View Full Version : coating and smoothing carved foam

04-09-2003, 10:35 PM
Hullo all ^_^

bit of a prop question.

know how you can get those blocks of styrafoam? (or however you spell it lol) and you can carve your whatever it is you are making out of it?
well its obviously rough and lumpy being foam and all.
and someone told me once that there is something you can coat it with and then sand it down, but for the life of me i cant remember what it was.

so i would love any suggestions for something to coat the foam to make it smooth or if someone knows what the magic thing is that was suggested to me before that would be great. ^_^


eyar har har

04-09-2003, 10:37 PM
I'd like to know this, too! I've tried a couple of things but nothing has really worked so far.

04-09-2003, 10:40 PM
Out of curiousity, what are you trying to make?

04-09-2003, 10:45 PM
I've been making BT's staff out of styrofoam, and I coated it with a type of paperclay. It's a special blend of papier-mache that takes better to paints. I got a big bag of it at Aaron Brothers for $5. I'm sorry I can't remember what it's called, but if you look at the selection in an art supply store I'm sure you can find it or something similar.

Anyways, be prepared for a LOT of sanding if the prop has a lot of nooks and crannies. It's pretty hard to get this stuff on neatly.

I also saw this stuff at Joann. . .a foam smoother. It's in with the Mod Podge and other similar items. It was pretty expensive ($6 for a teeny little jar) so I didn't try it. However, if you're willing to shell out the dough, you might want to try it ^_^.

04-09-2003, 10:50 PM
well thanks tenshi. i'll keep an eye out for that paperclay stuff.

anyone else?

the more ideas the better! lol

and note: this is for Tsukasa's staff. ^^

Space Invader
04-09-2003, 11:00 PM
What Tenshi's got is Celluclay. It's great, gets nice and hard, but is a bitch to sand and nex to impossible to get smooth. Eeep. I have to big 5 pound bag I got for $16 at Michael's. You could use it as a weapon, lol.

Try the foam smoother stuff. I've had my eye on it, and I'm considering using it when I go to make my Jet Force pistol and shurikens...

04-09-2003, 11:24 PM

04-09-2003, 11:48 PM
Ah, yep, that was it :P. Thanks ^_^. I forgot one thing -- when you sand it, wear a surgical mask or a wet handtowel over your mouth and nose. I was coughing for a good 15 minutes after I had a 5-minute session sanding. The stuff's worse than second-hand smoke O_o.

04-10-2003, 12:54 AM
ya I had to wear a full face mask... that stuff's horrible... Fortuneatly we have a garage... I did my sanding out there

04-10-2003, 06:10 AM
yeah, i have a sculpture studio on campus i can go to for such things as sanding. yay for campus art studios. heh

04-10-2003, 07:03 AM
Currently reworking this tutorial, but it may shed some light on what to do for you. I'm redoing a sword that someone broke, so the technique is changing a little bit to include fiberglass. It will be updated again when I do that step ^^


04-10-2003, 07:41 AM
Definately Fiberglass apoxy Resin would be the best solution for filling holes, and smoothing foam when sanded. I love FOAM!!! I'm currently doing commisions for cosplay weapons and foam is great to carve. The fiberglass apoxy will cost a pritty penny IF you want the high quality/clear fiberglass. Everyones Right: You need to wear a mask for sanding....it can be dangerous if constently inhailed in dust form, Also DON'T LET IT GET ON YOU HANDS/CLOTHS!!! It is very hard to get off anything once mixed properly. In the end you will have a custome light weight weapon, thats durable as wood ^-^

If you have anymore questions of fiberglass apoxy resin, or createing weapons out of foam, just PM me sometime and I'll be more than happy to help out :)

04-10-2003, 07:02 PM
Just wanted to point out that all that messing around with epoxy and fiberglass particles seems to be a lot more trouble than just carving a hunk of wood, which is what I usually do for weapons. You don't need anything fancy, just access to a bandsaw (or a hand-saw, if you've got really strong arms), a pushknife for shaping the wood, some clamps and a sturdy table. *shrug* Best of all, the sanding dust is non-toxic.

04-10-2003, 08:13 PM
Thing is, Sarcasm, that not all of us have access to a band saw (including myself).. So I have to go with less machinery-dependent options lest it take forever to make a weapon =/

Besides, you can't cut your fingers off using fiberglass. :lol:

04-10-2003, 09:07 PM
Well, I've done something similar for my Sailor Cosmos staff--

Styrofoam balls coated with like a gagillion layers of Mod Podge. After about the 8th initial layers, wet sanded in between additional layers. (Ya keep going til it's smooth!) Painted with acrylic based colors. Um.. btw, Mod Podge is a pain to work with during humid weather-- takes forever to dry... : /

I would definitely recommend ACRYLIC paints for the stuff.. If you can't find the right shade in the spray, painting with extremely light coats, tho many, will work. (reduces brush marks) Had to do that for the gold balls.

FolkArt's glazes will be ok. I'd get the non-yellowing formula for sure. I've used the Hi-Shine formula on something else I've made and it didn't melt or anything.

Was that what you were looking for?

04-10-2003, 10:44 PM
I think I'm the one who told ya about that stuff. I'm the Yuna from the elevator at katsucon. lol. Oh well um the stuff I use is Foam Filler. It's in the glue section at JoAnns in a little purple jar. And it is rather pricey, 5 dollars for a jar. (I don't really care cause I'm an employee, but most people aren't ^^;;) It goes a long way however because you have to add water to the stuff in the jar to make it into this paste which you coat the Styrofoam with. You have to let it dry at least a week though. If you try to sand it too soon, it sands really poorly. After that you can paint it or use more of the paste to add detail work. Oh, however, if you don't want to sand it at all you can paint it after it's dried for a few hours

Another thing for filling all types of foam is liquid latex. You can buy it in colors from fetish shops and places like Spencers. Or you can buy it in a clear/yellowish shade at a craft store in the section where they keep the casting resin. It fills in the cracks and openings just fine and you can paint over it with a few coats of acrylic. Can't sand it though.

04-10-2003, 10:49 PM
Oh yeah, you don't have to worry about sanding with a face mask on. Unless you just don't want to breath the stuff. It doesn't sand into a real fine powder, and clung more to my sand paper and my clothes then my nasal cavities.

04-11-2003, 11:11 AM
lol. yeah, i wish i had access to mess loads of wood working tools and machines. well, i do for part of the year while at college anyway. lol
but i prefer the lighter method of foam. and con security is always more forgiving on foam weapons. one less thing to deal with at con. lol

catatonic: yeah, i do kinda remember being told about that stuff. lol at this point i think i am going to buy 2 or 3 different things and try them all and see how i like them.
the person who told me about the stuff i am trying to remember was a guy in a tsukasa costume, had the best staff i had ever seen.

monoyasha: i almost think that may be what was suggested to me, but not sure, but i will definitly give that one a try. sounds good and i have worked with similar things.

thankies everyone ^^

04-11-2003, 01:53 PM
I'm not sure that con security would consider a foam weapon covered in auto-body filler (and thus really hard) to be that different from a wooden one, but anyways.

Yeah, if you're using Styrofoam and not covering it with something really solid, definitely go with acrylic paints. Even if you've covered it with many layers of paint or Podge or whatever, spraypaint will eat thru styrofoam like there's no tomorrow.