Costume Musings

A New Book from Kamui: Advanced Lights – Animated LEDs


Kamui Cosplay has written many books teaching various tips and tricks and foundation skills for cosplay, and her book Advanced Lights – Animated LEDs is her most recent entry!

LEDs can be intimidating, and even once you have the basics of creating a circut down, there’s so much more that you could do if you have the right tools and techniques. Kamui covers everything about working with animated RGB LED strips and how to create mesmerizing light effects for your props and cosplays. She also walks you through choosing the right materials, soldering microcontroller circuits, ‘programming’ your very first LED strip and of course building it into your costume!


It’s a perfect follow up to her original Book of Cosplay Lights and the best part is this book is still for beginners! No programming knowledge required to follow along.

You can find Kamui’s newest book available here for $28 – or $22 when purchased with Worbla!

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New Pattern from McCalls using Worbla!


The Cosplay by McCall’s line has been creating some fantastic resources for cosplayers looking for patterns that require less modifications to create the outlandish styles found in Anime, Video Games and Manga. Their collection includes lolita inspired school uniforms, video game fighters, bases for your next Sakizo, evil queen gowns, and viking warriors. They recently teamed up with Becka Noel to create an easy to follow armor pattern using EVA foam and Worbla, which is awesome for folks just getting started with their Worbla builds!

This pattern is available in Size S(31 1/2”-32 1/2” Bust) through XL(42”-44” Bust) and the design is selling for $9.95 on McCall’s website.

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Showgirl Headpiece Tutorial using Varaform and Worbla

Tutorial by Vickybunnyangel

Showgirl headpieces are traditionally created using a custom soldered wire frame to provide the skeletal structure that all those fantastic feathers, rhinestones and fabric attach to. I’m assuming Showgirls must have amazing neck and shoulder muscles, because the weight of these things could get ridiculous the more lavish they are. No wonder feathers are used very prominently since they are visually grand but are also very light. Instead of using a metal frame for my headpiece, I went with a  base of Varaform since it is very lightweight and easy to mold into shape. Plus not having to deal with metal wires, pliers, wire cutters, and soldering stuff was an added bonus.

I wanted to incorporate my love for Final Fantasy into this, so I based my design off of Rydia’s color scheme and look for an original “Showgirl Rydia” costume down the road.

Materials

Varaform – half Sheet
Black Worbla scraps
Headband
Rooster Feathers 14-16″ 8″ strand in lime
Rooster Feathers 8-10″ 1yd in lime
Acrylic Paints
Flexbond
Heat Gun
Scissors
Parchment paper
Hot Glue
Optional:
180 x Preciosa chaton rhinestones SS20 in peridot
70 x Preciosa chaton rhinestones SS16 in peridot
45 x Preciosa chaton rhinestones SS12 in peridot
E6000

Forming the base

I decided that the headpiece will be mounted on a headband so it will stay securely on the head. I’m using a cheap headband I had laying around but you may want to buy one that camouflages better with your hair color or matches your costume. I also wrapped my wig head in cling wrap to protect it from the stickiness of Varaform. I also trimmed my Varaform to clean up the edges. Once cooled those extra bits sticking out could’ve been very prickly!

One thing I like to do with Varaform is to heat it up on parchment paper, then fold the parchment paper with the Varaform still attached to create multiple layers and strengthen the Varaform. I want to minimize how much I touch the Varaform because it is very sticky! Once it has cooled, it is safe to peel the parchment paper off, reheat, and fold the other side. I folded to create a total of 3 layers. It is very durable at this point but still light as air!

My first strip of Varaform was attached directly to the headband. Because it is so sticky you don’t need any glue! This is now my base, and everything else will stick to it nicely.

I made several of these doubled to triple layered strips to build the tiers where my feathers will be attached to to create height. If you want your headpiece to have more height, just add more tiers!

While still flat, I finalized the design of my understructure and attached all the strips together with a bit of heat. You’ll notice I folded the feet up about an inch. This was in preparation to attach to the base headband. Since Varaform gets very floppy when it is warm I immediately put it into the freezer so that it would harden quicker.

After heating up just the feet of my vertical frame, I attached it to the headband. Unpainted it kind of looks like a very nice white lace!

Even though this will all be covered by feathers I still painted the Varaform green in case any of it accidentally peeks through. I didn’t have green spray paint or else that would’ve coated it more effectively, but do not spend too much time worrying about how perfect your base color is since it is getting covered up anyways.

Adding Feathers

Next I placed my feathers and glued them down. I put the long 14-16″ feathers in the front, and backed it with 2 tiers of shorter feathers to cheat the look of volume and length. Feathers get more expensive the larger you need them, so doing it this way instead of using all 14-16″ feathers saves a bit of money. I had enough feathers to completely conceal the Varaform base from behind too.

