Finding stage props that are affordable with the right design can be a challenge so often it’s easier to make your own. Craftfoam can be used to create spectacular props, from castles to pirate ships and medieval columns to huge brick walls, the possibilities are endless. It is a popular choice for creating stage props for theatres and school shows, thanks to its lightweight and versatile nature. Here are five tips to help get your Craftfoam project started.
Design and plan your props
It’s important to plan your design before you start to work out how much Craftfoam you’ll need. Pinterest is great for inspiration and there are lots of ideas, from huge life size models to smaller, more detailed designs.
Mark out the area that you’re cutting beforehand to avoid making mistakes. You can do this using a ruler or drawing freehand – to make things easier print out or create a template. If your design uses repeated shapes, a template is essential to achieve consistency and ensure that it fits together neatly. As you’ll most likely be painting the Craftfoam too, any guidelines you draw can be covered over later, so don’t worry if it looks messy!
Cut the Craftfoam into shape
Craftfoam is available to buy online in handy sheet sizes in a range of thicknesses and it is easy to cut without the need for any specialist equipment. It is also available as letters and numbers in various sizes, making it perfect for creating large signs or words that are clearly visible to the audience, without having to cut them yourself.
A craft knife is suitable for cutting the full range of thicknesses and it can also be sanded and planed to create the shape required. Make sure that the tool you are using is sharp, as this will help to create clean edges that are much more precise. The rigidity of Craftfoam means that it can easily be cut, shaped and modelled using a variety of tools including hand or powered knives, and saws, drills and routers. Hot knives and wires are also a popular tool to use but these can create fumes and aren’t always easy to buy.
After cutting your props into shape, you might want curved or smoother edges. Craftfoam is made up of layers, so sandpaper is ideal for achieving smooth edges by gently sanding the edges until the Craftfoam falls away. This can also be useful for making a suitable surface for painting or gluing the props by removing any rough edges when it was cut.
Glue it together
Using the correct type of glue is important when you’re creating stage props as they need to be strong enough to withstand transportation. Craftfoam can be glued using Spray Mount, which is a strong and easy to use adhesive that is much more durable than traditional craft glue.
Another option for sticking pieces of Craftfoam together is double sided tape. This works best on two smooth flat surfaces and means that you don’t need to wait for it to dry. It is worth investing in a good quality thick tape to make sure that it holds and you could also use it together with other adhesives for extra support too.
Add the decoration
Special effects can be added to your props using plaster, gesso, modelling paste or other coating materials to create interesting textures. Craftfoam is often used in Cosplay to create affordable lightweight leather effect costumes too.
Craftfoam has a smooth surface which is ideal for painting and is also suitable for use with some pastes and resins. It comes in a choice of either blue or green colours which are both great as a base colour for props. You can glue decorations to this, or alternatively, paint the whole model to achieve your desired colour. Most types of paint including acrylic and spray paints are suitable and there are lots of great tutorials for this on YouTube if you need some inspiration.
Brick walls and textured effects are surprisingly easy to create too. They are usually made by carving out the effect that you want and then painting over a few layers of paint to make the design more detailed and life-like. The trick to building large scale props with Craftfoam is to create them in layers. Planning out your model beforehand is useful as you can work out how much you’ll need and in what thickness so that you can start to build up each layer effectively.
Store and transport it
Craftfoam’s lightweight material makes it easy to move around, but strong and durable enough to withstand transportation to different locations. This means that your props can be easily transferred off the stage during shows without special equipment, and by designing them yourself, you can make sure that they fit to your requirements. Craftfoam is also a much stronger material than cardboard, so you can store other props on top of one another without worrying about them getting damaged.
Craftfoam can be conveniently delivered anywhere in the UK or you can collect your order from our dedicated warehouse in Sheffield, just off the M1 motorway.