, you may instead heat your water and then pour it into a different container, such as a plastic bucket.

2) Drop your plastic into the bucket/pot. Personally, I like to mush the pellets together before dropping it in – it is a lot easier to fish out a single object instead of many pellets, plus you will get a much more accurate sense of the color.

3) Remove your plastic once it’s reached the desired tint. For a light tone you will only need a few minutes in the dye, or for deep tones you may leave it in for up to thirty minutes. Darker colors like purples also seem to absorb faster.

4) Run your plastic under cold water to remove any residual dye.
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Your plastic may now be molded or pressed! The dye does not seem to fade with use, but I do recommend kneeding the plastic a few times just to make sure that the color is evenly distributed. For my second project, I pressed colored plastic into a silicone making mold:
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Both clear and colored Crystal Art work great for use with LEDs! Just like resin gems, light from an LED will bleed throughout the entire piece. Just place your LED either behind the plastic or even embed the light within the Crystal Art before it hardens!
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All in all I’m a fan of this material – while there are a handful of clear materials out there, this is by far one of the most user-friendly and beginner-friendly to use!

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Thanks again to Cowbutt Crunchies Cosplay for sharing this writeup and tutorial with us!

Making a Chain from Worbla

If you need an oversized chain for your costume, try this guide from Pretzl Cosplay!

How to make cool chains with Worbla scraps!
First I took some Worbla scraps and heated them up. I wore gloves and rolled the Worbla until it was a snake (#worblasnake). Then I cut it into the right size for my rings, put the two ends together and sculpted it until it was a full circle. Then I applied some paper tape so the Worbla couldn’t stick to itself on those points (thanks Galyopa for the idea!). Then I took a double layer of Worbla and cut a small stripe out of it. I used little parts of that stripe to create overlaps that connect the rings. And voila a Worbla chain is born!

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While the costume isn’t finished yet, you can see the chain painted in this progress photo here:
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Adding a Zipper to Worbla

Cat’s Cosplay Kingdom has created some really impressive work, but I’ll admit I was so excited to see they came up with a way to securely attach a zipper to Worbla, for their conical underskirt!

Take a look at the process below:

Working from their template, they covered craft foam with Worbla to create the base skirt.
Working from their template, they covered craft foam with Worbla to create the base skirt.
What you will need: A Zipper (we suggest heavy duty), thumbtacks, and glue.
What you will need: A Zipper (we suggest heavy duty), thumbtacks, and glue.
Glue your zipper down, then press the thumbtacks into both zipper and worbla to anchor it. If the points come through the other side, cut them off with wire cutters.
Glue your zipper down, then press the thumbtacks into both zipper and worbla to anchor it. If the points come through the other side, cut them off with wire cutters.
Heat up another strip of Worbla and cover the edge of the zipper and thumbtacks with it, pressing firmly.
Heat up another strip of Worbla and cover the edge of the zipper and thumbtacks with it, pressing firmly.
There you have your fully anchored zipper!
There you have your fully anchored zipper!
Reheated to better fit the shape of her hips...
Reheated to better fit the shape of her hips…
The final shape is absolutely fantastic, don't you think?
The final shape is absolutely fantastic, don’t you think?

Worbla Flower Necklace


Kyriakos of Crafts World has been experimenting with Worbla for various projects with fantastic results. Below is flower necklace he created with Worbla’s Black Art and some paper dies, a real statement piece!

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Materials used
Worbla’s Black Art (WBA) Thermoplastic Modelling & Moulding Sheet – 180mm x 250mm x 1mm
Leane Creatief Cutting Dies – Multi Flowers #1 458503
Tsukineko Encore Ultimate Metallic Ink Pad Small – Silver
Tsukineko VersaColor Pigment Ink Pad Small – White #80
Buddly Crafts No Hole Pearls – 10mm 40pcs White P56

Tools used
Heat gun
Die cutting machine
Viva Decor Jewellery Glue
HardiCraft Non-Stick Flexi Cover Craft Sheet – Medium 300mm x 420mm

Heat a small piece of the Worbla sheet with the heat gun. Place in on the non-stick sheet and using a round tool (working with a metallic one proved much easier) spread the Worbla sheet making it even thinner. Use the die cutting machine to cut the flowers and leaves.
Tip: use the heat gun to lightly warm the plates of the die cutting machine so that the Worbla sheet stays soft and be cut better
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If the die cut piece is not clear, just remove the edges with a small scissor. Heat a bit the flowers and form them.
Tip: the thinner the Worbla sheet the clearer the cutting. Wait for it to cool down and harden before removing it from the die.
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Distress the flowers with the white ink and the leaves with the silver one.
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Warm some Worbla sheet and form a cord of about 8cm long. Curl the edges to form hanger hooks.
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Warm it a bit and glue first the leaves and then the flowers. If you find it difficult heating and attaching them, use the Viva jewellery glue (allow some time to dry)
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Add a pearl in the centre of the flowers with the jewellery glue.
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Thanks again to Kyriakos for sharing this tutorial. You can find their work on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Book Cover


Kyriakos of Crafts World has been experimenting with Worbla for various projects with fantastic results. Above is the book cover he made with Worbla’s Mesh Art, which would be great for Journaling! And below is the seps he took to create it!

Materials used
Worbla’s Meshed Art (WMA) Thermoplastic Modelling & Moulding Sheet – 180mm x 250mm x 1.2mm
Marianne Design Embossing Folder & Cutting Die – Tyre Tracks – Chevrons DF3407
Buddly Crafts Industrial Gears Metal Charms – 20pcs Silver Tone AS6
Tsukineko StazOn Midi Ink Pad – Jet Black
Tsukineko Memento Dew Drop Ink Pad – Desert Sand MD804
May Arts 20mm Chevron Stripe Twill Ribbon – 2m – Celery #38
Buddly Crafts Wooden Shapes – 50mm Santa Moustache 5pcs W47
Viva Decor Mulberry Paper Flowers – 50pcs White
Tsukineko VersaColor Pigment Ink Pad Large – Sage #187
Joy! Crafts Bookbinding Rings 12pcs – 30mm Silver
Buddly Crafts 12mm Pearl Brads – 24pcs Ivory BR1
Knorr Prandell 10mm Satin Ribbon Roll – 4.5m – Olive Green #2248
Buddly Crafts 5mm Round Metal Claw Stud Rivets – Silver Tone 200pcs #V8

Tools used
Die cutting machine
Heating gun
Scissors
Hot glue gun
Piercing tool

Heat well the Worbla sheet and pass through the die cutting machine using the Chevron embossing folder. Set the folder to one of the sheet’s corners. Make sure that the Worbla is heated well and you use the correct plates on your machine.
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Cut the Worbla sheet to the length.
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Heat a bit in the center and fold, creating a semi circular spine.
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Cut two small pieces of the remaining Worbla sheet.
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Heat the small pieces and use them to secure the binding rings to the center of the spine inside the cover.
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Using the StazOn inkpad, distress the chevron design of the cover.
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Lightly colour the paper flowers and the wooden moustache with the sage and desert sand inkpads.
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Cut a 40cm long piece of the Chevron stripe ribbon and glue it in the center of the cover. Continue with a small piece of the satin ribbon and the paper flowers.
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Using a piercing tool open holes and set the gears with brads. Continue with glueing smaller gears and adding round rivets
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Thanks again to Kyriakos for sharing this tutorial. You can find their work on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

TranspArt Crystal Necklace


Kyriakos of Crafts World has been experimenting with Worbla for various projects with fantastic results.

Below is the tutorial for the Crystal Beaded Necklace he made with Worbla’s TranspArt.

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Faux gemstones necklace made with a transparent sheet of Worbla that is colored with StazOn inks to give an impression of raw cut blue stones.
Craft your own faux gemstones with a Worbla transparent sheet and make a necklace one of its kind. Easy to make and to adapt the faux stones to the colour of your choice, just by choosing a different inkpad. Add more faux gemstones, beads and pearls to alter further.
Find all materials in Buddly Crafts shop

Materials used:
Worbla’s Transpa Art (WTA) Thermoplastic Modelling & Moulding Sheet – 180mm x 250mm x 0.8mm
Tsukineko StazOn Solvent Ink Pad – Ultramarine
Tsukineko StazOn Midi Ink Pad – Teal Blue
Buddly Crafts Small Metal Beads – 36pcs Silver Tone
Buddly Crafts 10mm Lobster Clasps – 40pcs – Silver Tone ST14
Silver Plated Jump Rings – 6mm 144pcs #1135
Buddly Crafts 8mm x 3mm Feather & Cord Crimping End Caps – 100pcs Silver Tone
Buddly Crafts 3mm x 4mm Fine Chain – 10m Silver Tone ST18
BuddlyCrafts 2mm Round Leather Thonging Cord x 1m – Black
Hobby & Crafting Fun Earrings – 35mm Kidney #2417

Tools used
Heat gun
Round nose pliers
Sponge dauber
Twizers
Scissors
Piercing tool

Using the sponge dauber lightly cover about 5x18cm surface of the Worbla transparent sheet with the StazOn Ultramarine and Tea blue colours. Cut the coloured piece.
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Heat well the cut piece of Worbla and wrap it to form a ball.
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Using a round rolling tool, flat a bit the Worbla ball and cut small pieces with a pair of scissors. Heat each piece and flatten further. Remember to heat before cutting the pieces as the Worbla will harden and become difficult to cut.
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Open holes with a piercing tools close to the edge on each of the flatten pieces. Place a jump ring with the round nose pliers.
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Lay the pieces and set them to the form that necklace should look. Add some chain on the pieces that need lay longer on the cord.
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Place the faux gemstones with metallic beads on the leather cord and set a clasp lobster and a cap end.
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The finished piece!
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Thanks again to Kyriakos for sharing this tutorial. You can find their work on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Making a Harry Potter Wand – Video

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Punished Props create some of our favorite tutorials and projects and recently Bill and Britt each made their own Harry Potter style magical wand props. While Bill dusted off the lathe to make his wand from hardwoods, Britt made hers from Worbla! You can see her process below.

Thanks again to Punished Props for sharing this with us, and if you’re curious about Bill’s wand, you can see his build here.

Genji from Overwatch (Sparrow Skin)

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Nefeni Cosplay, photographed above by Paincakes Photography, used Black Worbla to create her Sparrow Skin Genji, and detailed her build below!

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Here’s the first of my progress photos for My Sparrow skin Genji from Overwatch and it’s the shin armor! I made a template in Illustrator and then printed “mockup” on paper! I measured it on my leg to check the fit and sizing. When I was ready to go, I traced and mirrored all the pieces into craft foam and then covered it in black worbla. There are a total of 4 pieces for the shin armor. The top, bottom and two sides (with holes for the green cord). Doing it this way saves you worbla since you don’t need an foundation layer that covers your entire shin! The results are much more light weight and still extremely durable!

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Next up its bracers: These were done the same way as the shin armor. Here you can see the blueprint I created in Illustrator. I only draw up half of the armor and I print two copies on paper and tape them together to test fit it to my body! I do it this way so they are as accurate to the reference picture as possible as I’m bad at freehand drawing patterns.

I made the base of my Sparrow skin Genji belt with two layers of craft foam. I carefully cut curved details from the 2nd craft foam and glued it on using glue stick for temporary adhesion. After I was done, I sandwiched it between two pieces of worbla and carefully used sculpting tools for sculpey clay to push all the worbla down and create sharp, crisp lines! I really like the way it came out and it was super fun to make
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The completed belt for Sparrow skin Genji right before priming and painting! I used two layers of worbla strips to line the edges and give it a finished look. The side bevel swirls were made out of worbla scraps and I used AMACO Tri-bead roller to shape them out perfectly (you can get it from Amazon). I love using black worbla for making the bevels as the results are extremely smooth and is very easy to work with! I rubbed hand creme in the bead roller before pressing in the worbla so that it doesn’t stick.

