Skinning a large costume

Discussion in 'Replica Costumes' started by runkrod, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. runkrod

    runkrod New Member

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    Hey gang,
    I'm in the process of building a baby T-rex "walking with dinosaurs" style costume. Sorry no WIP, but the few times I've posted a WIP I end up not actually finishing the project so I won't jinx this one....Maybe when I'm all done.

    But I do have a question about skinning the costume. I've got the "skeleton" built (PVC mostly) and was planning on using 1/2" or 1" upholstery foam to cover the frame. I then want a latex-like skin on the foam to then paint. I was thinking I could just get latex caulk tubes and spread that out over the foam to provide the skin. I've been reading and searching the forums but haven't come up with any solid advice one way or the other about this.
    So, I'll ask the direct questions.
    1. Would builders caulk (latex or silicone) work in this application? Would I need to thin it to spread it more evenly? latex or silicone? (I would think I'd have a hard time painting silicone)
    2. Is there a better idea that buying tubes at the local store? Would getting tubs of liquid latex be more effective?
    3. Is there a better idea than trying for a rubber skin? I've seen some of the other builds and frankly I don't like the look of fabric over the frame. Gives it a plushy/furry effect that I'm not fond of.

    Much Thanks
     
  2. Contec

    Contec Master Member

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    Upholstery foam sucks up LOTS of latex when coated. But you can first spray the foam with "sprayglue" and then cover it with tissue paper. Then you cover that with latex. It stops the foam from sucking up the latex and the tissue paper shrivels up a little, making it look like skin.
     
  3. George

    George Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Seal it with PVA glue first (like with plastic/rubber coating ?
     
  4. Grimwood

    Grimwood Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Wish I had known that trick! I'll remember it for next time.

    Thanks!
     
  5. runkrod

    runkrod New Member

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    That's an interesting idea. I'll give that a test. Would you use regular liquid latex or do you think my plan for the "home-depot-special" of using latex caulk still apply?
     
  6. Contec

    Contec Master Member

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    I am thinking that that might be too thick. I know that this works with regular liquid latex.

    You could do a couple of test pieces with the Home depot caulk, and the regular latex too see what works best for you before you buy alot lot of the material that might not work.
     
  7. runkrod

    runkrod New Member

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    All,
    Did a brief test. Will add photos later. Took three pieces of 1" foam. Decided to apply a layer of: 1. Caulk, 2. Caulk thinned with water, 3. Caulk thinned with Mineral Spirits. Want to do one thinned with Naptha later.
    Results.
    1. The straight caulk had a texture of toothpaste. It was easy to spread on the test piece with fairly uniform thickness. Upon drying the piece had a flexible coating that I think will be adequate for the main project.
    2. The caulk with water became very thin very quickly. I likely used too much water, but the mixture was very thin and was absorbed by the foam. The dried texture was poor and actually made the foam a little crunchy because it penetrated into the foam a bit.
    3. The caulk with mineral spirits was odd. The appearance of the caulk changed a little, gaining a sort of sheen in the mixing cup. If I had to call it anything, it looked like a rubber "superball" but was still very soft to the touch. I would have to say that it was a little thicker in consistency than the straight caulk but still easy to apply. The dried texture did not appear very different than straight caulk so the steps to mix (and melt the mixing cup) seem unnecessary.

    Want to try naptha as I've seen people talk about using that, but to be honest I don't have a problem with the straight caulk so will probably try to just go with that for the next, larger scale test.



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  8. TJack

    TJack Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    When I did my Dino build (walking with dinosaurs style) a few years ago I skinned the surface of my foam with store bought caulking and it worked out exactly as I'd hoped. Easy to paint and very durable :) Sold the costume and he still uses it without any issues
     
  9. runkrod

    runkrod New Member

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    TJack,
    Thats very helpful. Much thanks! I've had a heck of a time finding confirmation that this would or wouldn't work.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  10. TJack

    TJack Master Member Community Staff RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    No problem. But as others have suggested, I'd still do a small scale test first to ensure compatibility with the caulk and your paints and ensure it all works with your materials.
     
  11. runkrod

    runkrod New Member

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    WP_20150831_001.jpg
    Quick update. Had a thought of using bubble wrap as the base for the latex caulk rather than foam. Will provide some texture to the skin. Here is a quick demo.
     

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