WWWIP 2019-2020: Kyle's Week 6 Progress
Hello fellow winter crafters! Kyle here with our sixth week of progress. Last week we went into bevel sanding with a dremel for clean armor edges. This week we will go into glues as we begin assembling our armor.
So to begin, let's take a look at our two primary glues to use with EVA foam. The first choice glue will usually be Contact Cement due to its durability, flexibility, and ease of application. The second type of glue commonly used is Cyanoacrylate, but most of you will know it more commonly as Super glue. You can use other glues with EVA foam, but I use these because they both provide a fast and strong bond. I’ll demonstrate the pros and cons of each glue as we assemble the armor.
But before we can use them, we have to buy them right? You can typically find both glues at any hardware store in the glue section, which is usually found within the paints area. Barge and Weldwood are common brands of contact cement, but you will want to make sure “contact cement” is on the can, because it functions differently than normal glues. Cyanoacrylate only comes in tiny bottles in stores, but you can also find it in much larger bottles online. Just make sure you are searching for “Cyanoacrylate” rather than “super glue” if you want to find the big bottles. My favorite brand is Bob Smith Industries, because they also sell an accelerator to help bond the edges of our Lumin's Workshop eva foam more quickly.
Before you begin using Contact Cement, first make sure your work environment is well ventilated and temperature controlled. Outside is great in warm weather, but in colder seasons you will want to have a room with a painting booth, or windows open and fans to take your fumes outside. You may also want to wear a respirator while applying the glue, just to be safe. Contact Cement is pretty messy to clean up, so be sure to also cover your workspace with a tarp, cardboard, or heavy paper. If you need to clean up any glue, you can use mineral spirits or Acetone.
Contact Cement is exactly what it sounds like, it bonds to itself instantly and permanently. I can count on one hand how many times I was able to pull apart two pieces that got misaligned while gluing without tearing the foam. Because of this, we will want to mark our edges with corresponding numbers and guide marks to ensure clean and uniform seamlines. The guide marks are especially important when you are making matching pairs of armor for your arms and legs, or mirrored seams in larger pieces.
Coat both pieces you want to bond together with a generous first coat and let them set for a good 15 minutes or so. The first coat tends to soak into the foam, so I recommend applying a second coat afterwards. If you plan out ahead of time you can potentially coat enough pieces so that by the time you finish applying the first coat to all of them, your first pieces are ready for the second.
You can tell when the pieces are ready to be attached together by the tackiness of the glue. It shouldn’t rub off by touch but should feel kind of like the back of a sticker. It will look dry, which may make you want to try bonding them sooner but don’t! It gets the best bond when it looks dry like that. The instructions on most brands also say that you typically have up to a 2 hour window to bond your pieces together before they are too dry to properly stick together.
When you are ready to attach your pieces together, start at one end and hold the two pieces together firmly for 30-60 seconds. Then work your way from one guide mark to the next, again holding each inch together for a bit to guarantee proper bonding.
Whenever you know that one of your two pieces is longer than the other and needs to squish a little to line up properly, skip from one guidemark to the next and then carefully work the gap together. The marks are there to keep you on track as you go, and they are especially handy in these situations.
If you have a bit of excess glue around the outside of the seam line, don’t panic. You can usually roll them up into little beads by rubbing back and forth along the seam with your thumb.
Moving on to Cyanoacrylate, it is a similarly fast and strong bonding glue. It is also similarly fumy, so again be sure to work in a well ventilated area when using it. Be especially careful of your eyes, they will start watering up when exposed to heavy amounts of super glue fumes. Wearing goggles will protect your eyes from the fumes if you have to have a piece close to your face while glueing it together.
It takes a lot less super glue to do a similar job to Contact Cement, and it typically will bond together within a minute of applying and holding the two surfaces together. This can become instant with the use of an accelerator.
Be aware that super glue LOVES to stick to skin. And I am very guilty of using my thumbs to help hold wet seams together or wipe away excess glue. If you happen to get super glue on your skin, you can use nail polish remover or acetone to get it off.
The key to using Super Glue effectively is to use very little at a time, and slowly work your way down a seam line. With practice, you can get very quick and clean seams!
So is one inherently better than the other? Contact Cement can be messy, but is cheaper, stronger, and more flexible once cured. Cyanoacrylate is fast, less mess, and easier to control as you work. It is less flexible when cured, but this isn’t usually an issue for most props and armor. Personally, I like to save Contact Cement for the bigger projects and use Super glue for the smaller ones. And there is overlap in this of course, often times I will use both within the same project for different parts. Ultimately it comes down to preference, and you don’t have to use either of these glues if you happen to have a preference for a different one.
There is of course the unsung hero of the final hour, hot glue. I think everyone can agree that hot glue still holds up in a pinch, but the main reason I stopped using it as a primary glue is simply because it’s heat activated. Because of this, any environment hot enough can reactivate and soften up the glue in your project. Long road trips in the summer can wreck a prop or armor piece that relies too heavily on Hot Glue. And nothing is less fun than having to re-glue half of your costume together in the hotel room the night before you wear it.
With all of this said, here is a look at our overall costume progress so far! All of the eva foam armor has now been patterned, cut out, and glued together. Next week I will be cleaning up some seams and edges. Hopefully we will also begin sealing and priming all of these pieces in preparation for painting. Thank you all for keeping up with our progress, and happy crafting!