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I started making the pauldron for my Sparrow skin Genji by printing out the blueprint I made in Illustrator. Then I sandwiched card stock in between two layers of worbla and puzzled each piece together slowly. It’s a bit of work and the results are thinner than using craft foam. There’s lots of prep work in doing it this way but it’s not the only way to do it – You can use EVA foam, pink insulation foam or worbla scraps! Don’t be afraid to experiment since you’ll never know what you might discover!

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The beginning phases of my pauldron. I traced and cut the craft foam using the blueprint I made in Illustrator and then covered both sides of it with black worbla. I trimmed the excess worbla away with Gingher brand dressmaker shears to get a nice clean edge. Then I added the swirl design I made. I carefully and lightly heated the design and the pauldron base before I joined the two pieces together to make sure the bond is super strong. Definitely one of the harder pieces to construct but I love the challenge and seeing it come to life!

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Here’s the completed pauldron build. The holes were made with a tool used to cut out clay jewelry and they make the perfect holes for the green cord that’s to go through them later.

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Shoe armor! I used mini d-rings and secured them to the armor using worbla strips. I put one on top of the toe part and tied it to the shoe laces to prevent them from slipping down. I used pleather strings to secure it to the bottom of my shoe and walking all day in them doesn’t rip these either – They’re super tough! Shoe armor is one of the hardest to get to stay put. I tried out lots of ideas before I wear them to a con, always test your attachments!

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The Breastplate: I started at the bottom of the breastplate and made my way upwards and slightly layered each tier over the other to save on worbla and weight.

I cut out the shapes of the boobie cups first and combined 2 layers of worbla for each side. I draped the heated worbla over a 6 inch acrylic globe used for lamps I found at my local hardware store. I used hand creme to make sure it doesn’t stick to the acrylic globe.

This works better for armor that doesn’t call for very large boobies since the black worbla doesn’t stretch as much as regular worbla. Black worbla has great structural integrity and I was able to get an awesome looking breastplate with less effort than regular worbla!

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I was able to get really smooth boobie cups for my breastplate by using a polycarbonate globe I found at my local hardware store in the lighting section! This one is made of plastic, hollow and has an opening at the bottom so it doesn’t roll around when you drape hot worbla over it. I also use Burt Bees Hand Creme as a releasing agent so that the worbla doesn’t stick to the plastic surface. Plus it smells awesome and keeps my hands soft after working with worbla so long! You can roughly cut out the shape of the cups and then shape it with the polycarbonate globe, wait for it to cool of completely, then remove it from the globe and trim off the excess with sharp Ginger dressmaker scissors! I use two layers of worbla for each cup with Black Worbla and found them to be sturdy and easy to work with.

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Priming! One of my least favorite stages of the armor making process, yet it is essential to achieving a flawless paint job. I really like black worbla for this step since it only takes 2 layers of wood glue to get a super smooth finish.

I use the Gorilla brand wood glue made for outdoor use and I don’t dilute it at all. I squeeze some into a small bowl and then dip my brush in and paint it on my armor. I allow the first layer to dry completely and you can tell when it turns completely clear (around 10 to 20 minutes depending on your location). Then I apply the second layer and I wait until it dries clear again. It doesn’t matter how neat the wood glue is applied at this point as long as the surface is fully covered and there are no crazy pooling or drips, you can have streaks! Then I take 400 fine grit sandpaper that I submerged in warm water and lightly wet sand the surface. This makes the top layer of glue turn pasty and you are able to get a smooth finish and at the same time add texture onto the surface for the paint to hold on to. It is best to wet sand up to an hour after the second layer has dried. After 24 hours it will completely harden so allocate some time before you begin. You can see in the pic the difference in the surface texture. The left is before and the right is after I sanded it.

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I used a new product to prime my shoe armor called “Flexbond” and I got mine from CosplaySupplies! They come in the smaller 16oz bottles which is the perfect amount for a cosplay project! It’s my new favorite way to prime shoe armor and armors that will show more signs or wear and tear. It’s way more flexible than wood glue and adheres to black worbla better. Wood glue is easier to wet sand so you’ll have to be careful when applying Flexbond to the armor since it will be harder to fix streaks and pooling. But the results are amazing and definitely a keeper in my cosplay stash!

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After I finish priming all the armor pieces, I paint it all a matte black. I use Winsor & Newton paints in Mars Black but any matte black paint will do! I like to brush on my paints as there is little space to do much spray painting when living in tiny apartments in NYC! And the next part is my most favorite part! Painting! I’ll show you how to bring black armor to life using silver paint and other techniques!

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Painting black armor was super tricky! After I painted my whole armor set a matte black, I dry painted a really thin layer of silver paint using dabbing motions with my paint brush. I found that the silver was too pronounced and so I diluted black paint in some water and gave it a wash to dull the metallic look. I just brushed on the diluted black paint all over and wiped off the excess with a paper towel. The results were great! The armor had dimension from the silver yet appeared to be black armor from the wash!

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And here is the completed paint job after the green paint details! I added black details lines with a small brush and regular acrylic paint in the crevices of the armor to make the lines pop! I used a bunch of dark greens and layered on lighter greens in the center to make the green bold! I even added some green interference paint to give it a glow when the armor hits the light.

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This is how I made the shurikans for my Sparrow skin Genji! I stared out by tracing the outline of the ninja stars. I just opened Overwatch, zoomed onto it from the hero gallery and put the paper right on to my computer screen and traced it. Then I made the base out of craft foam and wrapped it in worbla. Then I applied triangular details with one layer of worbla. I used left over worbla scraps and rolled them into circles and cut them into 3 pieces and applied it carefully with a crafting knife and ruler making sure to slightly heat up the base and circle for a strong bond. After that, I primed the worbla with 2 layers of wood glue and painted them with black acrylic paint. I layered silver paint on the blade edges and the raised details and done!

Photos by Paincakes Photography
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Moana’s Heihei Sculpture/Prop

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If you’ve wanted to make a Heihei of your own – or any other Disney Creature Companion – Gladzy Kei’s process of using Worbla and Apoxie Sculpt is a fantastic way to achieve a sturdy friend to take on your next photoshoot!

Gladzy used her Worbla Scraps to create the base for her Heihei, then coated that base with Apoxie Sculpt to create the details. You could also use more scrap Worbla instead of Apoxie Sculpt – it all depends on the finish you want at the end!

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You can see the video of her process as well! (Note: Gladzy works with bare hands with her Apoxie Sculpt: we absolutely suggest you use gloves, as indicated on the instructions, as Apoxie Sculpt will absorb into your body and eventually give you a very nasty allergic reaction with repeated use)

Now go out and make a new friend!

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Laser Cut Jester Hat

SmallRiniLady used Worbla Mesh, Finest and Black Art to create this adorable jester hat, with the details laser cut! She shared the process below.

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I love Mini hats, so I’m making my own mini jester hat for my HarleyQuinn outfit
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I wanted my hat to include her signature diamond pattern and some white bubble lace similar to her 90’s collar. I built up my design using Microsoft Expressions and imported it to a SVG file.
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Because my hat doesn’t need to fit “perfect” I scaled to approx. 10 inches in width. I used an Epilog Helix laser cutter to cut my pieces. The cuts came out smooth, but with a little bit of burnt marks on the edge.

I found it hard to adhere the Worbla TranspArt with the other worbla types so I ended up switching out the 4th panel with another Worbla FinestArt piece.

My pieces are all cut and ready for assembly. Let’s start forming our flat Worbla into a hat.
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To give my jester points a nice rounded shape I looked for a ball shape mold to use, that happened to be a foam head. To get matching pieces symmetrical I would form the adjacent pieces on the left/right hemisphere.

As I attach the edges together I reinforce the seam lines with thin strips of Worbla.
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While working on this I realized my jester points would be too skinny with my current pieces so I cut out an additional third segment for some width.
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Back to the foam head for some forming and giving it a lip to attach to the inside of the side pieces.
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Time to add some color; acrylic paints, sparkle glitter, bead glitter, and glass glitter.
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I want it to be obvious that the checkboard pattern is indeed cut through instead of just a fancy paint job, so I used a bright white on the inside. For the outside I painted a base coat of red and black and covered them using the different glitter types.
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Time to build my lace.

After some experimentation I learned. Avoid heating thin pieces as it will sag, lose its shape, and break (you can see on the left two floral elements). Larger elements will be more stable so heat activing it and laying the fragile pieces on top with added pressure to ensure that the position is secured together. Once you know the two pieces are connected add additional heat to guarantee the bond is throughout both surfaces.
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I painted lace trim base with white acrylic and used a dry paint method to add the black for dimension.

To attach the lace I heated up both the back of the lace and the bottom edge of the hat PLUS big strips of worbla reinforcements in the inside to secure the lace through the all those layers of *sparkles*
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Last to add some soft elements, I’m using fluffy pompons to decorate the tips of my jester points.
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My wig is actually three pieces. The main wig plus two pony tail clips. The hat sits securely over one of the pony tails.

For more of my projects check me out on Facebook!

Lasercut Harley Quinn Hammer

SmallRiniLady used Worbla Mesh and Black Art to create this amazing Harley Quinn hammer, with the details laser cut! She shared the process below.

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Laser Cut Worbla – Harley Quinn Hammer

I wanted to build a Harley Quinn hammer with a lace like structure. Laser cutting Worbla has been a very interesting medium to work with for this challenge. It did cause me some structural challenges as its flexibility increases as you remove away material. Yet the level of intricate designs you can cut using the laser cutter and still hold true in the Worbla was breathtaking.

Argyle Panel

Harlequin clowns often use Diamond patterns in their outfits, but instead of having a bunch of individual shapes, how can I mimic that pattern into a single flat sheet. I designed a two layer argyle pattern in Microsoft Expression for the surface of my hammer panel and saved it to a PDF to cut using an Epilog Laser Cutter
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It’s a lot of cutting. To do both layers took approx an hour of cutting.
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Lots of little pieces to clean up, at the time I didn’t know the maker space had a shop vacuum for jobs like this. ~My poor fingers~

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Since my Worbla wasn’t entirely flat, this area didn’t cut all the way through
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Although the fibers in the Worbla MeshArt can make your piece sturdier, it also requires more power from a laser cutter to cut through. In the areas that it didn’t cut through, my manual popping out with my fingers did not result with smooth edges but pokey fibers sticking out
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Some areas barely cut through so I had to use a knife on it. Luckily the score lines allowed me to keep the consistent pattern through my manual cutting process.
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Layer two, using Worbla BlackArt
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Time to paint. Painted my Worbla MeshArt to black and my Worbla BlackArt to red. Had I planned better I would have switched the two layers’ material to paint less.
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Getting the Worbla to stick together wasn’t an easy job. The extra layers of paint on each surface required the Worbla to be even hotter before the surfaces were tacky enough stick to one another. That caused the Worbla to be super soft and causing the patterns to create impressions into one another; the black diamond started drooping into the open space below causing an uneven surface ~sad face~.
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To get the argyle panel to match the exact circumference of my circle faces I used the laser cutter again to cut down my argyle panel down to size.
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I did not change my laser cutting settings; not risking the higher heat to melt my project or start any fires. My top layer of Worbla cut through cleanly, but only etched into the second layer.
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The etched lines became very useful for guiding my knife, so this step was simple and fast.
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Lace

I designed a lace pattern to trim my hammer. I wanted the droplet shape to mimic Harley’s collar from her 90’s cartoon outfit. This same lace trim will also show up on my HarleyQuinn Hat
When heating thin cuts of Worbla you’ll end up with a lot of sag which can deform your pieces very quickly. I found that by having a solid base to heat up you can easily stick the cold fragile pieces to the activated Worbla. It won’t stick fully but have enough random adhesion points to be locked in place. Then you can re-go over with heat to create a complete bond.
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I bonded the lace to the edge of my argyle panel and painted them white
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Faces

For the side faces I decided to use Acrylic sheets as it is a ridged material that will provide the stability for the hammer to keep its circular shape. Single sheet of Worbla is too flexible for this but may work if using the sandwich method.
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Acrylic sheets come covered either with paper or plastic. This way it won’t scratch during transport, can be drawn on during design, and avoid soot and scorch marks during the laser cutting process. I laser cut out circles with fun patterns inspired by the “POW” phrases from the 60s show.
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After removing the plastic covering I used a stamp pad to color the inside of my acrylic sheet to give it a translucent color to help the design become more readable.
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The acrylic side faces and the Worbla argyle panel includes holes around the edge. The edges will be laced together with ribbons. This gives the design a bit of flexibility with spacing and creates a seductive look.
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Handle

The handle of the hammer starts with a PVC pipe which I decorate with satin black and white ribbons creating a stripped pattern.
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I measured the pvc pipe with a caliper to create Worbla reinforcement rings (also laser cut) for my argyle panel.
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My argyle pattern creates gaps around the hole for the pvc pass through to not be tight. The reinforcement rings removes that issue. One in the inside and one on the outside creates a strong seal.

