Costume Musings

Cosplay Supplies Banner Photo Contest

Another year of awesome cosplay creativity is almost behind us, and we’re overdue for a new look! We’re hosting our first photo contest and there’s a slew of great prizes too, including a feature on our homepage, social media, and other promotional material. We are accepting photos of costumes that incorporate anything that was purchased from Cosplay Supplies be it Worbla, foam, beads, make-up etc.

Winning photo(s) will be featured for a minimum of 2-3 months on Cosplaysupplies.com, Worbla.com, and our Facebook.

Prizes and Categories

There will be one Grand Prize Winner overall as well as winners in each costume category (listed below) and a community choice winner. The Grand Prize and category winners will be chosen by the Cosplay Supplies team. Community Choice will be user voted.

Grand Prize – $50 Gift Certificate and Jumbo Roll of Black Worbla
Best Worbla (Original, Black, Mesh, Transparent, Red) – $50 Gift Certificate OR Jumbo Roll of Black Worbla
Best Deco Art/Crystal Art – $50 Gift Certificate OR Jumbo Roll of Black Worbla
Best Make-up  – $50 Gift Certificate OR Jumbo Roll of Black Worbla
Best Other Craft Materials – $50 Gift Certificate OR Jumbo Roll of Black Worbla

Community Choice – $50 Gift Certificate OR Jumbo Roll of Black Worbla

How to enter

Fill out the contest entry form with your information. ONE entry per person, so be sure to pick your best costume! You may submit up to 5 images of the same costume in case a certain orientation works better for our banner (landscape/horizontal images are preferred).

Link to form: https://goo.gl/forms/sU2BOwVn8xlsYg3g2

Contest is open to residents of Canada & US. If you are under the age of 18, signed permission from your parent/guardian will be required to enter.

Deadline for submissions is November 30th 2017. Cosplay Supplies will collect eligible entries and after a preliminary screening, eligible entries will be posted to the Cosplay Supplies blog for voting.

Cosplay Supplies reserves the right to disqualify entries if we deem the photos to be inappropriate, permission from the photographer is not given, or fraudulent information is used.

Photo Submission Guidelines

  1. Minimum of 1200 pixels wide. Larger photos are highly encouraged!
  2. Preferably 300 DPI, but high quality images at 180 or 72 DPI will be accepted.
  3. Your photo should clearly show your cosplay, be in focus and well lit, and should not have other people in the background. Please don’t submit WIP photos, mirror shots, or hallway photos of your work.
  4. You must have your photographer’s permission to enter your image, as we will be using these photos for promotional purposes.
  5. If your photo does not meet our requirements, it will not be accepted.

It is important that you have your photographer’s permission to submit the photos. We will be sending out a copyright agreement to the chosen winners.

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Pumpkin Wire Place Setting

A cute and easy to make place setting just in time for Halloween!


You need copper Aluminum Wire.


You also need green Aluminum Wire.


The pumpkin shape was created on the handle of one of the Dazzle-it multi-shape mandrels.


Nancy Donaldson hand-shaped this pumpkin. She had no instructions…just a good idea that the aluminum wire would twist perfectly for this project.

Wouldn’t this be a wonderful place setting? You could use names, photos or vintage postcards!

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Fake Boobs with Varaform

Tutorial by Vickybunnyangel


If you need to make fake boobs for whatever reason, we wrote up a tutorial using Varaform. You can alter the length/shape of the breast form to suit your costuming needs. I settled on an open chest with a high neck for costumes like Dragon Sorceress Zyra (League of Legends) and Night Elves (World of Warcraft).

Varaform takes complex shapes and curves very well which has made it popular for creating large-scale hollow shapes for theater and movies. Are you familiar with that trapped heat/sweaty feeling from wearing Worbla armor all day? The Varaform mesh allows for better air circulation and lets your skin breathe more. I wanted to showcase how Varaform can be used to duplicate a form, and we happened to have a mannequin around, so I made fake boobs!

