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Thread: Halloween coming up - need help with cactus costume

  1. #1
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Halloween coming up - need help with cactus costume

    So, after not doing much at Halloween for the past few years, this year I was inspired to make a costume. I found a big plastic barrel cactus on the sidewalk the other day and I knew immediately that I had to turn it into a hat. I'll be satisfied with myself if I just wear the cactus hat around - I think with some camo clothes it'll work pretty well.
    But what I really wanted to do (if I had more time and money to put into it) is get a green sweatshirt and somehow put cactus spines all over it. I haven't been able to come up with a good way to do that, though. My first thought was fuzzy pipe cleaners, but I feel like that would be too fragile for the amount of time it would take to put together. I thought about trying nails or bolts or something stiff like that, but that seems like it would be a safety hazard. Ideally I could make the spines out of some sort of soft plastic, but I'm not sure what. Zip ties maybe?
    This kind of stuff isn't my forte. I'm used to building things out of wood, or metal, or clay - not found items. Does anyone have any ideas?
    Thanks,
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    swords's Avatar
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    I'm not familiar with your clay work Joe, I'd love to see some!

    Dependent on the kind of cactus you want to be you can cut out spines from the apropriate colored felt fabric or colored foam at places like Michaels &Joann Fabrics crafts in the aisle where they sell pipe cleaners and colored dingle balls. You can then just use fabric glue to attach the felt or foam "spines" on the shirt, then they won't be sharp or fragile, the felt ones would hang down and the foam ones mounted on end would poke out, crunch down when pushed on and then spring back.

    Good luck!

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Hmm - I've never been able to find foam that's good for construction in the past. When I was into building puppets I couldn't even find a place to order foam rubber online (let alone have a credit card to order with, at 14) so I always had to settle for styrofoam, which was awful. I'll check the local craft place the next time I'm at the mall.
    Most of the clay building I've done is with oil- or wax-based clay for stop-motion animation, so they're long gone. I'll see if I can get some pictures of my ceramic work, though. A lot of it is unfinished because I did a bunch of building in my senior year of high school and there wasn't enough space in the occasional glaze firings for me to get all of my stuff done. I think most of it all is boxed up at my mom's house.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    swords's Avatar
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    What is the craft place? Is it a Michaels or Joann fabrics? These places are great since they have the same products in them all over the country.

    The kind of foam I'm talking about is in a sheet the size of a piece of printer paper and about 1/2" thick and comes in a rainbow of colors. Kids use it to cut out letters or shapes for gluing on construction paper. I would cut out long thin triangles from say yellow or cream colored foam and glue them with fabric glue on the flat end standing up for the spines.

    Yes, styrofoam is no good for sculpting expressive puppets, what you want is Urethane Upholstery Foam you can get it at Joann Fabrics. They sell it in sheets any length or thickness you want (buy it by the yard or remnants). It goes from 1/2" thick to 4" thick. Joann also sells Super 77 the instant spray on glue for "soft gluing" the foam so there are no hard joins like there would be if you used something else. Check out the book How To Make Polyfoam Puppets it's one of the best books out there on the subject I've got.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Nice, thanks for the tip. When I was doing research on the subject, I read about a castable two-part-epoxy style foam that you could dye and do all sorts of other awesome stuff with - does your book mention anything like that? I don't remember what it was called any more.
    As for the store, I think it's a JoAnn's but I'm not sure.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    swords's Avatar
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    If you want to use a casting foam like this: Expandable Urethane Casting Foams from Smooth On you'll have to make a sculpture first, then create a silicone mold, then do your foam casting. You can't really direct sculpt a big blob of the casting foams as the surface wouldn't be smooth.

    If you use the rolls of sheet foam you can direct sculpt the foam with a pair of puppet shears by trimming with the "nip and tuck" method described in the foam book. Basically you just pinch the foam and snip with the sharp scissors. Once you're done snipping you can use latex paints in an airbrush to paint the foam any colors you want without affecting pliability (since the airbrush puts out such a thin layer).

    If you can't find the small sheets of foam for the spines get a 1/2" sheet remnant of urethane foam and cut out some spines and just paint them.

  7. #7
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Interesting. I think the stuff I was looking at may have actually been the silicon stuff, but thanks for the link in any case; I wasn't able to find anything remotely like that in the past. Not sculpting it suits me just fine - after doing clay animation for so long, I like to build things out of simple shapes more than modeling a full form. It's cheaper than I would've expected. I'm bookmarking that vendor for reference.
    Great, more hobby stuff to occupy my time. This is the last thing I need right now.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

  8. #8
    swords's Avatar
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    Smooth on sells a selection of molding making silicones (also castable silicones like Dragon Skin and what not),they sell just about everything. Browse their site you'll learn a lot of stuff since they've got tutorials and videos on how to use their products and what for. I like them cos it only takes 2 days to get my order and I only pay the cheap ground shipping.

    Edit: The Puppet Foam Book only discusses the direct sculpting method with the Upholstery foam. But the smooth on site has how to use the expanding foams and everything else in their free how to e-book. Click on "how to" and then "Download PDF book" on the next page

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