Saturday, January 11, 2014

DIY Costume Bracers

I have been second guessing myself on my fantastic Wonder Woman bracers I made. I wanted something a little more "armor" and a little less "glamour." On the way home from work I was struck with a sudden inspiration, and I came home and made these beauties:

Aside from the lumps in the paint job, I'm really happy with how they turned out. I decided to include on this blog directions for how I made them. This will guide you, step by step, through the process I used to create these wonderful, easy gauntlets. 

And here we go!

Step 1: Don't Reduce, Don't Recycle, Just Reuse

Take two soda bottles and clean them out really well. I mean really well. You truly don't want to deal with half-dried soda syrup that's been heated by a scalding hot glue gun. That epitomizes unpleasant. I had to use my husband's soda bottles, which can be conveniently found on the kitchen counter. All over the counter. All the time. 

Step 2: Slice

Cut the bottles. This can be accomplished with a sharp pair of scissors. Apparently it can also be accomplished with a dull pair of scissors and lots of swearing. I cut mine right below the textured part on top and right above the bottom texture to maximize the length. You could also cut them shorter if you wanted bracelets instead of full arm bands. Now they should be something like this, the cut one on the right and the full bottle on the left:

Now cut off the portion of the bottle that has adhesive permanently stuck to it. This will open the bracelet up to be able to fit around your arm and also get rid of the adhesive. 
"But Rose," you say, "there isn't any adhesive. I managed to get it all off."
That is a lie. There is ALWAYS adhesive. The adhesive on the side of bottles is the stuff of legend.  It won't come off, so just accept it, cut it off, and move on to...

Step 3: Safety First

Get stabbed in the arm with the sharp corners when you attempt to try them on. React, pull it off your arm, and then get stabbed when you do it again because they just look so cool already. I'm tying to be exact in my directions, so this merely chronicles my own experience with sharp plastic to the forearm. Now take your (dull) scissors and round off the corners so that there can be a better ratio of paint to your blood on the final product. Should be something around like this now:

Step 4: That Drawing Class Finally Comes in Handy

Draw your design on. I used a marker. You could use a dry erase marker if you wanted to be able to make corrections, but the finished product will cover the marks, so it really doesn't matter. If you are a skilled artist, have any confidence in your ability to make designs while burning your fingerprints off, or are suffering from an excess of hubris, then skip this step and move on to applying the hot glue. If not them it will look something like this, but hopefully with much better art:

Step 5: The Step in Which You Will Regret Starting this Project and OH GOD IT BURNS MY FINGERS!!

Here's where the fun starts. Now you are going to draw over the designs you did using a hot glue gun. The purpose of this is to make the designs raised so they stand out once you paint over the whole thing. 

This is also the part where, if you're anything like me, you will incur a series of permanent scars. I am not good with hot glue guns. Oh, I get shit done with them. I can glue things to other things like a pro. But in the process I also glue my hand to the table, my fingers to my other fingers, and a series of expletives runs in steady progression from my mouth. I would recommend using a low temp glue gun, not only because it will save you from certain pain, but also because my high temp gun caused the plastic of the bottle to warp slightly. 

The process goes something like this: Pick up glue gun. Swear because you dripped glue on your other hand. Run glue along the drawn line. Set glue gun down to re-position piece. Swear because you touched the hot glue on the bracelet and smudged it while also burning your hand. React to try and save the design and in the process tangle elbow in cord and knock the glue gun off the table onto lap, burning the sweet holy hell out of your leg. Make an oath to whatever you believe in that next payday you will buy that dual temp cordless hot glue gun you've been eyeballing for the past two years. Know in your heart you really never will. 

I'm sure, though, that you will have much better luck than I did (can't really be worse) and it will soon look like this:

I also did dots around the edge to look like rivets. I was especially happy with how those turned out. I do recommend taking the time to use scissors once it's dry and cut the little strings that are always left hanging off. They will become very annoying once you move onto painting. 

Step 6: Put Some Paint on Some Stuff

This step could also be called "Listen to your sister when she makes suggestions." I started with a gold paint that our little sister used to paint her hair when she was Loki on Halloween. She said it wouldn't give me good coverage, but I didn't listen. This is the piece four coats later:

Clearly she was correct. At this point she removed them from my possession (some force was involved), took them outside, and spray painted them with gold paint. She uses those little Short Cuts paints which I believe are made by Krylon, and they work a charm! Here is the finished product:

You can see where I needed to be a little more precise in my application of hot glue, because there are a few lumps. 

I attempted to put some darker paint along the ridges to make them look a little weathered, but failed and stopped trying, for fear I would mess them up. I think what I need to do is put a gloss coat over the whole thing so I can sponge on some brown and wipe it, leaving it only in the crevices. The gloss should allow me to remove it completely from the parts I want to keep gold. However, at this point it was nine thirty at night and we still had three costumes to sew, making this the end of my time I had to spend on them. 

In all they were not a difficult project (with the exception of my nemesis the hot glue gun). If (when) I make another pair I will probably invest in a low temp hot glue gun so I don't distort the shape of the plastic while I'm decorating them. I have also considered using puffy fabric paint in place of hot glue and eliminating the problem all together, but I'm not sure how will it would adhere to the plastic. 

Now the question is, which bracers do I use for Wonder Woman??

1 comment:

  1. These are cool. Hot glue "strings" are easily removed with a hair dryer. Cleans up projects like magic.