Sunday, October 26, 2014

Armor Update 2014-10-26: Worbla Application Complete!

I finished the application of Worbla edging this afternoon, and as promised here are a few photos of the final work. Since I have previously posted pics of the simpler completed pieces, I won't re-post those, but below you can see the more complicated pieces that I saved for the end.

First, the breastplate, assembled from its component pieces. Three pieces for the front, and for the moment I just used my old standby, blue masking tape to hold them together. I need to get everything painted and finished, before I do the final attachments using rivets and leather straps.

Breastplate, assembled. Imagine it with silver metallic paint where you see black, and gold-metallic paint where you see tan.

Next, I took a few photos of the connected knee pieces, to show how it will look when the pieces are finally riveted together.

Front view.

Three-quarter side view.

Full side view. You can guess the scale of the knee protection by comparing it with the 2-liter Coke bottle holding it up.

Not much else to say today. I'm going to take the rest of the day off, and start testing my painting skills Monday or Tuesday evening. I'll post some more pics of the pain testing, to show you all what I have in mind for the final look. I will begin my testing on some scrap pieces, so that I don't risk ruining the costume itself.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Quick Armor Update 2014-10-25

Just a quick update to say that I have almost all of the Worbla applied. I expect to finish tomorrow, and will post a few pics then.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Armor Progress 2014-10-19, Now With More Pics!

As mentioned once or twice previously, I've been working almost daily on the armor, and I took a few photos today to show the current progress. You may recall that I was working with Worbla, using it to add edging to each of the armor pieces. As you will see below, I've made some pretty good progress -- with a few pieces still to do.

My dining work table. These are all of the pieces that are done or in progress. Conspicuously missing is the huge breastplate, which will be the last piece that I do. Also, the knee protectors are just off the left edge of the photo. I haven't started them yet, but they will go just before the breastplate.

Closer-in shot of some pieces. Clockwise from lower left: hip protectors in progress; small parts of the breatplate; the right shoulder pauldron pieces; greaves, one inside the other; vambraces, also one inside the other; and thigh protectors.

Closer-in shot of other pieces. The only additions here (from the previous picture) are the left shoulder pauldron pieces, in the upper left.

Tools of the trade: heat gun in the lower right; shears for cutting Worbla (Sintra is too thick); box cutter; the little blue glass bowl has scrap pieces of Worbla that I can use to patch up little gaps (these really work great for that); the blue tape is used whenever I need to hold something in place and I can't do it with my own hands; the pen and ruler are used for drawing my cutting lines on the Worbla; along the left side of the photo are one-inch wide strips of cut Worbla, and a single half-inch wide strip. I measure and draw cutting lines for the one-inch strips. For the half-inch strips, I take a one-inch strip and just eyeball the cut rather than trying to measure and draw a line.

On most of the pieces, I used one-inch strips, where about 5/8 to 3/4 of the width is on the facing side, and the remainder wraps over the edge and onto the back of the piece. I used the half-inch strips for the smaller hip protector pieces, which themselves will be overlapping as they hang at my sides. The half-inch strips do not wrap around to the back, they are simply heated and stuck to the facing side of the pieces. As I mentioned before, one side of the Worbla has a very thin layer of glue, so all you need to do is warm it up and stick it to the Sintra.

This stuff has been great to work with. The heat gun makes it very easy to soften up the material and shape it to whatever I need, including some pretty tight curves, and the glue facing makes it easy to simply stick to the Sintra wherever I want. No additional adhesive is needed, ever.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Armor Update, 2014-10-16

The Worbla application is going well. I've spent a little while each evening this week working on it, and have actually progressed further than I would have thought possible. At this point I've got about a dozen small and easy pieces left, which could be done in maybe ninety minutes or so, plus five or six big and complicated pieces that will take considerably longer -- I would roughly guess an hour per piece. So that means that I could actually get all of the Worbla application done by the end of this weekend, if I keep at it.

So, there it is. No pics yet, I'm too tired. But I should be able to take a couple of pics this weekend and post them in another status update. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Armor Progress 2014-10-13

Uhh... well, the Geekwif and I spent the past several days finishing our basement. And then, with the home theater well and truly finished, we watched a lot of TV and played games on the PS3. All on the 65-inch 1080p HD plasma screen, and in surround sound.

So yeah, I didn't get a lot done on the armor. But, I will be working on it every night for the coming weeks, so I expect to have something to report in my next post, in a few days or so.

Until then, have a good one!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Armor Fabrication - Testing with Worbla!

Yesterday I mentioned that I wanted to do one more fitting before moving to the next step, working with Worbla. Well, I changed my mind a little bit -- rather than doing a full fitting, I just eyeballed the shape of the armor and adjusted some of the curves to be the way I thought they should be. There will be time for a proper fitting later, if needed.