Hammer Time!

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Canti From Fooly Cooly (FLCL)

Want to be the high-energy robot from FLCL? Kahht shared how they created their Canti costume with Worbla, and you can see the process below!
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I love robots, so I instantly fell in love with Canti from the Japanese anime series Fooly Cooly (aka FLCL). It was a huge learning process, and a ton of work. I’m super happy with the final look, and am looking forward to my next Worbla costume.

Step 1: Materials

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Let me start by saying: read everything first. This is a long process and I tried to outline it in as linear a way as possible, but if you know the entire process, you’re less likely to do something that will mess you up in the future.

Here’s what you’ll need:

24 sq ft of worbla
Various plastic shapes (i.e. water bottle)
Saran wrap
Painter’s tape or duct tape
Permanent marker
Heavy-duty scissors (I used an inexpensive pair of sewing scissors and they worked great)
12 sq. ft. of craft foam
Heat gun
Corrugated plastic or cardboard (or any reasonably thick, cut-able material)
10 x 1” Metal D-rings or other loops
Black fabric elastic (2.5 meters)
Sewing needle and black thread
A tight black cap
Pencil
Tracing paper
Xacto knife
1/8” plexiglass and solar mirror film or clouded plexiglass
Various grits of sand-paper
White acrylic gesso
Foam brushes
Various paint brushes (big and really tiny)
Acrylic paint in red, black, yellow, white and gold
1 sq. ft. 1” thick fabric foam
A long sleeved black shirt
Black ski gloves (with white palms if you can find them)
A helper

Step 2: Make Your Patterns and Measurements

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Tip: grab a helper for this step.

With the plastics you’ve rounded up, cut them out to add the appropriate curves to the forearm piece. I used a stubby water bottle cut in half lengthwise. Then taped it to my arm. (I couldn’t find anything appropriate to make the chest, so I decided to wing it).

Once you feel good about the shape you’ve created, wrap a layer of saran around your torso, upper arm and forearm, then put tape over top (I used duct tape, but painters tape is better). Don’t pull too tight so that you get an accurate representation of your body.

Now, using a permanent marker, draw your pattern onto the tape. This is the outline of the amour’s shape. Carefully cut the tape off of your body, then cut the pattern that you traced out.

For the head piece, you can follow the guides I’ve provided… heads are usually more similar in size and I’ll cover how to get it to sit on your specific head shape later.

Step 3: Tracing


This step is simple: Trace the pattern onto craft foam and cut it out.

Step 4: Now for the Worbla

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Quick tip before getting into the nitty gritty: save all your scraps! They’ll come in handy later.

There are two techniques I used. The first method, the sandwich technique, requires more Worbla, but provides a sturdier piece in the end. I used this method for everything except the upper arm and would highly recommend it (as tempting as it is to save worbla). The other method, the hug technique, saves you a bit of Worbla and is easier when dealing with concave angles and curves, but it leaves some craft foam exposed on the inside (so, not ideal if both sides are going to be exposed, leaves the piece feeling a bit less sturdy and sometimes the edges come out a bit more jagged (which can probably be averted if you’re careful).

Sandwich Technique:

For this method, trace the pieces of craft foam with an extra centimeter of room around onto the Worbla. Flip the pieces over and trace in the same way again. Cut these out of the Worbla. You’ll have two mirrored pieces of Worbla now for each piece of craft foam.

Sandwich the craft foam between the two corresponding pieces of Worbla. The shinier side of the Worbla faces in. Heat the Worbla with your heat gun in broad and even strokes, focusing on the edges, but making sure the entire surface is warm and slightly tacky. Don’t let it get soft! Keep checking it as you’re heating it so you can remove the heat as soon as it gets soft and a bit tacky.

Squish the Worbla together. Start in the centre of the piece, pushing down and out then quickly move to the edges of the craft foam. Make sure the two pieces of Worbla stick tightly together. You can use the blunt side of the scissors to make sure the Worbla is tight against the edge.

It’s easiest to cut the Worbla while it’s still a bit warm, so use your scissors to cut the excess Worbla from around the craft foam. If the Worbla separates to reveal the craft foam, just heat it up again and push it together (we’ll do some sanding later to deal with any rough edges).

Hug Technique:

The second method is the hug technique. For this method, trace the craft foam onto the Worbla, then draw an extra inch (2.5 centimeters) of room around it. Cut the wider shape out of the Worbla and carefully cut slits into the sides without cutting into the original traced shape.

Heat the Worbla on the shinier side with the heat gun. Use broad and even strokes to ensure even heating of the piece. Keep checking it as you’re heating it so you can remove the heat as soon as it gets just soft and a bit tacky (but don’t let it get bubbly or flimsy soft).

Place the craft foam onto the Worbla and fold over the tabs you cut earlier. Gently curl the edges over to create a clean edge (we’ll do some sanding later to deal with any rough edges).

Step 5: Shaping it to your Body


Now’s the part where you wish you read ahead… and if you are reading ahead then pat yourself on the back and thank yourself for your foresight.

While the Worbla is still warm (but not hot), place the piece over the correct piece of your body to get the right shape. You’ll need to hold it there for a little bit until you feel it will be able to hold the shape pretty well. This is another great point to call your helper over for.

The wonderful thing about Worbla is you can heat it over and over and over again and keep playing with the shape. There seems to be no limit! So that’s really cool. If you screw up or need to fix something, just apply enough heat to make it malleable and reshape it.

Step 6: Fitting the Headpiece

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First, you’ll need to make the piece that sits nice and firmly on your head. First, put on a tight cap, like a swim cap or something else reasonably thin. Take two long strips of prepared craft-foam sandwiched Worbla, heat them up, and drape them over your head so they criss-cross at the top. The longer piece will go from your forehead to your nape and the shorter one will go from ear to ear (without covering your ears). Hold them on until they’re nice and solid. A good, tight fit is essential.

We’ll talk more about the headpiece later, as it’s a bit of a beast on its own.

Step 7: Adding Embellishments


Use the sandwich technique to make the embellishments (patterns can be found in the guide):

The half-oval for over the hand
The triangle for the shoulder
The air holes for the bottom of the body piece
Once the pieces are made, heat both the embellishment and the location on the body piece and stick them together.

To make the circle around the triangle, heat a few pieces of scrap Worbla. Get them really nice and hot so they’re malleable and quite soft. Wear work gloves to help you squish them all together, then roll them out into a rope (like you might have done with play-dough when you were a kid). You can then connect the two ends of your rope to make a circle and place it around the triangle on the shoulder (remember to heat the upper arm part so that it sticks).

Step 8: Making the Lacings


I used fabric elastic to hold the pieces onto me.

First, you’ll need to attach d-rings to either side of each piece. To do this, use an x-acto knife to cut a ¾-inch slit in the Worbla/craft foam where you want to put the d-ring. The slit should be about a ¾-inch from the edge and parallel to it. Heat a 2-inch strip of Worbla that’ll fit through the d-ring. Put this “tab” through the d-ring, and fold it over onto itself so it holds the ring. Heat the area around the slit in the costume and place the tab into the slit. Lightly press it onto the Worbla so it holds.

Repeat this for all 10 d-rings:

One on the upper part of each side of the forearm pieces
One on the middle part of each side of the upper arm pieces
One on the end of each section that goes over the shoulder (at a 45˚ angle inwards)
One on the top of each side that goes around the torso (at a 45˚ angle inwards)
One on the bottom of each side that goes around the torso
Sew the fabric elastic around each d-ring. Cut enough elastic so that it will hold firmly onto you without cutting off circulation and give yourself about an inch extra on each side to sew.

Step 9: For the Face Screen


To make the face screen, a round-cornered rectangle from 1/8” plexi-glass. I used a laser-cutter for this and was very pleased with the result.

If you’re using solar mirror film, dampen the plexi and apply it by remove the protective plastic from the sticky side and gently laying it on top. Use a wet sponge to work out any bubbles.

Heat up the pieces of Worbla that frame the plexi and place the the plexi between them so it’s centered in the frame. I set it up so the solar film would be on the inside of the head piece.

Step 10: Finishing the Headpiece

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You should have already made all your headpiece parts, so let’s put them together.

Align the correct sides of each piece to each other. When you heat the edges, they’ll stick to each other quite nicely. Press them firmly together and smooth them out.

Refer to the photographs to get the right angles and placements of all the pieces.

Once you have it all fit together, you need to place it on the cross-pieces you fit to your head. Grab your helper; this part of the process absolutely killed me. Heat up the top of the cross-pieces and put them on your protected head (i.e. wear a cap). Heat up the inside top of your headpiece and very carefully place it over your head as you want it to fit.

Connect a piece of craft-foam sandwiched Worbla from the front of the crosspiece to the inside front of the headpiece to add stability. For additional support and stability, I also used Velcro on the top of my cap and along the inside of the cross-piece to ensure it wouldn’t fall off.

Step 11: Sanding

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Now that everything is put together, sand the edges and another part that looks uneven. I wasn’t too concerned about getting mine smooth and shiny… I just wanted to get rid of any really weird looking parts.

Step 12: Painting (at last)


First, cover the plexi screen with painters tape.

I used a few layers of gesso on everything for primer. Apply the gesso with a foam brush. Wait for it to dry. Paint, dry, repeat and dry.

Start giving it colour!

I started by free handing the shapes on the chest with a pencil and painting that a greyish white. See the picture for the rest of the colours. Start with the lightest colours and move darker. Keep a steady hand (I am so bad at painting, by the way).

Apply more coats as needed.

To finish it off, I used a very light brushing of gold paint around the edges and on the embellishments to give it a “worn” look.

Step 13: The Cape

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Admittedly, I could have done a lot better with the cape. I took a sheet of black fabric and then a sheet of olive-brown fabric and layered them. Pretty easy, and it worked. The black was important because it would bring out some of the structure in the costume, so the black of my shirt would be a bit more hidden.

Step 14: Putting it on

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The one last thing to do is to cut a couple pieces of craft foam (about 4” x 9”). After putting on all the body pieces over my long-sleeved black shirt, I stuff the craft foam into the bottom of the sleeve. I pulled the cape tight around my neck. I fit the helmet over my hid. I then put on the ski gloves on and voila!

Poison Ivy’s Monster Staff

Methyl Ethyl Cosplay made a wonderfully creepy monster staff for her Poison Ivy costume and shared her process with us!

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Tools used:
Heat Gun
Utitility Knife
Scissors
Dremel
Sandpaper
Rolling Pin
Sculpting Tools
Spoon
Paint Brushes
 
 
 
 
Materials used:
Worbla
Expanding Foam
Paper Clay
Wood Filler
Styrofoam Ball
2 Polyethylene Cylinders (diameter: 1.5”, length: 70”)
3mm Craft Foam Sheets
Mod Podge
Acrylic Spray/Liquid Paints
Spray Filler Primer/Plastic Primer
Tape/Cling Wrap
Clear Acrylic Spray
Pledge Floor Care

I began by making the monster head.