Materials

1x 13″ x 19″ sheet of Varaform
Heat Gun
Bowl of water
Parchment Paper
Felt
4-way stretch Spandex close to the skin color you want
Hot glue
Fabric-Tac/Spray Adhesive/Rubber cement
Paint

Preparing your Positive Mold

Wrap your mannequin with cling wrap with tape to hold it in place. Varaform is covered in sticky glue, and this makes it easy to take off of the mannequin once cooled. Use tape strategically to get the cling wrap to stick to the curves and crevices as close as possible.

Forming the boobs

Heat the sheet of Varaform on parchment paper. It will stick to the paper initially but you can peel it off easily. While it’s still on the parchment paper you can press it onto the mannequin just to get it to stick. Loosely stick the Varaform to the mannequin and peel off the paper. Then use your hands to carefully stretch it over the form. Make sure you wet your hands before touching the Varaform directly!

Take your time to stretch or compress the mesh as needed to get it to take on the shape of the boobs. You can always reheat areas with a heat gun if it cools before you can finetune the fit. Varaform is very forgiving. If you accidentally bunch up too much you can squish and flatten it down. No need to cut darts. Let that cool completely before removing it from the mannequin.

Draw your cutting lines while it is still on the mannequin. Think about what makes sense in terms of hiding the seam lines with your costume. When you’re happy with the shape, you can take it off the mannequin and cut away the excess Varaform.

Covering the Varaform

Carefully cover the Varaform frame with 2 layers of felt. I used a hot glue gun because it was quick. Felt can stretch over curves to some degree, but you will need to dart it at the side to get it completely smooth. With a single layer of felt the mesh texture was still visible underneath, but a second layer of felt covered it completely. The felt will also give your boobs a soft plush texture like skin.

Estimate how much spandex you will need to stretch over the boobs and use a good adhesive to bond the spandex to the felt. I use Fabri-Tac because it stretches well and can be spread thinly. You don’t want to use a hot glue gun because the hard glue trail it leaves behind can be seen under the spandex. If you have rubber cement, or want to to use tacky spray adhesive that will probably work well too. Starting from the middle, carefully stretch and pull the spandex to cover the boobs. Make sure you cover every inch in glue to keep the stretch fabric down!

Painting the Boobs

If you have an airbrush, this part will go by much smoother! You can get an even coverage and do subtle shading without any visible brushstrokes. The nude spandex was no where near my actual skin color so I had to get creative with the acrylic paints I had to make something close to my skintone. You can also buy airbrush paint that’s already a match for your skin, but I was on a budget so I used regular acrylic paint and Airbrush Medium to create my airbrush paint.

Mixing tips: You can see from the swatches that I struggled a bit before I got a color I was happy with. Everyone’s skintone is different so I can’t tell you how to mix for your skin but I used a combination of cream, brown, red, peach, and green to achieve mine. Green neutralizes the redness in paint very well and actually was the secret ingredient to getting something close enough to my skin. Make sure you mix up a lighter shade and a darker shade for contouring/highlighting as well.

Painting tip: airbrush different layers. I started with a more pinkish base because my skin has a slight pinkish undertone to it, and then I layered the more tannish cream color on top. This variation in color makes it look more skin like.

The finished boobs above! You can see that I added highlight and shadows to exaggerate the shape more and give them dimension.

P.S. I am very small chested so this is all held up entirely by the rigid under-structure of the Varaform.

Attaching the Boobs

Depending on your needs you can sew shoulder straps, or create a halter neck strap to hold the boobs in place. You can also cut up an old bra band and use that to attach the boobs around the back.

I hope you found this tutorial useful! There’s many other ways of course to create a breast form but we thought it would be fun to try it with Varaform.
If you have more questions or like seeing more cosplay tips and tricks! Follow my page on Facebook [Vickybunnyangel Cosplay] or Twitter [@Vickybunnyangel]

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Using ‘Metal Complex’ punches and blanks

By Carmi Cimicata

If you’d like to personalize metal blanks, Metal Complex offers a great series of tools and materials to help you do so.