One thing I did do was take a couple of pictures of the knee protectors, in order to post them here:
This is the inside of the lower piece resting within the kneecap protector, and you can just see that I have the middle joint taped with blue tape while the glue dries.

Here is the lower piece within the kneecap piece, showing how they will overlap. I am planning to rivet them together, one on each side, so that they can rotate with my knee when I bend it.

After taking these photos, I decided I wanted to start working with the Worbla and see if it lives up to everything I have heard. And so far, it really does. It has a rough side and a smooth side. The smooth side is actually a thin coating of glue. You can warm up the Worbla, and the glue will soften along with it, becoming sticky. When it cools, it's no longer sticky and can be handled with bare hands. A heat gun works perfectly to warm up the plastic, and it softens in less than a minute with the gun held a couple of inches away from the surface. When it gets warm and soft, the plastic darkens just a little bit, becoming almost translucent. The glue isn't quite ready at that point, but you know you're getting close. A few more seconds, and the plastic will become very soft. The glue is also nice and sticky by then, and the piece can be applied to whatever you want at that point.

Here are some more photos of my testing, and my first couple of applications.

Worbla comes in rolls like this. The outer face is rough, but the inner face is smooth (the glue facing).

Here's a piece of scrap Sintra that I used for testing. I cut a small strip of Worbla from the roll, then held it to the Sintra and used the heat gun to warm it up. After a few seconds, the glue melted to the point where it was sticky, and the plastic itself was plenty soft to make it follow this gentle curve.

Same testing piece. I positioned the Worbla such that there was about a quarter inch of excess past the edge of the Sintra. Keeping it nice and warm, it was easy to fold over the edge and stick to the other side.

A better angle showing the Worbla folded around the edge of the Sintra. After it cooled, the glue held it quite firm. I had to use a razor knife to peel it away at all, and even then it required me to reheat the Worbla so that it became soft.

This is a real piece of the armor, part of the breastplate. I ran one strip along the long curve first, overlapping the edge just like the test piece. Then I added a very short piece at the end, and pressed the edges together so that the seam became almost invisible. It shows here, but when it is painted over, you won't see it.

Close-up of the edges and seam.

Here is the piece on place on the breastplate. As you can see, the main breastplate overlaps it, and there is another flap behind and below which will also get a Worbla edging strip like this one. In fact I intend to put this edging on just about every piece of armor that I have.

Here are my vambraces (forearm protectors).  I cut the Worbla into one-inch wide strips, attaching just over half an inch along the edge, and wrapping the remaining width over the edge and into the backing. You can see the inside edges at the bottom of the photo, the Worbla doesn't always wrap cleanly along a curving line. I'm not too worried about this, since it the inner edges be hidden when I'm wearing the pieces anyway.

The outer face of the vambraces.

And that is as far as I got in a couple of hours working today. I'll do some more work today, but clearly this is going to take quite a few hours to complete all the decorative edging. The good thing is, the Worbla appears to be just as easy to work with as I have heard from others. It's kind of expensive, especially compared with cheaper materials like Sintra, but for decorative edging and other things it is really nice to work with and you don't need a lot.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Armor Fabrication Progress, Part II

I have finally completed the cutting and forming all of the armor pieces! No pics to add today, because there really wasn't anything of interest to show. If you saw my previous armor fabrication post, then you have already seen the bits that are really interesting. What I did in the past few days was:

  • Finished cutting out the remaining hip pieces (all those "bent strips")
  • Shaped/bent the remaining hip pieces
  • Corrected the shapes on the first lower knee guard, by adding reinforcements to the inside faces
  • Shaped and reinforced the second knee guard to match the first
With all of this complete, what's the next step? Glad you asked! What I plan to do next is to fit everything together like I did before, using the blue masking tape, and make sure it all looks right. Then I'll make any needed corrections.

After that, I have a sheet of Worbla with my name on it, waiting to be cut into pieces. The basic plan for the Worbla is to cut it into narrow strips, and use it to outline all the edges of the armor pieces. That will make them stand out a bit more, and act as a decorative edging. They will be painted a different color as well, to make them stand out even more. If I have any extra Worbla, I will probably cut out some other interesting pieces and add them as more decoration. The interesting thing about Worbla is that it is even easier to soften with heat, then form into whatever shapes I want. It comes in sheets, but it can be molded into three-dimensional shapes, like working with clay (at least that's what I've been told -- time will tell).

After all the Worbla pieces are added, it will be time for final sanding, in preparation for painting. When I start playing with the Worbla, I'll definitely take more photos and post them in another update here. Stay tuned!