Accessories make the outfit

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One of the things I love about making costumes is that there are so many different creative elements involved. I love sewing, and as I’ve been doing that since I was old enough to hold a needle and thread, I’d say that’s my costuming forte. However, I love dabbling in other arts and crafts, so I was thrilled to try my hand at making armor.

When we went to DragonCon last year, I marveled at all the people dressed in very realistic-looking armor and wondered where they bought it because surely not everyone has their own forge or plastics factory. I couldn’t fathom that such things could be made at home with regular equipment, so I was thrilled to find out that you can make a lot of those amazing creations with things as common as craft foam or paper mache. I tried out the craft foam method in making my armor for the Baroness costume, and it was so much fun!

I found the best tutorial on making craft foam armor by Penwiper on entropyhouse.com. I made gauntlets, leg armor (is there a special name for that?), and a belt buckle. I made patterns for the pieces by drawing my shapes on paper and then tracing them on to craft foam.

 
Craft foam ready for cutting

Once the pieces were all cut out, I glued the COBRA shapes to the arm pieces. When the glue was dry, I shaped the pieces with a heat gun (which I bought eight years ago to do embossing on my wedding invitations and has been sitting on a shelf ever since. I love it when I pick up a new craft and just happen to have the tools I need on hand already!).

Shaped with the heat gun
I glued some muslin left over from my jacket mock up to the back of all the pieces for stability.  
 
It’s so great when I can find a use for those tiny fabric scraps
The most time-consuming process was coating the pieces with a watered-down glue mixture to give the pieces a smooth finish. I applied about eight coats, waiting for it to dry in between every coat. The process took a few days with all the drying, but I just did it in between working on other parts of my costume, so it wasn’t so bad. 
 
When the pieces were finally smooth enough, I was ready to paint. I knew I wanted to use Rub N Buff for an antique look, but I wanted to give it a base coat of gold spray paint. Unfortunately, it rained during the 20 minutes I left the pieces outside to dry after painting, and the rain was so light I didn’t even know it had happened until I went outside to collect the pieces. Luckily, it was outdoor spray paint which made it waterproof, so the pieces were mostly fine except for the parts that didn’t get enough coverage. I was a bit upset at first, but I’ve decided I kind of like the extra “weathered” (literally!) look.  
Left them outside for 20 minutes, and it rains!
Not really how I wanted to “weather” it.
I pained the pieces with Rub N Buff and sealed them with a layer of Future polish, though, and they were mostly fine afterwards.
 
 
Still some water spots, but it kind of adds to the patina
Finally, I weathered the pieces using some black acrylic paint mixed with a little green. It applied the paint in the crevices of the pieces and then wiped most of it off with a damp cloth.
Weathered vs. unweathered
I made gauntlets out of faux leather and used velcro to attach the arm guards to the gauntlets. For the leg pieces, I made straps out of the faux leather and attached brass buckles. I attached the straps to the armor with more velcro. The belt I’m using has a flat metal buckle, so I’ll attach the COBRA “belt buckle” I made with some double-sided tape.
 
 
Because every cartoon character needs a ridiculously large belt buckle
 
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5 responses »

  1. A thigh piece for armor is called a “cuisse”.

    Lovely job. I really liked the double layer of craft foam. I have some bracers I’m thinking about that will benefit from the technique.

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