Tools: Alphabet punches, chasing hammer, bench block, metal hole punch
Materials: Metal Complex blanks, Gilders Paste , jump rings




Alphabet punches are getting more and more popular. They allow you to create your own names, sentiments or patterns on what would ordinarily be a blank piece of metal. For this project I used a strip of metal to practice on and then three Metal Complex blanks. The blanks are 24 gauge brass. They are also available in copper and German silver. The chasing hammer does all the work. One strike with the hammer on the bench block and you get a very deep impression.



I used a charcoal pencil to write my sentiment on the blank. It made it easier to see where I would be punching and I knew that the words would fit.



The metal hole punch made my holes for me. Just a few twists with the tool and a perfect hole can be had!


Then the fun began. I pulled out my Gilders Paste and choose a group of colours I wanted to work with.

I added dark colour into the letter impressions and then lighter colours around them.

I let these dry for 12 hours and then I applies a matte lacquer coating.

Here we have the butterfly motif, with Iris Blue Gilders Paste as a first layer and then Inca Gold as a second layer.

Experiment with different stamps, blanks and colours of Gilders Paste for your own unique creations!

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TILA 2-hole Beads Wreath Pendant Tutorial


Source: Miyuki Co. Ltd.
Finished Size: About 47cm-52cm including clasp

MaterialsMiyuki Tila 2-hole beads, Delica beads, 3mm pearls, 3mm rondelle crystals, nylon beading thread, suede cord, cord ends, clasp

Tools:  Scissors, Pliers, Ruler, Toothpick, Beading Needles

1. Use six 15cm (5.91") lengths of nylon thread to make 3 pieces each of [A] and [B]:

String Tila bead, crystal cut beads (pink for [A] and green for [B]. and Delica beads from star symbol to the end as shown.  Tighten the thread and knot twice.  Pass the excess thread through the nearest crystal bead, then cut off.

2. Use two 30cm (11.81") lengths of nylon thread to make 1 piece of [C]:

String Tila beads, pearls and Delica beads on two lengths of nylon thread. Tighten the thread and knot twice.  Pass the excess ends through the nearest Tila bead, then cut off.

3. Use new 30cm (11.81") length of nylon thread to make 1 piece of [D]:

String Tila beads, Delica beads and components [A] and [B] as shown, then finish the thread ends the same as [C].

4. Use 60cm (1.95 feet) of nylon thread to assemble the pendant:

String pearls and components [A] to [D] while weaving from star symbol to the end. 

String beads, pearls and Delica beads along with 1 each of [A] and [B] to create the pendant bail as shown. Tighten thread and knot twice.  Pass the excess thread through 2 or 3 pearls, then cut off.


5. Cut a 45cm length of suede cord (length can be adjusted as you wish), then pass through the loop of the pendant.  Attach the cord end, then connect clasp to the cord end.


Looking to purchase Tila 2-Hole by Miyuki? See our line of Tila 2-hole beads here.

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Tila 2-Hole Beads Strand Necklace


Source: Miyuki Co. Ltd.

Finished Size:  About 95cm

MaterialsCoated flexible beading wire, beading thread, bugle beads, 11/0 seed beads, Miyuki Tila beads, 14mm clear faceted plexi (acrylic) or other faceted beads, 10-12mm black faceted beads, bead tips, bead crimps, clasp, jump rings

Tools:  Scissors, ruler, pliers, 2 beading needles

1. To make the beaded balls:



Use three 60cm lengths of nylon beading thread to make the beaded balls.  Starting from the center of each piece of thread and using two needles, weave 11/0 seed beads and Tila beads as in the picture until you reach the bead marked by the black star symbol (you should have completed half the beaded ball. Slide on the clear plexi cut bead and weave the beads until the plexi bead is covered.  Pull end threads tight, then knot twice.  Pass the excess thread ends through 2 or 3 beads, then cut off.

