Cosplay Savant: Creating a Dagger with Eva Foam and Worbla

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Now I bet most of you are familiar with putting together costumes for your cosplay but what about props? Props are integral to bringing your character to life there’s only one teensy little problem: how in the world do you acquire them? For starters, if you want to purchase your prop you could check one of the following weapon crafters online: www.wmarmory.com, http://props.punishedpixels.com or www.volpinprops.com. If these folks don’t have what you are looking for Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon are also options. Alternatively, you could make your prop. Make you say?! Why how would one take a “stab” at that? Well, sit back and relax – we’re about to get you on the right path!

First things first, you need supplies. What you need really depends on what you are making. For this tutorial we’ll focus on the dagger from Skyrim (as depicted in the image below).

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Dagger crafted by ThermoCosplay

Supplies for this project were as follows:

  • 1 inch Eva Craft Foam (these can be found at any hardware store; they are typically called “fatigue” mats)
  • 2mm Craft Foam (found at any craft store in various colors)
  • Super glue (any ole super glue will work)
  • Contact Cement (you can get this in tubes or large containers, for testing I suggest tubes)
  • Disposable brushes
  • Worbla’s Finest Thermoplastic (it can be bought here: www.cosplaysupplies.com)
  • Heat Gun
  • Spray Paint Filler and Primer – White Matte
  • Mod Podge Clear Sealant – Matte Finish
  • Exacto Knife
  • Cutting Knife (industry strength blades – such as those found at hardware stores)
  • Poster Board (this is for drafting your design)
  • A ruler
  • Some rags (for cleanup and painting)
  • Acrylic paint (colors: black, brown, silver and red)
  • Gold and Silver Metallic Spray Paint – Krylon brand
  • Safe surface to work on (one you don’t mind dirtying and cutting on)
  • Dremel Sander

Let’s start with the basics: designing your prop. For this design I located some line art online that I modified to fit the shape and size I was looking for (this blade it approximately 14 inches in length and a little over 3/4 of an inch thick at is thickest). Once I had the design right on my computer I printed it out and transferred it to poster board.

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Once you have your poster board cut out transfer the design onto the Eva foam and start cutting! NOTE: Be sure you have planned out how you want to layout your cuts. As depicted in the image above, laying each piece out will help you discover possible weak

points in your prop that may require some innovative thinking on your part. With your pieces cut out you should have something like this:

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Now it’s time to start gluing! Here is the tricky part: Contact Cement. This stuff HOLDS! So be careful not to get your fingers in it or you’re going to have some problems. If you do get glue on yourself quickly wash your hands and use nail polish remover to clean any excess glue. Contact cement is easiest to apply when using a brush so take one of your disposable ones and apply a thin layer of glue to the base piece and then to the underside of the piece you are attaching. Let the cement dry until it is no longer shiny then carefully put the sections together. Press them for a few seconds and you are good to go! Repeat these steps until your prop is fully built.

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With everything attached you can proceed with laying down the thermoplastic layer. As it suggests, thermoplastic is activated by heat. Taking your heat gun, evenly distribute heat over a flat layer of worbla that is cut twice as large as your prop (this method works best for smaller props – for large props, cut pieces of Worbla for individual sections and use the paint/filler steps later discussed to smooth out any seams). When your Worbla is hot enough (it should be easy to move – flexible) set your prop on one half then fold the other half of the worbla over it. Use your hands or a rolling pin to smooth out any air bubble and continue to apply heat until the foam details can be seen. This may take some practice. When both sides show foam elevation cut off the excess Worbla then begin to add more details.

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Since Worbla is self adhesive it’s easy to add small details with your hands. Be careful how long you handle thermoplastic, it can burn you. I would suggest purchasing some automotive gloves or wearing welding gloves (these are thicker). Once you have all your details

you are ready for the painting phase!

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Spray Painting Filler and Primer: I use this method as it is convenient and quick; after a few layers you have a smooth finish you can begin shaping with your Dremel. Once the finish is what you are expecting it’s on to painting! Painting techniques vary from person to person. Kamui Cosplay has a terrific eBook that details how she and her husband paint their costumes and props. I like using spray paint as my base and then build up on the paint with acrylic.

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Base spray paint – no details added.

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Acrylic aging – details complete.

And your done! Don’t get discouraged if your first prop comes out different than you envisioned. It took me two tries to complete the dagger above and it’s still not at the level of perfection I am aiming for. This is a learning process that requires ALOT of experimentation. Be sure to visit Cosplay Tutorials for videos, tutorials and galleries on various crafting ventures of cosplayers around the world. Most of all, NEVER get yourself down and remember this is for FUN. Good luck cosplay minions!

 

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