Making a Pokeball Purse with Worbla’s Mesh Art

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.


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
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.

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…
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.

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.

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!
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!
And Tada! My very own Pokeball Purse.

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!

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.

Marowak Mask from Pokemon

The lovely Termina Cosplay shared this tutorial on the making of a Marowak Mask, done entirely from friendly plastic and scraps.


Mask making with Worbla and Friendly Plastic! The Worbla I used to make my mask was 100% scrap. The same method can be used with any kind of mask, but my Marowak skull mask will be my example.

There is a very long description of all the steps below, but if you’re don’t want to bother with all those words, here is a short version:

Get form to mold mask over
Cover form with Worbla
Smooth out seams
Pull mask off form
Trim and shape mask
Add extra details
Use Friendly Plastic to build up and shape as needed
Cushion the inside of mask if necessary
Devise way to attach mask to face
Paint and seal mask

Form or Mold for your mask (I sculpted mine with clay)
Plastic Wrap
Clay Tools
A Spoon
Friendly Plastic
Heat Gun
Fabric, Leather Straps, Elastic, etc. (to attach your mask to your face)
Paint and paint brushes
Sealant Spray
Heavy Duty Scissors
Exacto Knife/Craft Knife
Expanding Foam
Cardboard or Foam Board
Craft Foam
Hot Glue
Primer or Wood Glue

These are all the materials I needed for my mask. You may not need everything that I used.