First I took the Styrofoam ball and cut it in half. Using a spoon I hollowed out each half to create the mouth area. I then heated scrap strips of Worbla with a heat gun and connected the two halves by adhering them to the Styrofoam, while holding the halves into the desired position (creating an open mouth effect) and letting the Worbla cool. Once cooled, the base head shape was complete.

Next I used rocks to hold the Styrofoam base in place (mouth down) and sprayed the back of the head with expanding foam. Once dried, I carved the foam with a utility knife and smoothed it with sandpaper. I then repeated the process on the front of the head around the mouth area, propping it up with rocks, spraying it with expanding foam and carving/sanding it once dry. I filled in the grooves left from air pockets in the foam with wood filler.
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This next step is optional, but I wanted to achieve a smoother surface before covering the head with Worbla, so I took paper clay and rolled it into a very thin sheet with a rolling pin. I then covered the outside of the head with the clay sheet, let it dry, and sanded it smooth. Next, using my heat gun I covered the outside of the head and the inside of the mouth with Worbla.
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To make the lips I measured the lengths I would need to cover the bottom and top edges of the mouth. I cut the end of one of the polyethylene cylinders to the length of the longer of the two lip measurements. Using scissors I then cut this cylinder in half, width-wise, to create the base of the top and bottom lips. I further cut the lips into shape, tapering the ends, and making sure each fit around the mouth edges properly. I then covered the lips with Worbla and adhered them to the head via heat.

Next I sprayed expanding foam onto a work surface (I used carboard) into the rough shape of a tongue. Once dried, I carved and sanded the tongue into shape using a utility knife/sandpaper. I filled in any grooves with wood filler.
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Using the same method as before, I rolled paper clay into a thin sheet using a rolling pin. I covered the tongue with the sheet, let it dry and sanded it smooth. Then, using paper clay, I made teeth and plant tendrils to cover the top and bottom of the head.
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Finally, I covered the tongue, teeth and tendrils with Worbla and adhered them to the head via heat. I heated scrap strips of Worbla and rolled them into thin cylinders and created organic root/vine-like details snaking off of the head tendrils; and with that the head was complete.
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Now, to form the rod of the staff I took the two polyethylene cylinders and cut them to the desired length. Using my Dremel I narrowed the cylinders in the grip area of the staff so that, once formed, my hand would be able to fit comfortably around it. I cut leaves out of EVA foam to attach to the staff (4 for the base of the staff and two for the middle section of the staff). Using my heat gun I then covered each cylinder with Worbla. (*Note: polyethylene does not take to heat well and does deform when it gets too hot. This step has to be done with caution. If I were to try this again I would experiment with wrapping the cylinders in duct tape to mitigate the heat applied to the foam.)

Once the cylinders were covered, I snaked the two cylinders around each other and heat formed them together. This step takes patience. The Worbla has a tendency to rip when being twisted in this manner, so taking this step one small portion at a time (heating, carefully, intertwining and letting cool) slowly working your way along the length of the staff is highly advised. I also had to make sure I aligned the two sections I narrowed for the grip together correctly to ensure I’d have a comfortable area to hold the staff.
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To further smooth out the Worbla scrap pieces (as shown above) I later heated the area and smoothed out the edges with sculpting tools.
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My staff was then fully constructed:
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Thanks again to Methyl Ethyl Cosplay for sharing this with us!

Articulated Skeleton Hand

Gary Petit created an amazing, articulated skeleton hand with Worbla, and shared his highly detailed tutorial with us! Be sure to check out the video to see how well this moves!

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Back in 2014 I created the Ultimate Grim Reaper Project. One of the hardest parts of that costume was creating hands that look like bones but can also stand up to a lot of use. I had to settle for small plastic tubes and coat hanger wire wrapped with latex so I could, at least pose the fingers. The challenge of making an articulated hand is finding the right material to make the joints and the ability to incorporate some sort of spring tension into the fingers so they remain in the open position until you pull them closed. Anyone who has attempted this can appreciate how complex this can be. I always wanted to create a skeleton hand that I could articulate but gave up after several failed attempts. Until, I was working on another small project and was shopping at my favorite Halloween supply store, Home Depot.

Step 1: Getting Started

fxktplnijyuthof-largeWhile picking up a couple bolts, my eye was drawn to a box of Toggle Bolts. There it was, a metal joint with a built in spring. Not perfect but I can make this work. Conveniently, the box had 15 pieces and I needed 14 for each hand. Grabbed a third box for good measure. Now that I found the joints for the fingers, I had to figure out the rest of the material.

  • 3 boxes of Toggle Bolts
  • 1/4 inch polyethylene tubing – Had this laying around. Same tubing used to run a water line from the sink to our refrigerator.
  • A sheet of Worbla Thermoplastic
  • High strength fishing line
  • Old aluminum crutches
  • Cheap yard work gloves

Based on experience with some previous projects, I wanted to use the aluminum tubing from some used crutches due to their light weight and the fact that it’s easy to work with. Most of all, I didn’t just want to have a lifelike skeleton hand sticking out of a robe, I wanted to show the wrist bones and forearm bones to maximize the effect.

I’m still not convinced that the joints I used from the toggle bolts are the best idea but they do work well for this project. However, the downside is that the springs built into the toggle bolt hinge is rather week. After some trial and error, I did destroy a handful of toggle bolts so I salvaged several of the springs and added them to other joints to increase the spring tension. I found that as I added the Worbla, it added weight and the springs were not strong enough to fully open the joints. To solve this problem, I found some old elastic sneaker laces that I was not using. These laces were basically small bungee cords. I’ll explain below on how I was able to incorporate these bungee cords into the Worbla to complement the joints and provide additional spring tension on the joints.

Step 2: ​Making the forearm


For this project, I’m replacing the lower arms on my Grim Reaper custom so I designed the forearms to connect to the elbow joint. Just below the elbow, I would attach a glove and handle where I can easily grab hold of the lower arm and manipulate the fingers. Since the upper arm is attached to the custom framework that is attached to me via a backpack, I can easily maintain my control of the arm without requiring additional strapping to tie the forearm directly to my arm. Let me explain that a little better. Since your hand needs to be free enough so your fingers can manipulate the articulated hand, it’s difficult to maintain control of the overall arm without strapping the device to your own forearm for stability. In my case, I gain the stability by having the elbow joined to the upper arm which is secured to my body via the backpack.

After disassembling the aluminum crutches, I cut them to length taking advantage of the existing bend in the pipe so that two pipes are joined together at the wrist end and the bend in the pipes spread apart toward the elbow end. This provided a relatively narrow wrist bone that I can easily pass the control strings down and a wider area toward the elbow end to attach the glove and handle to manipulate the arm. Using some 2-1/4″ bolts, I drilled a couple holes in the pipes to secure them together at the wrist. I then used some metal fastener straps to create the area where the glove would attach. I drilled 1/8″ holes and used rivets to secure this together. I also leveraged the plastic part of the crutches to create an end piece on the elbow end that will later be used to connect with the upper arm.

Step 3: ​Making the fingers


This was pretty straight forward but time consuming. Measure your hand and each joint to get the proportions for each finger as accurate as possible. You can go with life size of in my case, I’m applying these hands to an 8 foot tall reaper so I needed hands about 1.35 times larger than my own. I drew out the measurements on a piece of paper and allowed for longer lengths of tubing that would extend into the wrist. Need to have a little extra here to embed into the wrist when assembling.

The toggle bolt hinges do not open all the way by design. I needed to modify each hinge to remove some material so the hinge opens to a more straight position. I tried a few different methods like using sheet metal cutters to trim some material off or bend the metal with plyers but the best method turned out to be grinding the material down. I used a table top drill press with a grinding bit to remove the extra material around the joint. I supposed a desktop grinder or something similar would also do the trick. It takes a couple minutes per joint but wear gloves and eye protection. Little bits of metal are getting thrown off the grinder and the hinge heats up very quickly. Speaking of the heat, grind off a little at a time, don’t rush. I realize on the first few that I did, the spring heated up too and lost some of its tension making the joint too weak to be used.


Connecting the 1/4 inch tubing to the hinges was very simple. I started with regular plyers to crimp the metal ends of the hinge around the tube which worked fine but when I spotted my little nail remover plyers that had a very nice semi-round shape on the end of the tool, I found that to work the best to roll the metal ends over the soft plastic tube. This method makes it very easy to adjust the distance between each joint. Simply slid the tube in and out of each joint to adjust. It just needs to be a snug fit. Later, the Worbla will cover everything, holding it all together.

Step 4: ​Making the wrist


You can probably approach this from a few different directions and materials. I chose to cut a piece of 3/4 inch thick pine board that was laying around into a rough shape the wrist. I laid out lines on the wood to determine where each finger and thumb would enter the wood. This is why you needed some extra tubing noted above. I used a 1/4 inch drill bit to drill the holes.

Once I had the finger holes drilled, I needed to attach this piece of wood to the end of the forearm assembly. This was accomplished by placing two sacrificial pieces of wood on each side of the wrist and clamping in a vise. I then marked the location and diameter of the aluminum pipes from the forearm onto the wood and removed the material using a Forsner bit to a depth of about 1 inch. Leaving enough wood on either side to drill two small screw holes to secure the wrist onto the forearm pipes.

The aim is to have each finger tube come together inside the wrist so the strings would all flow together up the forearm. Now you can cut off the excess tubing so that each finger fits nicely into the holes and they don’t interfere with each other or the path for your control strings.

With the drilling and dry fitting completed, I mixed up some two part epoxy with a 5 minute set time to secure the 1/4″ tubes into the wood. If you are doing two hands (left & right) carefully stage everything you need and working quickly with the epoxy on each hand separately. Trying to do them both at the same time will only lead to problems and once the epoxy cures, your done. Any mistakes here and your starting over. After the epoxy cures, leave the assembly over night so it gets good and hard before continuing.

Step 5: ​Working with Worbla


With all the basic components of the arm and hand completed, I was ready to start applying Worbla. This was my first time using this stuff and I have to say, “I Love it”! It takes a little time to get it just right but after watching several YouTube videos, I was able to master this stuff pretty quickly. You’ll want to cut the Worbla into several small pieces sized to the area you are working with. This does not have to be 100% accurate because Worbla is very forgiving and it’s pretty easy to add a little more or remove a little if you’ve applied too much.

I use an old cookie sheet for a lot of projects where I need to collect several small parts or pieces and the non-stick coating on the cookie sheet turned out to be the perfect bed to heat up the Worbla without it sticking to the surface. I used my heat gun to heat it up and get it to a soft consistency then simply picked it up and transferred it quickly to the hand and formed it with my fingers. It needs to be hot for this to work but not so hot that you cannot touch it. I did find that after a few hours of working with Worbla, my fingertips were very sore but that was mostly due to the constant pressing and shaping as it was cooling. At times, I had to reheat the Worbla on the hand itself to adjust and shape it. I also found that using metal carving tools or dental tools, you could adjust and detail the Worbla at a very fine level. These tools were very helpful when trying to adjust the Worbla around the knuckles and joints.

The first application was around the fingers before epoxying them to the wrist. This way I was able to adjust them to the proper lengths and line them up for each hand. The Worbla was also very useful to bend the tubing to the shape and direction I wanted. Once Worbla cools down, it keeps whatever shape you gave it allowing for very fine adjustments to the positioning of each finger.

I used several reference images of skeleton hands to shape the wrist and fingers. It’s definitely not anatomically perfect but looks very accurate. Since Worbla is naturally sticky, I used a larger piece to wrap the wrist wood piece to create a nice base for the rest of the Worbla to stick to. Creating the bone look was done by heating up small pieces and rolling into balls or oblong shapes and then pressing them into position on the wrist while blending in the finger bones.

