How to Make a Steampunk Gas Mask Costume - and Template!

Sometimes you just need a cool gas mask to finish off your costume! This video tutorial shows how to make a steampunk gas mask, but the pattern is also adaptable for many other gas mask styles, whether you are making a Pyro Cosplay, a Doctor Who Empty Child costume, or some other post apocalyptic creation!

This mask is made primarily from ordinary craft foam that you can buy at your local craft store, glued together with hot glue, and finished with acrylic paints.

DIY Steampunk Gas Mask Part 1

DIY Steampunk Gas Mask Part 2

…and if you did want to make the Doctor Who Empty Child Gas Mask, I created some special bonus pattern pieces just for you!

Doctor Who The Empty Child Tutorial and Template

You can grab the template at my pattern shop below, as well as find lots of other sweet DIY costume ideas for your next cosplay!

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How to Make a Captain America Shield from Foam

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A while ago I pioneered a way of doming EVA foam floor-mats that required the use of a hot car to "bake" the foam into shape. (You can find that technique here) As I am keenly aware, living in Canada, not everyone has access to a hot car when they really need it, so I decided to try again, inside a normal temperature house. :) I figured this time I'd make a Captain America shield.

Here are the tools and materials I used:

  • Templates: I created a star template and one for the back plate. You can find them for free in my pattern shop.

  • 10 mm thick EVA foam puzzle piece mats x2

  • 2 mm EVA craft foam

  • Metre stick

  • Ruler

  • Pen

  • Drill Bits

  • BBQ Skewer

  • Exercise Ball

  • Clear Packing Tape

  • 2 Part 5 Minute Epoxy

  • Sharp Knife: If it is not really sharp you will have a terrible time when you are cutting the foam

  • Hot Glue Gun: I highly suggest a glue gun that has adjustable temperature. If you use a temperature just a little bit higher than the melting point of the glue, you will have fewer burnt fingers, and not have to hold pieces together as long as they cool.

  • Contact Cement: I used water based contact cement because it is less toxic to breathe than regular contact cement

  • Old Belt

  • Paint: I like to use artists acrylic paint. It tends to remain a little bit flexible when it dries.I used DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics Silver for the background.

  • Heat Gun : I used the Furno 700 which was provided to me by Wagner for opening score lines and forming the foam

  • Cling wrap

  • Respirator: It is important not to breathe the fumes from the foam when it is heated

It’s also really helpful to watch my tutorial video (and there’s a sweet intro you won’t want to miss!):

Now on to the Captain America shield tutorial…

Step 1: Find the Centre of Your Floor Mat

Use a long ruler or metrestick/yardstick to find the center of one of the 10mm thick puzzle piece foam mats.

Place it diagonally across the mat and make a short line at around the halfway mark.

Turn it diagonally the other direction and make another line that will cross the first line. The point where they cross should be very close to the center of the mat.

**Handy Tip** I found that the ink in the fine marker I used bled through the paint layer. It would be a great idea to use some rubbing alcohol, or whatever works for the ink you are using, and remove your pen lines before painting.

Step 2: Make a Fancy Tool

Make marks with a pen at the 1cm, 9cm, 15.5cm, 22cm, 27cm, and 29cm marks on your ruler.

Drill a hole at each mark down the center of the ruler.

Choose a drill bit that will make a hole that is just large enough so that when you stick the pen through it, the tip of the pen will stick out the other side of the ruler just a little bit.

You want to be able to fit your bbq skewer right through the hole at the 1cm mark, so, depending on the size of your bbq skewer, you may need to drill that hole a little larger.

Step 3: Draw Some Circles (with a Little Help From a Fancy Tool)

Stack the two foam mats on top of each other and line them up perfectly.

Check that the center mark you made on your foam mat is actually in the centre by placing the 1cm hole right on the center mark and then making sure that the outside (29cm) hole doesn't go off any of the edges.

Once you have verified the center, use your skewer to pierce through the 1cm mark on the ruler and through both foam sheets at the center.

Place your pen in each of the drilled holes except the 27cm hole. (and of course, the 1cm hole that has a skewer through it) and spin the ruler/pen combo around the center skewer, marking 4 concentric circles on the top sheet of foam.

Switch the foam sheets, so the second one is on top, replace the skewer/ruler tool, and make a circle using the 27cm hole.

