Worbla’s Pearly Art Scales Dragon Bracer Tutorial

Tutorial by Bamzy Cosplay

Worbla’s Pearly Art Scales

The next member of the Worbla family is Worbla’s Pearly Art Scales! These scales apply and act in the same way the Pearly Art Worbla does when applied with heat and used on foam or with other Worbla products. They become soft and malleable, can attach themselves to other Worbla without any adhesives.

Scale Specs

  • Heat activation temperatures 80-90 °C / 175-195 °F
  • Size per scale:  3cm x 1.6cm (1.18inch x 0.62 inch)
  • 5oz/140G package contains 275 individual scales
  • 5oz/140G package coverage estimation: 100 In2 / 645cm2

The Build

Purple Dragon Bracer

With the opportunity to get to try out this new product, I quickly drew up a basic Bracer design to incorporate the scales and practicality of the material in a costume piece.
Inspired by Spyro the Dragon, a simple, purple scale bracer with gold detailing, a few resin gems and some foam clay scales to bring it all together.

The Materials

  1. Worbla’s Pearly Art Scales. 5oz/140g Pack
  2. Double Sided Smooth EVA Foam
  3. Contact Cement
  4. Worbla’s Black Art Detailing
  5. Easy Cast Resin
  6. Lumin’s Workshop Ultra Light Weight Foam Clay

Drafting the Pattern

Seran Wrap Pattern Method

I started the build by wrapping my arm in seran wrap, then covered by masking tape to get a perfect copy of my forearm. You can then draw on the shape of your bracer and then cut your arm out safely to have a perfect base bracer to your body.


Pattern Transfer

Next, I take the rough seran wrap base pattern and transfer it onto paper so I can make any adjustments and Apply the details to the paper pattern without ruining the base pattern
Doing this step prevents you from having to cut the original or do any alterations that don’t work out and force you to start the seran wrap process all over again.     


Applying the pattern to your materials

Now that you have your base pattern, apply it  to your EVA foam and cut it out. I found that pinning down the pattern into the foam with sewing pins helps anchor it from moving/shifting  around while tracing it out.

Next, I started to line up the individual scales so I had an idea how many it would take to cover the bracer up to the point I wanted them to be. For me, I used 140 scales to get to the point shown below.


Applying the scales

This is where it started to get tricky. I first had all the scales lined up perfectly as pictures above and hit them with heat so they would stick and stay where I had placed them. That worked out great flat. Once I tried to reheat the foam and the scales as one and tried to reshape it to go around my arm, The scales then split apart from the points I had them laid out in. 

It’s easier to apply them when the foam is in the desired shape!
I had to start over. Peeled off every scale, reshaped by base bracer and had it being held up with a bottle to make it easier to apply when it was in this new rounded shape.
Heating the scales on my table and applying them back onto the foam one at a time until I returned to my desired height of scales.
You learn from your mistakes.


Test Fit
Now that the scales have cooled, the bracer holds the desired shape without the need for any straps or fasteners
Test fit to be sure everything is sitting the way you wanted.  

Foam Details
Now that the base of the bracer is complete, I began to add the EVA foam to build up the raised edge and Foam Clay to make the spikes. I sketched out where I wanted the gems to be positioned and glued everything together with Contact Cement.


Final steps to completion
Installing my resin casted gems, with a Worbla trim around them all was left to do before I primed the entire bracer. I used 2 layers of Mod Podge because I wanted the slight texture of the Worbla to remain and look more organic scale like.Finally, I sprayed the entire bracer black and gold, applied the purple to the scales with a dry brush technique. Dabbled some watered down black paint in the crevices for the  shadows with acrylic paint.

I did paint the spikes separate and glued them on at the end. A yellow acrylic for the base colour and brown shadows to finish off the look. An optional step is to seal the paint with a spray varnish. Pick what works best for your project, glossy or matte and your bracer is complete!

Large Molded Details with Worbla

Carmine Warren of Shoot the Look creates amazing pieces using Worbla for his photography looks. He recently shared this tutorial on how he makes his fantastic symmetrical pieces using household materials and Worbla.


