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Creating Costume Armor with Wonderflex

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Picture of Creating Costume Armor with Wonderflex
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This Instructable will guide you through the process of creating lightweight and durable armor for costuming using a material called Wonderflex.

While 90% of the armor in this tutorial will be comprised of Wonderflex, it's important to know that the best results come from using a myriad of materials. Wonderflex is a very capable material, but there are certain limitations to what you can accomplish with it. I'll also be using other materials to accent and enhance the appearance of the basic forms, and these will be called out and linked when appropriate.

In the images above, all armor parts except the helmet were made from a mixture of Wonderflex and Apoxie sculpt. If you're interested in the construction of the helmet, check out my other instructable detailing how to make helmets from videogames!
 
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Step 1: What is Wonderflex?

Wonderflex is a low-melt thermoplastic (activation temperature of 150°-170° F) with a woven fiber backing on one side. It sort of looks like very thick plastic duct tape. When heated, the material can flex and stretch into curves, including some basic compound curves as well. Due to the woven grid backing, Wonderflex can only do slight compound curves. You could make a radar-dish type shape but it would be very difficult to get it to make a tight dome.

Wonderflex is also self-adhesive, meaning if you heat up two sheets and press therm together, they will bond to one another as they cure. The more you heat the material up, the stronger this bond will become. I prefer to use a heat gun but you can also microwave smaller pieces if you prefer.

It is available in three thicknesses (.35, .45, and .69") and is shipped/sold in rolls. I buy mine from The Engineer Guy here in Atlanta, but there are plenty of distributors online who also sell it.

Even the thickest of their available products is still pretty thin for very good results, so you'll see in later steps I often double or triple layer the material to make curves smoother and cleaner.

Oh, well doesn't this look complicated..... At least it's totally worth it!

honestly i want to make stuff like this, or anything from video games in general, but i have no idea where to start! Extremely jealous! You do brilliant work!

Only bad thing is, Wonderflex is so expensive.. So if you're poor (like me) you can't afford to really do anything with it.. Sadly.. :(

Amazing btw!! 0.0

THIS. IS. CRAZY GOOD! This makes me want to be the dragonborn for halloween :)

PITCHVAPOR3 months ago
Ya I was wondering about the thickness and also, could you give the dimensions of the paper blueprints of this?
DanK11383 months ago

You said that wonderflex comes in three different thicknesses, so I was wondering, what thickness of the wonderflex did you end up using?

Cool.How did you make the mannequin?
liamrk1786 months ago
Hi is it possible if I can buy from you the blueprints for this armor
Super cool! Reminds me of Narnia...
LexyConroy7 months ago
This is just... wow... it looks EXACTLY like the game :O
abradu18 months ago
A really great tutorial, but how did you get the fur on there in the final piece? I might have missed a step or something but did you just glue it on the armor when you finished?
jvicars8 months ago
Amazing
TheZacmann9 months ago
I am now buying wonderflex in truckloads
skyrim-bro9 months ago
Can you help me with extra details just comment back and i will tell you my email i want to make thanks by the way nice cosplay
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skyrim-bro9 months ago
How much did you spend cause im making a helmet right now and a have $60 so will i have enough for the chest piece
Lexagonal11 months ago
I'm gonna try and keep to a 100$ budget. Don't know how it's going to turn out.
Lexagonal11 months ago
:P This will be perfect for Project Mystogan. If you can make this I hope I can make what I need
Mystogan_GMG.png
HE HAS THE WABBAJACK!
sixsmith1 year ago
Early in the video about weathering you were applying decals to the gun.
I was curious as to the method and materials used. It looks to me like it's a screen printing setup, and am wondering what methods you used to create the screen, I've done homemade screen printing before, and it looked nowhere near as nice as that.
awesome + sauce = this !
o__o1 year ago
Smithing increased to 100!
chase326151 year ago
By the gods you are the Dragon Born
Great stuff, Harrison - really nice instructable.

