Step one was to make a mold – you could skip this step and shape the crystals by hand, but I thought this would be an easier way of getting more uniform sizes through the design in less time. I sculpted some crystal positives from Sculpy, baked them, then used the Amaze Mold putty to create this simple mold.
Next up – heat up your pellets inside a silicone container (I like using a silicone cupcake liner or an egg poacher) and when they’re heated, blend the pellets into a putty until there are no individual pellets to be seen, then press into the mold and let cool.
Next I made the headband base. The headband I had was just a skinny thing from the dollar store, and I needed enough space on the headband to give me something to glue the crystals onto. I created a sort of half moon shaped base out of card stock, and then hot glued it onto the band for support.
I wrapped the band with some silk scraps, gluing them down along the top of the band so I had a platform to sit the crystals onto. I also decided what flowers I’d be adding, and trimmed some of the Crystal Art shapes into sharper points.
Then you just have to hot glue the Crystal Art onto the headband, then cover the base with some flowers to keep everything neat!
And you’re done! You can also color your crystals using pigments when you’re heating them, but I liked the clear crystal effect this time around.
The folks at Manhattan Wardrobe Supplies teamed up with Becca Noel to show how you can use Jacquard’s PearlEx powders with Crystal Art to create your own stones for cosplay and props that don’t rely on toxic and time consuming resin!
First step is to sketch out the shape you want on to paper. I’m using painters paper here.
Next, I cut out the shape and pinned it to two layers of pink insulation foam that I glued together.
With a utility knife (snap blade) I cut out and shaped the foam. Once it’s roughly cut, I sanded it down for a smoother shape.
Now to create the horn pattern! I covered the foam in duct tape and used a sharpie to draw the pattern.
And don’t forget to draw registration marks which will help with assembling the horns later on.
With a blade, I cut the tape and flattened out the pattern onto 1/4 inch L200 foam. Make sure to mark registration lines as well.
Cut out foam with a sharpened blade
With contact cement, glue foam pattern back together, using the registration marks as a guide to make sure the pieces line up correctly.
Repeat steps to create the second horn!
Next, I attached the horns to a simple headband with contact cement and used a wood burning tool to burn in the details.
I cut 4 horn-like shaped pieces out of insulation foam and sanded them smooth. I then covered them in black worbla, attached them to the headband and used the wood burning tool again to create texture.
I then sketched the ears/fins. I cut this out and traced it onto L200 twice.
I cut out those pieces along with 2 separate pieces that will be the detail on the top of the ear.
I used contact cement to glue the ridge on top and then used a dremel to smooth out the edges and create the shape I wanted.
Just like the ears/fins, I repeated the same process for this shape that will be glued to the front of the crown. I also marked where the gems and lights will eventually go.
I again used contact cement to attach all pieces to the headband.
Next is sealing! I covered the entire piece in 3 thick layers of Plasti Dip, making sure each layer was dry before spraying the next.
Now we’re onto lights! I bought fairy lights online, these work out perfectly for this kind of project. I punched a hole through the center of the headband and strung the wire through. I also re-punched holes where I previously marked on the front of the crown. I made sure to push an individual bulb through each one of the holes. The rest of the lights were glued down to the headband with hot glue.
Gems! Crystals! I wanted to make super organic looking crystals for the crown and I used Worbla Crystal Art to do this!
Since I wanted rougher and more organic looking crystals, I tested out a few methods and this was the easiest way by far! I laid out the Crystal Art on wax paper, folded it over and used a heat gun to heat up and melt the worbla pieces together. This helps keep all the little worbla pellets in one spot so they aren’t blowing all over the place. I used clay sculpting tools to mush the worbla together until I had a lump in a size I wanted. Next I let the worbla cool for a minute and used scissors to cut down the sides. The result is a crystal shape with as many sides and angles you want. I repeated this 25-30 times, creating crystals that were different shapes and sizes.
This is the final result of what the crystal will look like with a light source!
I used a silicone mold that I bought to make the smaller gems for the front of the crown. I heated up a small amount of Crystal Art, placed it into the mold while still hot and used wax paper to press the worbla into the mold. Let cool in the mold.
Once the worbla is cooled, you can take it out. Now all that’s left for this is to color the gem. I used a pink marker and colored the back of the gem. You can use markers, watered down paint or nail polish to do this with whatever color you need. The last step is to glue these gems and all the crystals we made to the crown.
