Hey Guys! Last month, we talked about cosplay culture and how to avoid uncomfortable questions and situations. This month, we're going to slow it down a bit and talk about how to choose materials for a project.
There's a large array of materials that you can use for a project, and narrowing down your selection can be daunting when you don't have much experience. Today, we're going to talk about the properties of different materials and what I personally think they work best for. All materials have their strengths and weaknesses, and it's important to be familiar with them so you can make the best decision.
Here is a google doc chart of everything I'll be covering this month. It's available for download so you can add your own favorite materials to it! In addition to this chart, I'll doing a short write up of each material and giving examples of what I think it works best for.
EVA foam sheets are a staple of most cosplays. They come in varying sizes, lengths and thicknesses, can be heat shaped, sanded and can use both contact cement and hot glue as adhesives. Overall, I think it's the most user friendly material and has the lowest skill floor. EVA foam sheets are very good for armor and mechanical weapons. Kamui, WM Armory and Punished Props all have many tutorials on how to use EVA foam.
Wood is going to be the most difficult, expensive and possibly dangerous to work with on this list. Normally, I wouldn't include it, but wood has so many fantastic applications in cosplay, and translates the most easily into real world skill sets. Typically, you'll only be working with wood in small amounts unless you have access to a work shop. Workshops are going to be large work spaces that have a variety of tools available for use. Most commonly you'll see cosplayers working with wood workers in their family or using public woodworking maker spaces. Wood is a very cheap, durable and versatile material, but it does get very heavy very quickly.
Pink Panther insulation foam is a lightweight foam that is very useful for large, solid projects like Harley Quinn's hammer and Nautilus' Anchor. It's easily carve-able with box cutters, but will melt if you use an aerosol on it. Pink panther is also very delicate if it isn't primed with a resin, and will dent if you hold it too tightly.
Thermoplastics are the most versatile of all the materials I've included. They're all lightweight, flexible, and easily mold-able. You can use them in almost any shape and they stick to themselves, which means that you don't need any adhesives to work with them. They also need very few tools to work with them, you just need to be very patient and careful.
Expanding Foam is the easiest to purchase and very simple to work with. Recently I've seen many cosplayers move away from working with it, but it's still a very good intro material. You can use it to make large, light props that are still very stable. It can be carved with box cutters, but it will need to be primed with paper mache or a resin to protect it from damage. Kamui has some old tutorials on how to work with expanding foam.
Do you have any materials you love working with that I haven't included? Let me know! Leave a comment below or message me on twitter @Carbonbae. Now remember, get out there and make some mistakes!