2. Stringing

Cut nylon coated wire 140cm long.  Then string bugle beads, 11/0 seed beads, plexi cut beads, the beaded balls from step 1, bead tips and bead crimps to assemble the necklace as shown.

3. Finish off

Connect the findings and bead tips to finish the necklace.

Looking to purchase Tila 2-Hole by Miyuki? See our line of Tila 2-hole beads here.

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Jewellery with Bezels and Epoxy

Metal Bezels

Great For
High end jewelry creations. Bezels are ideal for filling with Apoxie Clay designs and pointed back chaton stones, image designs with an Epoxy resin coating. Epoxy cement finishing. Resin doming and cabouchons.

Features
-Available in 5 Finishes.
-Textured middle adheres better to materials.
-Can be baked up to 375 F degrees, in an oven.
-Silver Plated has a Brass base and are non-tarnishable.
-Raw Brass and Antique Brass are made of 100% Brass.
-Raw Copper and Antique Copper are made of 100% Copper.
-Silver Plating is hypo allergenic.

Apoxie Sculpt


Apoxie Clay is great for setting materials into bezels and creating shapes and designs for jewerly components. It can be used to fill bezels and frames, or alone to create simple designs. Used for model making, sculptures, restoration, statue work, and many more arts and crafts purposes.

Apoxie Clay has a Putty-like smooth consistency, 2 to 3 hours working time, self-hardenong, no ovens, kilns or fumes, 0% shrinking and cracking, lightweight, semi-gloss finish, permanent, waterproof, freeze-thaw stable, outdoor quality. Shelf life can be maintained or extending by refrigerating or freezing.

Instructions

Step 1

Use equal parts of part A colored clay and part B grey setting compound

Step 2

Mix and knead Part A and B together for about 2 minutes until clay is one solid color with no streaks. Proper mixing ensures the clay will cure.

Step 3

Form the clay into any shape. A ball shape is ideal for creating a cabouchon look. Mold the clay into a bezel setting.

Step 4

Using a toothpick or applicator with a beeswax tip:
Pick up the chaton crystal from the top of the crystal.
Place it into the clay surface.
Make sure the pointed end is fully immersed into the clay.
The chaton should sit slightly below the edge of the clay surface. This will insure the chaton stays securely in the clay when dry.
 

Finished

Create your own unique designs. Clay can be painted when wet or dry, textured or brushed.

See our product list below:
(more…)

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Vegan Costuming

We are often asked if our products are suitable for use by Vegans, so we’ve done a bit of research to help you navigate through these concerns. Keep in mind that Cosplay Supplies carries a wide range of products from numerous manufacturers, and it’s not always evident to us if something is 100% Vegan or cruelty free. If we haven’t included something in this list then the answer is probably “we don’t know” and it is up to you to decide if it’s appropriate. With that said, here’s a helpful guide to our most popular products.

Make-Up

We carry the top brands for professional/theatrical grade make-up and many of these companies have published their position when it comes to cruelty-free/vegan products.

Ben Nye
Ben Nye is cruelty free but not vegan. Their products are manufactured in the US. Unfortunately information on ingredients is not readily available on their website or catalog. To contact Ben Nye directly to inquire about products, call 310-839-1984.

Graftobian
Graftobian products are cruelty-free however they do not list ingredients on their website. A Graftobian representative sent a listing of their vegan products to the Cruelty Free Make-Up Artist blog. Their products are manufactured in the US. To contact Graftobian directly you can use their contact form on their website.

Most popular vegan Graftobian products:

Liquid Latex
Castor Seal
Pro Adhesive
Magic Blood Powder
Stage Blood
GlamAire Airbrush Makeup
F/X Aire Airbrush Makeup

Kryolan
Kryolan is cruelty free and has complete ingredient listings on their website (https://global.kryolan.com/) that you can reference before making a purchase decision. Their products are manufactured in Germany. Many of their products are vegan with the exception of  oil and wax based products and certain colors that may contain carmine as a color additive. When in doubt, or if it isn’t clear on the website, you can reach out to Kryolan directly at info-usa@kryolan.com.