I also used a large piece of Worbla to wrap the aluminum pipe or the forearm. I filled in the gap between the two pipes with a piece of rope so the two pipes would look like one large bone. I added more Worbla at the wrist end of this bone to shape it like a bone and then wrapped a length of rope with Worbla which I just stuck onto the side of the aluminum pipes to make it look like two separate bones for the forearm. I then attached the wrist to the forearm and added more Worbla pieces to finish it off but I still kept both part separate so I can later disassemble if necessary.

The fingers took the most time. Each one needs to be shaped to look like a boney finger and since this will be right in the face of my victims, it needed to look as good as I could make it. One hand took over 16 hours of work applying and shaping the Worbla.

Fixing the Joints!

As mentioned above, some of the springs in the joints were not strong enough to spring back each finger once the Worbla was applied due to the additional weight. The solution was to split the knuckle down the length of the finger and insert a piece of bungee and then fold over the Worbla to secure it in place while the finger was straight. This required heating the Worbla on each finger which was tricky because you have to make sure the Joint remains clear and you don’t stick each finger section together. I found that I could place a small piece of wax paper between the joints to prevent the Worbla from sticking while embedding the bungee. Once the Worbla dried, the additional bungee provided the perfect amount of spring back that I was looking for. Only needed to apply the bungee to a few joints, most did not require it.

Step 6: ​Threading the needle


I threaded each finger individually with long lengths of high strength braided fishing line. By folding the fishing line, I was able to easily feed it up through each tube from the wrist up to the finger tips. The images show how I secured each line to the finger tip.

After feeding the string, I found that I needed a lot of pull tension to get the fingers to bend. The string needed to be pushed out a little at each joint away from the center line of the hinge. To do this, I tried several bits and pieces of stuff I had in the shop but come up with some sticky pads covered with a short piece of tubing cut in half to create a cover of sorts over the joint allowing the string to pass over without restriction. The string holds the tubing in place and stays perfectly centered. This made a huge difference reducing the amount of pull tension needed to bend each finger.

Once I had each finger threaded, I ran the strings through the forearm tubes out to the glove and use a needle to thread the line into the finger tips of the glove. Since I could not manipulate the thumb with my thumb, I tied the thumb line to my third finger. Surprisingly, with a little practice, you can get a very natural movement of the thumb as you close your fist with the third finger controlling it.

Satisfied with the assembly, I finally covered the finger tip bones with Worbla to finish of the construction.

Step 7: ​Next Steps


I have some more work to do on some of the joints to make subtle adjustments to the open and closed position of each joint. I’m also working on the left hand and plan on attaching the bungee on the knuckles earlier in the project to simplify the construction and create a matching left hand.

I will be attaching a very light weight black cloth material to the inside of each knuckle to cover inner workings of each joint. This should create an interesting look to the inside of the hand but hide the mechanical aspects of the exposed joints. With a little airbrushing on that material, it should look pretty good.

Finally, I’ll need to paint and airbrush the bones to match the rest of the reaper costume to complete the project.

I want to thank all the other authors who built articulated hands and shared them online. I probably viewed them all to get ideas for this project. Thanks for the insight you all gave me to finally make an articulated skeleton hand that will take a lot of abuse and last a long time.

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Thanks again to Gary Petit for sharing this with us!

D&D Mimic

9Flame Creations created this amazing Mimic treasure box, a blast from our D&D games of past. She shared her process below!

The final project!
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This is my starting point. A plain wooden box bought from a craft store. (This particular one is from Micheals).
This is my starting point. A plain wooden box bought from a craft store. (This particular one is from Micheals).
In my bathroom, I painted the wooden box with a wood stain (from a department store, like Home Depot).  This only needed 1 thin coat of stain, and it brushed on just like paint. This can easily be done outside, however it was snowing so much I needed to do it indoors (and since it's inside, I had the door closed, fan on, and wore a mask).  The box stayed in the bathroom with the fan on for 2 days to completely dry and fully air itself out of fumes.
In my bathroom, I painted the wooden box with a wood stain (from a department store, like Home Depot).
This only needed 1 thin coat of stain, and it brushed on just like paint. This can easily be done outside, however it was snowing so much I needed to do it indoors (and since it’s inside, I had the door closed, fan on, and wore a mask).
The box stayed in the bathroom with the fan on for 2 days to completely dry and fully air itself out of fumes.
The chest now that the wood stain is completely dry.
The chest now that the wood stain is completely dry.
The eyes are glass cabochons with 4 coats of nail polish on the back side. The black layer underneath helps the color pop. The teeth are cut from foam sheets and glued into the box. Each tooth has 3 layers of foam, to give a rounded 3D effect. Every tooth is the same size. The teeth are only glued at the base, so they don't stick to the other lip and prevent the box from opening.
The eyes are glass cabochons with 4 coats of nail polish on the back side. The black layer underneath helps the color pop.
The teeth are cut from foam sheets and glued into the box. Each tooth has 3 layers of foam, to give a rounded 3D effect. Every tooth is the same size. The teeth are only glued at the base, so they don’t stick to the other lip and prevent the box from opening.
I took a square sheet of worbla, cut a slit through the middle, and put it over the eyes. I then opened the slit like an eye lid and let the worbla bunch at the top and bottom of the eyes.
I took a square sheet of worbla, cut a slit through the middle, and put it over the eyes. I then opened the slit like an eye lid and let the worbla bunch at the top and bottom of the eyes.
I placed some more foam on the box where I wanted features to pop out, and then covered in another sheet of worbla, leaving holes for the eyes to come through.  Instead of worbla, this could also work with clay or even paper mache!
I placed some more foam on the box where I wanted features to pop out, and then covered in another sheet of worbla, leaving holes for the eyes to come through.
Instead of worbla, this could also work with clay or even paper mache!
Shape the face until happy with the look. I ended up adding more worbla to the eyes for extra wrinkles.
Shape the face until happy with the look. I ended up adding more worbla to the eyes for extra wrinkles.
Cover the teeth individually, and also add lips. The lips angle in at the front, covering almost all of the middle teeth, and angle out at the sides wich leaves almost the whole tooth exposed. Make sure there's room in the lips for the top and bottom teeth to slide into when the box is closed.
Cover the teeth individually, and also add lips. The lips angle in at the front, covering almost all of the middle teeth, and angle out at the sides wich leaves almost the whole tooth exposed. Make sure there’s room in the lips for the top and bottom teeth to slide into when the box is closed.
Optional* Prime (if you want the worbla to be smooth). I used 2-3 layers of wood glue for a medium texture but it was not needed. Paint a base coat of paint in the brightest colors. Add the darker colors in layers using a bristly paint brush. My first dark layers were with a wet brush, and I let the water pool where I wanted to emphasize wrinkles. The more scratchy and patchy the brush is, the better this will help simulate a wood grain. If you get too much dark paint in one area, wipe it off with a rag or paper towel before it dries.
Optional* Prime (if you want the worbla to be smooth). I used 2-3 layers of wood glue for a medium texture but it was not needed.
Paint a base coat of paint in the brightest colors. Add the darker colors in layers using a bristly paint brush. My first dark layers were with a wet brush, and I let the water pool where I wanted to emphasize wrinkles. The more scratchy and patchy the brush is, the better this will help simulate a wood grain. If you get too much dark paint in one area, wipe it off with a rag or paper towel before it dries.
Don't be afraid to smudge parts with your fingers too. Keep getting in those cracks but don't cover up the light color completely. You can see my brush stokes on the back of the head here. I kept doing this with darker and darker layers, using less and less paint each time. If the paint is too thick, water it down.  I tried to match the look of the wood stain as much as possible.
Don’t be afraid to smudge parts with your fingers too. Keep getting in those cracks but don’t cover up the light color completely. You can see my brush stokes on the back of the head here. I kept doing this with darker and darker layers, using less and less paint each time. If the paint is too thick, water it down.
I tried to match the look of the wood stain as much as possible.
I chose a light/yellowish brown for the teeth. I painted some onto the base of each tooth and smudged along the rest of the tooth with my fingers before the paint was fully dry. The trick is to be messy with this. Mimimal paint on the brush, and let it go randomly and uneven.
I chose a light/yellowish brown for the teeth. I painted some onto the base of each tooth and smudged along the rest of the tooth with my fingers before the paint was fully dry. The trick is to be messy with this. Mimimal paint on the brush, and let it go randomly and uneven.
I did not fully stain the inside of the box. Instead I glued in some soft, black, fabric only on the bottom and the bottom sides.
I did not fully stain the inside of the box. Instead I glued in some soft, black, fabric only on the bottom and the bottom sides.
Here you can see the black fabric I glued inside, along with some gold that the mimic is using to lure unsuspecting players.
Here you can see the black fabric I glued inside, along with some gold that the mimic is using to lure unsuspecting players.
Close up the eye and some folds/wrinkles. Also notice how the paint looks inconsistant in color to look like highlights and low lights. The most shadowed areas have been brushed over with only the darkest color. If your box is too dark in too many places, go back with your light color and gently brighten the areas that need it. Anything that bumps up should be light, and any deep inner crease should be dark.
Close up the eye and some folds/wrinkles. Also notice how the paint looks inconsistant in color to look like highlights and low lights. The most shadowed areas have been brushed over with only the darkest color. If your box is too dark in too many places, go back with your light color and gently brighten the areas that need it. Anything that bumps up should be light, and any deep inner crease should be dark.

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Thanks to 9Flame Creations for sharing this with us. Remember – always roll for perception!

Basic Helmet Construction with Worbla

Have you ever wanted to make your own helmet for a costume? This tutorial by the fantastic Termina Cosplay will show one way to do it!

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Materials/Tools
mannequin head
paper
masking tape
pencils, pens, markers, etc.
measuring tape or ruler
craft foam
scissors
x-acto knife
clay tools
Worbla
hot glue
heat gun
primer
sandpaper
paint
paint brushes
Dremel
paper fasteners (optional)

Step 1: Make your pattern

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As with most projects, you have to start with a pattern. Making a helmet is no different. To start, you can get a basic pattern shape by using the plastic wrap and masking tape method. If you wrap your own head, please don’t cover your whole face. You won’t be able to breathe if you cover your whole face. Just cover the areas of your head that you’ll need to fit the helmet. If you’re using a mannequin head, you obviously don’t have to be as careful; make sure your mannequin head is about the same size as your own head or your pattern might not fit you. Once you have your basic pattern drawn, cut it out.

Now spend some time making sure the helmet pattern you just made looks and fits like you want it to. Since there were so many different lines and tape, I changed my pattern drastically from the initial pattern I drew. Once you’re happy with the shape and fit, you can transfer all your pattern pieces to new paper to make them look nicer and easier to work with, but this isn’t totally necessary if you don’t want to do it.
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Step 2: Cut out foam pieces

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Get a piece of craft foam and transfer your pattern pieces over to it. Helmets are usually symmetrical, so your pieces should be symmetrical, too. You’ll also need to cut out any details you want to add before covering all your pieces in Worbla, so be sure to do that now as well. I wanted to add a raised edge to my helmet, so I made the patterns for these raised edges by simply applying packing tape (though masking tape would work just as well) to my helmet pieces and drawing the details onto the tape. It’s hard to see in the photos, but the packing tape is there.
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I used a measuring tape to mark about a half inch all the way around my pieces, and then connected the dots. Then, I carefully lifted the tape from my foam pieces and stuck them down to a new piece of foam to cut out. Be sure to mark your detail pieces and your foam pieces so you can put them together easily. I used numbers to mark mine.

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Step 3: Glue foam details on

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Once you have all your foam pieces cut out, it’s time to glue them. I simply took a glue gun and applied some glue along the edge and then pressed my details down on top to glue them. In no time at all, all my pieces had a nice raised edge.

Step 4: Cut out Worbla pieces

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Next you’ll need to cut out a piece of Worbla for each piece of foam you have. Cut out your Worbla piece a bit bigger than the foam piece. I usually cut mine about a half inch larger all the way around. I used Worbla’s Finest Art in this example, but you can also use Worbla’s Black Art, Mesh Art, or really any other thermoplastic sheet to do this. There are advantages and disadvantages to each material. Experimenting with them is the best way to know which one will work best for you!

