Welcome to the wonderful world of EVA foam! Jump on in- it’s soft and squishy!
What is EVA foam?
EVA foam is a flexible, rubbery material that comes in various thicknesses and sheet sizes.
I primarily use 3mm and 5mm thick foam that comes in 12×18 inch sheets. Most hobby and craft stores stock this type, under various brand names like “Foamies”, “Wonder Foam”, etc, and they can also be found online on ebay and in bulk from various material supply companies. Check out the Supply Page for links to various sources for foam sheets. A lot of foam armor makers also use thicker exercise mats, which are made of a similar foam and provide more durability and size. I prefer the thinner thicknesses in general because they can be easily and smoothly cut with a normal pair of scissors.
EVA foam is a great, versatile material for making anything from costume clothing, armor, props, crafts, and all sorts of art projects. It’s relatively cheap and very easy to work with.
It’s very easy to trace shapes onto it and cut them out with a regular pair of office scissors. For smaller, more detailed cuts you can use a hobby knife. It can be glued with many different types of glue depending on your needs. I like using super glues for their instant drying time and strength. Also popular among foam crafters is contact cement and hot glue.
Most items can be built by cutting out one flat layer at a time, just like you would cut a simple shape out of a piece of paper, and then gluing them all together to form an item that has three-dimensional details.
It helps to start with a good template to ensure the shapes will be correct and fit together the way you want. Find several reference pictures of what you are trying to make and try to get a good idea of what the item looks like from all sides. You can design templates freehand on paper first or use an image editing program to create a template with precise shapes and measurements. I use the free program Gimp to create all my templates at full scale, and then break the image into 8.5 x 11 inch sections to be able to print out. I then cut out the shapes and trace them onto foam.
The Batman Gauntlets Build Tutorial is a good project to start with and includes a template for the gauntlets.
Working with foam is easy and fun, and with some time and work you can be on your way to building a great looking costume piece, prop, or other project. If you are just starting out and feel a little overwhelmed, don’t worry! There’s no need to be nervous- foam work is by far the easiest of all the types of prop and costume making. It really doesn’t require much skill, mainly just time and a little bit of creativity. For a big head-start before you dive in, browse through the rest of my tutorials and blog posts, and as always- feel free to ask if you ever have any questions.
The biggest thing I really hope to convey with all my tutorials is that while the end result of each item may look different, the process, techniques, tips, tools, materials, etc, are pretty much all the same. I hope to instill confidence more than any specific set of instructions. You guys and gals can do this! It’s really not hard at all! Don’t be afraid to just jump in and get started on the project you are thinking of. Use the tutorials to learn the basics, and then start getting your hands dirty with glue, paint, foam dust, and sweat to learn the specifics that really come best from experience. You’re not going to get it perfect on your first try. But keep trying! You will very quickly improve as foam work is easy and quite forgiving. Seek out more info and ask for help when you get stuck on a particular problem. But most importantly, just get started. You will probably be surprised at how quickly and easily it all comes together. You can do it!