For Emerald City Comic Con, G wanted to cosplay
as the Winter Soldier, which meant she needed a metal
arm. For her arm, we combined several on-line tutorials
with materials we had on hand.
There are lots of tutorials out there, and they range from
the simple to the complex, and from inexpensive to
majorly spendy. Our method skated between the
extremes and only cost about $30 (in addition to the
random materials we had on hand).
First, we made a pattern of G's arm, from wrist to
shoulder. This meant wrapping her arm in plastic wrap
and masking tape. Given that I've never wrapped anyone
in plastic wrap before, I wasn't aware that it would
become so tight so quickly. It was very challenging to
cut off of G without taking bits of her as well.
So, when we started to make the plaster cast of her arm,
I used a recommendation from a tutorial we'd read and
started with a layer of bubble wrap. The bubble wrap
was placed bubble side down on her skin, followed by
a layer of plastic wrap, and then a layer of masking tape.
Then we used Activa Rigid Wrap (plaster impregnated
bandage wraps) dipped in water to make the plater
cast. The plaster hardened pretty quickly, and we
started to cut it off while the inside layers were still
The layer of the bubble wrap really helped at this stage.
It created enough of a buffer that we could slide the
scissor blade under the cast.
Once the cast was cut free, we let it finish curing.
When it was completely set, we cut the lower arm free
from the upper arm. The bubble wrap, plastic wrap, and
masking tape were pulled free, and then we coated the
raw plaster with glue. For the exterior of the arm
we used wood glue and acrylic medium for the interior.
The glue strengthens and waterproofs the plaster.
(Note: we used acrylic medium on the inside, but it is
spendy. The wood glue is a lot less expensive.)
I applied 3 layers of glue, allowing each one to dry before
adding the next.
Then, I added seam binding to seal the edges of the
arm. I used hot glue to attach it. The seam binding
both protected G's skin and kept the plaster from eroding.
Now, to the question of metal plating. Worbla is the go-to
material that we saw used on-line, but it is expensive.
I happened to have a roll of metal ductwork tape in my
crafting stash. This tape is extremely thin metal, with
a paper backed adhesive on it. It can be cut with regular
scissors, is forgiving, and is inexpensive. ( A single $8 roll
was plenty for her arm.) In other words, it's perfect.
To give them metal tape form and structure we layered
it on thin sheets of craft foam. If we needed more
structure (like for the shoulder bit) I layered metal
tape on both sides of the foam.
We took G's arm plastic wrap pattern and drew the
metal plate patterns on it. To make the arm design,
I would cut out a section of armor from the pattern,
trace that onto craft foam, cut that out, and then
cover it with the metal tape. This was then hot glued
to the plaster arm piece.
For closures, I incorporated velcro strips. I sewed the
velcro onto the metal covered foam elements before
glueing them onto the arm. (I found that hot glueing
the velcro to the arm wasn't a strong enough bond.
It had to be sewn to be strong enough.)
The upper arm was decorated in the same manner.
The top of the arm/shoulder area didn't have a plaster
base. I used double reinforced foam/metal tape to
build up this area. For the star, I cut out a foam star,
covered it with metal tape, and then used an enamel
style red paint to color it. This was then hot glued in
Once the arm was fully decorated, I used a super soft
piece of cotton fleece (like a sweatshirt material) to
line the inside of the arm pieces. This padding served
multiple purposes. It make the armor comfy, kept it
from chaffing, and absorbed sweat.
The upper and lower arm pieces are completely
separate, but they rest on each other. With the velcro
closures and the fleece padding, her arm pieces fit snugly
enough that she didn't need any straps.
Now, for the metal hand.
For the metal finger tips, we took a disposable latex
glove and wrapped little strips of our metal tape
around each finger tip.
While the tape restricted movement a bit, it was still
more comfortable than trying to build metal finger tips.
Over this, she wore a pair of fingerless gloves with
padded plating that had velcro adjusting straps so they
could be molded to fit G's hands.
G bought her face mask on-line. It was latex, and I
sewed an extra piece of velcro to the mask so we could
make it fit her non-man-sized face. I used some
pleather to make her an "armored" wrap around vest.
And, voila, just add one Frenemy, and she's ready for battle!