Step 4: Cut Some Circles

Make sure you have a sharp blade in your knife. You can do a test cut on one of the corners of the foam sheet, and if the cut isn't nice and smooth, you need a new blade.

On the foam mat with the concentric circles, cut on the outside line, keeping your knife blade nice and square to the surface. I find it works better to do 2 or 3 cuts along the same line rather than trying to cut all the way through the foam in one pass.

Now cut out the disc from the second sheet of foam (the one marked on the 27cm mark). This time while you are cutting around the disc, angle the knife blade so that it cuts at an outward angle as you go.

This should give you two foam discs, one slightly larger than the other.

Step 5: Score!

On the larger disc, score along the other marked circles with your sharp knife, but cut them only about 1mm deep.

Take the foam outside for airflow and wear a respirator to protect yourself from fumes.

Using a heat gun, apply heat to the score lines, which will open them up and create nice grooves around the shield.

You can also use the heat gun to heat seal the foam so that later on, you won't need to use quite as much paint. You can tell when it is sealed because it turns a bit shinier when you heat it.

Step 6: Go Crazy With Cling Wrap

Now it is time to try and form this flat sheet of foam into a nice even dome shape.

Grab your cling wrap and start by wrapping once around the ball, holding the larger foam disc against the ball, with the smooth side (the side with the concentric circles) facing out. Once it is held in place, take the smaller circle and wrap it onto the other side of the ball with the textured side facing out.

Now continue to wrap the cling wrap around the foam discs and ball, pulling the cling wrap quite tightly as you go. Wherever there is an edge of foam that is lifting away from the ball, press the lifted part down as you go over that section with the cling wrap. You don't need to use a continuous strip of cling wrap, I found that shorter strips worked well, as I was able to target the areas that needed further attention. By the time you are finished, the ball and foam should be completely covered with 2-3 layers of cling wrap.

Step 7: Tape It Good

Use strips of packing tape to reinforce the cling wrap.

Using the packing tape, apply strips around the outside perimeter of each foam disc. You are not trying to go around the edge with one long strip of tape, but rather, keep each strip of tape straight and run it from the ball, up over an edge of the foam and then back down onto the ball again. Overlap the strips as you go.

Step 8: Heat It Up

Use a heat gun to slowly heat up the foam.
The goal here is to have the foam heat up all the way through, so just blasting the outside with a quick shot of hot air is not going to be enough. I set my heat gun to 800 degrees F and spent 13 minutes heating up each disc of foam.

It is important to keep the heat gun moving so that you don't melt through the cling wrap.

Normally I don't advise people to heat foam inside because of the potential gasses that can be released, but I figured that the cling wrap was creating a good seal against the foam and so there wasn't a lot of danger. (use your own discretion of course!)

Once I had heated both foam discs, I let the ball sit overnight to let everything cool down and stay in position.

Step 9: Release the Foam!

Once the foam has set overnight, it's time to set it free!

Cut off the tape and cling wrap with a pair of scissors, being careful not to puncture the ball.

You should have two nicely formed foam domes! Sweet!

Step 10: Back Handles

I didn't try to make the handles on the back of the shield too screen accurate, but I did make a template for the two pieces that are riveted to the back of the shield.

Cut two of those pieces from 2mm thick craft foam and hot glue them down to the back of the shield on opposite sides.

Make marks for two slots on each back piece, the width of the old belt that will make up the handles.

Cut the slots with a sharp knife.

Step 11: Add Some Handles

Insert the belt through the slots and determine how long you would like the handles to be. I like one handle to be a bit longer than the other so that it can fit over my arm while I hold the other handle. 

With the belt sticking through the slots, cut it off so that there is about 5cm protruding on each end. 

Sand the belt and the foam where it is going to be glued down and then fold over the belt ends and glue them with hot glue.

** For the smoothest shield possible, it is a good idea to cut some shallow recesses where the belts are glued to the foam. That way the belts can sit flush with the foam and you won't get any surprise bulges when you glue the two halves together. I forgot to do this on my shield and I wish I had.

Step 12: The Two Become One

Spread contact cement on the textured sides of both shield parts, and follow the instructions on the contact cement as far as drying time.

Once ready, use some cardboard strips to keep the two halves from touching each other as you line them up perfectly centred on top of each other.

