More Modern Millinery Materials
We have been discussing the wide, wonderful world of thermoplastics for hat making and, so far, have covered some popular products from industry leaders Wonderflex and Worbla. Before we end this series, I’d like to introduce you to a few other specialty thermoplastics that are great for millinery use.
Worbla Pellet Products
As well as their sheet thermoplastics, Worbla also manufactures two types of pellet products – DecoArt and CrystalArt. Despite having different formulas, pellet thermoplastics have the same qualities of self-adhesion and unlimited activation as their sheet plastic counterparts. They give you the ability to shape and cast molds quickly without fumes.
DecoArt is a white pellet that turns clear when activated (at about 150° Celcius) but then becomes opaque white again when it solidifies. When hot it acts like a putty that can be pressed into molds and it has a smoother surface than other Worbla products.
Crystal Art is one of the newest Worbla products. It also comes in pellet form but is translucent, even when cooled. The activation temperature of Crystal Art is 230° Celcius – very hot! You will need to wear heat resistant gloves and to keep your tools cool to prevent them from sticking to it. CrystalArt has a rubbery texture so, when sculpting, be aware that it will want to retract to a compressed form when heated. Thinner pieces of Cyrstal Art remain flexible even after they’ve cooled.
Other Popular Thermoplastics
While Worbla and Wonderflex are the two main manufacturers of thermoplastics for millinery, others have developed some great alternative products that are fun and effective.
One of my favorites is HatBondCM (pictured above), which was specifically designed for millinery use by Australian hat maker Carole Maher. When heated HatBondCM becomes very sticky, allowing it to bond to a variety of fabrics on both sides. It is softer and more flexible than other thermoplastics, making it excellent for blocking or making flowers and trims. It is super thin, so it’s invisible when placed in between layers of fabric.
Recently, Maher also introduced a metallic mylar version of HatBondCM called Myla CM. Currently, Carole Maher Thermoplastics are only available from House of Adorn in Australia.
Elasta-Plastic or Plastic Fantastic is a perforated plastic that came from the medical industry. When heated and stretched it creates a unique veiling or mesh effect. It also has shape memory so it will shrink back to its original size when heated.
Crystoform is the brand name given to sheet PETG plastics. It is a clear thermoplastic that activates at a high temperature and is semi-rigid depending on thickness. This sheet plastic will hold its clarity better than Worbla TranspaArt and is more rigid when cool. It takes high heat, cools fast and can be heated repeatedly but is not self-adhesive.
Crystoform is useful for making flowers and can be painted and clear coated for different effects. Crystoform flowers made by British milliner Ian Bennett are pictured above and in the image at the top of the page.
Thermoplastics are revolutionary and are changing the millinery industry. They open up new creative possibilities and speed up production time. These materials provide a whole new way to achieve unique design features that were unthinkable just a few years ago.