Nimbus Cosplay shared this method of using both the folding and sandwich method together for a smooth application without air bubbles and less Worbla used.
Tips for getting the most out of your worbla, and for smooth application without pesky air bubbles!
Don’t overheat it. As soon as you start to see it get malformed, that’s good enough for basic manipulation.
I generally prefer to do the outer worbla piece first and work with it completely before sandwiching it. I find it gets neater edges and generally wastes less material.
Take your scissors and just snip lines every so often in the inner circles of your armor, and cut out triangles in the outer circles of your armor.
It’ll allow for easier folding around the edges and if you cut out the triangles on the outer edges, it gets rid of that obnoxious overlap and folding. You’ll end up with more tiny scraps that you can heat up again later for detail sculpting, and the insides of your armor will look a bit neater, and be less bulky around those edges.
After the outside is nice and neat, I cut the inside sandwich piece actually a bit smaller than the shape of the armor, heat it up separately (doesn’t really matter if you overheat that one) and then just lay it over the inside (more pics later). This alteration to the sandwich method also makes it easier to more precisely apply any connections inside the armor (D-rings, clasps, etc…)
It should be noted that this will take more time since it’s a more tedious process than straight sandwiching. So if you’re in a rush to finish something before a con, you’ll probably just go with the traditional sandwich method.
Worbla is amazing and great for many things, but it’s very thin and flimsy when heated and shaped on its own. As such, when making armor and other pieces that need to have a smooth look, Worbla is often backed with foam. The sandwich method is the most commonly used and is mentioned in many tutorials. It can be sometimes replaced with the folding method, especially for pieces that do not need as much strength.
For everyone just starting out, we’ve broken down the steps here.
1) Have your pattern. (Not sure how to make a pattern? We have a video tutorial for that, and you can also check out Kamui’s books!) 2) Trace it onto your foam and cut it out.
3) Trace it out onto your Worbla, about ¼ an inch bigger all around. Cut it out twice, flipping the pattern for the second time. Remember that Worbla has a shiny side that has glue – you want to have those on the inside around the foam, so they need to mirror one another.
4) Heat your bottom piece thoroughly. It’s important to heat it completely so that it sticks to the foam evenly. If you’ve never heated Worbla before, it’s a good idea to practice this on a small test piece to get the feel for it. Worbla will change in colour and get a bit darker as it heats and activates. It will be ready when it’s completely floppy and tacky to the touch.
Once heated, press your foam securely into the Worbla, leaving that ¼ inch excess visible. Go slowly, and don’t be afraid to reheat if you’re working with a big piece.
5) Once your bottom piece of Worbla is attached, time to heat the top. Heat your second Worbla piece completely and press it over the foam and Worbla ‘bottom’, working from one side to another, making sure the Worbla is pressed firmly to the foam all over.
Now you can press the edges of Worbla together to seal everything together, then trim them. You can use tools to make this easier – wooden or metal tools for sculpting work well, but I find a plastic keycard from an old con hotel is a great multitool.
6) The reason you need to make sure everything is well and fully stuck is because now you can now heat your whole piece and shape it. If everything isn’t stuck down, you’ll get air bubbles. If you get air bubbles, follow this process to get rid of them.
Small pieces can be heated with your heat gun, but large pieces (such as armor) may be best to heat in the oven to heat evenly. Turn your oven to the lowest setting and lay the Worbla on a baking sheet on some baking paper. If the oven is preheated, you’ll only need a few minute – keep an eye on your Worbla!
7) Curious to the difference between straight Worbla and Worbla+foam? Look at the picture below. The right is a single piece of Worbla cut from the same pattern. This look works well for thin pieces that need an organic look – feathers and leaves for instance – but makes armor incredibly difficult.
If you need to create depth in a piece you can layer individual pieces of sandwiched Worbla ontop of one another, but that can consume a LOT of worbla. Another way to add depth is to layer your foam first, and then sandwich ontop of it.
Voila! You have now mastered the sandwich method of Worbla use.