As you press the two pieces together, pull out the cardboard strips, allowing the contact cement to grip.

Press the two pieces firmly together so that the contact cement can create a good bond.

Gluing the two pieces together "locks" the done shape into the foam, making it stay that way long term.

Step 13: Make Some Fake Rivets

There are a few ways to make fake rivets. You can use small google eyes, foam discs, or my favourite: 5 minute epoxy.

The thing I like about epoxy rivets is that they don’t all look the same, which gives a better simulation of something hand made in the past. They also don’t jiggle like the google eyes do.

Using 2 part 5 minute epoxy, squeeze out equal parts and mix them thoroughly. You only want a very small amount of epoxy as it will start to harden in a few minutes.

Dip the head of a wooden match or something similar into the epoxy and lightly touch it against the place where you want your rivet. Slowly lift the match head away, leaving behind a small blob of epoxy. As the epoxy cures it will get thicker until it is leaving long strings behind when you make your dots. This means it is time to make another little batch of epoxy.

As you are working, stay aware of how you are holding the pieces and that you aren’t touching rivets that aren’t fully cured.

Step 14: Superstar

Make a star template (or use mine) that fits in the centre of the shield.

Mark all the points with a pin and then use a ruler and knife to score the lines between the pin holes.

Use a heat gun to open up the score lines.

Step 15: Paint It... Vibranium.

It is always hard to make non-metallic things look metallic, but I wanted to get as much of the look of spun metal as I could, just using paint over foam.

I used silver metallic paint as a base coat. I tried to apply the paint following the curve of the lines. Once I had painted one of the rings, I would go over the ring with a coarse paintbrush, trying to cover the whole thing in a continuous spiral to create the ridged texture of spun metal.

If you find paint getting into the lines of the design, just use a barbecue skewer or similar tool to clean out the paint.

Step 16: All Done!

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Thanks for hanging out with me!

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DIY Steampunk Gun. Make your own cosplay rifle from foam!

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I am a big steampunk geek. I absolutely love the steampunk aesthetic, the use of contrasting metals and the flair of ornamentation on what would otherwise be purely functional pieces of machinery. Unfortunately, we cannot all access a metal shop to create custom steampunk props, so I have created a tutorial that uses much more accessible materials and the wonder of metallic paint to create the steampunk vibe. 

Here are the tools and materials I used:

  • Pattern: I used the one that I created. You can find it in my shop. When you print it, measure against the print guides to know the scale is correct. ** When printing, make sure scale is set to ACTUAL SIZE**

  • 12mm EVA Foam: I used two sheets of the EVA puzzle piece foam floor mats that are commonly available. Each sheet was 62cm (24”) square.

  • 2mm EVA foam: The larger the sheets, the better. This allows you to cut long strips without needing to splice shorter ones together.

  • Very Sharp Knife: If it is not really sharp you will have a terrible time when you are cutting the foam. I use a surgical scalpel for the thinner foam and tight corners and a utility knife for the long straight edges on the 12mm foam.

  • Gluing Surface: A surface that the hot glue won’t stick to - The ultimate surface is a silicone baking mat - nothing sticks to silicone!

  • Hot Glue Gun : I highly suggest a glue gun that has adjustable temperature. If you use a temperature just a little bit higher than the melting point of the glue, you will have fewer burnt fingers, and not have to hold pieces together as long as they cool.

  • Contact cement (optional): I recommend a water based contact cement for this as it is much less toxic.

  • Paint: I like to use artists acrylic paint. It tends to remain a little bit flexible when it dries. I used Liquitex Basics: Mars Black and Burnt Umber as well as DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics: Vintage Bronze, Silver, and Pewter Wire: I used 4m of old telephone wire, But whatever you have available will work.

  • Copper tape: The copper tape I used was 2” wide. You will need a minimum of 6 metres(16ft)

  • Old Power Cord: 40cm.

  • Rubber Gloves: Used for applying the metallic paste.

  • “1/2 inch” PVC conduit: To make the barrels of the gun - the pipe I used has an outside diameter of 20mm

  • “1/2 inch” PEX pipe: this is a thinner pipe used for the 9 cylinders - the pipe I used has an outside diameter of 16mm

  • Golf club tube: Cheap lightweight tubes that golfers use to separate clubs- used for the scope

  • 3” PVC end cap: this will be used to create the trigger guard.