This was the final result after attaching everything to the crown with hot glue. AND LIGHTS. The only other small detail I added was a thin trim around each gem on the front. I just took small pieces of black worbla, heated it up, rolled it into a thin shape and wrapped it around each gem.
The last thing to do is paint! Sticking with Saragosa’s color palette, this is my final result for the headpiece. I used simple acrylic paint to do this. Laid down base colors and weathering to achieve the desired look.
Worbla was at USITT a few months ago and spoke with RIT about their Polyester DyeMore line and their new Proline series. We’d discussed how these dyes might work on Worbla products – and Rit set us up with dye to test ourselves.
This ended up being a pretty in-depth test over a few weeks, so below is a LOT of information. If you’d like the TLDR: Rit Dyes Are Pretty Awesome and we’re very happy with the results.
For more detailed information, continue below!
To start with – dyeing Worbla? Dyes traditionally came in two types – dyes for plant fibers and dyes for protein fibers. Neither of these tend to work on plastics, giving at best a vague tint if they left any color at all.
Polyester dyes for home use are rather new, and are designed to dye plastics. While originally made for fabrics, folks have turned to using them to color plastic like Lego, acrylic sheeting, wig fiber and of course, Worbla!
We’ve used other polyester dyes in the past, specifically iDyePoly by Jacquard, so we wanted to run the Rit dyes through the tests and see how they held up.
Rit Dyes are also non-toxic and safe for septic and sewer systems – which makes for easy disposal when you are done.
The Rit Dyes
Rit’s DyeMore is a bottled, liquid dye. It is formulated for synthetics and easily dissolves in water and comes in a wide range of shades.
Rit’s ProLine is a powdered dye that “contains an advanced mix of direct, acid and disperse dyes enabling you to dye a wide range of fabrics and materials at scale”. These are large re-sealable packages in 1 and 5lb amounts that come with a scoop for measuring and can dye synthetic and natural fibers.
Both these dyes require heat, so you need to make sure that anything you are dyeing is heat safe, and that you use the right safety gear to avoid injury (or staining).
These are both general safety tips and things we have learned in the process of these tests.
Always follow the instructions on the package.
Always use the correct safety equipment when dyeing.
Always do a small test first to see how your dye will react.
Do not dye in or use tools you then use for food.
Always have enough room in your container to be able to stir the material for an even color.
Work one piece at a time for sheet Worbla, or make sure that the pieces will not touch in the dyebath or they may stick.
Stir or agitate gently or Pearly may deform and stick to itself.
If Pearly or TranspArt touch the bottom of your pot, they may get darker ‘spots’.
It is really hard to remember the e in dyeing every time you type it in a doc this long.
TranspArt is the most commonly dyed of our plastics – dyeing TranspArt to create flames, ice, and water effects has been part of using TranspArt since its inception.
Rit Dyemore: We dyed the TranspArt in a large stainless steel pot on the stove, over medium heat. We used roughly 10 cups of water and 1/4 cup of dye, because we needed enough water in the dyeing vessel to keep the plastic from touching the bottom of the pot while being stirred.
(Apologies that this is a cellphone pic, the cat has hidden the samples before I got to photograph them with my real camera)
DyeMore worked very well, giving an even result so long as the TranspArt was agitated/stirred. If left in the pot without movement, the dye could become uneven or splotchy. We also noticed that having the heat be consistent helped the TranspArt absorb the dye. When placed in hot water that was removed from heat, the color was less intense.
Rit Proline We dyed the TranspArt in a the same pot with roughly the same amount of water. We started with 1 scoop of dye, but found that the scarlet color was not quite rich enough and added a second scoop to see if that would improve the intensity. All of these pieces were stirred to prevent the color from becoming uneven.
For the TranspArt the red became a much more orange tone, and also seemed to hit ‘max’ intensity at the 5 minute mark.
Because we weren’t sure if the color intensity was more a matter of the Scarlet color itself, we did the same test with ProLine purple.
There is a much clearer difference between the timed samples here. You can see the 5 minute sample is more uneven – that piece was not stirred as often. The darker your desired color, the more apparent this will be, so make sure you have time to stir!
