Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Deku Link Cosplay Update

Phew. I’ve had a whole week off and the head is still being elusive to me. It’s honestly been such a tricky piece to get right –  But here’s a good sign: I’m actually getting somewhere with it. I’ve finally used some new materials I’ve not used before and I’ve managed to find some of my new favourites to use in costuming. We’ll see how far I go with these new materials, but these are what a lot of cosplayers are already using.

Remember to write your dimensions down!!

Remember to write your dimensions down!!

I’m mostly going to talk about the mask today and what I’ve been learning about. Previously I mentioned how I was going to attempt to use wire and foam, but the problem with foam that’s already done is to shape it, you have to use a lot of heat and even then you’re not likely going to get the exact shape you’re looking for. I thought I’d try expanding foam, or XPS if you want to get technical about it, which is something I’ve noticed many a cosplayer are using in their props and the likes. So what would it be like to make a mask out of?

First of all, let me say this as a spoiler: Be prepared to spend a very long time sanding the stuff down… I mean a very, very long time. Don’t let this put you off though, although I’ve not finished the mask it is taking shape properly (it’s nowhere near finished, still sanding!)

2015-04-20 14.02.20

Things you’ll need to make a mask out of expanding foam

The first thing I did was start to make the shape of the mask. To do this, I decided that I needed an actual frame for it to be quite sturdy. I went to B&Q and bought myself some garden wire, but any hardware store or garden store should have this. I was able to buy 200 meters worth for a tenner. Why did I get that much? Future projects. Wire is really easy and fun to work with, but the thickness is important.

Make a base shape to work with. Remember though, you're making a 3D piece, not 2D!

Make a base shape to work with. Remember though, you’re making a 3D piece, not 2D!

If you have wire that’s too thick, it’ll be hard to cut through. Too thin and you have a frame that’s susceptible to crumpling, so choose wisely and go for around the 1.2mm mark. Nothing smaller. Once you’ve got your wire, measure your face and write it all down. If you want to make an oversized mask like me, then you’ll need to add some more centimetres onto the dimensions. I figured I could get away with doing a front mask, rather than a whole head, as the back of the head would be covered by the humongous hat and hair.

Once you’ve gotten your dimensions measured out, it’s time for us to begin cutting out some of the wire. Using a tape measure, I was able to measure out really similarly sized strips of wire and got to work. You’ll be able to bend these wires quite easily, so it’s not until the foam process will you see some strength in what you’re making. Simply bend the wire around itself, tie them together and you’re rolling.

Messy, but this stuff was strong with all this wire!

Messy, but this frame was strong with all this wire!

After a while, you’ll have the desired shape. Wire is now officially my favourite way to make shapes happen. So your next step is to give a base for the foam. You don’t want foam seeping through the wires and just becoming an intangible mess. As such, I did a layer of papier mache. Nothing fancy, just a single layer. As this week has really been about the proof of concept for me, I quickly slopped some papier mache on and let it dry overnight. Then I was ready to start working with my expanding foam.

If you’ve never used the stuff before, please be very aware that if you get it on you: It is a pain to get off. It is really sticky. This is where it gets fun. Attach your expanding foam can onto the expanding foam gun, simply by screwing it on. Make sure you shake the foam can before usage. Once it’s on the expanding foam gun, point your gun at the thing you’re going to foam up and spray. Now, I’m not sure if you’re supposed to spread it or not; but I did. I’d highly recommend not using a paintbrush: It will not be a paint brush again. Instead, use some scrap cardboard to spread it around, or do what I did and get a trowel.

Scrambled eggs, anyone?

Scrambled eggs, anyone?

Once you’re done coating your prop, unscrew the expanding foam can and screw on the expanding foam gun cleaner. Be warned: This stuff is where expanding foam can be expensive. It was only a couple of quid for the expanding foam (the exact kind I got can be found in the list above), but the cleaner went so much faster than the expanding foam itself. The expanding foam takes a long time to go through, but the cleaner sprays pretty quickly. You can control how fast you spray the foam as well as the cleaner, so be sure to regulate your spray speed!

Get a large knife and get cutting through this stuff! It's fun!

Get a large knife and get cutting through this stuff! It’s easy and fun!

Let it dry overnight and you’ll get a very hard foam! Trust me, this is really hard stuff! Perfect for what I was looking for. Now I haven’t made the mouth piece, I haven’t marked out eyes yet – But trust me, after you sand this down you get from a very ugly “brain like” appearance to something really smooth and brilliant. You can shape this stuff really well so if you’ve never made an oversized mask before, this is certainly a viable way of doing it.

As well as carrying on with sanding this crazy mass of foam, I’m going to be working on the boots very soon. I bought some cork and I have loads of UK Size 11 soles upstairs, so these will be made soon. That’s all for now and remember: Use wire!

Sanding takes a lot of time though... Some say, I am still sanding to this day...

Sanding takes a lot of time though… Some say, I am still sanding to this day…

When it’s all sanded down, I’m going to apply paint all over it, cut out the areas for the eyes and the mouth then apply the mouth piece. Finally, I’ll coat it all in Mod Podge. We’ll see how this goes! So far, so good! Have you used wire and foam together like this before? Do you know of any better processes for achieving the same results? Let us know in the comments below, over on Twitter or Facebook and let us know what you think!

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