  • Saw that will cut PVC: I used my jewellers saw with a wax cutting blade.

  • Respirator: To wear when bending the PVC as well as when heating the EVA foam. Dust Mask: To use when sanding the foam so you don’t breathe the dust. Make sure you have the proper filters for the substance you are working with.

  • Heat Gun : I used the Furno 700 which was provided to me by Wagner. Used to bend the PVC pipe

  • Thick gloves: To wear when using the heat gun on the PVC pipe. Sandpaper (80 grit and 150 grit): To roughen up the foam for gluing and to smooth the foam surface.

  • Abrasive scrub pad (optional): For texturing the copper tape

  • Hole punches: 4mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm

  • Wire Cutters Pliers: To bend the wire.

  • Super Glue: For gluing the wire to the foam.

  • 5 minute 2 part epoxy: For making decorative rivets and gluing some pieces.

  • Scissors

  • Ruler

  • Cutting Surface: Somewhere to cut where you won’t be destroying anything.

  • Tubing cutter (optional): To cut the PVC and PEX pipe.

  • Electric carving knife (optional) : Great for shaping the stock.

Please note, the above links are affiliate links, and I do get a small commission if you buy through these links. It doesn't cost you any more and it helps me out!

Step 1: Safety First!

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It's fun to get started, but you want to stay safe so that you can enjoy your amazing creation!

  • Some EVA foam contains a chemical called formamide. There are some people that say there isn't enough formamide in EVA mats to be harmful, and others that say there is. Do your research and come to your own conclusions. At the least, I would say it is a good idea to open your foam mat up and let it sit in the sun for a day or two, as most of the chemical will off-gas from the foam. Or buy foam that is labelled formamide free.

  • Sharp knives and hot glue can cause injury. Be sure to use in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Exposure to epoxy can cause sensitization in some people. Read the labels and wear appropriate protection.

  • PVC and EVA foam both release hazardous fumes when heated, make sure you only do this outside with an appropriate respirator (not just a dust mask) and gloves.

  • Remember you are making something that looks like a gun. You know it is made of foam, but others don’t, so take that into consideration if you are planning to take it out in public.

Step 2: Print and Cut out the Pattern

You will need to print the pattern page of the PDF. Make sure the scale is set to actual size. Once printed, measure against the print guides to know that the scale is correct. The pattern piece for the stock is larger than one sheet of paper. For this, line up the “+” marks and tape the sheets together. I find it is easier to line up the marks if I hold the papers up against a window so that the light coming through the window allows me to see through to the lower registration marks.

Cut the pattern out of the paper, cutting as close to the line as you can without removing the line. For the detailed sections I like to use my scalpel instead of my scissors.

Step 3: Trace it Onto the Foam

Place the pieces on the foam and trace around them with the ballpoint pen, holding them firmly so that they don’t move while being traced.

Each piece says how many of them to cut out, what thickness of foam to cut them from and whether the pattern should be flipped over to trace the second one. There are a couple that are a bit different, so I will mention them here:

  • Piece 2 gets cut out four times, but the small holes are only cut out on two of them.

  • Piece 1 gets cut out four times, two with the oval cut out, and two with the interior dotted lines cut out. It is very important that these are traced in mirror image sets if you are using foam with a texture on one side, so that you can keep the smooth side to the outside of the stock.

  • Piece 16 is actually made to be marked onto two strips that are 45.5cm long. Once you have cut the strip, the pattern will be traced onto it 3 times. There are two different outside lines due to the fact that the two strips need to be different widths.

  • Pieces 10, 26, and 16 all get designs etched into them. You can either use the inkjet transfer method shown in the next step, or use a pen to trace over the swirly lines on the pattern, pressing down with some force. This will leave some light indentations on the paper that you can then trace over with your ballpoint pen. Go over the lines a few times, pushing down with the pen to create permanent indentations along the lines.

  • Make sure to mark the centre marks on pieces 9, 10, 24 and 25, and once you remove the pattern, extend these lines to the inside of your foam pieces so that they remain on the foam once it is cut out.

Quick tip: If you trace right on top of the alignment marks while there is a sheet of foam under the pattern, it leaves an indentation in the paper. This is handy when you flip the paper, because then you know where your alignment points should go. You could also just hold the paper up to some light so you can see through it, and then transfer the marks to the back side.

