Wonderflex Armor Part One
Wonderflex is a thin plastic sheet with a layer of gauzelike fabric embedded into it. The plastic becomes malleable when heated –at which point it can be shaped with one’s fingers or over a mold. I had read about this material online for quite a while and finally decided to order a sheet to see if it lived up to its hype. I ordered a sheet from the following website:
It cost me 24 dollars for a 19" x 28” sheet. Styrene is a cheaper material inch for inch, but there ARE some things that styrene just can’t re-create. (Rounded surfaces, for instance.) This was primarily what I had planned on using the wonderflex for when I ordered it.
What follows is a picture tutorial detailing how I made a rounded shoulder pauldron using wonderflex, a paper mache mold, and a material called Friendly Plastic (which I’ll talk about in more detail later.)
Step One for this project was to acquire a sheet of wonderflex (see above).
The next thing I had to do was to get my hands on a mold around which to shape my heated wonderflex. I decided to make one out of paper mache, since I figured that would probably be the material MOST people would have to use to create a rounded mold. At some point I'll post a tutorial that deals with the making of paper mache objects, but for now, all I have to say is that I made THIS object using a balloon coated with newspaper strips soaked in wallpaper paste.
Lovely, isn't it? Okay, then, I took the mold and drew the outline of the shoulder pauldron onto it. (I'm making Cloud's ubiquitous AC shoulder pauldron, for the record.)
Now in my first attempt at shaping the wonderflex, I cut off a large piece and then tried heating it and shaping it around the mold all at once (using a blow dryer on a high heat setting to melt the plastic.) This did not work well as there were too many wrinkles appearing in the surface. (In other words, it was impossible to apply the wonderflex without darting and cutting notches into its surface.) So I hit upon a different solution: cut up the large sheet of wonderflex into a bunch of smaller pieces and apply those to the mold one by one.
There we go. You can see already how the heat has caused the wonderflex piece to bend and conform to the shape of the mold. Once I had finished applying the heat, I smoothed out the surface of the plastic as best I could with my fingers.
I then cut out another small rounded piece of wonderflex and placed it next to the first, overlapping it slightly. (I made the pieces rounded because I thought that would help their edges to blend into each other better.)
Here you can see the placement of the wonderflex pieces. It looked a bit lumpy at this point in the process, but I decided to go on figuring I would find a way to smooth down the surface later.…
NEXT UPDATE: Covering the rest of the mold and doing that whole smoothing surface thing. Stay tuned....