Kryolan’s famous Aquacolor line has been confirmed to be mostly vegan (with the exception of specific colors that may contain carmine), and the Aquacolor Metallics are vegan.

Mehron
Mehron states that all of their products are cruelty free. All ingredients used in the manufacturing of their products are also guaranteed to be cruelty free and animal safe. However the line is not 100% Vegan as certain products do contain animal-derived ingredients. Mehron’s website labels any vegan products with their vegan stamp to make it easy for you to quickly find suitable products. Complete ingredient listings can also be found on their website (https://www.mehron.com).

Most popular vegan Mehron products:

Barrier Spray
Celebré Pro-HD
Liquid Latex
Paradise Pro Make-up
Paradise AQ Glitter
Professional Modeling Putty/Synthetic Wax 
ProColoRing Neutralizer
Velvet Finish Primer

Thermoplastics

We asked our manufacturers if their products were tested on animals, if third parties test on animals on their behalf, if their products contain ingredients derived from animals, and if anything contains animal by-products. We are still waiting on replies from some manufacturers and will update this section when we hear from them. It’s important to note that petroleum is involved in most manufacturing of modern plastics. Depending on your personal definition of veganism, we thought we would highlight that so you can make your own informed decision.

Fosshape does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Sintra does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Styrene does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Wonderflex does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products.
Worbla does not test on animals or use animal derived ingredients/by-products. They also like to emphasize their use of renewable raw materials (i.e. leftover branches from production).

Footwear

Most of the footwear we sell comes from Pleaser USA (which is the parent brand for Demonia, Fabulicious, Funtasma, Pin Up Couture, Devious, and Bordello). In recent years they have really expanded their selection of Vegan footwear, and many popular styles now have a Vegan version. In terms of durability and comfort, Pleaser’s vegan footwear are just as good as their non-vegan counter parts. Use the keyword “Vegan” to search all the vegan options we have available.

Most popular vegan footwear styles:

Abbey – 02 
Aspire – 608 
Aspire – 609
Cramps – 201
Defiant – 100
Emily – 375
Swing – 103

Wigs

Almost all wigs we sell are made with synthetic fibers or human hair and are appropriate for Vegan use. Specific items like Crepe wool (used to create beards), or wigs made from yarn would not be Vegan friendly, and it is noted in the item description if someone thing is made from wool/yarn. Most synthetic compounds used for wig fibers do contain petroleum which depending on your preference and personal definition of veganism, may not be suitable for use. It is unclear if crude oil/fossil fuels/petroleum come entirely from plants or if there are ancient animals mixed in (the composition of petroleum is mostly from fossilized organic plant matter like algae).

Popular wig lines:
Blush Fashion/Cosplay Wigs
New Look Synthetic Wigs
New Look Human Hair Wigs
Sepia Wigs

Craft Supplies

Many of our general crafting products are manufactured in China. We aren’t sure specifically what can be classified as Vegan, so we will link you to the experts at Vegan Womble who have compiled a great list of brands that manufacture Vegan art supplies.

Vegan Art and Craft Supplies

 

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Magnetic Wings Tutorial featuring Varaform

Tutorial by Vickybunnyangel

As someone who travels a lot and works at various events as a cosplayer, it’s important for me to create things to be durable and lightweight. The ability of fitting into a suitcase, and also causing the least amount of strain on my body after a long day of wear, are the main reasons I decided to test out Varaform to create a set of magnetic wings. The particular character these wings are for is Star Guardian Soraka from League of Legends (the most weird part is they attach down by the butt, instead of the back), but you can easily adapt this tutorial to suit your needs!

What is Varaform?

 

Varaform is a lightweight thermoplastic extruded into mesh form. Unlike Wonderflex or Worbla’s Mesh Art, it does not actually have any fabric in it. It is purely plastic. When heated, it becomes soft and pliable like a sticky fabric mesh. To see a full explanation of Varaform, please refer to this post: Potential new product: Varaform.