Punch through the paper with a pen tip in the centre of any holes that need to be punched.

There are also light grey lines on the pattern. These are just guidelines that show where different pieces will eventually go.

Step 4: Sweet Tip for Transferring All Those Swirly Lines

If you have an inkjet printer, it is possible to transfer the designs onto the foam without having to cut out the paper. This is very handy for the pieces which have a lot of swirly designs on them.

Print the design out using an inkjet printer (the thinner the paper, the better) and then flip it over on the foam. Wet the back with a sponge being careful not to move the paper while doing so. Once the paper is totally saturated and you can see the printing through the back of the paper, you can peel the paper back to reveal the design on the foam. Let it dry. **Remember that the design will be reversed**

Step 5: Cut the Foam

Note: It is super important that your knife is extremely sharp, otherwise the cuts will end up looking really ragged and ugly. Either get a new blade or sharpen your knife. It’ll make a ton of difference.

I cut most of the thick foam using a utility knife. Because of its wider blade, it cuts straight lines and wide arcing curves very well. It doesn’t do well though with tighter radius curves. For those I use my scalpel with a #11 blade.

Cut the pieces out carefully with your sharp knife, cutting directly on top of the line you traced. 

Always watch your fingers when cutting, being careful not to cut yourself.

Punch any holes in the foam according to the pattern:

  • 4mm holes on piece 11

  • 12mm holes on piece 8

  • 9mm and 12mm holes in piece 23

  • 12mm holes on piece 28 - If you have a larger hole punch for these holes, that would be even better. I only have up to 12mm and that is quite common, but they do have to stretch a bit to fit over the pipe.

Step 6: Make a Foam Stock Stack

When the texture is printed onto the foam mats in the factory, heat is used, which seals up the pores in the foam making it harder for the glue to bond with it. The first thing we need to do before gluing to this side is rub it down with a bit of 80-150 grit sandpaper to roughen it up and give something for the glue to grab onto. 

Sand the textured side of all four piece 1s and the four piece 2s. 

I normally use hot glue, but because the stocks have a large surface area, I decided to go with a water based contact cement for laminating them together. You can still use hot glue, just do it a section at a time, working your way down the stock.

Spread contact cement on the textured side of the two piece 1s with the channel cut down the centre. And on all four piece 2s.

Once the contact cement has dried according to the instructions on the container, line up the two stock pieces and slowly press them together. It is important to keep the two halves separated until they are in the exact right position because as soon as they touch, they will be very hard to separate. I kept my hand in between the two layers to keep them apart while I worked my way from the butt of the stock to the front. Once together, firmly press on the foam to ensure a good bond.

Align the piece 2s as well, gluing the piece with small holes around it to the piece without holes. You should end up with two identical round discs. 

Now glue one of the outside stock pieces to the two stock pieces you previously glued. Leave the last stock piece unglued for now.

Step 7: Cut the Lower Barrel

Cut a piece of 1/2” PVC conduit 92cm long. This piece of tubing will run through the stock of the gun to provide support and stiffness to the foam, and it will then continue on to become the lower barrel. I like to use a tubing cutter to cut my tubes because it gives a nice flat end as a result.

Lay the tube over the stock to get a little bit of an idea where the tube will leave the stock and become the barrel. Mark and sand up to that point to give the glue something to grip to.

Step 8: Bend the Lower Barrel

In order for the PVC to fit in the stock, it needs to be bent. Fortunately PVC is easy to bend when heated. Unfortunately PVC releases toxic fumes when heated, so make sure you do this outside with an appropriate respirator.

Do not heat PVC with a flame of any kind. If PVC burns it creates chlorine gas, which combines with moisture in the air to create hydrochloric acid! This is highly toxic.

Slowly heat the PVC pipe with a heat gun, at the section where it will need to bend. Take your time, you need to let the PVC get warmed up all the way through without burning the outside. All of a sudden you will feel the PVC go floppy - that’s the time to place it into the slot in the stock and hold it there nice and flat until it cools and re-hardens. I set my heat gun at 650F (340C) though it will vary depending on the heat gun you use.

