SKS Props is our guest this week! Bill and Steven answer questions about Cosplay Melee, mannequins, sculpting, imposter syndrome, adhesives, Rub ‘n Buff, weapon supports, insulation foam, articulated hands, and more!


Steven K Smith Props

Show Notes:

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Questions from the Show:

Nick at Modulus Props
I’ve been thinking about getting a mannequin for displaying costumes at cons and maker fairs. Do you have any suggestions for things to look for or things to avoid?

Steven, I’m a big fan of your work! Your painting skills and the way you use foam is an inspiration for me–and you have a group of fans in Puerto Rico!
For time management on Cosplay Melee, you got 8 hours to complete a prop. Were they 8 consecutive hours? Did you have breaks?

Sam – Bio Cosplay
This summer I would like to attempt to sculpt something for fun. Do you have any recommendations on a clay to start with or general tips?

Steven, when talking to the camera on Cosplay Melee, you looked a little under the weather. I’m assuming you may have been a little sick or tired–how did that impact your time on the show?

What is the best adhesive for insulation foam? I want to laminate a few pieces together to make a thicker piece for carving. I’ve found a couple places that say wood glue but it takes forever to dry. I used Super 77, but I’ve had the layers come apart. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?

I have some really bad impostor syndrome. I feel like everything I make isn’t good and it’s really upsetting. Do you guys have it? How do you go on?

Tim Mandese
Which do you like better, making movie props, or game and fantasy props, and why?

Magically Dunn Creations
Question 1:
How do you go about using Barge for recessed pieces? The Barge doesn’t seem like it gives allot of working time. Is there another adhesive that’s better?
Also, what would be a good way to reinforce the recessed pieces? In Arizona, hot glue is not a good thing since it just melts again.
Question 2:
I molding pieces that are about the size of a nickel. They will be attached to the knuckle area on gloves. What materials and techniques would you suggest for something this small? I have
watched your 1-part mold videos but I don’t know if those materials would be good for something so small.

Nazegoreng (naz)
What is the shiniest, clearest plastic to use for vacuum forming?

Have you ever considered using the x-carve or laser to cut foam patterns?

I made a Raiders of the Lost Ark idol out of Sculpey. I colored the idol with gold Rub ‘n Buff, but it keeps rubbing off. Is there anything that will seal the Rub ‘n Buff?

For a weapon, PVC pipe core, or wooden dowel core? I’m finding the poplar is much lighter but the PVC can be disassembled more easily. Do have a preference as far as travel and carrying at a con?

Laraldo Nerd
Hi Bill! How did you find the transition from working a desk job at Microsoft to working with your hands with physical tools, materials, Barge, etc and what lessons did you learn that you didn’t expect?

Svan Melms
Any advice for building foam plates that slide over each other? I’m doing a medieval fantasy build and found that the foam grabs itself instead of sliding.

Matthew Davis/Patina Props
So this is kind of the opposite of most of the weathering that you do, but a steel sword that I have been making keeps on oxidizing and rusting from just sitting in the closet. Any suggestions how to stop the rusting other than just a clearcoat?

Ron Clark
I super glued electronic wires into my prop, but the wires are trying to separate from the prop. What is a better method of adhesion?

Hey Bill I’m going to make a No Face costume for a event I’m going to, what material you guys suggest for me to make the mask, so it is hard and durable?

Matthew Davis/Patina Props
Just curious on your thoughts on the competitive nature of the Cosplay Melee show. Competition can be healthy, but costume and prop making really should be a cooperative field. Curious on your thoughts.

I’m trying to make large, articulated hands for my Daruk (from Zelda BotW) cosplay. The problem is, the prop hand is four times the size of my normal hand, which means my fingers need to pull the tendon strings four times harder, quickly tiring out my hands. Any tips or tutorials for reducing the amount of pull needed to make my giant fingers curl?

I’ve seen you mention Spray Varnish to seal your paint jobs on various props. What’s the difference or advantage over that of a clear spray can paint job? When shouldn’t you use the Varnish?

As a prop and costume maker, do you think it’s better to specialize in a given medium or to be a “jack of all trades” and learn as much as you can?

How do you both start planning and tackling a larger than life costume?

Norbert Crispo
Which sorts of foam do you use for more flexible use? For example, making a stillsuit for DUNE movie.

Who would win in an arm wrestling match between Steve and Bill?

Any tips on how to store spray paint or barge or pretty much anything that could give off fumes in a small apartment?

Steven, I’m working on a Skeletron cosplay and have been following your instructable (very helpful!). Do you had any Skeletron insights or pointers that didn’t make it into your instructable?