Friday, February 14, 2014

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Finishing Worbla

Alrighty-tighty folks, have spent the whole of my January experimenting with finishing Worbla I've now got a pretty good idea of what to use when and since I have yet to see something like this out there (I searched. Hard.) I thought I'd put this out there for Valentine's day (even though maybe I celebrate Legumentines instead).

There are several methods of finishing out there that I've seen so far and I've tried almost all of them. The only ones I didn't try were plastidip and friendly plastic as I didn't have those available to me.

Now that I've had these pieces for awhile and they have done some travelling I can make a few notes about durability which have been added below, the major note is JUST SPRAY PRIMER IS PRONE TO CRACKING/CHIPPING.

$10 for a bottle that could probably last for a long time.
Time: About a week for 8 coats and 20 hours of sanding.
Durability: N/A
This is the one I tried first as that was what everyone was doing in late fall. I don't actually like it as it's honestly not easy to sand smooth. After 8 coats my mask still hand some low bits and bumps even but luckily it was just a test anyways.
Verdict: Unless you have tons of time and an already existing supply of gesso or are already good at gesso-ing I'd say pass.
Wood Glue
$4 a bottle that lasts for a few pieces of armor
Time: 1-2 days most of which is waiting for coats to dry. No sanding needed.
Durability: VERY durable, no cracks or ships yet.
Many thanks to Kamui-sensei and the gentleman at Ge[Bastelt] for this one. It's the quickest, cheapest and most non-toxic of finishing materials. It works best on highly detailed (like lots of raised edges) things and is wavy if you try it on anything flat/unadorned that's bigger than about 2 inches wide. It dries almost entirely clear which makes it kind of hard to see if you've got a dip or something in the finish until you're painting. It can sand if you want to and while you can water sand (as in with a wet finger) I don't find that water sanding does much of anything for how much time it takes.
Filler Primer
$4 for a can which is enough for 2-3 coats on a helm.
Time: 2 days to a week depending on how often you sand between coats and how smooth your original worbla was.
Durability: Pretty meh on it's own. Corners can chip and if you flex a part too much it will crack. Can be fixed by applying wood glue over it though and repainting. When used on top of wood glue though it has more of the durability of wood glue.
This is what you use to get a smooth mirror finish. It can get expensive but for something high visibility like a helm it's honestly worth it. Everything that is touches on your piece must be sanded though so it does take a good bit of sanding time but unlike gesso it takes about a minute at most to apply the primer itself and it easily goes on in an even, uniform layer. Also it sands much easier than gesso. I would suggest putting three coats down initially then sanding with 150 and going over that briefly with 500, then two more coats and if it looks smooth after those then just polishing it up with 500 before painting.

So now you know about what some of the products we can use are, let's get to the much more interesting part of what to use when.

Wood Glue
3 layers tends to work well, painting on thickly but not to the point where it runs
Small (2"x2" or less) pieces
Very detailed pieces of any size
Things that will be a pain to sand
Edging around gems (1-2 layers of wood glue)

Filler Primer
3 layers then sand with large grit then fine grit then two layers and sand if needed
Things that are fairly flat and have no major dips you need to fill in or particularly bumpy seams

The top of the turbine is unfinished since that goes under a sleeve.
Wood Glue & Filler Primer
3 layers wood glue then 2-3 layers filler primer then sand with 150 and finish with 500
Pieces with large flat/smooth areas
Pieces with noticeable bumps, dips or seams (may want to do 1-2 extra layers of wood glue then to fill these)

I've had amazing luck with the wood glue/filler primer combo as it both saves time and money. And the sanding isn't so bad if you put a towel on your lap to catch the dust and sit down and watch something good. You can look forward to more Worbla related stuff here as I'm really enjoying working with it. :)

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