After hearing about InstaMorph for a while, and even telling folks about it at panels, I gave it a try. The project involved is not at all steampunk, but in the interests of general making and costuming, I though I’d tell you about my experience.
It all started at last year’s AwesomeCon, where I met Pin-Up Loki. Genius! As much as I admire Laufeyson, I’m really much more of a Thor. More inclined to smite than trick. So I looked at a bunch of pictures of Marvel’s Thor (best.homework.ever.) and sketched up an idea.
My favorite bit is the cape turned into shrug, but how to hold the cape on? How to make those shield things that are so recognizable? That’s where the IM came in. It’s moldable and light, so I could make the shields and pin or sew them to my shirt without damaging the fabric.
First, I cut out a piece of cardboard to get the size right. Then I bent coat hanger wire to embed in the IM so I could attach the shields to the costume. (I’m calling them shields to be classy, but I will admit right now that during the process I referred to them as Dalek Bumps. Because of this.) I read the InstaMorph instructions and found something in my house with the right concave shape to mold the shields. It happened to be a stone mortar. I was ready.
Instamorph comes in small plastic balls. When you dump them in 140F water, they melt a little, turn transparent, and come together into a moldable putty. It’s pretty cool.I started out with a pot of water on the stove, the tea kettle, and a pyrex measuring cup. In order to have the water in the cup the right temperature I had to add from the kettle periodically, and when it was too full, pour some of it back into the pot. Cumbersome, but workable. Then I discovered that my dear sister Ophelia left one of those little, dip-specific crockpots at my house after a party. That thing worked perfectly. Put the lid on and the temp goes up, take the lid off and it goes down. Much easier than keeping multiple vessels burning.
The instructions say to work a small amount of IM at a time. I didn’t, and that was my one mistake. My shields are not as smooth as I would like, because it’s somewhat tough to work in large pieces ( just a bit harder to work than Sculpey) and I didn’t have the hand strength to make the shape and smooth out such a large surface area. What I recommend is to put a couple of tablespoons worth into water, work it into the texture you want, and drop it back in. Then do another batch, etc, until you have the amount you need. Which will be roughly twice the volume of your finished product. The great thing about IM is that you can remelt and reshape it at any point. So you can get exactly what you want, if you keep working at it.Sorry that pic is so blurry! I shaped all 4 shields one day, and reworked them the next. I made them bigger than necessary, so I reheated and trimmed off bits with my poultry shears. I also smoothed the surface. Once they hardened, I spray painted them silver (not sure if I can reheat and reshape after painting, and I like the outfit too much to try it), and attached shields to shirt and cape to shields.
And here’s the finished product, Pin-up Thor with her Mad Men Enchanter (as full of guile as he is fair of face!).