How to Duplicate Repetitive Cosplay Elements
Thinking about making a cosplay that has decorative design elements that repeat? Don’t waste your time hand sculpting each instance. Not only does this take forever, but it can be a frustrating process trying to ensure each piece looks the same as the others.
Check out 2 recommended methods I’ve used to recreate repetitive elements in my Elspeth, Sun’s Champion and Astrid (from How to Train Your Dragon) costumes.
Method 1: Clay
Part of Elspeth’s outfit includes an armored skirt. On each panel of the skirt (minus the front, center one) there is a lion head emblem. Let’s just say that free hand sculpting isn’t exactly a strong suit of mine and I didn’t relish having to recreate a lion head multiple times.
Lucky for me, the apartment building I live in is an old house that was converted; meaning it has a lot of beautiful woodwork and design elements throughout. Our mailboxes in the entryway happened to have little lion head pull knobs on the doors, which were exactly what I needed to use a molds for my Elspeth costume.
To preserve the original piece, I used a layer of plastic cling wrap to cover it, then I slowly added clay over the top of it to create a replica mold. I made sure to only cover the top to ensure I could pop the original out of the mold once it dried. I also wasn’t shy about creating a think layer of clay to prevent any thin walls that could easy break.
I would recommend using an oven bake clay to ensure the mold is rigid and will last while using it to recreate all your copy pieces.
Once your mold has been oven baked, hardened, and has cooled off it’s ready for action.
I would recommend using an air dry clay like Crayola’s Model Magic for your duplicated pieces. This clay is not only easy to work with but it’s lightweight. This is great when you have to add a number of decorative elements to a costume and don’t want things to get heavy.
One thing to note about this method of duplication is that your piece generally won’t be perfectly smooth -either your mold will have lines from the plastic wrap, or it it’ll be hard to get the clay perfectly line free when squishing it into the mold. This actually played to my advantage for my Elspeth costume as it created a nice texture effect.
Method 2: Resin
Out of these two methods, this one is probably my preferred. To start out, you need a piece to create your mold. I typically use a found object (like I did with the lion head above) or I use clay to make my own design. To make the skull for Astrid’s skirt I used oven baked clay to make the original piece.
After you have your piece, use Mold Putty to create your mold. This stuff is super simple to work with; just follow the included instructions. In my experience it also holds up well when using the mold to create duplicated piece after duplicated piece.
After creating your mold from the Mold Putty you’ll use a Casting Resin to actually make each duplication. While there are lots of resins on the market, I like to use the Alumilite stuff because it’s easy to find and use, just like their Mold Putty. Plus, it sets super quick which is always a plus when you’re trying to whip up a batch of items.
While this resin is heavier than the air dry clay, it doesn’t add too much weight when making small items. I also like that your pieces will exactly replicate the original you create. Finally, dye can be added directly to the resin to color it or the piece can be painted post hardening.
My Astrid cosplay is a work in progress, but keep an eye out in the future for more tutorials on that one! I plan to use one of these 2 methods to duplicate all the spikes on her skirt too.
Do you have another method for duplicating costume parts? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it! I’m always looking for new ideas and for ways to improve my own cosplay building techniques.
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