Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How I Made Miaka's Anklet

Miaka's Anklet
A few people have been asking for examples of my work with wonderflex, so I figured since information on my current project is still heavily under lock & key until Anime Boston I'd show the few photos I've got from making Miaka's anklet last year.

Now, looking at the comparison yes, admittedly it is not perfectly identical, however I worked to get it as close to relative shape as I could working with a *real* body as opposed to a physics-defying unrealistically thin-calved drawing only rendered from one direction. All things considered, I'm pretty darn proud of the outcome.

Pattern, Wonderflex, Pen, Knife, Heat Gun, Cutting Surfac

My first step, probably the hardest, was to figure out the flat shape of this object, since curved as it is we only see a small part. I used a significantly enlarged print of the source image and attempted to extend the design long enough to wrap around my calf. Once I was satisfied with my flat rendering, I cut out the paper and traced it onto the wonderflex.

I like to use an X-Acto knife when cutting out wonderflex. They are more reliable for getting close corners than a pair of scissors, but you need to remember to have some sort of cutting surface. You can buy nice cutting mats at most craft stores, but as you can see pictured a layer or two of cardboard works fine.

Molded flat double-thickness
In order to get a good thickness to work with I cut out two identical pieces and fused them together with my heat gun. Other heat sources I've heard can be used are hair dryers or stove tops. I interpreted from my reference image that there was some dimension to the design in the anklet, so I heated up the wonderflex and pinched ridges into it.

Shaping to leg

Next, I layered up a protective barrier on my leg so that I could shape the anklet to my calf.

NOTE: Never mold wonderflex directly on your skin as this can cause burns! Also heat wonderflex away from your body- do not aim heat sources at your body! 

I used two layers of knee-high socks and one layer of leggings to protect my skin. Once protected, I heated the wonderflex and wrapped it around my leg and held it there until it cooled into the right shape.

Covered in wood glue
I bought the wonderflex for this project before it was sold with one side smooth; were I making the anklet today this next step would not be necessary. In order to eliminate the grid pattern present on old wonderflex I covered the whole outside in 2 or 3 layers of wood glue before painting it. The result was a smooth surface that took paint well. To finish it off, I glued a gem to the "head" of the phoenix I interpreted in the design and drilled holes in the back I could lace cord through to secure it to my leg.
Completed anklet front & back
The finished product is one of my proudest accomplishments. I recall looking at my reference image at the start wondering how in the world I could translate such an object into three dimensions, and somehow I did!

Completed costume - Anime Boston 2012 - Photo by Ollie