Fan Expo (aka deadline for my costume) is next weekend, so I’ve been working madly to finish my costume for the last two weeks, and I’m pleased to say I’ve made a lot of progress! I’ve finished my catsuit, and it looks pretty good in my opinion. It’s not perfect, but it’s very wearable and I’m pretty proud that my first project with stretch fabric turned out so well.
I’ve also started working on the non-fabric aspects of the costume, such as the armor and circlet. My mentor has made armor before so she was able to guide me through the process.
The basic materials needed for armor making are:
• EVA foam (what yoga mats are made of)
• A heat gun
• Gesso (canvas prep liquid, you can get it at most art stores). It’s really useful for smoothing out the foam because it sands really well.
• Craft foam (if you want to create designs on the armor). You can get sheets of this at the dollar store. It’s like the stuff those foam shapes/stickers are made of.
- The first step to armor making is getting your pattern- Since you’re covering a 3D body part, the easiest way to make the pattern is the saran wrap/tape cast that I explained in this post.
- After you’ve got your pattern you can start cutting it out of the EVA foam. My pattern was a bit small, so I decided to make the actual piece a bit bigger.
- The next step is optional- if the armor you’re creating has patterns on it, the easiest way to create them is to build up with craft foam, or even other materials. Loki’s armor is very detailed, so I ended up with a lot of tiny pieces. For things like very thin lines or studs I recommend not using craft foam- it’s a hassle to cut out tiny things, and you can easily make them out of hot glue or even googly eyes or glitter studs from the dollar store. The color doesn’t matter, as you’ll be covering it with Gesso and paint.
- Whether or not you have designs on your armor, this step is super important, as it makes your armor look like something you’d wear on your body, rather than a flat piece of foam. The best way to bend you EVA foam is by using a heat gun on a lower setting. This way the foam becomes more malleable, but doesn’t melt. Some people have said that fumes from heated EVA foam can be dangerous, so I like to be careful and do it in a well-ventilated area while wearing a mask. Also, remember to do it on a surface that can take the heat. You don’t want to be melting your tablecloth!
- A quick note on how to use a heat gun- start off on a low setting and far away from your foam as you don’t want to be accidentally melting a hole in your foam. If the foam isn’t responding you can slowly increase the heat, but remember that the foam should never be hot enough that you can’t touch it with your bare hands, as once the foam is warm you’ll be pressing it onto the part of the body that you’ll be wearing it on. After bending it in the way you want you’ll have to hold it in place until it cools.
Once you’ve got the shape you want and the foam has cooled you can start applying the Gesso, usually about two layers. You can sand it if you need to, and after that you’ll be ready to paint.
So far I’ve only gotten to hot gluing on all the tiny details, but I’m hoping by the end of the weekend I’ll have the Gesso layers on.
I’ve also been working with Lauren on the corset-like piece, which has proved quite the challenge as it has a very complicated pattern on it. We decided it would be best to start out with a scrap fabric version, so I’m working on a very pink and flowery version of the piece right now- luckily it looks like it’ll work out really well!
Some examples of concepts in my most recent sessions with my mentor are:
-Sewing stretch fabrics
One recent alternative my mentor has offered me is to build up designs on my armor pieces, rather than cut out designs in them. Another mentor may have offered an alternative of using a different material to make the armor out of a material that would be easier to cut designs out of.
Another alternative my mentor has offered me is to create a pattern from scratch for the corset piece, whereas another mentor may have suggested to buy a pattern and alter it.