Have you ever heard of Worbla? Originally created for the popular world of Cosplay, Worbla is a range of innovative, non-toxic thermoplastics that any prop or costume artisan can use to create armor, jewelry or any other fantastical costume accessories their imagination can conjure. The 100% recyclable material has a rough texture that can make painting your project just plain difficult. Thanks to the efforts of the team at Worbla.com, Rosco FlexBond has become one of the preferred coatings for priming, sealing and smoothing Worbla before painting. Below are excerpts from their Worbla FlexBond Tutorial for Cosplay that shows off how well these two materials work together:
Cosplayers always find new uses for things, and last year several customers told us about how they'd used Rosco's FlexBond on Worbla. When we saw the results we knew we had to make this product more accessible to everyone.
So, what's the big deal about FlexBond? Most importantly, it is very resistant to damage. Of course, you’re not likely to take a hammer to your costume pieces! But travel, luggage handling, crowded convention spaces – or just dropping a prop or a piece of armor – can all mean a headache of patching and repainting, with standard primers.
These bracelet pieces were taken to conventions, thrown around in luggage and manhandled by TSA agents for over a year. The FlexBond (flexible as always) protected them perfectly with no cracks or damage after a year’s-worth of abuse.
Right. So, let's see it in action! Here are a few examples of how other Cosplayers put the FlexBond to work on their Worbla creations:
Here is Arielle's suggestion for creating "perfect smoothness" using FlexBond and Worbla: "1 layer of FlexBond, no water. Let dry completely (about a half hour). Then paint on your next layers while your brush is damp. NOT wet. If your brush is wet it will leave what looks like bubbles of water (should’ve taken a photo… argh!). For Black Worbla I would suggest 2 layers, for regular I would suggest about 4.”
“The top tier is just 3 layers of FlexBond, then 3 layers of spray paint, second layer, same, but with some black rub n buff, bottom tier, same as top, but with one layer of acrylic paint. I found that adding the acrylic paint actually helps diminish the brush marks left from the FlexBond. Overall I found the product really easy to use and a little bit goes a long way! Watering down after the first layer is an absolute MUST. Also patience is a virtue. I plan on using that whole bottle on my Chandra armor set!”
Ria used one coat of FlexBond to prime the coral accent pieces she had constructed out of Worbla for her Sakizo Nereid Cosplay. This allowed her to keep some of the Worbla texture, which she felt gave the faux-coral an organic feel.
Mia tested FlexBond as she constructed a Joan d ‘Arc costume, which also happened to be her first armor project. She noted that the FlexBond was “fairly quick to cover up Worbla texture, tends to only take 4-5 layers and 3 was pretty good for Black Worbla. The fact that it starts white and dries transparent makes it particularly easier to apply, although it is still tacky for a certain amount of time when it is transparent.”
"For the pieces with the more complex details; I did one layer of wall filler to fill the larger dents, and then on the Black Worbla about 2 to 3 layers of FlexBond and normal Worbla got about 4. When sanding, I once or twice rubbed too hard, which took away a portion of the FlexBond.
Award-winning Cosplayer, Erica Brookfield used FlexBond to prime her Tyrande Whisperwind bow. “I used 3 coats of FlexBond on the regular Worbla bits (everything but the owl section) though I did sand down the regular Worbla a bit prior to priming and 2 coats on the owl which is Black Worbla. I applied it with a damp brush so that it would spread a bit easier.”
“I love the results, the Black Worbla parts are amazingly smooth.I’d use FlexBond again for sure - especially on Black Worbla. It got that stuff so smooth in just 2 coats. It was fantastic!”
Rosco’s FlexBond webpage says it best: “Use FlexBond to adhere fabrics to fabrics, fabrics to wood, foam to wood or fabric and many other combinations of materials common in scene shops. It can be thinned with water, tinted with colorants or Rosco Paints, or used as an additive to give other coatings like plaster or clay added flexibility.” FlexBond has a few specific points that make it really, really handy to use for quick armor priming to get a very smooth finish without too much time or labor.
FlexBond has a high surface tension, so brush strokes even out easier than other coatings, giving a smoother surface.
FlexBond is meant to be a glue, so it ‘grips’ itself as you add layers – minimizing drips and runs when applied in thin layers, while still drying without a tacky finish.
FlexBond is water soluble, so if you do have drips or runs, they’re easy to fix without having to repair a large area.
FlexBond dries clear fast – faster than any other brush-on primer.
FlexBond is non-toxic, and can be used in small spaces – it doesn’t smell bad and won’t poison you with fumes.
FlexBond, like the name suggests, remains flexible. Pieces can be flexed and struck without chipping or cracking. Toss your armor in your luggage for airport security or build designs that flex on and off without worrying about your finish or last minute touch-ups.
FlexBond will coat thermoplastics and foam with the same finish, meaning that you can coat pieces at the same time and paint them without distinct surface differences.
FlexBond can smooth Worbla’s Finest Art to a smooth, paintable finish in as little as 3 coats, and Black Art in 2, though your mileage (and personal preference) may vary.
While the examples provided in the tutorial were geared toward a Cosplay audience, we could totally see how costume and prop artisans in theater and film/TV could use the same techniques. Be sure to visit Worbla.com to learn more about this innovative range of thermoplastics, or visit CosplaySupplies.com where you can purchase both the Worbla and the customized one-liter bottles of FlexBond we’ve made just for them.