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Unread 08-08-2013, 08:37 AM   #1
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Help putting together 'End All, Be All Craft Foam Tutorial'

So as the title says, I'm looking to put together the complete, no-nonsense, practiced-and-proven craft foam tutorial.

I know there are a lot of tutorials on here for craft foam props and armor, Entropy's being the most famous. But they all seem to differ on materials to use as far as priming, sealing, painting, etc.

So I'm just looking to do a tutorial with basically:
Materials for Priming/Sealing and Pros/Cons of each
Painting (ie why you can't just off the bat use spray paint)
Glueing/Attaching (velcro, snaps, hot glue, the works)

As far as materials for priming/sealing go I have:
Mod Podge
Elmers Glue/Water mix (or jus straight up Elmers Glue)
Fabric (vinyl, pvc, etc) like the Eva Foam/Vinyl tutorial by the ever genius joysutton -

The last one of those materials has come in EXTREMELY helpful for my latest costume and I don't think enough people know about this method. You don't need multiple layers of it, you don't need to wait for it to dry, don't have to worry about it cracking. Just glue it on and done.

Anyway, just wanted to make it a bit easier for people using craft foam. With my recent costume and a few other friends of mine who use this site forums regularly, it seems like there's so many different tutorials/advice on craft foam, that it'd be nice to collect it all in one place so that one can make an educated choice after reading through all the research. (0_o I just sounded way too intelligent for 9:30a in the morning. And I haven't even had my coffee yet...)
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Unread 08-08-2013, 12:20 PM   #2
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I guess you'd better get cracking? To be honest there are so many different methods for foam armor that an all inclusive tutorial would be daunting to say the least.

On another note our friends have had good results spray painting directly to foam. Helmet by WM Armory.

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Unread 08-08-2013, 02:52 PM   #3
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Unread 08-09-2013, 07:44 AM   #4
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Well I think it's a very admirable thing you're doing, StarkRed26. A very complicated process but nonetheless admirable. It's a pity your first two replies couldn't give you any serious answers.

Well let's see if I can help you get the ball rolling if you're still up for the challenge:

Mod Podge Method - I've tried this method before and I'm not sure as to why most people like/use it. It clumps togethers far too easily, making little clear hills of mod podge here and there and then not coating some places at all. I've seen some people put food dye in mod podge so that they can better see what places they haven't painted over yet, but still, the layering that needs to be done, and the eveness you have to perform in order to get the right look is not worth it IMO. Plus, sometimes I've found the mod podge will start 'melting' (not sure if that's the right word). At my last con, my prop staff had the head piece covered with a layer of gloss mod podge. Maybe it was the convention hall being all hot and crowded, but the mod podge actually got wet (like I had just painted it on) and started dripping down the staff. 0_o

Elmers Glue/Water mix Method - This is the method I use the most. It's flexible, never cracks, and I find needs less layers to accomplish a good seal. Yes you can also put food dye in this to see where you've painted before but I find it isn't necessary. I've gotten by on 2-3 layers of this vs 7-8 layers of mod podge. 2 layers of glue + acrylic or spray paint + gloss varnish = perfect method.

PlastiDip Method - Again, don't get why people use this method but maybe I'm doing it wrong. I keep getting the idea that when people suggest this for areas that need to be covered but are too large for simply painting it by brush, that there is no need to seal it with mod podge or glue beforehand. I've used Platidip only once. Had 5 pieces of scrap craft foam and experimented with layering on each one (1 layer on foam #1, 2 on #2, and so on). Then I sprayed painted them after the Plastidip dried. Not even the #5 layer one looked decent. There were these 'spider web' looking cracks at the edges and I hardly needed to bend it at all for the rest of the plastidip to start peeling off.

Gesso Method - Have tried this on a sample piece of foam and wans't too impressed. It let a lot of brush strokes and glopped together in some places. I know you're probably supposed to sand it after its dry but why bother if you can just use glue and be done with it?

Fabric Method - I've never heard of this method before but it actually looks really interesting. The vinyl looks really good for maintaining its shape on top of the foam and the fact that she can bend it with any cracks or ripping happening is great. I just might have to try this method on my next costume.

Anyway, hope that helps a bit, Stark. I really do think you're doing a great thing, putting together all this information into one tutorial. I know it'd help me out A LOT. I still am trying to figure out how to attach some pieces of armor onto me but as far as that goes, I'm with velcro all the way. Those magnetic snap buttons are also very helpful too.

Good luck!
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Unread 08-09-2013, 07:38 PM   #5
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Fiberglass resin can be used to seal craft foam. Just takes a layer and it gives a glossy plastic, slightly flexible coating. A few drips may need to be sanded off the edges, it depends on the piece and the application. Afterwards, you just spray paint with plastic-bonding spray paint and it holds wonderfully (though do try to avoid any unsealed foam on the back side with the spray paint).
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Unread 08-20-2013, 01:02 PM   #6
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My personal method for sealing craft foam is a 2:1 ratio of water to mod podge layered on 3-5 times (depends on the size of the item), then sealing it with one or two coats of plastidip. Sealing it with mod podge helps close up all the pores while a layer of plastidip gives a better surface for priming/painting. This is only through my personal experience though.
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Unread 08-23-2013, 12:01 PM   #7
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I feel that to collect information for this you may be better off creating a list of different ideas and methods rather than a clear-cut method--since as you can see there's a thousand ways to do it. I'm always finding out new methods that I'd like to try but even execution of one method could likely be done at least three different ways.

That being said, this is a spectacular idea--after using craft foam for the first time for my cosplays at Otakon, I'm definitely going to be using it again. c:
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