Until recently I’d never tried thermoplastics, but I was making a Link sword for a friend and wanted it to be nice and sturdy, so I thought I’d give some a try. I chose Wonderflex over Worbla, because it was supposed to be the stronger of the two. It was also a bit cheaper, which made it even more attractive.
I ordered a 21″ x 13″ inch sheet from cosplaysupplies.com, which cost $22. While that may not seem like a lot to those cosplayers who spend hundreds of dollars on their costumes, I’m used to being able to make almost a full costume for $20 (and I still had to spend money on the clay and paint for the sword besides). The Wonderflex arrived in a nice roll, moderately flexible (I could fold and unfold it at will, with no heating necessary), but rigid enough to still feel plastic-y.
I began by forming the Link sword hilt from clay, and the blade from cardboard. Once I had everything made the way I wanted, I sandwiched it between two pieces of Wonderflex and heated them up. I quickly learned, that method does not work at all. So instead, I took one piece of Wonderflex, heated it up, and wrapped it around the entire sword.
It looked really cool on the front side, but on the back side was the seam line where edges of the Wonderflex had come together. It was lumpy, and no amount of heating and smoothing could fix it. So I got it as smooth as I could, and resigned myself to the fact that it was going to have a seam line. Then I coated it with several coats of glue to give it a nice smooth surface.
Once the surface was smooth, I applied the paint. The paint took to the Wonderflex beautifully. There was still some texture to the Wonderflex, which I probably could have gotten rid of if I’d taken the time to sand it before glue-painting it, but I chose to forgo it. The texture really wasn’t that noticeable, and the silver paint really did look extremely silver, just the way I wanted it.
So as far as the pros, the flexibility of the Wonderflex is a definite plus. It starts out feeling like plastic, becomes soft and mold-able like play dough when it’s heated, and then returns to its hard form as it cools. It definitely made the clay hilt stronger, and more wield-able, and it held the hilt details decently, though not quite as crisply as I’d been hoping. And the way it took paint was a plus.
For the cons, the fact that it doesn’t do the sandwich technique was a disappointment. Some of the detail I’d worked so hard into putting in the clay hilt was lost when the Wonderflex covered it. And of course, the seam line on the backside of the sword was the biggest con.
So all in all my opinion is that, while Wonderflex is really really cool stuff, it just didn’t impress me enough for the price I paid for it. While I enjoyed its strength and the novelty of using it, I can usually get along pretty well without it for a lot less cost. I’ll probably pass on using it again, unless someone happens to be giving it away pretty much for free (not likely).
I am still planning to try Worbla sometime in the future, however, so I’ll let you guys know how that goes when I do.
**I have since updated my opinion on this material, as I’ve recently found Wonderflex to be an irreplaceable medium for costume commissions, as I wrote about here.
Copyright © Amber Reifsteck ~ The Woodland Elf
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