Introduction: Thermoplastic Paper & Cameo Cutter

Picture of Thermoplastic Paper & Cameo Cutter

Hi! Everyone,

Today I would like to show you how you can take paper cutouts and turn them into a plasticized material.

When modeling miniature scenery, water is a major part of the design, and I am a little impatient when it comes to my work so I came across E-Z water years ago, it is sold in the model railroading industry. You melt and pour these pellets and voila, in seconds instant water, but not the best color, looks yellow,and the thicker it gets it turns amber, over heating will amber it even more. After working with the material,I thought maybe E-Z water could be colored with powdered pigments, (my gears were turning) remember, this is before scrap booking and embossing powders, were readily available. The manufacture had no suggestions for adding color at the time, so I started taking powdered pigment, used for other mediums and mixing it in, and it worked, so skip forward some time.

I was working on some props, and they needed a unique finish, and too dry quick, so putting on the proverbial thinking cap I decided to play around with E-Z water on cereal boxes, which were cut by hand and painted. Not the greatest but it would work. I begin to prefect the process, by researching other materials like poly-morphing plastic, friendly plastic, embossing powders, etc. then once again, it comes down to budget. These projects might get pretty big, and E-Z was the most cost effective, it was not only possible to incorporate color into melted resin, the surface could be painted to look like lots of different materials, and the substrate was recycled card board so it was a win win, except the labor to cut lots of details, and well time is money.

In the mean time, a friend gets a Silhouette cameo cutter, which can cut designs you purchase, or you can design your own. Having cut sign vinyl before, this cutter might be the answer too the ornate cut designs, that I so desired. By coating, the paper it would add strength, texture, quick drying and then could be painted to mimic metals of ancient times. E-Z water meet Cameo my new best friend.

My friend cut out some snowflakes, and other things using different papers, for my tests, just what I had hoped.

I would like to own this cutter so I may design and cut a full set of armor with lots of details.

There are many products and ways to create cool finishes and this is just one of those. Hope you enjoy, and please help me if you will, to create great Instructables. Your critiques are much needed.

Thank you! Julia

Step 1: Tools & Supplies

Picture of Tools & Supplies


  • Plenty of working room
  • Heat safe work surface
  • Freezer paper
  • Heat gun-Embossing gun
  • Heat glove,pot holders
  • 2 pair metal tweezers(long handle if you can)
  • Stir Sticks
  • Cooker or cookie sheet( you will need to designate them for this and this only)
  • Some form of stove( oven,cook top,electric skillet used just for E-Z water)
  • Optional silicone spatula( E-Z water or embossing powders after melted will peel off)
  • Optional cutting tools( if you will be hand cutting your paper patterns)
  • Optional ( digital craft cutter,die cutter like Cameo)
  • Your designs


  • Card stock( double up to create thicker material ) 2 pieces of card stock were used for my project)
  • E-Z Water (comes in a 16 oz. volume bag,sells for 14.99,I use a coupon and get it for half price)
  • Spray paints( Optional you can color it with powder pigment ,mica,water based paints)

Step 2: Creating Your Design

Picture of Creating Your Design

Before starting you should play with E-Z water first, to get the hang of things, it is very hot and it will burn you. Keep your design small at the beginning, it takes preparation and quick, but safe movement to do large projects as the material cools quickly. It is still manipulated with the aid of the heat gun, which makes this product so versatile.

I take no responsibility for your project or your handling of this and all materials. READ READ READ Instructions please.

For this piece I took EPS vectors and modified them to create a design that could be a crown, shoulder armor, collar, etc.

The design is then made into a jpeg and opened in Silhouette Studio. This file is then traced and rendered into a cut file. There are lots of tutorials on using a digital craft cutter. If you or someone you know doesn't have a craft cutter you can create your own designs and hand cut them, the process for applying the melted E-Z water is the same.

After 2 copies were cut of the same design, they were taped together with double stick; this gave me a thicker but manageable material.

Remember the color, type, and the texture of the paper can play a roll in the end result.

Step 3: Prepare Your Area

Picture of Prepare Your Area

It is time to make your area ready for your project. Start with heat resistant or protected area (pot holders etc.) I keep my items for E-Z water separate from other tools; this just makes it better for me. I place the pot holders in-front of me, directly behind the cookie sheet is a piece of card board covered with freezer paper to the each side of the cookie sheet is a pair of tweezers one for each hand, heat gun is set to the side that is easiest for you.

Everything should be ready to go.

Step 4: Heating the E-Z Water

Picture of Heating the E-Z Water

For this time a cookie sheet was used, seeing how the cutout was good size. Following the instructions on the product, the oven was heated to 200°F, the instructions say 180° my oven runs cooler. Do not over heat or cause smoke it may harm the oven or you. Best option is to use a hot plate or an electric skillet. Watch closely, try not to stir, it will level out and be clear looking. I reduce the oven temp to 160° this keeps E-Z fluid.

Note: I have been using this product a long time, and not always as it was intended like now, by the company. Many tests were done to learn the properties and limitations of this product and I suggest you do the same I cannot express this enough. I push bounders of products all the time but I hold my self-responsible for this no one else.

