Friday, May 10, 2013
Taking a break from the regular posts to make two small reviews. One will be on the thermoplastic product known as Worbla and the other will be on my adventures into airbrushing.
Where on Earth has this product been all my life? Oh, yeah, over in Europe.
Worbla is a newer type of thermoplastic similar to Wonderflex. However, Worbla does not have the fabric mesh that Wonderflex does. This means that you can get much more complex shapes and curves. Worbla is also self adhesive and a zero waste product.
First, what is a thermoplastic? Essentially it is a plastic that reacts to heat allowing you to shape and mold it. Just like any plastic, but his has a much lower melt point, so you can use either a heat gun or even a hair dryer.
Worbla is sold by the sheet and each sheet has two sides. The smooth side has all the adhesive and the other side has a rough texture to it. You can sand down this texture if it doesn’t suit your needs, or you can also apply compounds like Bondo or regular joint compound over to smooth it out.
One of the biggest plusses to Worbla is the zero waste aspect. All the scraps you have left from cutting out your design can be melted together and then used for trim, details, whatever you need. This is going to be what the rest of this review focuses on.
So, what’s it like to actually work with the stuff? It’s a lot of fun actually.
You will need a heat source, a work surface that won’t melt, and a pair of gloves. I highly recommend the gloves. This stuff gets a lot hotter than you would think.
Next gather up your scrap pieces. We’re going to melt them into a big Worbla ball to make the trim on a set of armor.
One Worbla ball….sort of.
Getting there. Just keep heating the ball and rolling it in your hands like clay. Then you can start to roll it out into the shape you need.
One Worbla turd.
Heating and rolling to make the trim piece. Be careful to keep the piece moving while heating. It is self adhesive, but will also glue to any surface.
Here, we’re placing it over the detail lines. It is a little rough, but more heating and sanding take that down.
Now that the trim has been applied to the piece, it is time to shape the piece. This will do two things, get the overall piece to the shape we want, and cause the trim to glue to the base.
Hey, you should have known PVC was coming. I wrapped it with aluminum foil so that if the Worbla did glue to the pipe, it would just be to the removable aluminum foil and not the actual pipe.
Piece in place. Now we heat.
Melting to form.
A little help to get the edges smooth. Gloves come in handy here too.
Well crap. I melted a hole in it. No problem.
Extra scrap piece, shiny side to shiny side for best adhesion. and heat.
Hole is gone and a little sanding and heat to smooth and it was never there.
I’m really enjoying Worbla, and I’m looking to really push it just to see what it can and can’t do.
Mini-Review Part 2 – The Airbrush
An airbrush is a tool that I’ve needed for a long time. Using spray paints, towels, rags, steel wool, etc. to create my painting effects gets old (and toxic) at times.
I was lucky enough to get a complete set of three airbrushes and a compressor for Christmas.
This one is great for pin point and narrow detailing. So great, in fact, that I clogged it up first time using it. It is honestly a case of user error and not a problem with the brush. Also, if you do suspect a clog in the brush, do not try blowing a puff of air into the ink tank while there is still ink in the tank. Ink speckles everywhere, and you feel like an idiot. Once you figure out what just happened, that is.
This monster is the paint roller of airbrushes. Covers large areas with a nice even coat.
This is the fancy one. Paint jars and it has a variable nozzle. This means that it can do pin point and narrow all the way out to paint roller. Very handy for when you’re not really sure what pattern you’ll need until you’re neck deep into it.
This one is a small compressor designed for airbrushing. It’s quiet and just powerful enough. The instructions say to run for 15 minutes at a time, then power off for 15 minutes. This is because it gets really hot when working. It does have a thermal overload switch that shuts it down in the event of an overheat. This would have also been a good thing to have read before I started using it. Burning one’s hand trying to figure out why the compressor just shut off is not fun.
The compressor had a really handy “holster” attachment that allowed the two brushes to hang in there between uses.
My new paint area is set up in a well ventilated area and as level as I could make it. The canvas in the middle of the table was to do a test spray to check the color, intensity, pattern, etc. Get a good feel for it before you paint the actual piece.
These are just rough examples of trying to go from Tootsie Roll to Tootsie Roll with lines on it. After a couple of hours of practice and a lot of paint, I did get a really cool wood texture effect. At least I like it.
I’m really pleased with both the airbrush set up and the Worbla. The areas of application for these new tools is nearly limitless. Look for more to come!