Step 5: Apply Worbla to Foam

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To apply Worbla to foam, all you need to do is heat it up with a heat gun until it is soft and moldable, stick it over the top of your foam, and press it down.
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To make the raised edges show up, use a small clay tool, plastic silverware, or a ruler to press the Worbla down into the edges.
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Once all the details are pressed in, flip the piece over, heat it up again, fold all the edges over to the back of the foam and press it down. Cut off any extra Worbla with scissors, and you’re done! Now repeat the process for each piece you have.
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Step 6: Stick your pieces together and shape to fit

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To stick our helmet pieces together, all you have to do is heat them up with the heat gun and stick them together at the edges. Worbla will stick to itself when warm, so no extra glue is required. While the pieces are warm, you can also shape the pieces to fit your head. So, if your piece needs to curve, make it curve! If you mess up, you can always just reheat the piece and try again. It usually takes some experimentation to get the perfect shape.

Step 7: Add extra details and fill in seams

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Once your whole helmet is together, add any extra details you still need. I wanted to add gems to mine, so I added the settings for them by using Worbla Scraps.
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Also take the time to fill in any seams you have from putting together your helmet pieces. You can do this a number of ways, but I did it by filling the seams with scrap Worbla and sanding it smooth with a Dremel. You can also get rid of any air bubbles that got trapped under the Worbla by poking it with a needle and smashing the air out when it’s warm.

Step 8: Smooth and Prime

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There are many different ways to smooth Worbla. You can use wood glue, gesso, Mod Podge, filler primer, Flexbond, and many other things. My personal way to smooth is to use a dry wall filler on areas that need a lot of love, like seam lines, dents, or other ungodly lumpy areas first. Then I use multiple layers of filler primer for the rest, and sand in between layers.

Step 9: Paint and Seal

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The last step is to paint your helmet. For this particular helmet, I started with a few layers of gold spray paint, then added the shading and weathering with bronze and black acrylic paints. Then I outlined all the low edges with a black paint marker and highlighted the high edges with a white paint marker. If you can, its a good idea to seal the paint with a clear coat. Just be careful, and test your products before you use them on the real thing. Some metallic spray paints will react badly to clear coats.

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Thanks again to Termina Cosplay for sharing this tutorial with us!

Cia Costume from Hyrule Warriors

Termina Cosplay documented the process of creating her Cia costume, and shared it with us. Take a look at how she achieved this character’s iconic look!

Photo by Vordigon Photography
Photo by Vordigon Photography

Cia was my most in-depth and complex costume to date! It all started when I first laid eyes on Cia’s official artwork. I instantly fell in love with her design. It was dark, seductive and unrestrained- a winning combination in my book!

To start off with, we’ll look at the armor-ish metally bits. I made them with the same techniques I make all my armor with, craft foam and Worbla! First, I make a pattern for pieces by drawing them out on paper, then I transfer the patterns onto craft foam, cut them out, and cover with Worbla. Most details are made either with foam before the Worbla is added or afterwards with just more Worbla.


For the details on the mask, I made a pattern by covering the mask with masking tape, drawing on the details, and transferring the pattern to a single sheet of Worbla.

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Sometimes I use Apoxie Sculpt for the details instead!

Next we move onto the shoes. If you want to see detailed tutorial on how I made them look on my Facebook page. Basically, I altered a pair of heels by patterning out craft foam details and glueing them on. I used fabric glue to attach everything, and coated them with Mod Podge to seal them, and painted with acrylic paints.

To make the hat, I started by making a base out of craft foam and foam board. Then I filled the points I formed out of foam board with expanding foam and let it cure. Once cure, I carved out their shapes.
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I also made the metal looking parts out of craft foam, EVA foam, and Worbla. Like always, I started with a paper pattern, transferred to foam, and then covered with Worba. The filigree details on the sides were cut from a double layer thick piece of Worbla.
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To put everything together, I covered the hat shape with fabric, and attached the Worbla pieces on with neodymium magnets. I wanted to be able to take the hat apart so I could prime and paint it easily, and magnets worked perfectly for this! I used magnets to hold on almost all of my armor pieces, including the belts!
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To prime my armor, I used a spray primer, and I didn’t bother to try and smooth it. The Worbla texture didn’t bother me at all for this project, so I left it. As for paint, used metallic spray paints to give it a base color and I weathered with acrylic paints. Last, I added in gems that I cast from resin.
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The fabric parts of the costume were definitely the hardest for me. The project was way over my skill level when I started, and I ended up hating my first attempt at the bodysuit. Eventually though, I leveled up enough to where I was able to make something I was ok with. I used an existing bodysuit pattern and altered it to look like Cia’s costume. I used gold stretch vinyl to make the trim and the stripes, and I had to hand sew each stripe on individually to the bodysuit.
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The cape was actually dyed to the white/purple gradient for me by a friend, and I simply made a rectanglular shape with the fabric and attached it with magnets to the inside of the pauldron. I also made the feathers on the pauldron detachable by glueing them to a piece of Worbla and attaching the Worbla with velcro.

Lastly, I added LEDs to the inside of the mask to make the eyes glow red. I really don’t know much about LED work, and I had help installing and wiring the LEDs together. There are three red LED’s that shine down into each of the eye holes. To make the red translucent piece that sits over the eye hole, I actually used resin! I cast a very thin piece, formed it to take the shape of the inside of the mask before it fully cured, and attached it to the inside of the mask with Worbla.

Now here’s a look at some more of the finished pieces!

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Photo by Vordigon Photography
Photo by Vordigon Photography

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Thanks again to Termina Cosplay for sharing this build with us!

Laser Cutting Worbla: Creating a Digital Template

If you want to get into laser cutting Worbla, you are going to need a digital template! SmallRiniLady shares the process she used for creating her Harley Quinn mask below.
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Creating a digital template

To “print” something to a laser cutter you’ll want to get your design into a Vector Graphics format. Laser cutters are treated as printers from computers so you can simply print a PDF from your computer and the software will convert the vector lines in your graphic into cutting paths for the laser cutter.
There are some laser cutters that use software to convert hand drawn images to cutting lines, but due to accuracy issues I would not recommend it. Adobe Illustrator does include a LiveTrace option that will try to convert your pixel image into a vector graphic, I’ve found it to be hit and miss.
A list of various software that can be used to draw vector graphics.
o InkScape (Open source and Free https://inkscape.org)
o Adobe Illustrator (www.adobe.com/Illustrator)
o Microsoft Visio (https://products.office.com/en-us/visio/)
o Microsoft Expression Design (https://www.microsoft.com/expression)

You can also find SVG templates online for scrapbooking cutting machines such as Cricut and Silhouette that often will work with laser cutters.

I drafted up designed my HarleyQuinn mask using Microsoft expressions with some added touches. I wanted to incorporated her collar into my mask design. I updated all of my lines to 0.001” weight (to work with the Epliog Helix laser cutter) and exported my file to a PDF.

Prototype with Paper

Instead of jumping straight into Worbla it’s good to test out your design in case you realize you want to adjust the look or size. Paper is a cost effective and flexible medium to work with. Laser cutters are burning through material so soot often lands on the underside of the object that is being cut. Stacking an extra piece of paper will give you a clean piece to play with. I used a manila folder as the cardstock gives a little extra sturdiness.
I ended up cutting 5 samples before picking the correct size for my face.
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Prepping the Worbla

You’ll want the Worbla as flat as possible to ensure that the focus of the laser cuts properly. We know that simply unrolling the Worbla straight from the package isn’t going to work out for this, so let’s rely on our trusty irons! I love using my iron (marked for “crafting” purposes) as the direct contact distributes heat quickly and evenly.
You’ll Need:
a. Worbla
b. Baking Parchment Paper
c. Iron
d. Metal Baking Sheets
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Directions
i. Place the Worbla under a sheet of Parchment paper on top of a turned over baking sheet. You’ll want to be ironing on a hard surface avoid creating waves, so avoid using any cushioned ironing boards.
ii. Set the iron to medium with no steam. Steam can cause the parchment paper to wrinkle and create imprints into the Worbla
iii. Gentle strokes in in a single direction. Do not leave the iron to sit or it will create an impression. Don’t apply additional pressure, the activated Worbla may spread and thin out if pressure is applied. Best analogy is to think of this as like rolling out pizza dough, don’t do it as the inconsistent thickness may create inconsistent cutting results in the laser cutter.
iv. Allow the Worbla to cool on the baking sheet. Adding a second baking sheet on top with some weights can produce even better results.
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Cutting Worbla

Digital Setup

I used an Epilog Helix laser cutter paired with a Bofa fume extractor to cut my material. I opened PDF file in Adobe Reader and opened my Printer Properties on the Epilog Helix printer.
Settings
Speed: 25%
Power: 50%
Frequency: 5000 Hz
Piece Size: Setting to the correct size of your PDF file is critical or else it does some skewing of the size
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Physical Setup

Laser Cutter Manual Focus
I manually set the focus of my machine to account for the 0.0445″ thickness of my material
Securing the Worbla
I’ve noticed that while cutting the Worbla the surrounding plastic can still warp due to the heat of the laser. To limit the height of the Worbla from shifting try to weigh down the Worbla with some tape or shoving under any rulers if your machine allows.
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Hit “Print”
It’s so magical to watch the laser go ~zoom zoom zoom~. Little sparkes and fire are no big deal, though turning down the power will reduce the amount of ash you may need to wash up afterwards.
Laser cutting will product fumes and soot. Before opening the cover after cutting give it a few seconds for the air to be vacumned out.
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Here is my final cuts. Two matching pieces that will be layered together.
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Sandwich method
If you want to do the sandwich method for more thickness and structure you can also cut craft foam using the same laser cutter, but you’ll need to two separate files. The craft foam shape should be the original size while the Worbla should have all edges thickened adding at least the half thickness of the EVA foam. For example if you are working with 4mm EVA you will want to move your lines 2mm outwards to account for the folded Worbla.

Forming Worbla

Forming the Worbla will result in cleaner lines if you attach the two pieces while they are still flat, once they are curved you will notice the outer piece may need to be stretched or the inside will be pinched.
Back to the iron, heat the two pieces and quickly lay them on top of each other. Once the Worbla is no longer a single layer or flat you will want to be using a head gun instead. While the Worbla is still soft lay it on a foam head to mold the shape especially around the eyes and nose.
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Painting

The final thing to do is to paint my piece. I wanted to fill in my diamonds with Red to match the HarleyQuinn’s pants. And the White decor around the eyes was to mimic Harley’s collar. My cuts are very small so instead of using a paintbrush I used a bbq skewer dipped in paint.
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Cosplay time!

I’m going to wear this with eye lash glue so the mask simply sits on the face, spirit gum is also popular but harder to off any eye brow hairs. Elastic ribbons also do the trick if you prefer.

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Thanks again to SmallRiniLady for sharing her process with us!

Laser Cut Worbla: Universal & Epilog Laser Cutters

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We’ve been asked the differences on laser cutting Worbla products and suggested settings to do so. As we don’t have a laser cutter ourselves, we recently reached out to SmallRiniLady and asked her if she would be interested in running some tests for us. This is what she found!

Now updated to include Flame Red Art!
Part of a series of posts on laser cutting Worbla. You can see more information on getting started with laser cutting here.

Why Worbla
I’m really excited to try using the laser cutter to cut intricate repeated patterns in Worbla for my cosplays. But why Worbla? Acrylics cut great, but are only flat solid pieces. PVC and Vinyl are toxic, let me repeat that TOXIC, it produces gas that does bad things in your lungs. So please be safe and careful.

