Intro: How to Make Flat Sheets of Instamorph and Other Tips
Working with Instamorph is very interesting and can produce some very cool items however the hardest thing starting out is getting the instamorph into your initial shape. If you are making a sculpture or figure you can free-form the material by hand but if your creation requires flat sheets or elements it can be tricky to turn the plastic pellets into nice even flat sheets.
I will show in a series of images and descriptions some of the ways I have found to make flat regular sheets of Instamorph for use in costuming or sculpting other items. You can see from the images several flat sheets of various sizes that I have made and worked with.
Pot to heat water and soften Instamorph (non-stick preferred)
Jelly Roll Pan (non-stick preferred)
Fork or tongs to retrieve hot instamorph
Cylindrical bottle (glass) or other rolling device (rolling pin might work but I haven't tried it)
Instamorph Pellets or Leftover Instamorph material for re-use
Scissors for shaping
Step 1: Heat Your Instamorph
There are a number of ways indicated on the website to warm your Instamorph to it's pliable state I have always used the hot water method as it's easy to reheat while working by simply putting the Instamorph back into the water for a few seconds.
You can see the pot of pliable Instamorph in the first picture and some recycled Instamorph cut into strips so they heat faster in the second picture. Warm the Instamorph until it turns from white to fully clear in appearance and pull it out of the water using a fork or tongs so you don't burn your fingers on the water.
Step 2: Initial Flattening and Preparation
With your fingers press the blob of Instamorph into a relatively flat form making sure to squeeze out any air bubble if possible and trying not to leave any gaps. If there are holes in the initial sheet you press fold it over and press the two sides tight together so they stick with no air between. Put the double thickness piece back into the hot water to warm up some and repeat the process until you get a fairly flat rectangular sheet of plastic. You can see in the third and fourth pictures that if the Instamorph is very warm you can actually stretch it and/or press it into approximately the shape you want.
Step 3: Final Flattening and Evening of the Material.
You can see in the first two pictures the bottle rolling the Instamorph out into as nice and even a sheet as possible. Try not to exert extra pressure on one end or the other as you will make a thin area in the plastic. Notice that the pan is filled with hot water in the first picture to keep the plastic pliable longer and allow for easier shaping.
Be very careful if using hot water in the pan that you don't splash it all over, especially on yourself. The hot water is not required and I used it only for a convenience to keep the Instamorph warm longer. I actually received just as good a final result using no water as using water depending on what I was trying to accomplish.
The third picture is just after I joined three smaller sheets of instamorph into one long sheet after rolling lightly to ensure they were well joined I let the new larger sheet cool into what you see in the fourth picture. The joints are barely visible in the picture where the three sheets are combined.
The last two pictures were demonstrating folding over the instamorph to eliminate the irregularities in the sheet and as you can see folding the plasic in both directions is required to get the best results. Several folds might be needed to actually get the sheet to the size and even thickness required for your project.
Step 4: Final Shaping and Some Uses.
The largest sheet I made filled the pan from end to end almost 16 inches and you can see the size comparison to the fork in the picture. You get a smoother and flatter result if you let the material cool slowly in air, it might be even better to sandwich the plastic between two non-stick sheets while cooling but I haven't tested this yet.
Instamorph in flat sheets can be cut with scissors or a saw (if thicker than 1/8") but with the scissors it's much easier to cut as the material is just starting to cool off. Several samples of flattened pieces and some uses of them can be seen in the last picture where a flat sheet was rolled and joined to make a figure 8 and on the right where it was folded doubled over and then shaped into a curved channel to test it's structural strength.
We have created a number of items using the flat sheets here are a couple Instructable Examples:
Step 5: Final Thoughts
The plastic Instamorph is made of is very easy to shape even when hardened. I have used various tools on it so far including: Scissors, Bandsaw, SandPaper/sander, and I intend to drill and tap a piece of Instamorph to finish one of my projects. The only thing to beware of when using these tools is that excessive heating from long exposure to power tools causes the Instamorph to soften and could cause problems.
Soft shaping is also possible in limited areas by holding the instamorph object into a pot of very hot water until it softens just the required area for both altering the shape or joining two pieces.
Marking lines on instamorph is fairly easy as I used a mechanical pencil and while the plastic was resistant to the graphite the scratch was easily visible. I suggest using a scribe to scratch guide lines for cutting and shaping.