It’s worbla time! That’s right, I decided to make Link’s bracer out of worbla. I wasn’t originally planning to due to budget issues, but Arda wigs suddenly stocked new sheets of black worbla, including size small, so I could afford to buy a sheet. This was my first time using the material, and I was excited. Overall, it was a total blast! Here’s what I did:
To design the shape, I measured the length and width (at the wrist and near the elbow) of my forearm while wearing a layer of bandages. Since I’ll be wearing long sleeves and arm bands under the bracer, I wanted to add the extra mass to my arm initially.
I then drew the shape I wanted on 2mm craft foam, folded it in half and cut it out. Folding the foam ensured I got a symmetrical piece.
The Sandwich Method
I used the sandwich method to make the bracer, which entails covering my foam on either side with worbla (hence the name) while it’s hot. Make sure to press the shinny sides into each other (that’s the side with the adhesive). I used my heat gun throughout this whole build.
Once the worbla was sandwiched on the foam, and while it was still warm, I cut away excess edges to save for later. I then placed it placed it on my arm and shaped it until it cooled and hardened.
Worbla sticks to itself when hot, which allows you to squish scraps together and mould new pieces, like you would with clay, only hotter (who needs fingerprints, anyway?).
I used a few leftovers to form all of the details on top of the bracer. Looking at E3 gameplay footage and official art for Breath of the Wild, I couldn’t find much detailing on Link’s bracer (though I saw it after I finished this piece – go figure). So, I made my own.
I repurposed the pattern from the tunic to add some depth to the bracer. To make the pieces, I just rolled the worbla and formed them into the shape I wanted. I then heated the detailing and the bracer to stick everything together.
I used worbla and metal rectangles used for purses to create the connection for my bracer straps. I basically created four long and flat strips of worbla, wrapped them around the rectangles and connected them to the bracer body. This allowed me to attach the straps after painting.
I used thrifted belts for the straps. I originally intended to use two belts so both straps would have a buckle. However, one just did not want to stick to my hot glue. So instead, I used the other belt to make a permanent closure on the wider end and added the buckle to the wrist strap. That way, I can slide my arm through, then tighten the strap at my wrist.
Prep and Paint
Worbla is porous, which makes for a rough raw texture. To get a smooth surface on which to paint, I covered the cooled bracer in four layers of Elmer’s wood glue, letting it dry between each coating.
Once the glue was totally dry, I sanded it until smooth. I also primed with a thin layer of brown spray paint, just to get a base in the correct color. Of course, I did all the sanding and spray painting outdoors, since I don’t have a well-ventilated workspace.
To create the texture I wanted, I painted the bracer with four different shades of brown acrylic paint. I also used black and white to create highlights and shadows. This helped the worbla details I added earlier stand out (the base coat kind of made the whole thing look flat).
I used a round, flat brush to stipple on layers of different colors, and I love the final effect. It kind of looks like a painting on canvas or something – like the art style of Skyward Sword!
I’m really happy with how this bracer turned out. I wish I had made the wrist area a little wider, but otherwise, I think it’ll look great with the rest of the costume. I’m also a little frustrated that I couldn’t find the official embellishment pattern until after this was done – c’est la vie!
If you’ve used worbla before, what methods do you use for shaping, detailing and painting? I’m still new at this, so I’d love to hear!