  1. Start with your mask form and cover it with plastic wrap  Use a couple of layers to be safe.  The plastic wrap will keep the Worbla from getting stuck to your mold, and make it much easier to pull off later.  I made my form from scratch with wire mesh and clay, but you can use an existing form as well.  Once your form is covered, start adding your Worbla.  I used nothing but scrap for mine, but you can also use a full piece.  If you are using scraps, lay the pieces over your form, overlapping them slightly and press them down as you go.  Do this until you have a few layers worth of scraps on your mold.  Don’t worry if your scraps go over the edge of the mold, you will trim that up later.  If you are using full pieces rather than scraps, just make sure you are covering the entire mold, and use at least 2 or 3 layers.  Make sure not to apply heat directly to your mold while the plastic wrap is still visible, the heat will rip holes in it, and you don’t want that. 
  2. Next, you will need to smooth out any seams you might have, and if you’re using scraps, its going to be a lot.  Take your heat gun and apply heat directly to the mask (the plastic wrap will be safe under the Worbla now).  Don’t be afraid to get it really hot, even if it starts to bubble a little bit, thats ok.  It will actually make it easier it smooth out that way, but whatever you do DO NOT TOUCH THE BUBBLY WORBLA WITH YOUR ACTUAL HANDS.  It can burn you if you are not careful.  Instead, take a spoon and some water, dip your spoon in the water, and smush all the seams flat with the watery spoon.  You’ll have to get the Worlba really hot and smush really hard if you want to get rid of the seams completely, but since my mask was supposed to resemble bone, having a few lines left over wasn’t going to hurt.  You can also use clay tools to help you get the Worbla to shape to the form properly (like if you have cracks or crevices you need to Worbla to get into).
  3. This is what my mask looked like after flattening the seams.  You can still see where they were in most places, but it was very smooth to the touch.  
  4. The next step is de-molding your mask.  If you used enough plastic wrap, you should be able to pop the mask right off.  As you can see, the inside is pretty ugly, but since no one will actually see the inside of your mask as long as you have it on, its not a big deal.  Use this time to also trim up the inside of the eye holes.  
  5. Next, trip up the edges of your mask into the right shape.  Also use this time to try it on and see if it actually fits your face. You can still heat up your mask and reshape it if you need to, just be careful and use a lower heat setting so you don’t accidentally cave it in.
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  7. Now is the time to add on any details that weren’t on your original form.  I needed some horns on mine, so I cut the shape of the horn out on foam board.  Cardboard would also work for this step
  8. Next, I positioned the horns on the mask and hot glued them on.
  9. Then, I covered the foam board with expanding foam.  The brand I used is called “Great Stuff” and you can buy it at any hardware store. Make sure you are working on a surface that can get messy and stay messy.  Expanding foam does not like to come off of anything it gets stuck to.
  10. This is what my horns looked like after the foam was completely cured.  It normally takes a few hours to cure, but you can speed up the process by spraying it with some water.  To test it, stick a knife into it.  if it comes out clean, its done!
  11. Once it was completely cured, I carved the shape of the horn with a craft knife.  
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  13. Next, it was time for me to cover the horns with Worbla.  I used smaller pieces of scraps for this, and built up around the base to give it a more smooth transition.  I did not smooth out the seams at this point.  If I were to try to smooth the horns as I did with the rest of the mask, it wouldn’t work.  The foam I used for the horns is too soft, so doing so would just crush them.  I will explain how I smoothed them later.
  14. I needed to add on a small detail at the sides of my mask (sort of like a jaw bone), so I cut the shape out of craft foam.
  15. I then tested it to see if it would fit right on my mask. 
  16. Once I was satisfied, I doubled up a couple layers of Worbla, and used my craft foam piece as a pattern to cut out the shape.  
  17. Then, I heated up both the sides of the mask and my new Worbla piece and added them on and shaped them into place.
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  19. At this point, It was time for me to switch over to Friendly Plastic.  If you are not familiar with it, Friendly Plastic is also a thermoplastic (like Worbla) but it comes in pellets rather than sheets.  It is much easier to sculpt with than Worbla, and it is perfectly smooth when you’re done.  The only downside is that it cools down much faster, and so you have to work fast or keep heating it back up.  To heat Friendly Plastic, I use a bowl of hot water.  I boil the water in a tea kettle, pour it into a bowl, and then pour in some Friendly Plastic pellets.  Once they are all gooey, I scoop them out with a spoon.  During this step, I took globs of Friendly Plastic and applied them to my mask to build up the places that still needed some shape, like the jaw bone piece and around the eye holes.  To shape it, I used my heat gun to reheat the plastic once it was on my mask and I used a combination of my fingers and a spoon dipped in water to smooth it (you need the water to keep the plastic from sticking to your spoon).  With enough heat and pressure, you can make a perfectly smooth transition between the Worbla and Friendly Plastic.  
  20. Here is my mask after being built up with Friendly Plastic.  As you can see here, I covered both the horns with it, which is why I didn’t have to worry about smoothing them out before.  Everything white is Friendly Plastic, and everything brown is Worbla. 
  21. Once my mask was covered with enough Friendly Plastic, I added on all the extra details. I just heated it with my heat gun and sculpted them on.  I added some cracks around the eye holes and the ribs on the horns.
  22. This is what my mask looked like after all these steps
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  24. Now, after all your detailing and sculpting is done, its time to make your mask wearable. I needed to add some cushioning to the inside so it would sit up right.  This also helped to make the mask more comfortable.  Just put the mask on your face, and decide where any cushioning might need to go to make it sit where you want it to.  The cushioning I used was regular cushion foam you can buy at any fabric store.  I added some on the forehead and under the eyes.  To attach, I used hot glue.
  25. Next is to devise a way to attach the thing to your face.  I took some more Worbla scraps, made some little loops, and pressed them onto the inside of the mask at the top.
  26. Then I strung a strip of fabric through them and tied off the edges so they wouldn’t pull back through.  I then strung another strip of fabric through the first, and wrapped it through my jaw bone pieces.  You can use a number of different things (leather straps, elastic, etc.), but fabric worked well for mine.
  27. This is how my fabric contraption works.  You can see the fabric runs over the top of the head, wraps through the jaw bones, and the ties off at the bottom.  My mask ended up being a bit heavy, so the extra  support was required.  You might have to get creative with your attachments, depending on the complexity of your mask, but if your mask is light and simple enough, some elastic will do the trick. 
  28. The last step is to prime, paint and decorate your mask however you want!  Wood glue makes an excellent primer for Worbla and Friendly Plastic and can easily be sanded to make your finished piece extra smooth.  Once you are satisfied with your paint job, seal your mask with a spray sealant to protect it.  Since my mask was supposed to resemble bone, I used a matte finish, but you can use whatever kind of finish suits your project.  



Thanks again to Termina Cosplay for sharing this with us!