Large Molded Details with Worbla

Worbla has allowed me to create costumes for my photoshoots that I could never have imagined possible; I’ve experimented with several methods from the sandwich methods to wrapping Worbla over the edge of the foam. These methods produced remarkable costumes for my creative workshops.

I needed to find a new way to get more complex curves and textures, I tried hand shaping Worbla and this produced fair results, left and right sides weren’t really matching up well. Back to the drawing table and then I tried a mold. Making an impression of some jewelry and odds and ends around the house, I created my first mold.

In this tutorial, I will share how I create these pieces with my molds.

Materials Used:
100% Silicone
X-Acto Knife
2mm craft foam
Heat gun
Sculpting tools
Female Dress Form

I started by making a silicone mold, I used cornstarch and 100% silicone. YouTube has plenty of videos on how to create the mold if you check for DIY silicone molds. I dump a box of cornstarch in a bowl and squeeze in a whole tube of silicone and mix it until firm. Use gloves and do this outside. It will smell like vinegar. (I leave the mold in my garage for a few days to get the smell out.)

Once you have a silicone base for the mold, you have to move fast. The Silicone will set in about 10-15 minutes. Get objects from around your house and workshop and then press them into the mold (Worbla.com note: if you want to find pieces like what Carmine uses, try searching for Ekena Millwork to get you started). Adding different shapes to the mold is exciting, once I have molded pieces of Worbla I am able to create designs and then connect different pieces from different molds and heating them together. Every design is a new work of art!

Using an X-Acto knife, I cut additional designs into the Worbla and adding a new dimension to my work and allowing me to have a unique design. You can also use a stencil to cut shapes into the mold.

I cut Worbla into small strips and then heat it. Once the Worbla is at the correct temperature, I roll it into a snake. Pressing the Worbla into the mold and letting it set for a bit, then removing it while it is still warm, this allows me to shape the piece and you have to be careful not to lose the shape of the design. Wooden clay molding tools can help reshape if needed. After a lot a trial and error, I was able to find a process for making the molds I like, using shapes from objects and adding additional cuts.

Once the mold is completely filled, heat it a little and when it’s started to cool down, gently remove the Worbla, remove from the largest end first and then place on a flat surface. You can also place them on a form and shape the pieces or heat them from the back slightly and shape then later.

Once you have all your pieces, assemble them. Heat a few contact points and stick them together and then you can reinforce them in the back with little balls of Worbla pressed into the cracks.

Once the piece is connected, turn it over and warm it from the back. Caution, this is a delicate process. If you over heat it, you will lose the shape. Use small burst of heat and slowly bring the temperature up just enough to shape it. You can mold it on a form for ease and then slightly heat it up to shape it to the body. I add D-Rings to the back and you can add lace, fabric, Velcro or ribbon to secure in the back.

I like the texture rough and don’t add any layer of gesso. I paint the base with spray paint and then use acrylics.

Thanks again to Carmine for sharing this process with us! Be sure to check out his Facebook, Instagram, and Website for more of his creations!

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.

• 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! : )

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!


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).


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.


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.


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



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.


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



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


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!


Now all you have to do is trim the edges!


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



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!


Cosplay Tutorial: Creating Yuri’s Eros Crystals
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:tumblr_inline_oqdet2xChI1qlkkai_500

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.
tumblr_inline_oqdfrkQ4UV1qlkkai_500 (1)
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.
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!

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:

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!


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

Fine Detail with Worbla’s Finest Art

If you’re familiar with Worbla’s products, you know that Black Art is the most suggested for fine detail work, as the texture in Black Art allows you to make fine pieces easier. That isn’t to say you can’t accomplish the same with Worbla’s Finest, however, as Enrico Sequi (Instagram) has absolutely blown us away with his incredibly fine filigree work with the original Worbla.

#cast4art #worbla #newproject

A post shared by Enrico Sequi (@enricosequi) on




His ability to work in a small scale has all of us impressed!

But he doesn’t only use Finest Art – nor only work in small scale!




Check out more of Enrico Sequi‘s work on Facebook and Instagram!

Laser Cutting Worbla – Part 2!

