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Unread 04-29-2013, 05:45 AM   #1
Kelley
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Durability of Craft Foam Armor?

Hi everyone ! I'm excited to be planning my second real armor (instead of doing my homework).

I've been reading about various methods of making costume armor and feel like I have a good feel for it.

My main concern is how durable craft foam is. What are your personal experiences ? I've heard various things while I've been reading and I'm curious to see what people here say.

It would be very inexpensive, but I'd like to be able to wear this multiple times and not worry about it ripping or something. Have you been able to do this with yours - wearing it multiple times, et cetera ?

I'm trying to decide if I need Wonderflex or Worbla for this so I can plan and budget appropriately and would like to hear experiences with durability. My main concern is at connection points between armor pieces, I'm sure I'd have to reinforce them especially. At this point I'm thinking of doing a combination - the W/W for what would really benefit from the shaping from it and craft foam where it can because I'm a cheap jerk.

Reference picture because I know that someone will invariably want one if it's not posted (because I'm usually that person) : http://25.media.tumblr.com/35d790145...43ago1_500.jpg

I'm really hoping that if I procrastinate long enough this essay will write itself.
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Unread 04-29-2013, 07:23 AM   #2
ladysphinx07
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I helped my bestie make Azula (from Avatar: TLA) armor out of craft foam and we had pretty good success with it. She's only worn it twice so far, but it hasn't ripped or gotten too badly bruised. However, it just sits on her shoulders so she doesn't really apply any pressure to it.

I also saw a friend of mine make this armor out of craft foam and it's still usable after a year of cosplaying.

If you reinforce it well (sealing it, adding extra support to the backside) it holds up pretty well. But in the end, you still have to be delicate with it more so than something like wonderflex I would think.
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Unread 04-29-2013, 09:33 AM   #3
rothsauce
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I have been working on a suit of Warcraft armor using the method you are asking about.

Didn't have access to Worbla at the time, but did use Wonderflex for the base of a breastplate and backplate. On top of that for a bit more durability, I used a layer of Bondo and sanded the parts down until they were relatively smooth. To even out a few areas, I used some paper mache since those areas wouldn't be ones that would have any sort of straps around them and wouldn't be under any major stress. Once it looked good enough, I started laying out my patterns and cutting the craft foam.

Instead of hot glue like most seem to use, I use a thin layer of a two-part epoxy. To protect the foam, I've used alternate layers of Gesso and either Mod Podge or Decoupadge. Once the colors are put over those layers, another layer or more of Mod Podge or Decoupage is added, depending on if I think the area might be more prone to getting treated roughly or not.

Since I don't have much Wonderflex, I have been using shelf liners from work for the base of my other armor pieces, as I am not worried about those needing to be too terribly durable and the shapes are easier to manage out of the material I'm using for them.
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Unread 04-29-2013, 09:50 AM   #4
erayachi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rothsauce View Post
. To protect the foam, I've used alternate layers of Gesso and either Mod Podge or Decoupadge. .
This. I cannot stress how important Modge Podge/Gesso is for making craft foam armour more durable. The more layers the better, because it protects from denting and tearing (as craft foam is want to do) and retains its flexibility for movement.

Another thing I've discovered is the use of plaster wrap, cloth that's infused with plaster. It dries hard and in a couple layers, makes the armor rock-solid for the pieces that aren't supposed to flex. Then I add a thin layer of paperclay, which makes the armor very, very tough and shell-like. It's an effective and relatively cheap method for the pieces (like helmets and shoulder pauldrons) that must be solid.
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Unread 04-29-2013, 12:14 PM   #5
Amanita
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I was wondering about the Mod Podge- I would want to seal my armor with something to give it a smooth, easily paintable finish (unsealed foam is porous and soaks up paint), but it would need to be able to bend. Nice to know it's flexible!
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Unread 04-29-2013, 08:23 PM   #6
Kelley
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I have some left-over craft foam from another project, so I will definitely do some testing of all these methods. Thank you!
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Unread 04-29-2013, 08:51 PM   #7
Millions_Knives
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if you want foam armor that is flexible and will not rip
you may want to try backing it with interfacing, cloth, or even duct tape
hope it helps
good times to all
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Unread 05-01-2013, 06:02 PM   #8
rothsauce
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Using regular Mod Podge, the pieces were still flexible. Still don't want to over stress them, and it helps like some have mentioned to let the pieces dry in a position similar to what you'll be wearing them in.

For example, I crafted a belt with a base of thin plastic and different types of craft foams over top of it, and when letting the Gesso and Mod Podge dry I left it to rest of the arm of my couch. It could bend in the opposite direction just fine, but it would also be able to be pulled tighter together if it was ever needed as well. Once you start experimenting, you'll find what works best for the pieces you're doing and how you'll be using them. It might not be perfect the first time, but you'll learn and hopefully have fun with it regardless!
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