Step 5: Removing Cut-out and Cleaning Edges

Picture of Removing Cut-out and Cleaning Edges

Bring cookie sheet to your table, be quick, but careful, this is an electric skillet is good because maintaining constant temperature is achievable. When secure on pot holder take tweezers in both hands lift up project, try and lift quick and let drip, then immediately set on freezer paper drag it towards you a little this cleans the edge some.

Let cool and then release from freezer paper. You can trim pieces off with scissors, save the trimmings, this is reusable, use the heat gun to clean edges more, by holding up, as heat melts E-Z from edges. Cool your cutout.

Texture can be added to E-Z before or after. You can layer coated paper on top of coated cutout just heat both areas and attach, great for adding mountings for gems or fancy trim. Tissue paper or fabric can be placed on the surface after it is heated this ads texture as well. It is all about dimension.

Step 6: Forming Your Plastic Paper

Picture of Forming Your Plastic Paper

The paper can be formed in many ways. When it is warmed it becomes soft again so don't create a project you are going to keep in the heat. When using an object to form on keep it covered with release paper and make sure it can withstand the heat you will be applying. I used a piece of aluminum it works great; you can shape the aluminum to form on.Use the heat glove if you can when using the heat gun.if not just be careful not to get burned. Regular cotton work gloves will work, sometimes I double them up if I am heating near may hand.

Step 7: The Finish

Picture of The Finish

I used spray paint, you can use what ever you want, and these colors were hammered copper, gold and flat black. Copper first, light black on tips and a mist of gold in the center. This plastic paper makes great riveted metal looks. I think having a digital cutter really can make dreams a reality. The designs are saved so patterns can be cut from copy paper, use the print and cut software, create the perfect design, cut, coat, form and finish. I hope to make more instructables with this medium.

Hope you enjoy and please let me know if you have ever used this material or done something like it, would be great to see.

Thank you! Julia


wilwrk4tls (author)2015-02-04

Do you think it would it work to heat the EZ water in a vessel of some sort and pour it over what you're coating? Does it seem to flow well enough to do that?

This looks like a great idea. I bought some of the craft mesh and was trying to figure out a way to stiffen it up and I think this will fit the bill nicely.

The Juliart (author)wilwrk4tls2015-02-04

Let me know how it works on the metal mesh. I use polymorph plastic ,it is great and won't crack . E-Z will crack if put under pressure. Just depends on what it is contacted to.

Talk soon.

The Juliart (author)wilwrk4tls2015-02-04

The vessel would be fine,as long as it is just for this product. You can pour it but remember it starts cooling the minute air hits it. Test the mesh first to make sure the heat won't distort it. I have taken cotton lace ,placed it on freezer paper ,then poured E-Z just on lace,took heat gun an melted down on the surface.

It is fluid if it doesn't cool to rapid.
Hope that helps. I am posting a new Instructable today using E-Z to create Orbs.

Wish you the best,if I can help more just let me know.

wilwrk4tls (author)The Juliart2015-02-04

Thank you. The mesh should be all good- it's aluminum. I will have to try this out. It may even be worth trying to brush it on.

A different but somewhat related product is to use Friendly Plastic or polycapralactone- (if you're not familiar with it) you can put it in hot water and the pellets soften and you can mold it by hand, then it is similar to a nylon when it cools. I do like that the EZ water is more malleable, though, so it opens up other possibilities.

PowellMade (author)2015-01-29

Just saw the hobbit finally. This reminds me of the elven head pieces, it beautiful! Nice work and really well put together!!

The Juliart (author)PowellMade2015-01-29

Great movie!! Thank you so much I really love movie props.

Kind regards! Jewels

The Juliart (author)2015-01-27

Thanks so much!

blissful2015 (author)2015-01-27

congratulations julia!!! this is a fantastic ible! look forward to trying it! =)

rmullca (author)2015-01-26

That's really cool kudos :)

The Juliart (author)rmullca2015-01-26

Thank you so much! Jewels

zorrothefox (author)2015-01-18

What is E-Z Water? Is there a chemical name for it? Any links?

The Juliart (author)zorrothefox2015-01-18

hi! Zorrothefox,

E-Z water is Woodland Scenics brand. These resins are thermographic and are polyamide resins. Hope that helps. Sorry I don't know how to put a link in this text box. J

Here is a site you can order the E-Z water it is not woodlan scenic, but they sell woodland scenics brand of the E-Z water

Mom(The Juliart) all you have to do if find the site you want, copy and past the link in the comment box, you may even be able to copy and past it in your original post with your instructable.

Love, Brit

Thanks peach!

Every time I went to open another tab ,my IPad would shut down. I got it fixed thank you.


Salvwi Prasad (author)2015-01-19

This is great stuff. This is something new I learnt here. Thanks to you. :)

Hi! Salvwi Prasad,
Thank you and you are welcome! India has lots of suppliers for polyamide resin. I think you would love dipping pieces of fabric and then heating them together.
I am working on another Instructable to show with fabric. People have to be careful cause it is very hot,but fun. Mica powders give a great shimmer to it.

