Every once in a while a character comes along that instantly makes me want to cosplay. More and more frequently I’ve noticed those characters have some sort of armour or amazing props.
Armour and props can be pretty daunting when it comes to a cosplay. Personally I find those aspects of a cosplay to be the hardest.
Although it is daunting there have been cosplayers out there that have been more than helpful by providing online tutorials, workshops and commissions.
There are a plethora of materials out there that have been used for making props and armour.
- Craft foam
- EVA Foam
- Insulation Foam
- Paper Mache
…and many many more.
For most people initially trying out any sort of prop or armour building the material I’ve heard of them using the most was Paper Mache. When I first started cosplaying a lot of the materials cosplayers in the USA had access to weren’t available in Ireland, without paying quite a bit of money. So paper mache and a bit of chicken wire could get you far.
Now materials are a lot easier to get your hands on but it doesn’t mean you should get them. Some materials like epoxy resin and insulation foam require caution. These materials have strong odours and can damage surfaces to an extent so space, ventilation and steady hands would be handy.
To source all of these materials can be pretty tough. However the internet is your best friend when it comes to that. Online shopping has saved many a cosplay for me and other Irish cosplayers.
One local store for cosplay materials I would recommend is Ana Thiels Store. She is a local cosplayer who stocks worbla of a few different kinds, EVA Foam and tutorial books.
You can also get materials from uk based site, CosCraft. You can also buy materials from ebay and other similar sites but proceed with caution and beware of knock off materials.
When it comes to finding sources for prop and armour making there are plenty to your disposal.
There are hundreds of cosplayers with youtube channels out there so at first glance it can be quite overwhelming. However there are some who have channels that specialise in cosplay, specifically prop and armour building.
They all have different difficulty levels but are a wonderful source if you learn better at your own pace and in your own space.
There are instruction manuals for practically everything on this website so finding a cosplay tutorial shouldn’t be too difficult. Finding a specific cosplay tutorial may be harder but there are hundreds of tutorials available there so you are bound to find something helpful.
Another thing I love about this website is that some of the tutorials include patterns that you can print off.
At cons around the country there has been an increase if panels/workshops that help pass knowledge onto other cosplayers. These are an amazing way to learn because 1) You won’t be the only person there. 2) You can get some hands on help and 3) You get to learn something you might not have known or struggled with before.
As someone who had burned, cut, and hurt themselves making cosplays, I can not stress enough that when making props or armour being careful is often overlooked.
More than likely you will need to make sure you have adequate space for any project you undertake and depending on materials that space may need to be very well ventilated. I learned that the hard way working with resin.
If you are working with thermo plastics make sure you have some gloves as the plastics do require quite a bit of heat to activate.
As a rule I always make sure I have
- Respirator or Mask
- Plenty of space
- A flat surface to work on
Having those things with me when working on a cosplay makes me feel better because I’m less likely to injure myself.
Prop making is not for everyone. Some people pick it up really quickly and for some, like me, it becomes a great source of frustration.
There is nothing wrong with paying someone to help out with your cosplay. There is plenty of local talent out there. Some advertise their services but some don’t. Ask around, the cosplay community can be incredibly helpful.
Lastly the main thing to remember is to have fun, whether you are making a sword using wooden dowels or a suit of armour. Creating something should be an enjoyable experience even if it breaks. Putting blood sweat and tears into something is always worthy of a pat on the back.
What was the first prop you made? What have you learned since then? Let us know in the comments below.