The Dangerous Ladies shared with us their fantastic introduction to lasercutting worbla – so we contacted them to do more and share their findings with us! You can find part one here and part two continues below!


Hello, friends! Last time you saw us laser cutting, we did a bunch of stuff with black worbla and the original stuff. The fine people at Worbla and @heatgunning saw this and thought it was super cool, so they invited us to visit their HQ and offered us more worbla to test on, and we said sure, we’d love more excuses to cut things with lasers. Edgar at Toronto Laser Services also thought it was a good time and invited us back to cut more worbla, too, so now we’re a trifecta of lasercut thermoplastics.

So last week, we went back to TLS give the other three kinds of worbla a run under the laser cutter. We did some basic tests and cuts just to put the materials through their paces, and we’ll be doing more soon! So on the docket for today we have:

Transparent Worbla aka TranspArt.
Mesh Worbla aka MeshArt.
Red Worbla, aka FlameRed.

(Red, right? RED? I had never heard of it when Amanda put it in our hands, and it is live now, but I haven’t seen anyone do anything with it, so it’s kind of exciting to like… be the first people to laser-cut it… maybe… :) )

Anyway, here we go!
Remind me again, Jenn, what is laser cutting?

Getting a robot to do all the grunt work for you because cutting is tedious and is hard on your hands! Hey-oh. Laser cutting is using a computer-controlled powerful laser to cut or etch materials –– anything from paper to acrylic to wood to metal. It uses vector files to cut perfect lines. It is a godsend.

And where does one do laser cutting?
We use Toronto Laser Services, but there are likely laser cutting services in just about any major city –– you just have to do some digging. Many of them are set up to serve industrial manufacturing, but many are also artist-friendly, or can be cajoled into experimenting. Either way, I guarantee you virtually none of them have worked with worbla, so these posts we’re making are sort of meant to show hey, this stuff is stable and safe to cut, and these are the best practices to save time.

Let’s get to that!


Preparing Worbla

Lasers do best when they’re cutting flat things. You know what often isn’t flat? Worbla. Like 95% of you, we tend to store it in big rolls, and that usually isn’t a problem when you’re just going to heat it up and shape it anyway. It is, however, a growing problem when you need to lay it on the cutting bed flat. Arcing bits of worbla are likely to be cut ever-so-slightly crooked.

Like this:

The difference here negligible, to my experience, but the more arced it is, the worse the potential for problems. The best preventative measure is to flatten it out completely before you put it in the laser cutter. Roll it the opposite way a few times to get the worst of it out, and then heat it up to get it the rest of the way down.


I’ll be honest: trying to find projects to do with transparent worbla is kind of interesting. There’s visors and water effects and fire effects, and there’s making domed pieces to go over lights, but it’s mostly limited by what you wouldn’t paint solid. I have a bunch of ideas going forward, but cutting it with the laser actually gave me a bunch of new plans.

So how is it to cut it with the laser?


TranspArt has the roughest cuts. Cutting shapes – especially complex shapes – results in really amorphous, ugly edges with obvious bubbling from melt. While other Worbla cuts very cleanly with minimal to no melted plastic ending up on the cut piece, TranspArt ends up looking melted. Have you ever accidentally hit plastic wrap with your heat gun? Kind of like that. You don’t get clean points, and the tighter your curves, the more likely you’re going to end up with amorphous shapes.

Compare the edge of Flame Red with the TranspArt chickens –– and get ready, you’re going to see a lot of chickens in this post.

This melt can also mean removing the cut pieces is a little trickier. While a cut piece of Mesh or Flame will pop right out of the “frame” (assuming the cut isn’t too tight – more on that later) the Transparent pieces will sort of fuse back together in spots just from the heat of the melting plastic. We had to force the chickens out of their frames once they cooled because they weren’t going to come out otherwise.

And very small details? Completely out of the question. Bye, chicken legs!

The other thing about TranspArt is that it is a lot more susceptible to heat, so it is more likely to start arcing. Laser cutting worbla can be a little funny if you store worbla in rolls because then the worbla is probably bent into arcs instead of laying flat, but even if you spend time flattening it out again, the heat of the laser can result in the worbla starting to bend again. Then you end up with things like this on engraved pieces:

See how there are fewer bubbles on one side than the other? This is because the piece of TranspArt was starting to arc up under the heat, so the laser was touching one side much closer than the other, meaning one side was under more concentrated heat than the other. Be warned!