Creating the Crown

At this point I’ve shown you how to make a basic lightweight feathered headdress, and this next part is all up to personal design but this took up a lot more time than creating the headdress itself (That was about an hour’s worth of work). You can simplify things by gluing sequined fabric or foam shapes to decorate your headband. But we want to be fancy right? Yeah! Go big or go home.

The crown is formed out of Black Worbla. I made symmetrical earpieces that would attach to the headband on either side, and built sculpted details off of that by heating up scraps of Worbla and rolling them into noodles. Worbla sticks to itself when warm so again, no glue was needed here. When the Worbla crown pieces cooled and hardened, I heated up only the points that would come into contact with the Varaform base. I also applied a bit of heat to the Varaform as well to make it sticky and everything stuck together very well!

Decorating

I carefully wrapped the feathers in cling wrap first before coating the crown in paint so I wouldn’t accidentally get it on the feathers. I primed the crown with one coat of Flexbond to make it just a bit smoother before dry-brushing with antique gold paint. The advantages of using Black Worbla is that it’s already black! Which makes dry-brushing metallic colors very easy for those of us who are lazy since we don’t have to worry about shading in the crevices with black paint. I only had to dry-brush the areas that would be highlighted.

After the paint dried I went to town with a ton of rhinestones. E6000 is my preferred adhesive since it is viscous enough to hold the stones in place and I can still shift the placement and adjust things if necessary for a few seconds before letting it dry. I did wear a mask while using it though because it is a toxic substance with plenty of warning labels on it. If you are sensitive to the fumes of E6000 I recommend going with a glue like Gem-Tac. Don’t use hot glue for small rhinestones. You’ll just have a miserable time full of regret.

Additional tip: I did half of these by hand and it took forever, and then my Crystal Katana arrived and enabled me to do the rest of it in a fraction of the time! I definitely recommend a tool like that if you plan on doing a lot of rhinestone work. It has a pointed end made from wax that picks up the rhinestones, and adjustable tips for positioning stones.

Completed Piece

If you have any questions, or need something clarified please leave a comment below! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

Category: Cosplay, Tutorial, Varaform, Worbla | Tags: | 2 comments |

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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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!

Category: Cosplay, Tutorial, Varaform | Tags: | 6 comments |

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.

A post shared by Amanda (@elementalsight) on

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 |

An Insider look into Star Trek: Discovery‘s Alien Prosthetics

It was the last hour of the last day of IMATS Toronto and while things were winding down on the exhibit hall side, seats of the Open Forum stage were filling up for Star Trek: Discovery; one of the most anticipated panels of the weekend. Make-Up Artist magazine’s publisher, Michael Key, sat down with  prosthetic and special effects make-up department head, James MacKinnon; key make-up artist, Hugo Villasenor; and actor, Doug Jones.

  

Discovery is the newest installment in the Star Trek universe set to premiere September 24, 2017. The narrative takes place ten years before Star Trek (TOS) so it was of particular interest to us to see how the special effects make-up would bring something new to the table while staying true to the continuity of the universe established by Kirk and his crew. Early preview images show the Klingons in particular looking drastically different from their TOS counterpart. When asked if this was a stylistic decision or plot-driven change, MacKinnon claimed it was purely an artistic choice. We’ll have to wait to watch the series to see if his words hold any weight since the entire panel had to be very careful to not spoil any narrative elements.

To keep things focused on the technical aspects of make-up, the panel brought on actor Doug Jones and centred around the development of his character, Lt. Saru the Kelpien. Kelpiens are a new alien species to the franchise. As seen in the teaser pilot, Kelpiens were biologically determined to sense the coming of death as they are characterized as the “prey” species on their planet. Lt. Saru subverts the cowardly stereotype of his species, and becomes the first Kelpien to join Starfleet. Saru’s look had to convey a character that was distinctly memorable and lovable. It seems like he is positioned to be the Data or Spock of the series, so his ability to connect with audiences was important.

That need for connection between Jones’s performance and audiences was the basis for finalizing a design that could be executed using prosthetics instead of relying on CG. Everything from the actor’s natural height to the way he had to move on hoofed platform shoes (putting him at a towering 6’8”) contributes to the physicality of the character. Everything you see on screen is 100% the actor’s performance through the prosthetics. There was one exception for digital enhancement regarding the Kelpien ears, but since that was a narrative-based detail the panel couldn’t reveal too much other than to say “something cool happens”.

Before Jones can saunter around on set like a graceful gazelle, he has to sit in the make-up chair for around 2 hours while MacKinnon meticulously works on painting his prosthetics. Lt. Saru is comprised of 5 pieces: cowl, face, chin, bottom lip, and sclera contact lenses. Most of the prosthetics on the show are prepainted during production to provide the base coloring but the rest is done by make-up artists on set. Using a combination of 6 colors, MacKinnon creates the textures and realism of Kelpien skin (for those curious, the brand of paint he uses is Skin Illustrator).

