For any project that works with Worbla, you or your students will need a few items:
- A heat safe workspace
- A basic heat gun
- Parchment paper or a silicone sheet
- Silicone baking cup or small ceramic bowl (for pellet use)
- Work gloves
- Nitrile or Latex Gloves (for TranspArt and Crystal Art)
Optional items include:
- Sculpting tools
- Core material such as foam or aluminum foil
- Mold release
- A Dremel
- Pigments or Dyes (for TranspArt and Crystal Art)
(links above go to Cosplaysupplies.com, our online partner)
A Heat Safe Workspace:
This should be an area where your students can work using a heat gun without risk of melting the table surface or surrounding materials. There should be enough room to set the heat gun down without risk of the nozzle touching something. If students have issues with work table surfaces, a barrier can be made to work on using heavy cardboard covered with tinfoil to help insulate against heat.
A Basic Heat Gun:
Simple models work best, and we suggest they/you purchase a model with an on/off toggle at the grip, not at the back of the gun, for ease of use. Models such as this, this, or this work well. An embossing tool can be used but will be very slow and frustrating for larger projects. Heavy duty/higher power heat guns can be used, but we suggest starting with the lowest settings.
Parchment Paper or Silicone Sheet:
Worbla is adhesive when heated and it can and will stick to your work surfaces. It will also stick to wax paper, aluminum foil, and any plastic you have around. It won’t stick to parchment or silicone, so we suggest always working on a surface with one of those as a barrier. (Note: TranspArt and Crystal Art can stick to both surfaces if overheated. If this happens, allow them to cool significantly but not completely and then peel away.)
Worbla can be cut with standard craft scissors. A craft knife can also be useful for very small or detailed cuts, especially if cutting out things like eye holes in masks.
Most Worbla has a low thermal transfer, but it can still be too hot to be comfortable in some situations. It can also try to stick slightly to your fingers when smoothing or stretching shapes. Using a bit of water helps diminish the heat and makes it easier for fingers or tools to glide over the surface without sticking. If working with Deco Art, water is absolutely needed to prevent it from sticking to your hands and nails.
Make sure you have something that will show up against the color of Worbla you are using. Fine tipped markers work better than standard Sharpies for more exact measured cuts.
Silicone Baking Cup or Small Ceramic Bowl:
If working with Worbla’s pellet products, you’ll need a way to heat them without having them fly everywhere or stick to things. Placing them in a silicone baking dish (like an egg poacher or a cupcake liner) works great to keep everything together without sticking. A ceramic bowl can also be used, though some sticking may occur.
We suggest investing in a pair of seamless gloves like these that will help minimize heat transfer, especially when shaping large shapes like chestplates and pauldrons. These are not mandatory for working with Worbla’s basic line of plastics, but are absolutely necessary for TranspArt and Crystal Art. If working with TranspArt or Crystal Art, you will want to place latex or nitrile gloves over the work gloves and keep them wet to prevent sticking.
Worbla can be sculpted by hand easily, but tools do allow a great deal more creativity. We suggest wooden or metal sculpting tools over plastic, but all will work. Make sure to keep your tools wet to help prevent sticking.
Worbla is often used over or in combination with a base material, better explained in our Instructions Page.
If you’re forming Worbla over or into a shape that is not already non-stick, such as silicone, you are going to want a mold release. Petroleum jelly, mold release, vegetable oil, hand lotion and sunscreen have all been successfully used as a release. Always test before doing a large form!
If you’d like to sand down areas or seams on your Worbla, it’s easier with a Dremel.
Pigments or Dyes:
TranspArt and Crystal Art can both be tinted or dyed with polyester dyes, or blended with pigments or paints for interesting effects. Check out this tutorial for more information.