But what’s with those bubbles anyway?

From the site:
If overheated, TranspArt will start to form small bubbles or blisters in the plastic. These can’t be removed, though they are useful if you are trying to make something appear to be water.

So technically, “engraved” TranspArt isn’t actually engraved; it’s just been nuked, filling it with bubbles. There’s not much texture variation, but visually, it does look pretty neat. I like this effect! When we go back and do some more practical cuts, I’m hoping that we can create pieces that have bubbles strategically “lasered in” to form patterns instead of textures. I’m sure there’s some costume out there that has a practical use for a tiny bubble effect!

And because Edgar had Rub n Buff out, he slapped some black on the bubbles to see what happens. It creates a neat little gritty effect; I imagine it could have some neat visual detail.

One thing we found, however, is that you need to be prepared for is fogging. Most materials will produce some sort of smoke when cut as the material is lasered away; in TranspArt’s case, this smoke will tarnish the surface of TranspArt and leave a dusty residue that shows every fingerprint, smudge and imperfection. It wipes away, even with just a brush of your fingers, but be prepared to clean TranspArt pieces in order to restore their clarity.

And I doubt I need to say this, but here it goes: don’t lick it. It’s probably gross and Not Good For You.


Let’s get this bit out of the way first: Mesh doesn’t etch. Not really, anyway.

It just browns immediately, almost regardless of power setting, and it realllllly doesn’t like being stretched after being etched, so I’d skip etching entirely on this one. In the end, the poor etching doesn’t matter, because this stuff is the absolute best to cut.

IT JUST CUTS SO CLEAN, PEOPLE! THE EDGES ARE SO NICE! Look at how damn clean that is. Nobody on the planet could cut that clean with scissors. Laser cutters are incredible.

But like any material, it still has some little finicky things I thought I’d run over. Mesh is the strongest of the worblas for fine little details, but it still needs some care and caution in the set-up of its files, specifically for really tiny details.

The problem with cutting any tiny tiny tiny little layers is that they are likely to fall through the grate and be largely impossible to find. The other problem is that they are going to be slightly thinner than your outline; while you can fiddle with laser settings to reduce burn off, the laser still takes up a certain amount of space, so a letter with a 2mm wide appendage is likely to become 1.5 or 1mm. This might not seem like much, but with the laser doing the whole contour, you’re not going to have much in the way of surviving material.

It’s the same as the chickens above; dude’s gonna lose his lil legs because they’re so fine, and the worbla melt off is a lot more intense than the burn off on birch. Check out these worbla chickens with the birch chicken. The red survives better than the transparent, but it still gets amorphous fast. (Also, check out the lil dude that fell into the ash below, haha.)

So when cutting letters (or any fine narrow piece), everything needs breathing room, not just for the laser but for the heat. Heat radiates through worbla more than something like wood, so if you have two letters side by side, the clearance might be enough for the laser but still so close that the heat warps the next letter.

To show you what I mean, here’s the lettering on Mercy’s “primum no nocere” shoulder piece. (I vectored it myself and it took a thousand hours to do those letters because not even the official ripped meshes have clean copies. Blizzard!!)

See how this gap between the letters looks wide enough, and is wide enough that the laser doesn’t overlap, but the fallout for the laser’s heat has warped them slightly? That little bar between the letters is toast, and it did a number on the letters, too. While we CAN cut those fine little letters, they’ll survive better if we space them out more and wait for them to cool completely before handling them –– after all, there’s nothing saying we HAVE to cut everything arranged how it will be assembled.

Doing fine little details with worbla is stellar, though. It’s a rigid material so it survives sanding and whatnot without losing shape, while other thin materials like craft foam could just tear and need to be sealed. So I did the filigrees on Lucina’s tiara with laser cut black worbla — tiny fine little points are maintained, and adding it to the piece is just a matter of gently heating and applying. Finishing is just a few layers of primer and sanding. Incredibly clean little details!!