One thing you might want to check out is Smooth-on's "Free-Form Air Epoxy Putty" as a replacement for Apoxy Sculpt - it is crazy-light, carves and smooths well, is super easy to mix (knead) about the hardness of maple... and did I mention light? (it will float in water).  I've been using it to replace some of my uses of Magic Sculpt and have been impressed with it.
does it shrink when hardening?
Not that I've noticed - no appreciable amount, anyway - and can't think why it would. It's composed of glass micro-spheres and epoxy - so there's nothing to shrink, really.
Thanks for the info on Free-Form Epoxy Putty. It looks like a very useful product.
tmallos1 year ago
Congratulations on your win! Well deserved!
poofrabbit1 year ago
Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween contest!!! Can’t wait to see if you win! Good luck!
chakra1 year ago
mother of Gods!! this is one of the most detailed & impressive I'ble i have seen!
any I'ble for the battle axe too??
volpin (author)  chakra1 year ago
I don't have an instructible for the axe, but I did detail the build process of it on my website: http://www.volpinprops.com/steel-axe-skyrim/

Thanks for the compliments!
I'll bet this costume is an attention-getter at all the Renaissance Festivals. :)
your paint job is pristine. flawless! i can't say enough good about it!

SewWhat!!1 year ago
What an amazing tutorial! I hope to try this out for my Loki!Avengers costume this year!
One question though, about how much wonderflex did you use for this costume? I know it is more the the amount I would need for my armor (Loki's is pretty few and in between for his "casual" costume), but I would like to start stocking some up for more costumes/crazy stuff.
Thank you for taking the time to read my plea, and fo making this fantastic tutorial! :D
Funny, I was just checking out your new site like an hour ago. Then I'm looking over instructables and thought, that axe sure looks familiar. Awesome stuff man. Thanks for continuing to sharing your processes. I've been meaning to try some Wonderflex. You and Mike over at Blind Squirrel might just have inspired me to finally do it.
robotmaker1 year ago
great job ,i go to ren-fest every year for swords and armor,never miss one in fla
yours look real good,
also other states been to them
kwhitacre1 year ago
I am impressed that you give such good insight: such as, the 2 different surfaces. Well, done.
bhaag1 year ago
Did you make the Wabbajack too? That looks awesome.
widg1 year ago
Your passion shines through this tutorial. I have thoroughly enjoyed navigating my way through it. Your generosity with detail and techniques is laudable. I hope your career with costume and props will be as enjoyable and rewarding as mine.
mezcraft1 year ago
I think this is totally stellar. I have never used wonderflex before and am curious about it's durability.? I have made a lot of armour using fibreglass molds and fibreglass, but I am wondering if it has the same kind of durabiity as that. Also do you think under the heat of an actual body fighting would it warp it's shape? Or perhaps theatre/film lighting hot enough to distort the shape? I really think this is super keen and I am very impressed by your process and end result. Also I come from a pattern drafting background and was superimpressed with how you figured out a pattern using a 3D program.. It makes me feel like I'm a neanderthal! Very cool though. Also I feel like I am bad propbuilder never having used the ferrous powder before... It has a really cool effect. Also, If you want some more grungy texture without worrying about it all falling off, rockerguard ( that's what it's called in Canada) or car undercoating spray is something I use a lot with a couple tosses of sawdust put on then sprayed on top of, then sanded off. I was super impressed by this tutorial.Way to freakin' go.
1inspirit1 year ago
YOUR TALENT AND INGENUITY ARE OBVIOUS AND IMPRESSIVE. THANKS FOR YOUR GENEROUS SHAREING. I WISH THIS HAD BEEN POSTED MUCH EARLIER IN THE YEAR. I DO THINK, HOWEVER, THAT IT WILL MAKE A SHOWING ( AT LEAST PARTS OF IT ) AT THE PENNSYLVANIA REN FAIRE NEXT SEASON IF I CAN GET THE HANG OF IT.
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