Nordrassil Life-mantle

Before I start with how I made this part of the costume, a little foreword. You can scroll right over to “How I did it”, if you want.

The pauldrons have given me quite a lot of headache, as I have never made anything like this before. I tried different methods, and they all sucked:

From left to right: PU foam (expanding foam) on a chickenwire-base, craft-foam with papermaché and this bendy plastic sheet (heat it up, bend it) with craft foam.

As you can see, this isn’t very impressive. The best attempt so far was the papermaché, but they turned out way too small and thin. In the end I ordered Worbla (More info here). I never worked with it before, and it is really expensive (mostly because of the shipping, which is crazy expensive to Denmark), but almost all cosplayers use it and have had good results with it, so I figured this would be the way to go.

I ordered first from the UK to Denmark, and it was pretty expensive. I bought a size Large (75x100cm). My first impression: Softer than I thought, very bendy and easy to cut (with scissors!)

Now, I’ll explain how I did it!

I know many people wonder – how much worbla do I need to buy? So did I, and I guessed wrong when I bought a L size piece  – I only had enough for 1 and a half shoulder. Luckily, my collegues were going to Germany for a week, and I was able to order an XL size sheet and have it delivered at my company’s German office and then have it brought here afterwards, saving me quite a lot of money.

How I did it:

I guestimated a pattern and cut it from two layers of worbla and one of craft foam.

This picture shows the parts needed for ONE pauldron. I doubled for the 2nd one.

First I heated up one layer of worbla using a heat gun, put the craft foam on top, heated the other layer and put on top, then worked a lot to cut the edges and make them smooth, all the time reheating the worbla (it doesn’t go hard immediately, but it does cool down and harden fairly quick.

The result of my first few hours of working with the material looked like this.

(I used a money bank pig to shape the pauldron, but any rounded shape could be used here, I guess.)

It took a LOT of work to get the shape right, because my initial pattern was shit, but the material is very forgiving. You can stretch it and bend it in almost any way, and you can reheat it endlessly (it seems).


I first got the main shape down, then added the “branches” length with some more worbla. In the reference, it looks like these are made of two layers, so I decided to do the same. I also made gems with the same casting resin I used for headpiece and chestpiece. Sadly, I had only 1 mold, and I needed to of the same gems, so I had to cast twice. Second time, I got the ratio between resin and hardener wrong the second time around, so one gem took about 2 weeks to harden and turned all milky white, while the other is completely transparent. I fixed this by adding some french manicure on top of the transparent one and then a thin layer of translucent pink nail polish. At the bottom of the gems, I added different colours of nail polish and alu foil.

Next, I put some worbla around the base of the gems and attached them to the pauldrons. They have some moss growing on them in the reference, and to make these embossed details, I added some rope with hot glue gun.

I started covering the pauldrons with paperclay. I did it in several layers, because it was easier to get the surface right that way

I also added the LEDs and cables that are on the underside of the “branches”, as I had to cover the cables with paperclay to hide them. The LEDs and wiring were tested BEFORE I covered them with the paperclay, just to be on the safe side.

After making sure all of the LEDs were working, I added paperclay to the rest of the pauldrons, covering them completely, except the underside:

After the paperclay was dry, I sanded it to make it smooth. I then realized I’d forgotten a detail – the little half-moons at the front sides. I made a base form of cardboard, similar to how I made my headpiece, and then added worbla on top. The attachments I made by heating up strips of worbla and wrapping them around a strip of rope. Since the worbla glues to itself, attachment was as simple as heating up and sticking on.

In this photo I’ve already covered the attachments with paperclay as well.

I then started painting. Like with my headpiece and staff, I use several layers of paint to get it right – here’s the base coat.

I accidentally added too dark, but otherwise my idea is to add a middle base colour and then add lights and shadows on top to get that bark/wooden surface, and then last add the green mossy colours on top.

Some layers of paint later, and finally done.

The mounting was not very well done, so I don’t really want to promote it. What I did was use worbla to make little eyelets inside the pauldrons. I then sewed brown straps – 3 for each side. 1 strap sits at the top back part of the pauldron, one at the top front and another at top bottom. The two top ones both go behind my neck, then one in front and the other behind my arm, and they’re attached with a D-ring and velcro under my arm. The last strap is also in front and keeps the pauldron from sliding backward and goes under my top and is attached with safety pins to my bra. Not so elegant, but it worked – was painful after a few hours of wearing, though!

I’ve since made a “transformation” video with this cosplay that shows how all the parts go together and are attached to me.