Worbla Results

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Worbla’s Finest Art
Finest Art worked amazingly well with the laser cutter resulting in smooth cuts that fall right out of the base sheet when picked up. If your power settings are on too high you may end up with a little soot, but let’s just paint over those XD.
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Worbla’s Black Art

Black Art also worked amazingly well with the laser cutter producing smooth cuts. I noticed BlackArt was softer to the touch after cutting which can cause sagging on small pieces when picked up. 30 seconds of patience to let the BlackArt cool down will give it plenty of time to harden back up for handling.
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Worbla’s Flame Red Art
Just like BlackArt and FinestArt, the FlameRed came out with cleanly cut smooth lines. A little soot was also noticeable on the edges, but we’ll just paint over those anyways :)
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Worbla’s Mesh Art
MeshArt needs a little extra effort to work with and doesn’t come out as smooth due to the mesh fibers. Higher power might be needed to cut through the fibers, but it will also cause burn marks. For the pieces that didn’t fall out I either applied extra pressure to pop them out or used a knife which I traced the grooved lines to cut through the extra fibers. Regardless I’m happy that I could create such an intricate pattern with the laser cutter with the added strength of the mesh for my props.
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Worbla’s TranspArt (Transpa Art)
TranspArt was more fickle to use than the other worbla products. If laser power isn’t high enough the cut edges melt and stick back together; when you pull on it, it becomes stringy resulting in spiderweb like fibers on your edges. If the laser is too high, it produces burn marks that cannot be removed without sanding. If the laser power is just right it still creates a fogging action that spreads outwards from the cutline. Recommendation is to use the laser cutter for TranspArt only if you are using it for the translucent properties but not crystal clear.
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Laser Cutter Settings

Universal Laser Cutter
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Epilog Laser Cutter
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Universal vs Eplilog
I found that the Universal cut faster and smoother, but often resulted in more soot. Below is a sample of Acrylic cut, left is the Epilog and right is Universal. The cleanup was extremely cumbersome so decide which to use based on the post process steps I will take. If the piece is going to be painted over than I would go with the Universal. TranspaArt is very sensitive so I would go with the lower power in the Eplilog for it.
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Tips

Flatten your Worbla
Because my Worbla was not entirely flat on the laser cutter the lasers didn’t have an accurate focus to cut through the material at the desired depth. You can see that my argyle pattern below resulted in some uneven cutting. Some of them I could pop out by force, but because of the fiber in MeshArt I would recommend using a knife for smoother edges.


We know that simply unrolling the Worbla straight from the package isn’t going to work out for this, so we’ll need to apply heat methods. I love using my iron (marked for “crafting” purposes) as the direct contact distributes heat quickly and evenly.
Tools:
• Worbla
• Baking Parchment Paper
• Iron
• Metal Baking Sheets
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Directions
1: Place the Worbla under a sheet of parchment paper** on top of a turned over metal baking sheet. You’ll want to be ironing on a hard surface avoid creating waves, so avoid the cushioned ironing boards.
(**Worbla.com Note: It’s tempting to use wax paper instead of parchment paper, but parchment paper is absolutely the better choice: it is less likely to stick to your Worbla as you heat it.)
2: Set the iron to medium with no steam. Steam can cause the parchment paper to wrinkle and create imprints into the Worbla
3: Gentle strokes in a single direction. Do not leave the iron to sit or it will create an impression. Don’t apply additional pressure, the activated Worbla may spread and thin out if pressure is applied.
4: Allow the Worbla to cool on the baking sheet. Adding a second baking sheet on top with some weights can produce even better results.
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I noticed that ironing the TranspArt wasn’t a good idea, I think the heat may have been too high and caused parts of it to frost.
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Cutting Spacing

What is the thinnest width that the Worbla products could be cut without issue? You will want to consider this when creating thin objects or when placing objects next to each other.
Warnings:
As the laser is cutting the Worbla the heat will spread. If the line cuts are close together too much heat may cause
1) the Worbla edges to melt causing them to stick together.
2) the Worbla to soften; when the piece it picked up the piece can begin to sag. This issue can be avoiding by giving the Worbla a good 30 seconds to cool after cutting.
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I tested each of these Worbla products to determine what is the smallest gap I can leave between two cutting lines before issues occur. The numbers cut into the Worbla represent the gap between the two lines in mm(millimeters). You can see in the photo that the FinestArt, BlackArt, and MeshArt have sagging lines for the 1mm test, but for TranspArt the two edges stuck back together.
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Worbla Thickness

Laser cutters need to know the thickness of your material to set the focus correctly. Worbla is made to be 1mm (0.039 inches) thick, but because I’ve flattened my Worbla with a heat treatment and pressure I can not be sure that my thickness hasn’t changed. I used a caliper to measure each sheet of Worbla before cutting. Here’s an example of my Worbla measurements. I find it interesting that some of them are actually thicker than 1mm.
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For more information

SmallRiniLady will also be writing up articles about Vector Graphics for Laser Cutting settings and other projects for Worbla.com Please check them out. You can also see more of SmallRiniLady’s projects at her facebook and links to her SVG shop and others at her website here.

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This is part of our Laser Cutting Worbla Resources list! You can see more here.

Achieving a mirror-like finish on Worbla – Video

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Getting the very smoothest finish on your Worbla to achieve the best possible metallic paint effect is a multi-step process. The wonderful Anathiell broke down how she achieved her fantastic gold accessories for her Vincent Valentine costume in this video below. Photo above by Jola.



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.

The Complete and Utter Beginner’s Guide to Worbla.

Have you been told by someone that ‘you should try Worbla’ when you asked for advice on a project? Or have you seen something awesome that was made from Worbla and you want to see what the fuss is about? Did your school, wardrobe manager or designer tell you to ‘look into Worbla’ and you have no idea where to even start? Do you want to make durable props and costumes that take less time to construct, with less noxious chemicals?

This was designed for you.

I’m Amanda, I’m known as Elemental Photography and I have been working with and teaching Worbla for the last two years for Worbla.com, and as a result I field a LOT of beginners questions. This page isn’t designed to be an in-depth breakdown on how to build any one specific thing, and it won’t go into the history of Worbla or even tips and tricks: This is a primer for the completely uninitiated, to help you figure out if Worbla is Right For You and How It Works. I will also try to break down some of the common terms used when looking at Worbla writeups, blogs and tutorials so you can better understand those if you search for additional information.

Worbla used in Corsetry by Royal Black Couture.
Worbla used in Corsetry by Royal Black Couture.

First things First: What is Worbla?

Worbla is the brand name for a line of thermoplastics. There are (at this moment) 9 Worbla products:
Worbla’s Finest Art (the first one)
Worbla’s TranspArt (the clear one)
Worbla’s Black Art (the smoother black one)
Worbla’s Mesh Art (the stronger one)
Worbla’s FlameRed Art (the fire retardant one)
Worbla’s Deco Art (moldable hard white plastic pellets)
Worbla’s Crystal Art (moldable rubbery translucent plastic pellets)
Worbla’s Kobracast Art (the fabric-like, interfacing one)

Examples of Worbla used for Costumes by Kamui Cosplay
Examples of Worbla’s Finest Art for costume purposes by Kamui Cosplay

What is a Thermoplastic?
In very short, it is a plastic that you can heat and shape to your desire and it will hold that shape when it is cool. It can be a lot more complicated, but we aren’t here for complicated today.

I am still confused:
Imagine you had a thin sheet of plastic that you could easily heat up, and when heated up it acted like a sheet of warm clay or beeswax. You take that sheet and drape it over a bowl and let it cool. Take it off, and suddenly you have a copy of that bowl for a hat. You heat that bowl up again and mush it into a ball, then shape that ball into a heart. Now you have a solid plastic heart. Heat it up again and you can carve your name in it. Heat it up again and you can roll it out flat and make something else completely. And each time, it is solid and fairly durable when cool. That is the basic idea of the Worbla product line.

Left, Mesh Art shaped over a bowl for a pillbox hat by Isabella Josie. Right, Finest Art scraps being sculpted into bangles by Kamui Cosplay.
Left, Mesh Art shaped over a bowl for a pillbox hat by Isabella Josie. Right, Finest Art scraps being sculpted into bangles by Kamui Cosplay.

Why is Worbla ‘Special’

Worbla is often considered special in comparison to other thermoplastics that have been on the market for ages for various reasons:

  • It’s non toxic, which is fantastic for those who are working indoors or with younger artists or who have health complications.
  • It doesn’t require much in specialized tools – a heat gun regularly retails for less than $30 pretty much everywhere.
  • It’s self adhesive – you heat up two pieces and they will stick together, no glue needed. (This does not include TranspArt)
  • It can be heated endlessly.
  • There is no ‘shelf life’.
  • You never have any waste, as the scraps can be mushed together and reused – and that means Worbla is much more forgiving for mistakes for the new artist.
  • Worbla takes deep complex curves without requiring a vacuform, something very few plastics can do.

Important Note:
Worbla can be divided up into three categories: Standard Sheet Plastics, Specialized Sheet Plastics, and Pellet Products.
As a beginner’s guide, we won’t be focusing too heavily on the specialized plastics, so be warned that they can be slightly different. Their differences are outlined on their product pages, but we will also touch on them briefly here.

How is Worbla used?

Worbla has been used in just about everything at this point:

• couture clothing
• props
• costumes
• mold making
• jewelry
• set design
• industrial use
• home repair
• shoes
• and we find more every day!
From Left to Right: Madonna's Rebel heart Tour. Puppetry by The Workshop of Natacha Belova, Dani Moonstar Costume by Kamui Cosplay.
From Left to Right: Madonna’s Rebel heart Tour. Puppetry by The Workshop of Natacha Belova, Dani Moonstar Costume by Kamui Cosplay.
Left, Action Figure Playset (1/6 scale) by Accessories for the Universe. Right, Detailed Helmets by Erza Cosplay
Left, Action Figure Playset (1/6 scale) by Accessories for the Universe. Right, Detailed Helmets by Erza Cosplay

How does it work?

Tricky question – let’s break that down into something easier.

 

Worbla is generally used in two forms: Flat and Sculpted.

 

Working with Flat(ish) Shapes:
For armor, helmets, building props or wings or corsets – Worbla is often used in small to large flat pieces that are shaped as needed. When you receive Worbla it’s a thin sheet of plastic in a roll. It’s around 1mm thick, can be cut with scissors, and when heated has the consistency of fruit leather.
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Our customers heat their pieces and shape them – by hand, over forms such as acrylic spheres, bottles or molds, or (carefully) directly onto body parts or life casts. For domes and curves, Worbla can be stretched into shape. For layers, depth and dimension, Worbla can be layered over itself (it is self adhesive) or wrapped around a ‘fill’ material which will be explained below.

Worbla being shaped, examples by Kamui Cosplay
Worbla being shaped, examples by Kamui Cosplay. Click to enlarge.

How does using a filler material work, and why would you do that?
One of the most common ways Worbla is used in ‘sheet’ form is for artists to create a shape out of another material – I’ve seen cardstock, various thicknesses and types of foams, aluminum foil and paper mache – and wrap that with Worbla.

Why you do so is twofold:
1: Covering something with Worbla means that the final product will be durable – very durable. Falls, travel in luggage, mock battles and public display are no issue for Worbla products.
2: Using a filler gives Worbla more ‘body’ and strength than on its own, and is far less expensive and lighter than simply layering Worbla to the required thickness. It also allows you to build up ‘levels’ or layers of detail with inexpensive foam first,

very simplified example of one piece of Worbla vs a Worbla sandwiched over a piece of 2mm EVA foam.
A very simplified example of one piece of Worbla vs a Worbla sandwiched over a piece of 2mm EVA foam.
Worbla 'folded' over foam compared to the same bracelet without backing.
Worbla ‘folded’ over foam compared to the same bracelet without backing.
Multiple layers of craft/EVA foam used to create dimension, then covered with Worbla for strength to create the final crown by Elemental Photography.
Multiple layers of craft/EVA foam used to create dimension, then covered with Worbla for strength to create the final crown by Elemental Photography.