General notes: We expected these dyes to have a strong chemical smell, as the iDyePoly line does, but Rit surprised us: the DyeMore liquid line has no perceptible scent, so much so that we forgot to check for a scent until someone asked. The ProLine smells out of the bag, but once dissolved in water it is a very mild scent that did not linger. For this reason alone we’d use the Rit dyes instead of the Jacquard line going forward.
In addition, the Rit dyes left very little residue. There was no residue left whatsoever on the TranspArt with the DyeMore liquid dye, and the residue from the ProLine was minimal.
Dying Crystal Art or Deco Art
Worbla’s pellet plastics are used for a variety of hand formed and molded shapes. Being able to add color in advance allows you to create pieces that don’t need paint, and surfaces that can’t have the color chipped or worn away, as well as keeping the transparency of Crystal Art. While you are most likely to dye TranspArt or Crystal Art with these dyes, they are handy for Deco Art as well.
Rit Dyemore process We dyed small batches of plastic and so used 1/8th a cup of water and a few drops of dye in a small ramekin. The Deco Art or Crystal Art was added, stirred, and then microwaved for 30 seconds, then for short bursts of 5-10 seconds each until the water had boiled (your microwave times may vary). This allowed a quick way to heat the pellets and have them absorb the dye.
Please Note: Only use the microwave method if you a) own your microwave b) will watch the entire process. Do not microwave plastic unattended. Do not microwave without enough water to cover the plastic. Do not use a dish you will eat out of later.
If microwaving isn’t an option (we did it because it allowed us to run 2 tests at once, since the stove was occupied with a giant steel pot) For Deco Art: heat water in the microwave or a kettle, pour into a container you WILL NOT use for food. Add dye, then pellets. Stir occasionally until pellets have absorbed dye. For Crystal Art: use a pot for dying, heat water first then add dye. Place pellets in a metal strainer to keep them together and allow them to soak in the water.
Deco Art and Dyemore:
The pellets were activated from the hot water enough that we could remove them, let them dry for a moment and then press them into a mold right away without reheating. One thing we noted was that this gave us a somewhat mottled effect. Our second attempt we kneaded the pellets together first into one fluid bit of plastic, and then pressed it into our mold, which created less of a mottled effect – but it was still noticeable. Our last attempt, we blended the dyed pellets together and pressed it into a flat shape, then put that back into the warm dye bath for another 2 minutes. When removed we pressed that into our mold – which gave us a very even color.
In short: if you want an even color, you will want to plan to blend your pellets to unify everything, then redye the piece for a minute or two before shaping.
Crystal Art and Dyemore:
Depending on your microwave power, your pellets might be hot enough to shape or you may need to remove them and hit them with a heat gun for a bit before shaping. With Crystal Art it is important to blend the pellets together (check out our page on Crystal Art for more info here) in order to get a smooth translucent effect. You can see we didn’t quite knead the pellets perfectly on the second piece to the right.
Crystal Art takes the dye exceptionally well – so much so that you will want to work with very little dye to keep a more translucent effect. You can see on our left example just how deep the color can be with only a small amount of dye. The Crystal Art also absorbs the dye from the water more noticeably, meaning when we dyed the second piece in the same container/water it came out lighter, as there was less dye to absorb.
Rit ProLine Process We mixed the ProLine with some warm water to fully dissolve, using 1/8th a cup of water and a tiny 1/8th of a teaspoon of the powdered dye in a ramekin. We then added the pellets. We used a microwave as we did for the DyeMore above.
Deco Art and ProLine:
The pellets were activated from the hot water enough that we could remove them, let them dry for a moment and then press them into a mold right away without reheating. Learning from the DyeMore experiment, we kneaded these pellets together, pressed them flat and put them back in the dyebath for another 30 seconds, then kneaded again before pressing into our mold.
Crystal Art and ProLine:
Our microwave wasn’t strong enough to activate the pellets, so while they were dyed they needed to be heated further to shape. Keep this in mind when doing your own tests and plan to have something to drain into! The pellets were heated and blended into a putty, then pressed into the mold.
You can see from the above examples that because we took more care with blending, the individual pellets were less noticeable.
You can also see how deep the color is here. You need very very little dye for this depth of color – so consider doing serious testing if you want only a tint! One thing about this method – we did notice some residue ended up on our fingers because we didn’t rinse the pellets before getting to work. So make sure you use gloves or rinse the pellets before shaping.