It’s also fun for projects with tons of weird angles:

This took about 3 minutes to cut –– probably not even. All I’d have to do is back it on something more rigid for durability and voila. I have a shield!


It’s fire-retardant and red. Otherwise, it seems a great deal like black worbla. It cuts like black worbla, too –– very clean! –– but it puts off far less smoke when it cuts. That’s always nice.

It is neat to etch, too. It gets a little melty if you turn up the power too high, but at low levels it does some neat stuff. (Funny enough but unpictured, you can sort of see it through the back – the heat discolours it slightly.) I’m not sure what kind of use this could have, as the finishing techniques that people use on worbla would decimate this kind of etching, but it’s Fun To Know.

Fun story: it also takes to tiny letters a fair bit better than others, in my opinion, because it tolerates heat quite a bit better than some other worblas. On the right settings, it cuts pretty finely without warping. This might be the worbla of choice for teeny tiny details.

Still a tiny bit mangled, though. Did I mention you should wait until it cools completely before handling it?

Fun stuff.

Conclusion… For Now

I have so many more posts to write, guys. I have so much information and this is so long already.


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

Using a Die Cut Machine with Worbla

Darth Cleavage did some tests for us about running Worbla through a Sizzix die cut machine, and shared her results below!

Sizzix Saves the Day!

I find that taking on a massively detailed commission just a few months prior to a major convention often leads to these amazing, “Holy crap! Why didn’t I think of that before?” kind of moments. Crazy, yes. But crazy inspirational, too!

After realizing I was going to spend a few hours hand cutting fabric into detailed leaf motifs, I suddenly recalled those few years I spent dealing ink and paper to the scrapbooking crowd and remembered how quickly I was able to churn out identical designs with my die cutting machine. Once again, my Amazon Prime membership proved it’s worth and I had a new Sizzix Big Shot on my doorstep in less than 24 hours.

Then I started thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) if this machine could cut through marine vinyl, what other materials could be used? Well, thanks to Worbla, I recently got the opportunity to try it out with their full line products and now I get to share the results with you!

The Machine

Sizzix has a wide range of machines that meet a variety of applications, but I ultimately opted for the Big Shot because I felt it covered all my bases. You can use just about all of the cutting and embossing tools with this machine, the exception being the extra large dies.

There are many other die cutters out there, but I was familiar with this brand and there are tons of “how to videos” available. For that reason and the sake of brevity, I’m not going to go into detail about how I used the machine. I mean, why read my description when you can go watch the experts show you how to do it?

The Tools

If you head over to the Sizzix site you can look through the entire product line. As much as I would have loved the excuse to stock the shop with one of everything, they do a great job of pointing out the material that each product is most suited to. My own experience with the machine and with Worbla led me to narrow it down to four distinct products that I thought would have the best chance of success in my experiment. As for the specific pieces I chose, I went with designs I thought I’d actually use in the future.

Frameworks Die
Think of this type of die as a metal cookie cutter encased in foam. When you run it through the machine, the die is pressed down into the material and cuts through it. The foam helps keep the material from getting stuck in the cutting mechanism.

These work the same way as the Frameworks Die, but are substantially thinner.

Working much like the Sizzlets, these free floating pieces are thin and allow you to add even more detail into your cutting. You can pair them up with other dies to create custom designs.

Embossing Folder
Unlike the previous three products, this simply impresses a design on your material rather than cutting it.

The Test

I was able to use all four of the current offerings from Worbla: Finest Art, Black Art, Mesh Art, and TranspArt. I’ve only ever used Finest Art so I was excited to get my greedy little hands on the other options and had formed some hypotheses about how this would go.

Here’s one thing I learned immediately: Everything worked better when the Worbla is heated. You want your pieces warm and slightly pliable but not too hot. The Black Art and TranspArt were the easiest to work with in that I could get them pliable without them getting sticky. I had to walk a finer line with the Mesh Art and Finest art. The good news is that if they do adhere to your cutting tool you can just let them cool down and they’ll pop right off!