Fresh prosthetics are used every day as they found it more efficient to cut the actor out at the end of shooting and repaint another set. The prosthetics for Saru are created from a 2 part silicon called Smooth-On Skin Tite, so once all the pieces are attached in the morning it becomes one continuous skin around the actor. In the above picture, you can see what Jones looks like after the back of his prosthetics are sliced down the center back and peeled forward. To date, Mackinnon has done the Kelpien make-up about 70 times.

While the panel was quite hush hush on what other jaw-dropping looks they created (as to not spoil any upcoming alien encounters), they did touch on a few other characters who were revealed in the pilot. Sarek (Spock’s dad) played by James Frain is not as heavy on the prosthetics but he sits in the make-up chair just as long as Jones does while the make-up and hair department painstakingly apply facial hair, lace, and skin blockers to create the iconic Vulcan look. You wouldn’t know it just by looking at Frain’s normal photos, but his real hair is actually used and styled into the Vulcan fringe.

Mackinnon and Villasenor both stressed the importance of creating depth and texture when doing body painting work as one solid color never looks good. That’s a tip cosplayers should certainly keep in mind when doing characters with full body paint. Be sure to accentuate your features with shading and don’t be afraid to texturize a bit to make it more realistic.

For any Star Trek fans in the Greater Toronto Area, the panel did reveal that the bulk of filming is done inside Pinewood Studios, but they have shot on location in a forest and quarry near Mississauga. Should any of you aspiring Discovery cosplayers be looking for screen accurate shoot locations, there’s a neat tidbit for you!

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Introducing two new products: Worbla’s Deco Art and Crystal Art!

We’re so excited to announce two new products to our lineup from Worbla: Deco Art and Crystal Art.


Worbla’s Deco Art is actually an older product – similar to friendly plastic, Deco Art was always too cost prohibitive to import to North America, but recent changes in packaging and shipping options means we can now bring it in for customers to see this alternative for quick and easy building.


Crystal Art is brand new, a plastic pellet that you can mold and form and even sculpt to a degree that remains clear and flexible when it cools. It’s a great alternative to resin casting when you need something clear and it needs to be fast, or when you can’t resin cast due to space, cost or health reasons.

When would you use Deco Art? Adding dimension to Worbla builds is the most common use, adding skulls, pommels, texture and decorative details to a Worbla base. You can also sculpt Deco Art on its own, or cast it in moulds to create quick hard plastic copies of a needed shape.

Above: Deco Art used with various molds.

Deco Art used to create raised detailing on a shoulder pauldron.

When would you use Crystal Art? As an alternative to resin casting, or when you need something translucent but flexible. Crystal Art will let you create small gems and stones, magic runes and organic looking crystal with ease. Larger pieces can be much more difficult to mold ‘cleanly’, as it can be difficult to evenly heat the pellets and prevent air from getting trapped, but it still can give you a product that will work especially when you need more of an overall effect than something to withstand closeup scrutiny.

Crystal Art molded and colored in a variety of ways.


Crystal Art casting process by Naruvien Art & Design

It’s important to note that neither of these products are suggested as a replacement for resin casting, just as an alternative when casting with resin is not the best option.

Deco Art and Crystal Art will be available in 4.4oz and 14oz packages, and can be found here on Cosplaysupplies.com

Interested to learn more about these products? Check out their product pages here!

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Now Available: The Book of Cosplay Sewing

Kamui Cosplay has created another book to add to her lineup, this time all about sewing!

The Book of Cosplay Sewing!
Are you a beginner when it comes to fabric? Have you never touched a needle and thread, but finally want to start? This is the book just for you! In 52 pages and over 220 pictures you’ll get easy step-by-step guides and detailed explanations about: Sewing by hand or with a machine, choosing the right fabric, sewing stretch fabrics, creating new or working with pre-existing patterns, sewing a mock-up, adjusting patterns, adding a zipper, lining, sewing gloves, leggings, boot covers and a dress, attaching armor to fabric and of course a lot of detailed pictures, tips and work examples!

Included in the book, which has 52, full color pages:


Introduction to tools, machines and materials
Sewing machine and serger
Choosing the right fabric
Three useful hand-stitches
Working with stretch materials
Sewing simple gloves with lycra (drawing a pattern on paper)
Sewing leggings with jersey (creating patterns from old clothes and working with a serger)
Sewing a dress with satin (working with store bought patterns)
Sewing a boot cover with faux leather (creating patterns with duct tape)
Attaching armor to fabric

It also covers these useful techniques:
Creating a mock-up
Adjusting patterns
Placing a zipper
Adding lining
Many more useful tips

As well as the following work examples:
Cleric (Aion)
Xena: Warrior Princess
Monk (FFXIV)

The Book of Cosplay Sewing is available at Cosplaysupplies.com! It retails for $28 but is only $22 if purchased with a Jumbo roll of Worbla!

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