Step 9: Make the Condenser Coil

Once cool, go back inside. With the pipe in place, and the stock held on top, mark the ends of the open area of the oval cutout onto the pipe. Drill a hole about 5mm behind the mark closest to the butt of the stock. This will be hidden under the foam when you finish gluing the stock together. 

Stick the telephone wire in the hole and start to wrap it around the pipe. I used approximately 2.4 metres. Feel free to use whatever wire you have access to, however you might need more or less depending on the diameter of the wire you use. Once you have wrapped past the other mark, wrap a couple more times, drill another hole and then push the remaining end of the wire into it.

Depending on the wire you use, you might need to trim a little foam away from the channel in the centre two stock pieces, right where the wire sits. The thicker the wire, the more to trim.

Step 10: Copper Tape Fun!

This is an optional step that adds a fair bit of time to the build, but gives the possibility of a semi realistic shiny copper look. 

I used 2” (50.8mm) copper tape. 

Cover the barrel that will protrude from the stock with copper tape. It’s always a trick to get metallic tapes nice and smooth on a piece of pipe, but here is my preferred technique:

  • Cut a piece of copper tape a bit longer than the piece of pipe you are covering.

  • Peel the a little bit of the backing off at each end of the tape.

  • Put a little piece of clear tape on each end of the copper tape and tape it down to a flat surface, pulling it tight as you do. The copper tape should be sticky side up, with it’s protective paper still on. (Except for the ends where you lifted it up.)

  • Remove the protective paper.

  • Position the tubing in the exact centre of the tape and set it down onto the tape, allowing it to stick.

  • Remove the tape that is sticking the copper tape to the table. You don’t want to wrinkle the copper foil while doing this, so I find it is easiest to get a knife in there and cut the tape that is holding the copper tape down.

  • Starting at the centre where the tape is already adhered, rub along the pipe with a pen or other plastic instrument. You really want to avoid air bubbles so work your way slowly and completely from the centre out to the edges.

  • If one strip of copper tape is not enough, cut a second one so that it will overlap the first by a couple of mm. Line up the edge of the tape on the pipe with the new strip and peel back the paper a section at a time as you slowly tape it against the first edge. Then rub the tape from that edge towards the other one.

  • To give the copper a brushed texture, hold an abrasive scrub pad around the pipe with one hand while spinning it with the other.

If you put your first strip of tape on the underside of the barrel, the line where the second strip of tape runs will be less visible because it will be mostly hidden by the two upper barrels. 

If you mess up, you need to decide if you are O.K. with that, or if you are going to pull off the tape and redo it. Once the tape is a bit crinkled, there is really no way to get it perfectly smooth again.

Step 11: Assemble the Stock and Barrel

Apply a generous amount of hot glue on the bottom and sides of the slot in the stock. Press the lower barrel in place. Add a little more hot glue on the top edges of the pipe where it meets the foam. Don’t get any on the wire coil though. 

Cover the foam stock and the part of the pipe that’s inside the stock with contact cement (but not the coil section). Cover the textured side of the remaining stock section with contact cement as well. 

Once ready, add the last piece to the stack, pressing it down firmly.

Step 12: Unflatten the Stock

As it is, the stock looks pretty chunky and awkward, so you will want to round off all the edges.

I like to do this with an old electric carving knife - it makes it easier to take thinner layers of foam off with less effort. It is not necessary to have though, as I was able to carve one side with only a utility knife (with a ridiculously sharp blade). It is worth mentioning here that a good sharpening stone is really useful to keep that blade sharp during this process.

Step 13: Sand It Smooooth

Once you have the basic shape whittled down, take a piece of 80-100 grit sandpaper, wrap it around a large dowel or something similar, and use it to smooth out the knife marks. Wear a dust mask so that you are not breathing in the foam dust you will be creating. 

You will never get the foam perfectly smooth, but if you have a heat gun, you can take it outside and give it a quick blast which will melt some of the little feathery bits and smooth it out a fair bit. (just remember to wear a respirator, foam gives off toxic gas as well).

Step 14: Make Two More Barrels

Lay your PVC pipe in place above the lower barrel. Mark where the end should be and cut it to length. Repeat for the second barrel. 

Cover the two top barrels with copper tape as you did with the first one. 

Give them a brushed texture with a abrasive scrub pad (if that’s the look you want). 