Another thing to note is that I used Sizzix’s recommendations for running all of the pieces through the machine. Each product comes with a blurb explaining what materials you need for the given task, the multipurpose platform also has diagrams pointing these out, and you can always head over to their YouTube Channel for videos.

I started off with the Frameworks Die because I had already done a test with one of these babies and knew it would work. Guaranteed success sounded like a good start to me, and all four materials cut as easily as I expected. I rightfully suspected the TranspArt would offer up the least resistance and wondered if the Mesh Art backing would cause an issue, but it didn’t seem to be a problem at all.

Following on the success of the first die, I decided to go with the Sizzlets next. This was clearly not as successful as I only managed the get the barest of impressions on the TranspArt and Black Art. There’s almost no indication of an impression on the other two which I think can be attributed to both the thinness of the die and the grainier texture of these two types of Worbla. However, if you are looking for something that gives an etched appearance, this could work. I’d just be cautious with your heat application.


The Framelits were even less successful than the Sizzlets and barely left an impression on the Worbla. With the Finest Art and Black Art I tried both sides of the material to see if there was a difference. Nope.

After the meh results of the two of my four options I didn’t have much hope for the embossing folders, but ended up really pleasantly surprised. Here they are in order of the highest to lowest quality of embossing: Black Art, TranspArt, Mesh Art, Finest Art.

There is a major caveat to keep in mind, though: If you reheat and stretch the material, you will alter or possibly lose some of the design. Since you’ll have to run all your pieces through the machine before you apply them, this is realllllllllly important to keep in mind.


One of the cool things I discovered along the way is that there are a number of companies that will make custom dies from your designs. If you were going to mass produce a piece for sale or even if a small investment would save you a great deal of time on one costume, it may be worth the price. Unfortunately, they don’t provide general price ranges for the designs so you’ll have to submit a quote request to get detailed information.


As with any experiment, you often learn as much from your failures as your successes and I’m perfectly OK stating that my expectations weren’t 100% on. I can see myself trying out the embossing folders provided that I did some experimentation with the design to make sure I could heat it up without too much distortion. I am also very happy with the results of the large format dies and can see using some of them for future projects.

What’s Next?

I started doing some searching to see if anyone has attempted to use their vinyl cutter on any of the Worbla products and have come up empty, but it seems like a viable option given that my Silhouette Cameo is supposed to be able to handle craft metal and thick cardstock. I’ll let you know once I give it a try!I

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out. I’ve benefited greatly from others who have shared their experiences and am happy to pay it forward.


With thanks again to Darth Cleavage for sharing her results with us!

Embossing Worbla with a Die Cut Machine

Xaljira Cos(tumes) recently shared this quick tutorial on how they used their Sizzix machine to emboss their Worbla for their Phoenix Staff, pictured below:

The Embossing Process:

It is actually a very simple process if you happen to own an embossing tool like a Sizzix (I own this one) You simply cut the Worbla to the size of the textured impression folder – that’s the plastic thing on the left. Then you warm up the Worbla, don’t overdo it, and place it in the folder and run it through the machine.

You can see above that it works with Worblas Finest Art, Worblas Black Art and Worblas TranspaArt.

Once you’ve embossed the Worbla you can reheat it and form it into any shape you want as long as you don’t press on it too much.

When I first tried this I was concerned that the Worbla might stick to the folder after having been pressed onto it so hard, but if you let the WFA cool down a little before you open the folder, there’s no stickiness problem at all. With WBA and WTA you don’t even have to wait for it to cool because both materials are less sticky than WFA.

About the staff:

The staff itself is a paper tube, thickened at the top and bottom with foam and then covered with WFA, which I embossed with my Sizzix embossing tool. The glowing flowers are made of WTA that I first painted with yellow glass paint, then cut to size and heat-shaped before hot gluing it onto a push-light. The petals around the flowers are once again made from WFA. On the staff is an acrylic sphere filled with a Mini-Led chain and painted with glass paints. The cage sphere around that is made from leftover WFA rolled into long strings and formed over a bigger acrylic ball.

With thanks to Xaljira Cos(tumes) for sharing this with us!

