Sunday, June 30, 2013

Amazing Pink Foamular Insulation Foam

Hey everyone, This is a non-NBC post, but it is completely related to NBC in the fact that I used this material in nearly all of the NBC prop tutorials on this blog. I feel that the majority of amateur prop makers might not be aware of this great material:


  This post is going to be about the use of Owens Corning pink Foamular insulation foam for crafting and prop making. I found out about this amazing substance sometime in early 2012, and ever since, I use it for EVERYTHING. I wanted to share my knowledge about this foam because i wish i found out about this stuff much
  It is an insulation found at Home Depot, used for insulating homes. ( There is also a blue version from Dow, that you can find at Lowe's). It is sold in large 4'x8' sheets. They may have some smaller cut down pieces that vary. Last time I went, my Home depot had 2'x2' squares randomly. Due to its large and awkward size, make sure you are able to fit it in your vehicle (or borrow a truck or van), to get it home. This foam can be cut and carved into limitless shapes and sizes, and comes in a variety of thicknesses. It can be crafted to look like wood, stone, metal, animals, statues etc. You can use knifes, saws, exato blades and  hot-wire foam cutters to shape it. You can paint and sand it, as if it were wood, but its ultra light weight.
The pink foam is pretty durable and able to withstand a variety of heat and weather situations, however, it might be a good idea to waterproof your foam props, especially if they will be out side or in a damp environment. I have had had success painting on a coat of "Drylok" masonry waterproof sealant on. You can buy a pint or gallon at home improvement stores. Once it dries, paint your prop as normal.

objects made from pink foam
 Warning : Acetone, spray paints and excessive heat melt the foam. This could work for you, or against you.

 For example: To achieve certain texture effects, you can use acetone to eat away at the foam.
But, if you finish carving a really detailed project and try to spray paint it, you will watch it melt before your eyes. Hot glue will melt away the foam where ever it touches, so its best to use other types of glues (or non-glues). I found that Aleen's Tacky Glue, and white silicone caulk work well. I have also heard that Glidden Gripper works well at adhering the foam together and it's actually a primer...

Mary Poppins umbrella handle carved out of pink foam
for my Halloween costume 2013

So whatever your craft or prop is, chances are you can use insulation foam to make it. Go to your local Home Depot or Lowe's, get some insulation foam and start experimenting, you will be so glad you did.

large NBC skull carved out of pink foam 12"x12"


Monday, June 17, 2013

Nightmare Before Christmas Barrel Prop Tutorial

Here is a tutorial on how to make a life size Barrel from the movie. He is one of the three trick-or-treater kids /Oogie's henchmen: Lock, Shock & Barrel.

Supplies Needed:

-Pink insulation foam (2" thick)
-Carving supplies
-Cheap pool noodles (Dollar Tree/.99 Store)
-1 Yard grey fleece fabric 
1 Sheet white felt (8.5"x 11")
-2 plastic Easter eggs
-Acrylic paints
-Hot glue
-Plastic toy lollipop (Dollar Tree toy section)

*Optional: Alternate version uses a foam-core poster board (Dollar Tree).

(Detailed tutorial corresponds with the picture tutorial above)

Face Mask:
1.  Cut a 9.5" diameter disc out of insulation foam. I used a plate as a template .

2. Use a knife or carving tools to shave off the harsh edges, to create a dome shape .

3. Use a fine Grit sand paper to sand and smooth the disc shape .

4. Using a photo for reference, trace the features of Barrel's mask lightly with a pencil.

5. Use an exacto blade to carve and cut out the features of the mask (eyes, nose and mouth).

6. Take the bottom (wider end) of two plastic Easter eggs. Twist and press them into the mask's eye sockets.

7. Prime : Use a grey primer to coat the entire mask.

8. Paint : Using acrylic paints, paint the mask white . Add black accents to the eye sockets, nose and mouth. Add off-white color to the teeth and eyeballs. 

9.  Dip a nice pencil eraser into some black paint to make a perfect stamp for the eye pupils. Optional : Add a acrylic gloss varnish to the eyeballs for "wet", life-like eyes. The Mask is done .

Hands, feet and Lollipop:
10. Feet : Cut two horseshoe shapes out of insulation foam. Notch out two triangle shapes out of each. Using an exacto blade , shave off the harsh edges, for a rounder, softer top. Using a fine grit sand paper, sand and smooth the feet. Prime and then paint the feet using a green color.
Hands : I carved the hands out of insulation foam. Then primed and painted the hands using a green color. (I forgot to take progress photos of this, sorry).

11. Lollipop : I found a plastic lollipop toy in the toy section of Dollar Tree . Try to find one there . Re-paint it with black and red acrylic paints. (If you can't find one , make your own out of a thin insulation foam disc and a wooden dowel stick)

Body Assembly: Here is the tricky part to explain...
12. Cut Barrels body shape out of a solid piece of insulation foam. The insulation foam body continues up behind the bottom half of the mask to support it. There are no photos shown of this. (*Alternate version uses a foam-core poster board (Dollar Tree). I did use a foam-core poster board as a backing for the majority of his body. Due to the fact that I only had scraps of insulation foam left. I wanted to use up my scraps. I pieced them together and secured them to the foam-core . Ideally, I would have cut his body out of one solid piece of insulation foam.) Slice cheap pool noodles in half vertically, use them for Barrel's arms and legs. Secure all the pieces together. I happened to use screws, but you could use glue or caulk . Side note : Hot glue will melt insulation foam and not stick...

13. Wrap body with grey fleece fabric. Measure , Cut and fit material onto body. Secure it with glue or pins. Hot glue works well on the fleece . (One yard was only $2.99 at Joanne's Fabrics with coupon).

