Bombshell Wonder Woman Cosplay, Part 2 – Experimenting with Thermoplastics, Trial and Error

bracer in the white

I am very new to thermoplastics. If you are not familiar, I’m talking about Worbla, Wonderflex, EVA foam and craft foam. I decided for this first project I would start small, and try a few different mediums. Trial and error. Mostly error. I promise I was not drunk when I did this, just not very experienced.

BRACERS

I decided to make my bracers out of craft foam, mostly for comfort. This is the kind of foam you get at the craft store for kids’ projects. It’s super cheap and easy to manipulate. Remember: your wrist is smaller than your forearm, so you will actually be cutting out a trapezoid, not a square. Measure twice, cut once!

The next step was to find a pattern online that approximates the pattern on DC Bombshell Wonder Woman’s bracers. I am not very good at freehand drawing, but I’m pretty good at tracing. I was able to find one on Bigstock, and it was actually meant as a graphic notebook doodle. Now, how to get the picture on to the foam? I only have a black and white laser printer. “But wait,” I thought, “laser printers heat set the ink onto the paper, so maybe if I use an iron I can partially transfer that on to the craft foam.”

bracers transfer

Um, kinda? Also, craft foam shrinks a little when you apply heat. Oops. Gotta use low heat. I’m going to say I would not recommend this. It would probably work better with an ink jet and that special transfer paper. I used my task light and squinted a lot, and I managed to trace all of it out with a black ball point pen. The pen leaves an indentation and mark, so you have a textured effect. Great! But, I was using the thinnest sheets of foam, and the pen was leaving an impression on the back side. Hmmm… better add another layer of foam on the inside for stability. Luckily, hot glue is the perfect adhesive for craft foam. This would be a good time to form it around your wrist. Use the iron to heat it a little and you can wrap it around your wrist while it cools. Remember, the inside layer will need to be slightly smaller than the outside layer! Just like a racetrack! I just glued it in and then trimmed the excess.

bracers tracing pattern

At this point the edges looked like crap, so I needed to put edging on it. That’s just strips of craft foam glued on. No biggie.

bracer parts

bracer in the white

OK, it’s pretty much assembled the way I want it. Now I need to paint it. Always prime first! I just used gesso, because I’m an art school dropout and had a bunch left over. I understand you can also use Elmer’s white glue. Or possibly, if you have a well-ventilated area, Plastidip. But gesso worked fine for me.

bracer primed

Then I just added a couple layers of silver craft paint, and dry brushed with black to give it some depth.

bracer painted

Then I added Velcro strips to the inside with hot glue.

WWbracers-inside

bracer image

I actually think they turned out pretty well, in spite of my issues. One thing that puzzles me though, is that over time the indents where I traced with the ball point have turned a sort of yellowish color. I may have to repaint.

BELT BUCKLE

This was pretty detailed. I got an image of the buckle online and started making a pattern based off of that. I used several types of plastics, and it did not turn out like I would have liked. But I will probably re-make it at some point. This is more of a cautionary tale I guess.

belt buckle image

First I made the base, which is just an oval. But the oval also has a raised edge. I made an oval out of Wonderflex. Then I thought that it would not be thick enough and I ended up adhering a piece of craft foam on top of it. That was a mistake, because the craft foam is easily marred. Then for the raised edge I cut out a strip of Worbla and wrapped it around the outside. It turned out very uneven. I have since received some very good advice on this, and what I should have done is just to keep the Wonderflex base and cut out an oval in Worbla, like a picture frame, and adhere it on top. Next time.

belt buckle base-1

 

For those of you who are not familiar with these materials, Wonderflex and Worbla become self-adhesive when exposed to heat. Wonderflex on only one side and Worbla on both sides. Worbla can be molded like clay. Use a heat gun to mold it. There are tons of YouTube videos that can explain better than I can.

I made the eagle entirely out of Worbla. I actually cut out two basic shapes, then I carved out the second shape and adhered all the bits on top of the basic shape for the details. There were tweezers involved. Also, I ended up molding the eagle head a lot with clay tools because that was just the only way to do it. It’s tiny!

belt buckle cut out

belt buckle eagle finished

I have read, and seen tutorials, indicating that you can prime Worbla without needing to sand, as long as you put the primer on thick enough. You are supposed to use wood glue. This advice is inaccurate. My buckle ended up being highly textured, and I wanted it very smooth. I may try to use Plasti Dip over my existing buckle, or I may just sand it if that doesn’t work. Anyway, that did not work for me.

I painted the base and the decoration with gold craft glue, sealed them with some sort of sealant I had lying around (I’ve moved since then so I probably don’t have it any more). I then glued them together, and then glued the whole thing to a $1 elastic belt I found at a thrift store. The belt was secured with Velcro. Is there anything Velcro can’t do?

belt buckle finished

I actually think it didn’t turn out too badly, especially from a distance. I will certainly make modifications to it before the next time I wear it though.

I didn’t go into any great detail on technique here because I’m not an expert. There are tons of experts on YouTube and other blogs who can take you step-by-step through the process of working with these mediums. One of my faves is Kamui Cosplay. I’m just telling my story here.

OTHER PROPS

Additionally you will notice I have my magic lasso at my side. This is utility rope I got at the hardware store. Interestingly enough, when I bought this it was con season locally, and Batman was in line ahead of us. As he left, the clerk turned to me and said “you don’t see that every day!” Well, actually…

Also, why is it so hard to find plain red circle earrings? I ended up getting them off of Etsy. My wig was also from Etsy.

My next entry will be my struggle with boots, approximately whenever I have spare time.