FOSSHAPE – Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is FOSSHAPE?

In its non-activated state, FOSSHAPE looks like a white pliable felt, but it’s a whole lot more. FOSSHAPE is a unique nonwoven fabric, comprised of a low melt synthetic polyester fiber that when exposed to varying degrees of heat (200 degree F range) and pressure, you can create a multitude of crafted items.

  • What can FOSSHAPE be used for?

For most anything…. from costuming use to making lightweight, three-dimensional structures and crafted items.. Great for props, millinery, crowns, mascots, puppetry, skull caps or wig supports, helmets, light weight armor, fairy wings, artistic sculptures, museum mount making etc. Use it for a hidden stiffening aid or by itself for a fully self-supported structure.  It’s truly “limited by your imagination” for producing those “one of a kind” items.

  • Who uses FOSSHAPE and where has it been used?

Artists, hat makers, milliners, mask makers, stage crafters, prop masters, set designers, museum mount makers and the like all use FOSSHAPE. From Broadway theatres to theme parks, Las Vegas and even Cirque de Soleil have all found a multitude of uses for this most versatile, easy to use, heat-activated fabric.

  • What are some of the attributes of using FOSSHAPE?

FOSSHAPE is durable for indoor or outdoor use, extremely lightweight and even breathable.  Saves valuable time and labor during the construction process, since no messy additives or drying/setup time required.  If your finished figure, craft or project gets wet, no problem, as it’s all synthetic and not affected by humid conditions or water, so it’s OK if it “rains on your parade”. It’s even mold and mildew resistant.

  • Does FOSSHAPE replace the use of other materials?

Most projects are of course unique and case specific regarding proper construction material selection.  The design/ build phases are often critical to the end result.  FOSSHAPE saves time/labor, without the mess over conventional materials like buckram, paper mache and even sculpted foam.

  • Is FOSSHAPE the same as buckram?

No, it’s a vast improvement. Costume professionals often call it “the buckram replacement”.  No long set up or drying time required, just heat activation. Unlike buckram, FOSSHAPE does not fall apart with body sweat or in humid/rainy conditions.

  • How is FOSSHAPE purchased or sold?

FOSSHAPE is purchased by the 45” wide yard.  Just tell us how many yards you require. Purchase a whole 50 yard roll or by the individual yard. The more you purchase, the more you save. Email us for potential large volume needs or special price offers.

  • I heard that both FOSSHAPE 300 and FOSSHAPE 600 are available.  What is the difference?

FOSSHAPE 300 is the medium grade, which weighs 9.0 oz/yd2 (300 grams per sq/meter) with a thickness of about .150” (about 4 mm) in the non-activated state.  FOSSHAPE 600 is a heavier grade, which weighs 18.0 oz/yd2 (600 grams per sq/meter) with a thickness of about .250” (about 6.5 mm) in the non-activated state.

  • What tools do I need to heat activate FOSSHAPE?

Although dependent on what your specific craft or project maybe, most people use an industrial hot air gun, fabric/costume steamer and or conventional steam iron.  Oftentimes the combined use of these tools is best. For small delicate areas a hair flat iron is oftentimes most useful. A home hair dryer does not generate enough heat to be effetive for proper activation.

  • Can I cut and sew FOSSHAPE?

Yes, no problem.  Easily cuts with scissors and does not fray or ravel like woven fabrics..  Cut out patterns, sew together then heat activate.  Sews well on conventional sewing machines and even in the slightly heat activated form.

  • How do I activate the FOSSHAPE?

With a flowing motion use an industrial hot air gun about 6-8 inches away from the fabric surface.  Work slowly and methodically, as the FOSSHAPE will continue to become stiffer, denser and continue to shrink in with additional heat.  Before starting your project, experimenting with a small piece is highly recomended to see what FOSSHAPE  can and can’t do. Practice and learn to understand the material. If not careful, you can actually melt or burn through creating a void….especially with the use of a hot air gun.  Work carefully and methoically as you cannot reverse the process. The use of steam heat from a fabric or costume steamer is  a bit more forgiving and a gentler heating process, so most often the tool of choice.  Use a steam iron to obtain a denser or smoother surface. Increasing steam heat along with repetitive pressure will increase rigidity and surface smoothness. As with any heat sources use common sense, caution and prudence as to not burn your self and keep away from flammable materials.