Wing Base

Materials:
Half sheet of Varaform Heavy
Quarter sheet of Varaform Light (Optional. It can all be made from Varaform Heavy)
Scissors
Heat Gun
Water
Parchment Paper

 

I covered my workspace with parchment paper and had a bowl of water on hand. Varaform is incredibly sticky when heated, and it will stick to almost everything. It can be easily peeled off of parchment paper once cooled, and you will need to constantly wet your fingers while working with it to avoid it sticking to you. An alternative method of heating up Varaform is in a bath of hot water, but I prefer using a heat-gun so my entire workspace doesn’t get wet.

  

I cut my Varaform into 6″ wide strips before rolling it into “bones”. Pro-tip: wear long sleeves when cutting the Varaform because the plastic mesh can be prickly on the skin. It’s not nearly as bad as trying to cut and work with chicken wire though.

Varaform’s lightweight quality is tied to it’s low density compared to other plastics. While this is great for making certain items like masks, for a set of 6 feet wide wings I needed my bone structure to be dense and durable. The middle image above shows a rolled piece of Varaform that has air pockets throughout inside. It felt nearly weightless. That thickness is not strong enough and will snap under pressure. In the third image above you can see my skeletal structure ended up being 4-5x that thickness and I also squeezed the varaform as I rolled it to make it as dense as possible. The trade off of course is weight and my wings ended up weighing about 2lbs, which is still reasonable.

After heating up my thick rolls of Varaform, I shaped them to create the main bone structure of the wing. I recommend looking at diagrams of real wings to get a sense of where the joints should be to make them look more realistic.

Using Varaform Light, I cut out rough feather shapes to create a base to glue my feathers on. I heat the feathers with a heat gun and stuck them onto the skeleton. Unlike Worbla, Varaform only requires one surface to be heated to stick. During this step I also shaped the 3D curvature of the wings. The curvature is much more noticeable in pictures later on after I’ve covered the mesh with feathers.

Residue from the glue in Varaform is to be expected. It looks kind of gross but once it is dried you can just rub it off your hands into a trashcan.

Covering the Wings & Harness

Materials:
5x 8×11 sheets of White Felt
36x packs of White Turkey Feathers
12x packs of White Goose Feathers
20x 1″ diameter Rare Earth Magnets (magnetic strength of 30lbs)
Scissors
Hot Glue
Medium sheet of Worbla’s Mesh Art
2x D Rings
Waistband Elastic
Velcro (optional)

 

I used 2 layers of Worbla’s Mesh Art to create a rigid base board the magnets would adhere to. Worbla adheres really well to the Varaform! This is great to know so you can get the best of both worlds by combining the materials together in a single build. I chose Mesh Art specifically because it is the strongest of the Worbla products and is very resistant to tearing thanks to the mesh embedded inside.

Then I covered the wings in felt to mask the texture of the Varaform mesh. Why? Because feathers (especially white) are actually a bit translucent when held up against light. The felt acts as a diffuser and prevents you from seeing that grid texture. I also made sure my lines were jagged and feathery looking because it blends better rather than looking like a solid straight line. If you ever buy those mass produced Halloween wings that are made with a base of cardboard or foam, you will notice the solid opaque outline of the base when you hold it up to light.

 

The most time consuming part of this build was hands down prepping the turkey feathers. After separating out feathers into left and right curvatures (this matters!), I shaped each one individually. This improves the overall look of the feathers and makes them look more like anime/fantasy wings.

It’s also advisable to categorize your feathers according to length as you tip them. It will make placing them much more efficient later on.

 

Cover the wings with feathers front and back. I did 2 rows of turkey feathers on each side.

 

This part is optional. To make the wings more compact for travel, the tips containing the longest feathers are removable. I glued these feathers to a scrap piece of white plastic (you can use Worbla, Sintra, styrene, piece of a plastic bucket etc.), then attached it to the wings with velcro. I slip it in under the feathers so it hides the separation point and looks blended. These feathers are generally the most fragile on wings because they stick out the most, so doing it this way allows me to continually replace them if needed.