Well you have a great night ! Julia

jason.burr.946 (author)2015-01-18

Great instructable. Got the gears turning now. Could you describe the strength and firmness of this when complete? Is it along the lines of a molded plastic (like a milk jug or something) or more like a coated posterboard? Threw you a vote for the paper contest hopefully you can get one of those cameos for yourself looks like it would be put to very good use. Good luck!

hi! Jason.burr.946,

Thank you! The E-Z water will crack if very thick. It's firmness depends on thickness the longer it is heated and if it is over heated does too. It is around .08 of an inch on the crown. If I were to bend the wings backward they would crack. Nice thing is, just heat it and it can be molded again. I hope that helps and thanks so much for the vote.


Blackcloud161 (author)2015-01-12

This is totally AWESOME!

I don't have a cameo printer. But I do have a laser. I am wondering if I could coat the paper and then cut the EZ Water / paper combo with the laser.. It will probably fume (but that can't be much worse than cutting leather), but the fumes can be managed.

Yess something new to tackle.

CraigC3 (author)Blackcloud1612015-01-18

I plan to try cutting the paper with the laser and then coating the paper with EZ Water after it is cut. That way there are no fumes from the EZ Water to worry about.

The Juliart (author)CraigC32015-01-18

Very cool! I love the way a laser cuts such tiny tiny details. It will look awesome. Please share with me . Julia

Thank you so much. I don't know if the laser could be used or not . My only thought is the E-Z will become liquid and drip on to the plate. I know you can cut some beautiful paper with the laser,better than the cameo. The fumes could be vented out . Let me know if you try sounds interesting.

Truly!! J

ashleyjlong (author)2015-01-15

WHOA! Awesome piece! This is definitely something I'd like to try for some of my future costume building, with or without the Cameo Cutter. Does that device take up a lot of space? I'm intrigued, but I wonder if I can manage to cram one more thing into our workroom...

The Juliart (author)ashleyjlong2015-01-15

Hi! Thank you so much. I don't have a cutter but they don't take up much room,and you can take it with you to places. It is about 18" long. I do a lot with fabric and trim And hand cut paper.
My studio is the same so much stuff were to put it all....
Keep me updated on your projects.


annakrov (author)2015-01-14

awesome, in the style of Lord of the Rings :-)

The Juliart (author)annakrov2015-01-14

Yeah! I really like the spire look!
Thank you for looking.


Gilly (author)2015-01-14

Hi Julia, this looks fantastic. So with the Cameo cutter, can you design something yourself in say, Photoshop for example, and then cut it out? I have a Cricut cutter and have been really disappointed with it. You can only use their designs and the blades don't last long. Is the cameo a good machine? Thanks.

The Juliart (author)Gilly2015-01-14

Hi! GillyJames,

The answer is yes. I did my design work in AI ,basically it is very simple you use live trace , if you have a photo you want to render into a cut file. But the great thing about Cameo is it has its own design software so you don't have to use AI. There are lots of cutters that offer this now ,but for the money cameo is a great buy. I can't imagine having to buy cartridge after cartridge . It also cuts lots of diffrent materials. My friend cuts for me and I use an SD card to load designs,it has a reader right on the cutter ,then she cuts for me. You will love it has print and cut and it matches perfect. I print t- shirt designs and cut then iron on.

Cameo 2 is available now .

Lots of great information out there. Hope this helps! Thank you so much!


Gilly (author)The Juliart2015-01-14

Thank you for that info. I did look at other cutters about 2 years ago when I got disillushioned with the Cricut I had bought. But it's a bit difficult buying stuff like that in the UK - it's all online because our craft stores still don't seem to have discovered the electronic cutters yet! You have inspired me to get my Cricut out of retirement though and I actually got it working today to cut some simple craft stuff out. Will definitely be looking online to see what's new since I last looked. Really appreciate your time - thanks.

The Juliart (author)Gilly2015-01-14

No problem! I am no expert. so great to hear you are going to use your cutter,even though the designs are on a cartridge you could still layer them to get unique looks.

Take care! Julia

primosanch (author)2015-01-14

So cool. Thanks for sharing.

The Juliart (author)primosanch2015-01-14

Glad you liked. Have a great day!


brittanytrevor.parish (author)2015-01-13

Love you mom you are truly amazing!

Thank you! Peach,

It means a lot.

NathanSellers (author)2015-01-13

this is great. I new cheap technique.

Hi! Sellers.nathan,

Thank you! That is what I love about it. I am working on 3 new Instructables that use E-Z in other ways,I hope to publish soon. Budgets are hard sometimes ,I love cheap.


The Juliart (author)2015-01-13

You are so kind!!

Thank you!

jjdebenedictis (author)2015-01-13

Ooh! Gorgeous design and it turned out beautifully!

Honus (author)2015-01-13

Wonderful! I'm telling all of my costuming friends about this right now!

The Juliart (author)Honus2015-01-13

That is so great! I wanted to share this because so many things can be done.

Please keep me informed on your projects. It is cool on trims and fabrics as well.

Your friend! Julia

About This Instructable




Bio: Make no mistake I love to create!!! Owner Lake Studio for the Arts. Invest in your community by sharing, what you know,so all can ... More »
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