Head/Hair & Ears:
14. Hair : Since Barrel wears a mask, his real head and face are supposed to be behind the mask. I used a segment of a pool noodle to make the top of his head. I bent it in to a horseshoe shape and screwed it to the back of the mask. (Use short screws so you don't poke through the front of the mask and ruin it). Cut and tear the surface of the noodle with scissor cuts to make the illusion of his claymation hair. 
Ears : Cut the ears out of insulation foam.  Secure them to the back/sides of the mask with caulk or short screws.

15. Paint the hair with a black primer, and then a dry brushing of olive and army greens (use photo for reference). Paint the ears with white acrylic paint, use a grey/black to shadow the inside of the ear.

16. Measure and draw the bone shapes for Barrel's costume . Use a black Sharpie marker on white felt. Cut them out with scissors. Hot glue them onto the clothing. (Use a photo for size and placement reference)

Now you should be done ...Please comment if you have any questions.  Good Luck...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Nightmare Before Christmas Sally Prop Tutorial

This is a tutorial on how to make a life-size Sally the rag doll from Nightmare Before Christmas.

Click for larger image

Supplies Needed: (Sally)
PVC Pipe & Connectors
Foam Pipe Insulation (2 Sizes)
Air Dry Clay
Acrylic Paint
Wire (thin gauge)
Yarn (in Sally's hair color)
News Paper
Great Stuff Expanding Foam
Felt (few yards)
Hot Glue (Lots)
White Glue
Material (black and white stripe socks)
Sharpie Marker (black)

Supplies Needed: (Hands)
PVC Pipe
Pink Insulation Foam (chunks)
Wire (thin gauge)
Masking Tape
Soft foam
Plasti-Dip Spray (Plastic Coating)
Acrylic Paints

(Detailed description corresponds with picture tutorial above)

1. Find a reference picture. Find the scale, measurements and make a plan.
(or follow my measurements at the top of this page)

2. Sculpt Sally's face out of air dry clay. (craft or hobby store)

3. Paint Sally's face with acrylic (using a photo for reference). (Liquitex- Soft Body in "Light Blue Permanent" #770) Add shadows accents and details as needed.
Cut very small segments of small gauge wire (Home Depot) and glue them onto Sally's "seams" on here face. They should look like staples or stitches.
Face Sculpt     Click for larger image

4a. Blow up a balloon roughly the size of Sally's head. Paper mache' over the balloon to make the head leaving a 2" opening at the bottom. Once the paper mache' is dry pop the balloon. and fill the cavity with Great Stuff expanding foam. Let it dry/harden. Hot glue Sally's face to the head. Carve out a hole in the expanding foam in the bottom of the head big enough to put a 4" PVC pipe in. Leave about 1.25" sticking out of the head. This will hold/support the head onto the PVC frame.

Click for larger image

4b. Measure out the desired length of Sally's hair. Start cutting and hot gluing strings of yarn, placing them INDIVIDUALLY on her head. Time consuming...

Hair      Click for larger image

5. Construct the PVC body frame

6. Measure and cut the foam pipe insulation. The pipe insulation tubes have a slit running the length of the tube, so they can be opened up and fit over the pipes. This will be Sally's skin. Use the smaller diameter tube for her chest, and arms. Use the bigger diameter for her collar bones and legs. 
 a . To make the tube taper at her wrists, cut away some of the material at the slit and close the gap and glue it (making the diameter smaller). 
 b . To make her calves on her legs bulge out, wrap the pipes near her calves with masking tape, news paper or foam to build it out. This with give her legs shape. 
 c .  For the neck/chest, place the foam tube around the neck PVC pipe. Where the tube meets the collar bone cut horizontal slits on each side of the main vertical slit. This will open up and flatten it out for her chest area.
Neck & Chest      Click for larger image

7. Paint the foam insulation tubes to match skin (Liquitex- Soft Body in "Light Blue Permenant" #770). Add "stitches" to her skin with a black sharpie (use photo reference). Blue paint may need touch-ups each year after being packed away .

8. Lay Sally down on a large piece of felt to make a dress pattern. Pencil the dress shapeof the dress around Sally. Move Sally. Cut out The dress shape. Trace, and make a duplicate of the dress pattern, one front and one back.

9. Stuff Sally's chest and torso to give her a "womanly shape". I used a paper bag stuffed with news paper.

10. Fit the two dress pieces (front and back) to Sally's body. Hot glue or sew the dress together. Cut the V-neck shape into the front of the dress while its on her.
There maybe an easier way to do this, feel free to improvise...

11. Paint the patchwork pattern on to the dress. It was a lot easier, faster and cheaper for me to paint the quilt style dress, instead of sewing all the different material sections together.

12 Finishing touches:
 a. Shoes/Socks - I bought black and white striped legwarmers at the 99cent Store. I cut one in half and used it for both socks. I fit it around both ankles. I carved some shoes out of pink insulation foam and painted them black.
 b. Hands - 1. Cut out a piece of pink insulation foam. 2. Fit it onto a .5" PVC pipe. 3. Insert wire for fingers. 4. Masking tape fingers in place. 5. Cut soft foam (like the foam from a foam hair roller/curler) into finger size strips. 6. Pad the wire fingers with the squishy foam and  wrap them with masking tape. 7. Continue wrapping the rest of the hand with masking tape. 8. Spray hand with Plasti-dip plastic spray. this will give the hand a flexible protective coating. It goes on thin, you will need several coats.When it dries you should have a rubbery pose-able hand. 9. Paint hand with acrylic (Liquitex- Soft Body in "Light Blue Permenant" #770). 10. Fit hand onto PVC "wrist" and pose as desired...

(I just realized that I for got the stripes on her yellow sleeve, and the square patch on the front of her dress...oops)

Please comment if you have any questions... Good Luck.

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