 

Depending on how lazy or on a budget you are, this next part is also optional if you think the turkey feathers alone look good, but for me I like to cover my wings in a layer of goose plummage to soften the edges and hide where the turkey feathers are glued. It makes the wings look more polished and luxurious. Layer them front and back, and on the top. The felt should not be visible after you are done. You can see what this looks like in the photos at the end of the finished wings.

To attach the wings magnetically I used 1″ diameter rare earth magnets that have a rated pull strength of 30lbs. I had used smaller magnets previously with a strength of 9lbs, but found they were too weak to keep the wings up. Since the wings are not attached at their natural center of balance, and 3 feet of wing span has to be supported on such a small point, I decided the larger magnets were best. I would rather overkill with strength and know that the wings won’t fall off my back board.

I glued the magnets to the wings first, then used a slow drying paint to mark off their position. I pressed my backpiece into the paint so I had a perfect transfer of each magnet’s position to attach to the other side (as you can see in the picture above). The magnets are strong enough to rip each other off of the glue, so on my backpiece the magnets are then encased in a layer of Mesh Art.

The backboard is made from craft foam encased in 4 sheets of Worbla’s Mesh Art. I needed it to be rigid and hard as wood, because this piece is what supports the wings and holds them out at a 90 degree angle. Warping or breaking would be bad. You don’t have to do what I did. I just used what I had on hand, but wood or something that is rigid and strong will do the trick too.

I’m holding it up by gripping the back piece alone to show how strong the magnets are.

 

The magnetic back board is then attached to a curved piece so it sits on the contours of my bum better. The curved back piece if made from craft foam sandwiched between 2 pieces of Mesh Art. I attached D-Rings on either side with pieces of Mesh Art then tied elastic to it since we don’t have a sewing machine at the studio or else I would’ve sewn it properly to make it look cleaner. I heated the curved piece and the magnetic back board and attached them together. Mesh Art is very adhesive so no glue was required.

Finished!

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Potential new product: Varaform

Want to win some Worbla? Then read this post and answer the questions to be entered in our draw!

Here at Cosplay Supplies we’re always looking for new products we think might be helpful for the community. Sometimes we do private testing, sometimes we just dive in and carry something – and sometimes we need your input!

Which brings us to: Varaform!

Varaform is a thermoplastic that comes in 2 main forms – a light mesh and a heavy mesh. (There’s also a thin gauze sheet we’re not looking at for now.)

Varaform Heavy and Varaform Light

Varaform is used in the medical community as an alternative to plaster bandages for casts, and it’s been used for stage costuming for years to create large, lightweight costume pieces, especially under-structures for mascots and monsters.

Varaform Installation art

(Psssst: I have it on good authority Varaform is being used on the new Dark Crystal costumes!)

It activates at 160°F (71° C) and can be activated with warm water or a heat gun. It’s self adhesive, can be reheated endlessly, and incredibly lightweight: Varaform light is about 1/2 the weight of Black Worbla, and Varaform Heavy is about 2/3 the weight of Black Worbla.

Skeksis head made from Varaform and buckram. By Lydia Hanchett

What do we think it would be good for?

Mascot builders. Seriously – imagine being able to shape a head over a clay or foam base and then remove all that insulating foam? It gives you more space to cool and circulate air and removes a lot of the weight.

Varaform head covered with paper mache

Wings: When you need to build lightweight wings, and straight foam and wire alone won’t be enough, or when every ounce of weight counts, we think this material may be a huge help.


Vickybunnyangel used Varaform for these Star Guardian Soraka wings. The wings are covered in felt and feathers to hide the Varaform understructure. The wings weigh 2lbs on their own (which includes magnets), and are attached magnetically to a backboard made from Worbla’s Mesh Art, foam, and 1″ diameter rare earth magnets.

