I love Halloween, and try to come up with a cool costume each year. Well this year, my inspiration came from a couple tv shows and this site... Face Off and Heroes of Cosplay. I saw a number of really great costumes and decided that I wanted to go big and ambitious. I read through a number of really great Instructables on how to create a costume from Eva foam, and I jumped right in... And I'm very pleased with how it turned out.
Step 1: The Concept
I came up with a number of ideas for this costume, but finally decided on the "Tiki God". I had my wife take a front and side photo of me so that I could sketch out the correct proportions of the costume. I sketched over top of the 2 photos on my iPad and had a plan.
I originally planned on doing foam covering my arms and legs as well, but after putting on the main part of the costume, I decided to go bare due to the heat I was already feeling. Also, knowing that I wanted to go out dancing and drinking, I needed to make sure I designed something that was somewhat functional, without having to remove the costume to drink or use the restroom :).
Step 2: Starting With Eva Foam
Like I said before, I read a number of other Instructables on how to work with Eve foam, but had never actually worked with it myself. The best one of these was"Creating a Costume/Cosplay from E.V.A Foam" by ToweringProductions. He listed supplies and where to get them, and that came in very handy for creating my costume.
I started off by heading to Home Depot and bought a couple packs of the colorful children's foam flooring. You get 4 2'x2' pieces per pack for about $18. Check availability online. The Home Depot nearest me didn't have any, but the one near my work had dozens.
Next I did a little math to figure out the circumference of the tube of foam that I would need to fit around my body, and luckily it came out to be about 4'. I say luckily, because the foam pieces are 2' x 2', so I just connected the teeth of the floor tiles together and used some duct tape to hold it together. I made sure the seams were on my sides. Once I got the tube on, I felt for where my face would be, and marked it with a marker. Then after I got the tube off, I cut out an initial face hole.
Step 3: Sketching Out the Design and Blocking in the Face Shapes
Based on my initial sketch, I started sketching out the parts of the face on the tube of foam.
Next, I started cutting out the various face shapes from the extra sheets of foam flooring. Since my project is meant to look like carved wood, I didn't need to be as precise as someone that is doing body armor or the like. I used a pair of poultry scissors to cut the foam, which made that part go very quickly.
I built up layers of the foam to vary the depth of the piece of the face. I also picked up a pack of 1/8 inch thick foam sheets at Michaels, which I used to smooth over the built up layers of the eyes and nose. I also used the thin foam sheets to cover up the duct tape seams that I still had that was holding the foam squares together.
I used hot glue to glue all of these pieces onto the main tube of the costume. I recommend that you get a good large hot glue gun if your going to build costumes. I had the little craft glue gun in the beginning, and I was constantly having to to reload it with those tiny glue sticks. I got a medium size gun, but with really log glue sticks and that made the rest of the project go much smoother.
WARNING! Hot glue works great, but it burns like a *#)$%*^! And when it drips on you, or you press a piece of foam together and a nice steaming hot glob of hot glue sticks its self to your thumb, just make sure that there aren't any kids around to hear the colorful language the ensues. I ended up with 5 small burn/blisters on my hands during the creation of this project, but they were worth it.
Step 4: Clean Up, Detail, and Paint Prep
Once I had the basic shapes all in place, I went in first with a dremmel tool to smooth out all of the edges. The scissors were great for speed, but they left choppy edges, so I smoothed all the edges, ground down any corners, and even cut some chips into the top and bottom portions of the Tiki Head to give it a distressed look.
Once I felt good with the clean up, I sketched out where I wanted to carve in some deep grooves to give the wood some distinctive aging. You can use any pen for this, since your going to paint over it soon.
Next I used my soldering iron to melt some 1/8 inch deep grooves running from top to bottom. I also used it to melt the grooves for the teeth. Foam melts very easily, so be careful that you don't melt all the way through the foam.
I read that foam doesn't take paint too well on it's own, so you need to coat it in Plasti Dip. I got it in spay can form. Basically, it's a liquid rubber that serves as a base coat or primer for the rest of your paint. Give your foam a good even coating of Plasti Dip and let it cure over night.
Step 5: Painting and Adding the Visor Screen.
After the Plasti Dip cured over night, I brushed on an even coating of acrylic house paint "Nutmeg". I knew acrylic would have some flex to it and be more forgiving than enamel. Let dry for a few hours, then the real fun begins.
