Welcome my friends! Wanna know more about EVA foam and how to work with it? Well, you’ve come to the right place! After the first part–What The *Bleep* Am I Doing?! An Artist’s Guide To ALl Things Creative: EVA Foam Part 1 I’ve explained what EVA foam is–from the different types of thickness and just a few different types of it, to a basic list of pros and cons of the material. With this part we’re going to go more in detail of what I covered in the first part. Not only that, I’ll be covering the different aspects of working with it. Like using a heat gun, what different primers you can use and why they’re important, etc. So let’s get started shall we?
More EVA foam Types-
Foam rolls, mats, and basic craft foam sheets
Rolls, mats, and your basic craft foam sheets are the main staple material for any cosplayer. When a cosplayer thinks of EVA foam, this particular category immediatly comes to mind. It’s the material that was explained breifly in the first part of the EVA Foam series. The rolls come in varying thickness from the thinnest being 2mm all the way to the thickest which is 10mm. The mats which are about 6mm in their thickness and are used a lot for bigger projects thanks to their bulkyness, and finally the craft foam sheets which come in at 2mm, are easily found in your regular craft store, and used mostly for minor detail work.
- Easy to work with
- Light weight
- Easy to cut
- Perfect for amor projects
- Very porus so it soaks paint up like a sponge
- Get’s reallly warm after awhile when you wear it
- Can be quite unforgiving if you mess up, so be careful
- Lots of dust is produced when sanded, be sure to wear a mask for protection
EVA foam clay
Now this, is a fun material to work with! It’s not realitivly known to cosplayers who are new to the craft. (I know I had no clue what in the world it was until my second year of being a cosplayer). It’s a spongey-like clay substance that is not only incredibly malleable but it’s stretchy too! It can also be made into realtivly any shape or form and dries into that exact shape after at least twenty-four hours.
- Can be shaped into literally anything
- A very forgiving material, just wet it slightly with water even after it dries to fix minor details
- Acts like actual clay so it’s quite easy to work with
- Works excellently with molds
- Initially moist and very maleable when first taken out of the container, so no prep work is needed
- Can be a great seam filler
- Because it’s so wet when it comes out, it can get everywhere if you’re not careful
- The thicker you make your item, the longer it will take to dry
- If left out too long, the clay will begin to dry out, so I reccomend having a bowl of water near by to combat this
- For long connected pieces it needs to be propped up else it’ll sink
- You need to take great care when shaping be cause any added pressure can leave any indents
- Because of it’s moist texture it will stick to anything so it could get particles you don’t want in it
EVA foam dowels
These are long cylindrical or hexagonal dowels that come in varying lengths and are usually 5mm in thickness. These dowels are most commenly used for creating those last little deatils in your projects. You guys know the ones, the details that you want to stand out the most and really make an impact. The details that you can’t really acheive with scraps of regualar EVA foam or EVA foam clay.
- Very good for detail work
- Don’t need much prep work such as priming unlike their foam roll, matt, etc counterparts
- Light weight
- Pretty maleable
- Difficult to cut thanks to it’s cylindrical/hexagonal shape. You will defenitly need a tool different than your average exacto knife
- Not the most forgiving material
- Produces foam dust just like their counterparts
- A dremel is needed to make working with these materials easier
Processes for working with EVA foam-
This process is key for EVA foam prep. Although it isn’t exactly necessary when you work with the foam clay, it’s a valuable process for the material as a whole in general. What it does is it preserves the paint job and the project itself from wear and tear that your project will no doubt go through. It also prevents having to use multiple coats of paint since it covers the foam and takes care of its porous-like nature. It can be a rather difficult process to go through depending on the kind of primer you choose though.
There are two types that are generally used: Spray on or your basic paint. There are even commonly used primers as well. Plasti-Dip, which can be used either as a spray or paint. And a newer primer I’ve come across which is called Creature Cast Rubber. As far as I’ve come to know it only comes in paint.
For Plasti-Dip or any other primer spray you may find there are drawbacks as well as good points to it. The spray works pretty well as far as coverage goes, but it does need multiple coats after each spray. Make sure to let each spray job dry in between though else wise your work was all for naught. Also you will want to make sure that you don’t spray too close or too far way else you will get bubbles on your project and no one wants that. I find that spraying at least five to six inches away works pretty well.
On the other side of things, we have the paint on primer. The one that I found that works quite well is called Creature Cast Rubber. And you can easily get a hold of it by going to their website http://www.creaturecastrubber.com I find that this primer works really well for your projects. Especially since it’s easier to use than Plasti-Dip seeing that it will not cause bubbles nor do you have to deal with the hassle of using a spray. It only takes a few coats as well. Perhaps two or three. The only drawback I find to this primer is that you need to be careful when applying it because after one part is dry–and it dries relatively quickly, chunks will come off if you go over it with another coat roughly. But this only happens after the first coat. Once you get the second coat on, you’re golden. The other thing I’ve noticed is that you need to make sure that the container is sealed properly else it will dry up into big rubbery chunks. Other than those two things, this primer works remarkably well.
Using a heat gun
This particular tool will be a cosplayer’s best friend, trust me on this one. The main prupose of using the heat gun for your EVA foam projects is “healing” the foam so to speak. Th healing process is when you cut out pieces of the foam and take the heat gun and move it over the sides to soften them up and lock in the shape and get rid of any excess dust.
Another use for the heat gun is it can make the EVA foam malleable so you’ll be able to shape the foam to any form you want. This will help you make your armor and prop projects easier to make and glue together so you won’t have too much trouble putting them together.
This is probably one of the most important processes aside from priming and painting. Glueing your EVA foam will of course keep your pieces together so your whole project doesn’t fall to pieces. And we certainly don’t want that! With my experience of working with EVA foam, I’ve come to find that there are two different glues that work wonderfully for putting together your projects. Contact cement, which once applied to both sides glues the project together perfectly. Just make sure you glue it together correctly the first time because it won’t be moving once connected. Just be wary of the smell so I suggest using a mask. Then there’s the other glue alternative, Gorilla Glue. It’s quite similar to Contact cement expect it’s a cheaper and less smelly alternative. But I recommend both the same.
This is the final category for this article. Paint! More than likely acrylic paint! This type of paint is the kind that you’ll make sure you want to use for your EVA foam projects. Not only will this paint not crack–especially if you prime first, but it’ll look amazing on your projects since it stands out the most from other paints. The best paints that I use are usually Folk Art and Fx.
In conclusion, with all of these tactics together you are sure to have an amazing project! Of course I’ll be adding more tactics along the way so stay tuned for more my friends! And of course if you have any more questions I’d be more than happy answer any of them!