  • Does FOSSHAPE shrink when I heat activate it?

Yes.  An increase of heat (time and temperature) will yield increased shrinkage.  Depending on your heating technique, it will shrink in the range of 30% or more. The shrinkage factor is how FOSSHAPE becomes stiff or rigid, so use this to your advantage. Practice to learn and understand “the power of FOSSHAPE”.

  • What about pre-shrinking FOSSHAPE?

Considering the shrinkage factor and depending on your creation, you may want preshrink a little with a hot air gun or fabric steamer prior to cutting.  You may want to pin, tack or staple a yard or more to a flat hard surface like a 4’x 8’ sheet of plywood to use as a work surface.  FOSSHAPE is still sewable, providing it does not see too much haeat and pressure.

  • What about working over a hat or head block?

FOSSHAPE is great for making a “skull cap” or wig support base or even complete hats  Cut your pattern large enough to allow for shrinkage and finish trimming. You may want to pin or tack the edges of the FOSSHAPE to better hold it in place. Stretch and pull by hand while providing heat /pressure with a fabric steamer and or steam iron. With enough pressure applied using the iron, you can even add layers for more rigidity. Make yourself a pattern, cut, sew and work over a conventional wooden hat block. Remember to allow for shrinkage …..you can trim with scissors upon competion. Wire or edging may or may not be required for added stability.

  • Can I use or form FOSSHAPE over a wire support or armature?

Yes, a great application for large mascot heads and the like. Cut and sew panels, then place over your form, anchoring appropriately.  Then apply heat and let it shrink over the form for a lightweight, breathable structure.  Finish paint or coat and decorate as desired.

  • What about making a free standing or self-supporting structure with FOSSHAPE?

Yes, especially when something lightweight is most desirable.  As an example, if you were making a replica of a 4 foot oversize human hand.  Cut out two patterns (make them larger to allow for the shrinkage) of the hand. Sew them together around the outside edges of the hand and fingers, leaving the bottom open, in a sock like configuration.  Turn the sewn configuration completely inside out so the stitching is in the inside.  Stuff the sock-like hand figure full, with loose polyester fiberfill or pillow stuffing.  Finally, heat activate the outside surface with a fabric steamer or hot air gun allowing the FOSSHAPE to shrink up against the stuffing, until it becomes stiff and rigid. You can remove the fiber stuffing and have a durable, lightweight, hollow structure now suitable for painting or decorating.

  • Can I place FOSSHAPE directly on the human body then heat for forming or mask making?

Absolutely not, the hot FOSSHAPE and heat source will burn you.

  • Is FOSSHAPE fire retardant or have an FR rating?

No, it will eventually burn if exposed to an open flame long enough in its raw form or untreated state.  Various flame-retardants available on the market can be used to cover or coat FOSSHAPE. Check your local fire regulations and confer with your local fire marshal regarding your specific application and requirement.

  • How do I decorate or finish the surface of FOSSHAPE?

FOSSHAPE readily accepts most artisan paints and coatings.  Acrylics, latex etc. brush applied or spray-painted.  Foam coats, sculpt coats, gessos or most any artisan coating can be applied depending on the desired effect.  FOSSHAPE  can also be dyed using cold or warm water dyes. It’s most effective with light or pastel colors.

  • Is FOSSHAPE expensive?

No, FOSSHAPE 300 ranges from $11.00-$13.20 per 45” wide yard depending on volume, plus shipping and the heavier weight FOSSHAPE 600 ranges from $22.00 -$26.40 per 45” wide yard depending on volume, plus shipping.  Email us for potential large volume needs or special price offers.

  • I have a specific question or comment about the use of  FOSSHAPE. Who should I contact?

Contact the Thermoman Brian Jeffrey directly at 603-778-0190 or email fosshape@gmail.com   Check out www.fosshape.com or www.wonderflexworld.com  for more information.