Hold the barrels tightly together and tack them together with a couple small squirts of hot glue (hot glue doesn’t adhere well to the copper tape). It is important they are on a flat surface for this. 

Mix up some 5 minute 2 part epoxy. It is important that you have relatively equal parts of epoxy and that it is mixed together really well or else you risk it not curing at all. 

Using a matchstick or something similar, spread the epoxy along the centre valley between the two barrels. If the barrels are tight enough together, the glue won’t be able to leak through to the outside of the barrel, and will remain unseen. 

Allow the epoxy to cure.

Step 15: Glue the Top Barrels in Place 

Apply contact cement generously where the barrels will rest on the stock. 

Lay the barrels in place on the stock and slide the two circular pieces over the barrels to hold them in place while the epoxy cures. 

Using a thin stick, push some epoxy in-between the three barrels at the front end, so that they are held in place there as well.

Step 16: Doin’ Some Gluin’

I use hot glue for my projects now, as I am a bit leery of breathing the fumes that go along with contact cement. It takes a little more practice, but you can still get really good results. I like to glue a section about 5cm long and hold it together until the glue cools. This time can vary depending on how hot your glue gun is, but for me it is about 10 seconds. That’s why I use a glue gun with variable temperature! (it also reduces burns) 

I have a video about how to get smooth seams while using hot glue right here.

If you use hot glue, be careful not to leave it in a hot car because the glue will melt, leaving you with a hot mess!

Glue the swirly piece 5 on top of piece 7.
Glue the short ends of piece 7 together to create a tube. I find it works best if you push the tube quite flat while you are gluing - it helps the edges to meet nice and square. 

Glue piece 4 on top of piece 3.

Step 17: Create the Front End of the Vortex Canister

Glue the ends of piece 5 together to create a ring.

Glue the ring made from piece 5 around the centre hole on the back of one of the circle pieces (the side without the holes) Decide on one of the holes on the circle piece you are currently working on, and mark it as the top. Extend this marking to the side of the circle piece. Also make a bottom mark on the bottom. 

Apply glue only to the centre ring of piece 3, and glue it on top of the ring already there (piece 5), lining up one of the “rungs” of piece 3 with the top mark you made earlier. 

Glue the outside ring of piece 3 down to the circle piece, keeping the edges flush.

Step 18: Create the Back End of the Vortex Canister

Glue the tube with the swirly piece around it onto the inside of the circle piece (the side with the nine holes cut out) Line up the seam on the swirly piece with the bottom mark on the circle. Glue nine nuts over the nine holes, lining up the holes in the nuts with the holes in the circle.

Step 19: This Is How I Like to Paint

We are going to start painting in the next section, so here is a little summary of the techniques I like to use.

Do a base coat with artist acrylic paints. For this project I used black as the base for everything except the stock, where I used burnt umber. I find that artist acrylics have a little bit more flexibility in them when they are dry. I don’t use any primer on my foam, but I do encourage putting 2 - 3 good coats of paint to seal all the pores as well as give a nice solid surface for applying the metallic colours. 

My favourite metallic paints tend to change over time, but for this project I used DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics Vintage Bronze for the brass, and a 50/50 mixture of DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics Pewter and Silver for the silver colour.

My technique for creating an antique metal look is as follows:

Put on a tight fitting rubber glove. This keeps your hands clean as well as preventing fingerprint smears in your metallic coating. 

Put a small blob of metallic paint onto a piece of scrap cardboard.

Dip your fingertip lightly into the paint and then rub it onto a clean section of cardboard. Rub in a circular motion until almost all the paint is off your finger. It is especially important to watch the tip of your finger because paint can build up there, so you want to rub off any accumulation that occurs.

Rub your finger on the foam that you want to paint. Slowly build up the metallic colour, repeatedly going back and getting more paint on your finger. 

If there are places your finger can’t reach, you can use a small, dry paintbrush. Dip the brush in the paint and then dab most of it off on the cardboard. Then use a vertical dabbing motion to apply the paint, again building it up slowly. It is good to stay away from inside edges as the antique look requires sections that would get less wear to look darker. 

You will end up getting paint on places that you want to have a different colour. That’s fine, just go back over them with some black paint before using the next colour.

I also sealed this project with a coat of Pledge floor care.

