Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Expanding foam and You: The Carving

Welcome back! To recap, I covered how I created my expanding foam monstrosity in part one.  Now we go on to what I found to be the fun part-- carving the staff out!
expanding foam mage staff part 2

Here's what I had to start with. A large and in charge piece of foam that looks like a horror show.
uncarved mage staff with no shape - becomes white mage staff all from expanding foam

This is a messy process. Be sure to lay down a well anchored tarp to control your shavings as your cut foam off. You can see the start of my work at the bottom of the staff where it is smoother than the rest.

This is also a risky process because you are working with sharp blades.  Using Kami Cosplay's example, I used a box cutter to widdle it down.  She used a cutter with some weight but I really preferred the lighter and cheaper version. You want a sharp blade, which also made the cheaper cutter easier to work with and then discard as it dulled.
box cutter for expanding foam mage staff
This is a whole $1 at home depot.
I've had knife accidents before so I was careful to ALWAYS carve away from myself, not towards me. It is too easy to slip up and slice yourself.

I would gradually bring the staff down the size. My first go around was taking off the first quarter to half inch to start to see the shape of the staff. I continued to do a pass through from top to bottom, taking off 1/4 to 1/2 inch each time. By the third pass, some areas lost more and others lost less as I worked out the thickness. My vision was to have a skinny bottom that expanded into a thicker head.

For the divots and dips, I used sharpies to draw out where I wanted dips to be. As long as I could see the sharpie, the dip wasn't deep enough.

drawing details on foam for mage staff

I messed up several times, but you'll see later those errors added character to make the piece look more natural. If I really messed up, would stuff discarded foam into a gap.

Remember in my first post where I glued green foam to the staff? You can see it showing through as the green lines running up the staff. When I hit the foam, I knew I was 1 inch away from the wooden center and need to slow down the shaving. It also helped me gage circumference. I cut down and into the foam at the bottom of the staff but barely scraped it at the top.

The final step was to shaved off a bit more than I wanted because it will be getting covered in paper mache to bulk it back up.

To celebrate being done with carving, I covered the staff in masking tape to prep it for part three - painting. Be sure to really pressed the tape in and around the staff, otherwise you lose those details you made.

Smooth tapped up staff. 

Part 3 will be our final segment. I'll cover the prep and painting of the staff for the final outcome.

** This is a multiple-post article on creating a mage staff for a final fantasy white mage out of expanding foam.  Be sure to catch them all pokemon style!**