Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Armor from pulp board and fake leather for Yuma

We have made armor pieces for our Stormtroopers by vacuum forming and for Ivy I build a set from craft foam covered with putty. Now I wanted to try something new and ended up with pulp board-craft foam base covered with vinyl/fake leather.

I’ve seen few Claymore Ghost cosplays before and some have solved the armor issue with “leather” and some with “metal”. I ended up with the leather version, because the Ghosts are more or less never seen or heard of, so silent leather armor would be ideal to stealth and hiding as in metal one would make unwanted noises.

My build started from making patterns. I used regular paper for creating the shapes and fitted them before cutting the pieces from compressed pulp board. After cutting the pieces I carefully made the necessary curves and shaped the pieces so that they would sit on the body tightly. Then I secured the shapes mostly by taping the pieces on to the floor using different household items and sealed and supported the back by gluing thick fiber fabric on the back. I left the pieces to dry over night before the next phase.

Some pieces I just supported by spreading glue on the back while maintaining the wished form, but this I only did for the breast and back plates because they were constructed from two pieces and the smaller ones didn’t need that much support since all the fastenings would be on the top plate.

Then for creating a smooth surface to glue the pleather on, I covered the armor pieces with craft foam. The craft foam I cut slightly bigger than the board, so that the edges would be thin and clean looking. I used the armor piece as the template for the craft foam. The curves on the pieces made the original pattern useless, since the curves distorted some of the shapes on the pattern.

With the hip plate, also known as the butt wings I had to use more sturdy solution, because the shape was really odd and hard to maintain. And I couldn’t find a sheet of craft foam big enough to cover the whole thing. So first I covered the top of the “wings” with fiber fabric, let it dry and supported the narrow center piece from the back side. Then I cut a piece of upholstery felt and glued in on the top.

After pieces had dried completely I spread glue evenly on the piece and set the pleather with two centimeter seam allowances on the top. Needless to say, for the pleather I used the armor piece itself as the pattern. Then I smoothed the surface checking that there were no bumps or bubbles under the pleather before leaving it to dry.

When the pleather was glued and set I heated the glue gun and turned the seam allowances on the back side. The tricky parts were the pointed edges on the armor. And with corners I checked which side should be glued first to get a neat result.

I applied a black fabric on the back of the armor pieces to hide the seam allowances and to prevent the white backs flashing from certain angles. But before gluing them on I added Velcro, nylon straps and rubber bands for the fastenings.

Below you can see the whole process made with the shoulder pauldrons. The shoulders were the reason why I chose to cover the pulp board with craft foam; I was able to heat the foam and stretch it on the shoulder without having to make visible darts. And same goes with the stretch pleather I chose as the covering material.

And finally the whole armor with the sword belt. In all, armor made from pulp board is really light weight, clean looking and quite easy to make. All you need is the materials, scissors, glue and exacto knife. And palette knife! I don't know why I haven't realized earlier that palette knife is handy when you need to spread a thin and even layer of glue!

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