Foss Manufacturing Company has two new products - Wonderflex™ and Fosshape™ - both products are composed of thermoformable fibers that can be molded and shaped when heated - a unique attribute that sets them apart from many traditional design media.

Foss will be featuring both Wonderflex and Fosshape at the 2002 USITT Conference and Stage Expo in New Orleans. You are invited to attend the Rubber, Metal, and Beyond seminar scheduled for Thursday, February 14th at 9:15 p.m., to learn more about the benefits of Wonderflex and Fosshape and to see the products in action. Rumor has it that Brian Jeffrey, market manager for Foss, will be making an appearance as Thermo Man. If you want to know more, you will just have to show up Thursday night.

When developing scenic elements, props, and costumes for performances, theatre designers constantly struggle with identifying materials that are versatile and easy-to-use – and won’t break the budget. Foss is helping theater and event designers overcome this challenge and bring a new level of creativity to their work with two innovative products – Wonderflex and Fosshape.

Used to create stage props, costume pieces and other design elements, Wonderflex and Fosshape are composed of thermoformable materials that can be molded and shaped when heated – a unique attribute that sets them apart from many traditional design media. Wonderflex and Fosshape are cost-effective alternatives that offer both strength and flexibility and are changing the way many designers, technical directors, and prop masters create their crafts.

Wonderflex™ Thermoformable Composite: Originally designed for use in women’s shoes, Wonderflex is a thermoformable plastic-like composite that becomes highly moldable and pliable when heated. Only moderate heat is needed, such as that supplied by an oven, microwave, or heat gun, making Wonderflex safe and easy to use. In addition, the material remains soft for about three minutes – allowing for ample work time -- and it can be reheated over and over for additional forming.

For additional timesaving convenience, no drying time is necessary; once Wonderflex is molded into the desired shape, it can be decorated immediately. Wonderflex also has a built-in adhesive that does not transfer to hands or other work surfaces, thereby providing a cleaner design process than other media that require additional solvents or messy adhesives. Several theater designers and theme parks in have used Wonderflex for a variety of projects including animatronics, scenery and prop design. Wonderflex is available in large sheets, and small pieces work well to repair existing props and sets.

Fosshape™ Thermoformable Fabric: This material differs from Wonderflex in that it is a soft, pliable fabric that responds to steam or dry heat. Fosshape is controlled through heat and pressure allowing it to be formed and shaped into permanent objects. The fabric also remains fully permeable and breathable after it has been shaped and cooled, making it comfortable for a performer to wear. It also enables designers to create the effect of drapability and flow. Fosshape is an ideal material for designing unique costume pieces and one-of-a-kind applications. For example, an event producer in Las Vegas recently used Fosshape to create elaborate headdresses for performers that were also lightweight and breathable.

“We are thrilled at the response we have received from designers who are using Wonderflex and Fosshape,” said Brian Jeffrey, market manager for Foss Manufacturing. “A number of well-known costumers and set designers worldwide are making some incredible items with the products – headpieces, masks, and props – and these materials are adding new cost-effective options to stage and event crafts.”

“Fosshape is an amazing product that has made my art so much better,” said Cat Dragon, decorator and prop designer. “One of my favorite applications was a set piece topped with nine life-sized angels. Using Fosshape for their tunics and the clouds that served as their backdrop, I was able to create a beautiful draping and billowing effect. The product held its shape, accepted paint perfectly, and each time the curtain rose the audience gasped and applauded.”

Many materials currently used today, such as papier-mâché, leather, wire, wood, and various types of plastic, can break or crack, are difficult to work with, require additional adhesives or special coatings, and are heavy and cumbersome. In contrast, both Wonderflex and Fosshape are exceptionally strong, flexible and lightweight, making them easy to design and transport. They can be painted or decorated with a variety of artisan coatings and paints and can also be used in conjunction with other materials such as paper, wood and cloth. Their flexibility and weight make them ideal for use in animatronics and other moving objects, while the versatility they provide also make them appropriate for small-scale projects such as creating scenery to accompany model train collections.

Wonderflex and Fosshape are available in a number of grades and sizes. For more information on these products or to identify a distributor near you, contact Foss Manufacturing at 800-746-4018, or visit Foss’ Web site at www.fossmfg.com.

In addition to Wonderflex and Fosshape, Foss Manufacturing is unveiling a number of new products to serve the theater and special events communities. These new products include economical fire-retardant theater curtains, a unique digitally printable medium for scenic backdrops and signage, glitter-infused fabrics, and glow-in-the-dark felt. More information on these products will be available in the coming months.