How it is done is also simple: Worbla Products (excepting TranspArt) are self adhesive and will ‘stick’ to most materials as well as to itself. Worbla can be wrapped around a filler material where it will adhere, or be ‘sandwiched’ with a filler material in the middle.

Worbla wrapped around insulation foam and wood, by Kamui Cosplay
Worbla sandwiched around insulation foam and wood, by Kamui Cosplay

Working with Sculpted Shapes:
Worbla’s Finest Art, Black Art, and FlameRed Art are specifically suited to sculpting details. Mesh Art scraps can absolutely be used for similar purposes, but the mesh means I usually suggest you don’t plan that to be the ‘main’ purpose of the material. TranspArt can be sculpted, but is more limited in how it can be worked especially as it becomes cloudy as it is ‘mashed’ together and that must be the effect you want.

Left: FlameRed sculpted into an opium pipe prop. Right, Black Art sculpted into a Cheshire Cat Teapot. By Elemental Photography.
Left: FlameRed sculpted into an opium pipe prop. Right, Black Art sculpted into a Cheshire Cat Teapot. By Elemental Photography.
Sculpted details by Erza Cosplay, added to Worbla armor.
Sculpted details by Erza Cosplay, added to Worbla armor.

If you have ever worked with any clay, even just Play-Doh or Plasticine, you can sculpt with Worbla. I’ve seen jewelry, puppets, props, scale models, fine art, figures – the list goes on, and there is little it can’t do – though don’t use it for food! Non Toxic doesn’t mean food grade!

Sculpting with Worbla is simple:
Heat a piece – or heat the scraps saved from another project – and mush them together. Now you have a ball of plastic ‘clay’ that will stay warm and shapeable for 3-5 minutes. You can heat areas as you need to work on them, shape with your hands and sculpting tools, easily add more material and when you need to stop for the day or week, your project does not need any protective care. The cat can knock it over and it will be fine. You can set it aside for a year and the material will be just the same as you have left it, ready to continue – or be scrapped and reworked. It does not need to be baked to ‘finish’ it. When you are done, you can move onto painting as soon as it is cool, eliminating the wait time inherent in most clay.
You can see a video of the process of heating scraps and how they can be shaped, created by Atashi Cosplay.

 

You can also still use a filler material to make large projects without a large expense, and to keep weight down.

Toothless head by Nightshift Cosplay. Groot by Coregeek Cosplay.
Toothless head by Nightshift Cosplay. Groot by Coregeek Cosplay.

A note about foam:
Use of foam with Worbla could be its own page (and might be one day). For simplicity’s sake, the types of foam most commonly used are craft foam (also known as eva foam, foamies, fun foam), anti-stress floor matting (that comes either as a roll, or in ‘puzzle pieces’ for children’s playrooms), expanding foam (a canned foam that is sprayed into general shape and expands and then cures hard, and is then carved into a final shape), pink insulation foam, and sometimes L200 or Cross-Link Polyethylene 2lbs density foam, though those are harder to come across. Type of foam depends largely on your project and what you have available. Check out the suggested links at the bottom of the page for more examples of foam as a filler for Worbla projects.

 

What Sort Of Worbla Should I Use (and what makes TranspArt and Deco Art different?)

If you read or watch tutorials, Worbla can sometimes be used as a catchall phrase for several Worbla products, and that gets confusing. Plus, when the first Worbla came out – Worbla’s Finest Art – no one knew it was going to be part of a whole line and so many early tutorials just say ‘Worbla’ because there was only one when it was written.

In truth, the differences between Finest Art, Black Art, Mesh Art and FlameRed Art are all small, and one can be used in place of the other for a similar to near-identical result. This creates confusion on what product you ‘should’ use, and I get asked often ‘What should I use for X project?’

Generally Speaking: Start With Worbla’s Finest Art or Black Art
Worbla’s Finest Art and Black Art are sister products. There are many differences between them technically, but for the first time user all you need to know are these points:
Worbla’s Finest Art is ‘stickier’ and less prone to tearing when stretched over shapes. It is very slightly more user friendly as a result. Many cosplayers like this product best.
Worbla’s Black Art is smoother, meaning it will take less time to prime before painting, and it takes fine detail exceptionally well – it can be sculpted into very very fine detail without crumbling. It is a bit less ‘sticky’ so joining pieces means you need to pay a bit more attention to ensure a good bond.

That’s it. Once you’ve used both, you may find you like one more than the other, or that you’ll use both depending on your needs. I know people who only use Black Art, only use Finest Art, and myself? I absolutely mix both as I need. Finest Art for bigger shapes and lots of curves, Black Art for quick builds that need to be painted quickly and any small details I want made.

Worbla's Finest Art and Worbla's Black Art - working well together or alone. By Erza Cosplay.
Worbla’s Finest Art and Worbla’s Black Art – working well together or alone. By Erza Cosplay.

Use Mesh Art when it needs to be stronger:
Worbla’s Mesh Art is meant to be used when you need strength, especially when creating something that will be pulled, twisted or potentially crushed. There is a harder plastic mesh that runs through the sheet to help reinforce it. It is also noticeably more ‘sticky’, and joins can be blended to almost invisible seams. In tutorials that suggest you use Wonderflex to reinforce things, Mesh Art works even better, especially as the scraps can still be recycled.

Mesh Art showing the strength and durability.
Mesh Art showing the strength and durability.

Use FlameRed when it has to meet fire code:
Worbla’s FlameRed art is the best properties of Finest Art and Black Art, but is not aimed at consumer level use – you absolutely can use it for your projects, but the higher price means we suggest it only for those who actually need to meet a fire code rating, as it is specifically formulated to be Certified DIN (German Industry Norms) 4102-1 as B1. If you don’t know what that means, you probably don’t need to use FlameRed.

TranspArt: Fire, Ice, Water, and when it needs to be REALLY hard to break:
Worbla’s TranspArt is quite different than the other Worbla products, which can be confusing to many! It is a clear plastic sheet that has very noticeable lines from manufacture through it. It is meant to be heated and shaped more than used as a flat piece, and those lines disappear when it is stretched. It makes fantastic water, ice and fire effects and unlike traditional acrylics TranspArt is not brittle – it can be bent, struck, even crushed – all without damage. It doesn’t have the same self-adhesive properties, so glue is needed to join pieces, and it does require a higher working temperature to activate. This means TranspArt needs more patience to get the hang of using. In other words: give yourself time, extra material and do some research in advance of using TranspArt for the first time!

TranspArt examples: Left, sword by Valkyrie Studios; middle, sword and flail by Kazzy Cosplay; right, rose by Calypsen Cosplay.
TranspArt examples:
Left, sword by Valkyrie Studios; middle, sword and flail by Kazzy Cosplay; right, rose by Calypsen Cosplay.
Transpart Examples: Left, flame headdress by Gothichamlet. Right, crystal skull by Naruvien Art&Design
Transpart Examples:
Left, flame headdress by Gothichamlet. Right, crystal skull by Naruvien Art&Design

What about Deco Art?
Worbla’s Deco Art is only really referenced from European artists, as it is not carried in North America. The reason is Deco Art is very similar to Friendly Plastic, which is readily available in North America – importing Deco Art would be too expensive, and so you can easily replace Friendly Plastic for any project that calls for Deco Art.
For those who don’t know Friendly Plastic: white plastic pellets that when heated turn clear, can be sculpted and shaped, and then cool back to a solid white. It can be worked on its own, or added to Worbla for detail work, and Friendly Plastic is also used for tooth appliances such as fangs. Friendly plastic is much more commonly known and has great primers available if you need more information on working with it.

Top left: Deco Art details by Vera Ikonia. Bottom and right: Deco Art on Worbla by Lightning Cosplay.
Top left: Deco Art details by Vera Ikonia. Bottom and right: Deco Art on Worbla by Lightning Cosplay.

Want to know more about each specific product? Check out this product page here.
 

Painting Worbla

Worbla can be painted with acrylics, spray paint, paint markers, wax finishes, airbrush paints – you should always test your paint in advance, but generally most paints that are formulated for plastic or wood work well.
TranspArt can be painted with alcohol markers, glass paints, and also dyed with polyester dyes as well as taking most other paints well. Again, always test in advance.

Painting examples by Kamui Cosplay
Painting examples by Kamui Cosplay

 

Priming Worbla

Priming Worbla can be a very important step for pieces that will be seen close up, or items that require a glossy metallic finish. Worbla products in general have a textured surface, from leather-like to orange peel, and this can show through paint. If you need a smoother finish there are a wide range of primers that can be used before applying paint. You can see a more detailed writeup about primers here, at the ultimate smoothing Worbla guide.

 

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

 

How do I heat it up? And will it melt in the sun?
Using a heat gun is the most suggested way to heat Worbla. Working over a heat-proof work surface, you heat Worbla by pointing the heatgun (which looks like a beefed-up hair dryer) at your piece, moving back and forth. Worbla is ready to use when it is pliable and tacky to the touch.
Worbla’s Finest Art, Black Art, Mesh Art and FlameRed Art all activate between 80-90C – that’s 175-195F.
Worbla’s Deco Art activates at 60C or 140F.
Worbla’s TranspArt activates at 120C or 250F.
Worbla will not melt in the sun, however it can get ‘soft’ and large unsupported pieces (such as spikes or floating straps) may sag if you are standing in direct sunlight for extended periods of time in extreme weather – if you have known your hot glue to melt off, you should take precautions regarding worbla in the same situation.

Importantly Worbla cannot be left in your car, the shed, or stored next to your radiator. (A car can reach an indoor temp of 80C in the sun, for example.)

Where do I buy Worbla?
There is a where to buy page on Worbla.com. If you are looking for Worbla in your country, type “Worbla Your Country Name Here” into Google.

What do I cut it with? Can it be lasercut? Die Cut?
Worbla cuts with regular craft scissors as well as craft knives. Worbla can be sent through Die Cut machines, though results depend on your specific dies. Worbla can be lasercut. There are pages dedicated to both questions: Die Cutting Worbla. Lasercutting Worbla.

Does Worbla have Latex? I am allergic to everything.
Worbla is Latex-Free and I have not heard a single case of an allergic reaction to Worbla.

Can I use Worbla for food displays, chocolate molds, etc?
No. Worbla has not been tested for food safety and does not have a food-grade rating.

Okay, well how do I make ________________?
Do your research. Look at the tutorials on Worbla.com. Find people who have made similar things and written about their process. Look at the list of suggested links at the bottom of this page. Experiment. Like all materials and skillsets, the more you work with Worbla the easier it will be to create things exactly as you imagine them.

If you have additional questions, there is a larger FAQ to be found here.

Couture designs: Left, middle by CKFilmDesign, right by Fairytas
Couture designs: Left, middle by CKFilmDesign, right by Fairytas

What are the downsides of Worbla? It can’t all be roses and butterflies.

Well personally I do think it’s pretty awesome and one of my main go-to materials, but nothing is perfect! Here’s a short list of Worbla’s potential failings I can think of:
Finishing Worbla (ie: priming before paint) to get a really smooth surface can be time consuming.
Worbla is more expensive than many other materials commonly used, like foam.
You can’t store it in a hot car.
A costume made of several jumbo sheets of Worbla can be pretty heavy compared to foam.
Worbla can only be bought online or at specialty retailers, so you can’t just pick some up at a WalMart when you’re in a hurry.
If you have a large molded ‘chunk’ of Worbla, you need to heat it all the way through to cut it down. (The fix for this is to add as you build, not subtract, and if you have to really break down a project or reshape something thick, I will let it sit in hot water until soft.)

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That’s it for this write-up. If you have additional questions you can direct them to Lenore@worbla.com but please do check that your question isn’t already answered in these fantastic links of additional information below:

Worbla Resources:
Worbla FAQ
Kamui’s Books on Worbla
Worbla.com Tutorial List

Costume/Cosplay Resources:
CosplayTutorial.Com

Foam Information:
FoamSmithing by Punished Props
Craft foam tutorials
EVA foam tutorials