I’m sure there’s plenty on this blog already about alternative construction methods for props, so I thought that I’d offer my two cents.
Recently I created (with a little help from an art major’s supplies and a friend’s patience) some costume accessories that needed to be very light (headwear), resistant to bumping (wiiide headwear), and water resistant (as the debut event for this has notoriously horrible weather). Without needing to spend any money on additional supplies (only partially because of art major friend’s paint collection), I created accessories that more than met these requirements.
Things to hunt down:
- tinfoil - heavy duty preferable; depending on size of prop, you will need multiple rolls; overestimate greatly when buying, as you’ll be amazed at what you use
- masking tape - a fresh roll is usually plenty for a small- to mid-sized project; if you run out, do not use duct tape, scotch tape, packaging tape, or any other smooth/shiny tape as a replacement
- newspaper - described more fully in the relevant step below; non-gloss preferred; thinner is better; shred into small pieces, but not confetti; collect in large bowl to make your life easier; you can get paperclay instead, but I do not get in-depth on using it
- crappy paint brushes - I found a painter’s set at the dollar store; if you can’t find that, go for the style that’s small, translucent, colorful, inlaid with glitter, and created for little girls; you will be covering these with glue and otherwise abusing them; get your hands on a fatter ‘round’ brush if possible, it’ll make the pre- and post-paint steps easier
- better brushes and assorted paints - for actually painting your prop; I like acrylic, but any type works, really
- Elmer’s glue - again, overestimate what you need; mix it about 50/50 with water in a container you can close (empty two-liter works best); always shake well before use
- gesso - look in craft stores, specifically ones for painters; white, will be used as primer; look for a thinner, sandable kind; ’Golden’ is the brand to look for, containers are all white with black text labels (they all look identical, so be prepared to read); this is a little expensive and rather optional
- modge podge - again, craft stores; white when wet, transparent when dry; comes in matte and gloss, so pick accordingly to your project (matte costs more, just fyi); for the best finished look and prop longevity, be sure to get this; it’s about half as much as the gesso (per unit size)
- misc cups, paper towels, etc - this method is messy, so act accordingly or be prepared for glue to get into your carpeting
After collecting the above, prepare your workstation. Two layers of newspaper taped to the top of a table, in a room with a tile floor (such as kitchen linoleum). Store the crappy brushes in a cup of water when they’re not in use, keep a roll of paper towels handy, and be prepared to get glue all over your hands and arms. Embrace your inner artist and let’s get going.