Horns: If they have to be big and quick! Casting your own horns does give you some of the best results, but if you don’t have time for curing, you can build an under structure quickly that can be wrapped in fabric Maleficent style or quick coated with an air-dry clay.

Build a base from tape and paper, wrap in cellophane.

Cover in strips of Varaform. Let cool, remove form.

Make a skullcap by wrapping your head in plastic and then having a friend help cast your head with Varaform strips. Don’t wear makeup on project day and hide face with something silly. Attach horns with strips of Varaform.

Wrap with straps of stretch faux leather. Glue lightly at overlap. Larger pieces used to cover the skullcap.

Time: 3hours total. Weight 13oz (0.8lb).
Ability to headbang: Yes.

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If you need a more organic horn, you can skip the fabric step and instead cover with an apoxie clay or air dry clay. We used Smooth-On’s Free Form Air which was a learning experience. It dries quicker than we expected and is more toxic than other clay we have used, so the skullcap was not quite finished smooth.

Time: 4.5 hours, not including cure time or paint drying. Weight: 1.6lb (27oz)

(Note: Yes, the horns are lopsided. This is the result of building fast, not careful. At least the clay method did help even it out 😛 )

One thing to note about the clay method is that you want to make sure you don’t push the clay through the mesh too far or it will shrink your headpiece. This happened with these horns and while I could fix it with some dremmel sanding, Free Form Air requires a proper respirator to sand and we don’t have one on hand at the office.

The clay through the mesh of the Varaform, especially at the edges of the skullcap, shrunk it juuuust enough to no longer fit.

Wigs and Hats: Similar to the horns idea, but if you needed to make a large wig, we’re thinking Varaform could be very useful for building the base to sculpt wigs onto for the ultimate in lightweight structure that won’t just be insulating and top-heavy. Varaform might also work well in areas where buckram or foam would be used in large headpieces to avoid relying on wire to provide stability. Gallery below is some examples of things we think Varaform might work well in.

Differences between Light and Heavy:

The wings and Horns were made with mostly Varaform Light, with the Heavy being used along the spine of the wing and for some reinforcement of the skullcap of the horns. I do think we could have used Light for both without issue, but for large things such as mascot heads or complex shapes where you don’t want a lot of overlapping areas, the Heavy might be the better choice, as the light will need more overlap to achieve the same strength as Heavy.

What we’re not sure about:

While we think this has potential, that doesn’t mean it’s without some disadvantages. We can think the pros outweigh the cons, but what we really need to know if you folks do. So, some considerations:

While it’s flexible, It’s about as brittle as Worbla. if someone were to crash into you/sit on your costume, it could break.

The Varaform Heavy mesh is harder to cut: if you have difficulties cutting hard plastics, you might need a friend or a lot of breaks if you’re cutting through a lot of this.

Varaform is messy. The adhesive is a bit reminiscent of white glue and plaster of Paris combined: it leaves a white powder over your work surface and hands, and needs to be cleaned up with water. Clean up is easy, but it’s a consideration to make.

Scraps are less recyclable than Worbla: because it’s a mesh, the scraps can be used to patch areas and smooth joins, but can’t be as easily repurposed as Worbla can be.

It needs to be worked over a form. Varaform is really really floppy when activated – you aren’t going to be able to shape this easily by hand for any complex shape. It’s going to require a form, whether that’s made from packing tape and paper, foam, clay, your body, or something else.

Price: Varaform is sold to us by the roll, and is roughly 40in/100cm tall. We’re estimating price (including shipping) to be around:
Varaform Light 40inx60in = $70
Varaform Heavy 40inx60in = $90

We’ll be offering smaller cuts as well, the Varaform Light should be close to Worbla’s Finest Art in pricing with Heavy around 30% more.

So what we would like to know is your honest opinion:


You can find our questionnaire here! Fill it out and you’ll be entered to win a medium sheet of Worbla – your choice of type! Draw will be held October 2nd!

Category: Cosplay, News, Varaform | Tags: | 19 comments |