Essential Kit for Prop Making
It's almost June and I have spent the majority of my year working on making props and challenging myself to create big projects in order to get better at prop making. I would love to do more this year (that's the plan) and to do that, I want to show what I use and have in my arsenal to create these awesome props I have pulled out of nowhere!
First, you'll want to buy prop making books. Kamui Cosplay has them, as well as so many others. Definitely watch prop making tutorials, as each project is going to need different tools. But, below I'll list the standard array you'll need for your projects.
Foam, of course! You can buy this in so many places, Joann's, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, etc. But if you want to be serious in your prop making, you'll probably want to order from actual Cosplay Crafting websites. SKS Props just launched a new line of foam, and you know your boy had to get some. It's fantastic and super easy to work with. And it comes in grey so you can see your marks on the foam. You can also get it from Cosplay Crafts, and they have Thibra, foam, foam clay, and so many other wonderful goodies. I really want to buy from them soon, but maybe after I run out of foam for Tolia's Ingenium cosplay ;D
Next, you'll want a really good utility knife. It's gotta be sharp, or the cuts in your foam are going to look bad and you're going to need to dremel more. Most good utility knives cost about $7-10 and can come with replaceable razors. You can buy these at any home improvement store, and they are pretty awesome. Speaking on dremels, you'll want one to smooth out your cuts, seams, and even help design some of the details in your work. I got my dremel at Walmart for about $40, and my first one only decided to die on me in the middle of all my con crunch for ASTL! (lol, there was a lot of crying, but it lasted for about 3-4 years)
The glue you'll want to get is called "Dap." It's pretty expensive for the item, but it's entirely worth it and holds together the foam better than the hot glue you should only use in emergency, and can dry faster than e6000. That's not to say you shouldn't use them, just that for bigger props or projects, you should only use them for emergencies.
With using contact cement, please use it outside or in a VERY VERY insulated area. Windows open, fans on, making sure that air is constantly moving. You'll also want to wear gloves and a mask, which you can also get for a pretty good price at any hardware store. The best ones only cost about $25, but for 25 bucks, you can save some brain cells. You'll also want it for when you dremel, so you don't get dust in your lungs.
For contact cement, I didn't know you would need to let it get tacky before it would decide to stick on anything, so invest in a heat gun. This heat seals your foam, makes the glue tacky, and if you cut details into the foam, can make them more prominent. It's a beautiful sight to see when your design that didn't look great before, opens up and shows your hard work. I believe I got my heat gun for about $20 and it still works. Also, don't touch the front part. That does get extremely hot and will burn your fingers. Also make sure to have a non-flammable surface you can put it on so that you don't set your house on fire or melt your carpet or anything.
You'll also want to get some kwik seal, because your seams will almost never line up perfectly, or there will be holes, and it's best to just have a back up plan. Using kwik seal is perfect, since it dries quickly and can still flex (because it is a silcone sealant) so if your piece bends, you can use that for your seams and it won't crack like other sealants may do.
And when you are ready to seal your pieces to ready them for sealing, you can use Plasti-dip, or mod podge. Plasti-dip is a spray rubber sealant that is great for moving pieces so that the foam won't soak up the paint and you can have less time spent painting, and more time spent finishing. You'll want to seal in the paint job with a coat of mod podge or clear spray seal. Both run about the same, but if you get the spray seal, it won't have the brush marks that mod podge has.
Hopefully this article has been helpful to you and you are ready to start on your next prop-building project! Please send me photos because I love seeing everyone's work! It's also alright to mess up and it not be perfect the first time. Everyone is learning and you are doing great.