Dyeing Worbla’s Pearly Art
This probably won’t be your first method of choice for coloring Worbla’s Pearly Art, but we wanted to see if it could be done – and absolutely Rit dyes work on Pearly.
We dyed the Pearly in our large stainless steel pot on the stove, over medium heat. We used roughly 10 cups of water and 1/4 cup of dye for the DyeMore, and 1 scoop of dye for the ProLine. We needed enough water in the dyeing vessel to keep the plastic from touching the bottom of the pot while being stirred: if the Pearly sat on the bottom of the pot for any extended period of time, it would get a mark where the plastic had melted and become darker.
With Rit Dyemore: We found there was a more clear progression of color intensity over a period of time.
With Rit ProLine: The ProLine absorbed quickly – so much so that there was nearly no difference between 5 and 10 minutes.
The result is not a fully opaque color as there is still a hint of the Pearly white grain to the piece, but that does not become more pronnounced as it is worked (which we expected would happen). Instead the color remains strong even when stretched or blended.
And we do think it has interesting possibilities for doing small detail work….
Can you dye Kobracast Art?
Worbla’s Kobracast Art is also white, and we thought it could potentially be dyed for pieces such as leaves for hats. Unfortunately Kobracast Art activates in the hot water and sticks to itself very easily, so we would not recommend this process unless you were working somewhere the pieces could be kept completely flat – and we suspect you would not be able to agitate the water so that might result in uneven color.
But wait! There’s more!
Of course you won’t always be dying Worbla for your next cosplay – what about wigs?
Both Rit Proline and Dyemore dyed wigs beautifully, and were easy to rinse to leave zero residue. One thing I loved was the idea of combining one colorway to tie everything together – making accessories out of Worbla dyed with the same color as you colored your wig, for example.
Rit Proline Scarlet examples
Both of these wigs haven’t been flat ironed or styled, so this is the color right out of the pot, so to speak.
We don’t have a full writeup about how to best dye your wigs with the Rit line, because there are fantastic resources to be found on the subject here and here and here.
Rit’s synthetic line of dyes are a fantastic resource for dying Worbla products. Personally we’ll be using the DyeMore line for the convenience and complete lack of scent, but we absolutely suggest you experiment with these dyes for your next project, not only because they will help you color your Worbla, but because they are a genuinely useful tool to have in your cosplay kit! As always though: test test test! The scarlet for example turned more orange for our TranspArt tests, and the Peacock Green we tried on the Kobracast (not pictured) showed up far more blue. Plastics can be odd, so ALWAYS test before starting a large project!
Worbla’s pellet products, Deco Art and Crystal Art, can both be used as an alternative for resin casting when you are unable to cast due to space, health, or cost reasons.
Both Deco Art and Crystal Art work best in smaller applications: the pellets can be blended and pushed into a mold. Silicone molds work very well, but hard plastic molds can also be used as long as a mold release is also used to prevent the plastic from sticking.
Some examples of Worbla pellets cast into various molds:
Deco Art and Crystal Art can be used in larger molds, but it can be more difficult the more complex the mold: you may have to reheat and re-cast to get all the details in very complex molds. Simple shapes work excellently well with Deco Art, but Crystal Art may show trapped air bubbles that are unavoidable when working with large amounts of the pellets.
Molding with Worbla’s pellet plastic Deco Art and Crystal Art is possible and can achieve a range of results depending on your needs. The Worbla products are not meant as a replacement for resin casting and we will never suggest they will give you the same result! If you require perfect casting results, be it complete transparency or fine detail capture, we strongly suggest Smooth-On’s large product catalog and excellent tutorials to achieve your needs.
But if you need it fast or if you can’t use resin due to space or cost or health, Crystal Art and Deco Art might be a great alternative.
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!
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!
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: 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.
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!
Hardening clay (Paperclay, wet clay, etc)
Aluminum foil, Legos, or other barrier material
Silicone (Smooth On Rebound-30)
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. 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! 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.
6) Remove your hardened silicone mold, remove the clay pieces, and clean any residual clay dust from the mold using rubbing alcohol.
Forming the Crystal Art
Now time for the fun and easy part!
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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!