What is plastazote? I think plastazote is an amazing material. Plastazote is a similar material to what camping mats are made from. In fact when I worked as a prop maker at a theatre in Germany we could not find any plastazote suppliers and we ended up making various costume props out of cheap camping mats. One thing to remember though, it is also not at all breathable, if you are making something out if it remember that it can make the performer wearing it incredibly hot! Plastazote is used for all kinds of products – swimming floats, packaging, lining shoes and sports equipment. Put the word plastazote into google images and you can see all sorts of wierd and wonderful things.
In my last post I wrote about how to make a cardboard former for a sculptural hat. This former can be used to generate a pattern, which is then cut out of fabric, buckram or plastazote.
So I thought this post would be a good chance to show you some examples of when I have used a cardboard former and the sculptural hat that it created.
First up is a sculptural flame hat made for entertainer, mime artist and juggler Jason Maverick. This was the first time I used the cardboard former method, and it saved a lot of time and also saved me wasting plastazote (an expensive material). I covered the cardboard in masking tape and then cut up the masking tape shell into strips. These were my pattern pieces.
This is the method I use to create patterns for my large plastazote headpieces. See the photo at the end for an idea of the finished shape. It’s a good way of mocking up a hat (if you re working to someone else’s designs) to check that you are on the right track of what they want.
2 pieces – one that runs from top of ear to top of ear (side seam – SS) and one that runs from forehead (centre front CF) to nape of neck (centre back CB). These are the profile view and front on view. Get the curve for where it is going to sit on head by getting a bit of wire and bending it over your head and then tracing that line on the cardboard.
Draw a line going up at a right angle from the crown of the head. Spend a bit of time working out where exactly that point is, as this is the centre of the cardboard former (and it is important to get the exact centre of the hat right for balance, especially if it is going to be a big piece). Work out the profile shape and the front view shape. If the shape is symmetrical draw one side and use that as a template for the other side, making sure they mirror each other and they re even. As they are going to join together on the vertical line you have drawn from the centre of the crown, that line should be the same length on both the profile view and the side view.