Creating an Embossed Look for Surface Details

Creating a stamped, tooled or raised/relief look is something a lot of armor requires, especially if it’s supposed to look like leather but act like metal. The awesome folks at 519geeks have shared this tutorial for how they get an embossed effect for their Worbla pieces.


Creating an Embossed Look: Part 1


The things you will need are:

A Pen
Heat gun
EVA Foam
A Crafting Knife
Your pattern
 First step is to create the embossed design. A simple way to tackle it is to cut the design out of the whole sheet of EVA foam (as pictured). Make sure if there is a lot of detail there is enough space to push the worbla down into it so it doesn’t look like you just mashed it in. 
Next you need to trace your pattern for whatever you are making onto the EVA foam and cut that out 
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  Alright got that done? Awesome.
Now do it again….ON THE WORBLA YAY!
So for cutting out the worbla you will need two of each piece. Our Armour had three pieces to it, two in the front and one in the back so we needed to cut out 6 pieces of worbla in total. What I did was traced around the patterns once then just eyeballed the second of each piece larger to make sure it would fit over the pattern with a bit to spare on each side. That way you can do lots of trimming.
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The next step is to cut it out.
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Below you see me just eyeballing the second pieces for the front of the armour. Just making sure there is enough to cover and enough to trim off. 
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Finally whip out the trusty old heat gun and start slowly heating up both sides of your worbla. Make sure to heat it up slowly on both sides until it is malleable and starts to get floppy. Then take the side that was shiny before heating it up and apply your foam to that side.
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Trim all the extra foam from around all your edges. I flip the design over to make it easier to see where the foam is sticking out.
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Now remember those second pieces you made? The ones that were just eyeballed and bigger and didn’t really have anything traced on them? Those ones. Now you get to heat that up slowly on both sides and place it on the other side of the EVA foam, Making a Worbla Sammich and trim that up leaving about an inch and a half on each side.Normally you would actually sandwich the pieces so the worbla would meet in the middle of the EVA foam on the side. However for the look I was going for I needed something that looked big and clunky. Also since I was doing embossing on some of the edges I needed to re-enforce those edges with an extra bit of worbla on the side so I folded the front piece over to make a lip.

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I did use a sculpting tool to help me flatten the edges.
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After getting everything sandwiched and ready to go you have to heat up your worbla again. yes slowly on both sides, but it won’t be as floppy as before. do be careful tho the worbla can warp and you may not get it back to the shape you want it to.
Of course the best way to shape your worbla and make sure it’s not going to be uncomfortable for you model is to shape it on them. You can also shape it on a dress form if that model is you.
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And there you have it. Now you’re ready to emboss your design.
To see the process come together, we have a video of the whole thing!

Part 2!

The things you will need:
Paint brushes 
(of varying sizes)
Heat gun
Sclupting Modeling tools
(I paid about 5$ at Michael’s for mine)
The first thing you need to do is pick a small area on either side of your armour and heat it up with the heat gun. (I usually work my way from one side to the other from top to bottom, that way you don’t miss any parts.)
Once the part is heated use your sculpting tools to gently push down into the sections you have cut away from your EVA foam. Don’t press too hard or you will find the worbla will tear and it will be hard to get it to look the way you want.
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This is an optional step but I’m going to quickly show you hae to put edging on your armour if you so want it.
It’s super easy. Just cut out a bit of worbla the length you need and figure out what width you want it. Slowly heat up the strip of worbla you have cut on both sides then run the heat gun over the already embossed armour to make sure the worbla will adhere to itself and apply it along the edges. make sure to measure your corners and make sure they fit together before applying the edging.
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You’re on the home stretch. It’s time to finish the worbla assuming you don’t want the rough pattern that worbla has. if you do you can just skip this….I wanted something rough but not quite as rough as worbla so I went with about 5 layers of Gesso.
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After that take a very fine grit sand paper and sand it to the smoothness you want. There are several methods you can use when doing this part.
Some people use friendly plastic and roll it on a marble or concrete surface to get it smooth. Core geeks also came up with a pretty incredible way of making smooth worbla you can see linked here.
Check out the video at the bottom to see how I did it sped up.


Thanks again to Elicia and 519geeks for sharing their work with us!