Once the Nutmeg was dry, I broke out my .69 cent bottles of Acrylic craft paints, Dark Brown and Black, and started to paint in the aging and distressing. I started out with the dark brown first, and slopped it in and around all of the edges and grooves of the various face elements. I like using a simple foam craft brush for this, it soaks up a lot of paint, and does some nice dry brushing afterward. Before the paint could dry, I would then take a shop rag, and wipe the dark brown over the surface of the whole Tiki, just hard enough to wipe the dark brown almost off of the undercoat of Nutmeg. Then I went in black to darken all of the edges and creases. Again, wiping away any black that got on the front surfaces. Despite the size of the costume, I got through the wood texturing in about 2 hours.
After the painting was done, I found some plastic crochet mesh at Michaels, cut and glued it in place to cover the face hole in the middle of the Tiki headband. I painted the outer mesh to match the wood as much as possible.
Step 6: Adding the Grass Skirting
I wanted to disguise the arm holes a bit, and attach the grass skirt directly to the costume. I bought a 24' table grass skirting, since I knew I was going to use it all over the costume. Much cheaper than buying multiple skirts. I stared by spreading a generous amount of hot glue inside the costume above the arms, then I glued 2 layers of grass skirt above each arm hole. Then I did the same to the bottom of the Tiki, but I went for 3 layers on this part.
It's funning. Looking at the Tiki on it's own it looks like it has hairy ears and a beard.
Step 7: Fire... Fire... Fire...
Originally I wanted to have blowing silk fire, like the fake fire in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But I couldn't find any battery operated fans that were strong enough to do the job, nor small enough since it has to sit above my head in the costume. So I decided on shaping the fire with hot glue, and then illuminating it. I bought red thin netting, and orange silk and cut them into triangles. I then proceeded to glue, fold, press, burn fingers, repeat.... till I had the red and orange glued all the way around the top. The fire looked cool in bright light, but just didn't have the wow factor till I had illuminated it.
How to illuminate the fabric from inside above my head??? This had my scratching my head for a couple hours, then I remembered that I had a bunch of LED tea lights left over from my wedding. Now I just needed to figure out a way to get them to float a couple inches away from the sides, and a couple inches down from the top to get the best illumination on the cloth. The answer turned out to be a simple metal hanger. I grabbed a metal hanger from my dry cleaning, then stretched it out to better fit the oval of the inside of the TIki. I bent the hook down and glued it to the inside of the Tiki. I cut the hook off of another hanger, and glued it in place opposite the other hook to give it support. I then glued 6 LED tea lights to the hanger. They don't weigh much, so the hanger works just fine. Then all I need to do is turn on the LED's and the fire has that inner illumination that I was looking for. Also, I still have plenty of air flow above my head since the Tiki gets pretty dang hot inside fast.
Step 8: How to Get in and Out of the Costume
I couple people have asked a some great questions regarding the back of the costume and how do I get in and out of it. I wrote the original instructable at 2:am... so please forgive my forgotten step.
I originally thought that I would cut the back of the costume up the middle, and then use Velcro straps to close the seam. I did cut it about a foot up, and proceeded get into the costume, but discovered to my dread, that I could not get out of it. After a couple attempts, and some short anxiety attacks, I handed the scissors to my wife and told her to cut me out of the costume. I told her to cut a straight line from the bottom to the rear corner of one of the arm holes. In doing this, it became extremely easy to get in and out of the costume. I then glued the original cut that I had done to the back of the costume, and reinforced this repair with a piece of the thin foam from Michaels.
To close up the new seam under the armpit, I took some 1" velcro that I had from a previous costume, and cut it into 1/2" strips. I then glued the two sides of the velcro to each side of the new seam, trying to keep the seam as hidden as possible.
So now I can open the seam, climb into the costume via the armpit seam, and once inside, I just press the seam together and it almost vanishes. This turned out to be a much better solution to getting in and out then I had originally planned. Thanks to good ol claustrophobia and scissors :)
Step 9: The Tiki Torch
After putting on some more skirting on my arms and legs, I grabbed a Tiki torch from... yes my Tiki Bar at my house and posed for my finished picture. But then I realized that the TIki torch needed the same cloth fire treatment. I basically did it the same way as the top of the TIki costume, just with only 2 LED's and a simple frame glued inside the empty torch... yes made from scraps of the extra hanger that I had left over.
So that's my first crack at working with Eva foam and fabricating an entire costume from it. I still have a month to go before Halloween, so I'm sure I will come up with something else to make before then. Oh, and I made the whole costume in about 7 evenings after work.
Step 10: BONUS! Tiki Priestess Chest Plate
Actually, I made a Tiki priestess chest plate this weekend. I did it the same way that I did mine, but just much much faster. I did it all in about 8 hours. Here are the pics of the step by step. I'll save you the same description as before.
I hope this inspires someone else to try some fabricating with Eva foam. It's a lot of fun!
Fourth Prize in the
Halloween Costume Contest