Step 20: Painting Interiors

The inside of the “vortex canister” will be really hard to access once the tubes are in place all around it, so it will be much easier if it gets painted now.

Paint the swirly tube and both inside surfaces of the circle pieces black - give them at least 2 coats of paint. 

On the circle piece that doesn’t have the swirly piece glued to it, leave a ring around the inside cutout circle unpainted so that when you glue the two halves together the glue has a surface to bond with. 

Once the black paint is dry, apply silver to the recessed areas using the dry brush technique explained earlier, and bronze to the raised swirls and nuts using your gloved finger.

Of course the colour scheme is really up to you, this is just what I did :)

Step 21: Vortex Tubes

Get some 1/2” PEX pipe.

Cut 9 pieces of PEX pipe, 10cm long each.

Cover the pipe with copper tape the same way you covered the PVC pipe. I found that the 2” copper tape was exactly the right width to fit perfectly around the PEX pipe. 

Give them all a brushed finish with your abrasive scrub pad.

Step 22: Assemble the Vortex Canister

Push one of your 10cm copper covered PEX pipes into each of the holes in the nuts on the circle piece. I found that the paint created a bit of friction against the tube, so it worked best to twist them into place. 

Because of the extra tight fit, due to the 12mm hole size in the nuts, it is a good idea to take an uncovered piece of PEX pipe and use it to slightly stretch the holes in the nuts on the other circular piece before you try put them together.

Lower the side with the pipes down onto the other side, working the pipes down into their holes one by one.

Don’t push the two halves all the way together quite yet.

Mix up some 5 minute epoxy and use a stick to get it through the pipes to the unpainted ring of foam where the swirly tube will be attached. 

Push the two halves together. I found it best to twist the tubes again while I was pushing down on the top as there was still a lot of friction between the tubes and the nuts. 

Make sure when you are done that the seams of the copper tape on the 9 tubes aren’t showing on the outside of the cylinder.

Step 23: The Hooded Tube

Grab five 12mm discs leftover from punching the centres of the nuts.

Punch a 4mm hole in the centre of each disc to create some foam doughnuts.

Glue these doughnuts over the hole marks in piece 11. (You may have already punched these holes earlier.) 

Glue piece 11 on the flat side of piece 9. 

Punch the holes in the centre of the doughnuts all the way through the thicker foam as well.

Glue the short edges of piece 9 together to create a tube. 

Line up the ends of piece 10 along the bottom seam line of the tube you just made and glue them in place.

Spread some glue on the top of the tube and pull piece 10 forward so that it ends up protruding about 13mm past the front edge of piece 9.

Step 24: Hooded Tube Meets Vortex Canister

Make 5 more 12mm foam doughnuts and glue one to each arm of piece 3 on the outside of the vortex chamber. 

Punch a hole through the centre of each doughnut, through piece 3 and partway into the thicker foam of the circle piece. It doesn’t really matter if no foam comes out of the thicker piece, just pushing the punch in there should create enough of a hole to accept the wire when it is pushed in. 

Slide the vortex canister and the hooded tube onto the barrels of the gun. This will keep them lined up perfectly.

Spread glue around the centre circle on piece 3 and slide the hooded tube up against it. Make sure to line up the top mark on the vortex canister with the top of the hooded tube. The doughnuts need to align so that a wire can go between each set. 

Apply glue to the front edge of the stock and push the vortex canister up against it, again making sure that the top is at the top.

Glue piece 12 on top of the hooded tube.

Step 25: Stick Some Stuff Onto the Vortex Canister

Sand the textured ends of piece 13.

Glue the ends of piece 13 to the front end of the stock, with the flat side of piece 13 butting up against the back of the vortex canister.

Squeeze some glue along the flat side of piece 13 and then glue it to the vortex canister.

It wants to just make an oval, but you can push down on the top centre of piece 13 while the glue cools so that the top of it follows the same curve as the circular piece it is being glued against, just a bit lower down. 

Glue piece 14 on each end of piece 13.

Cut an 11mm wide strip of foam.

Mark and cut one end to match the curve of piece 14.

Glue the strip to the curvy edge of piece 13, stretching the strip to follow the curve. The key to getting the strip to follow the curve is to glue short sections at a time so that you can hold the curve while the glue cools.

Glue piece 15 onto piece 13.

Step 26: Add Some Extra Parts

Glue piece 19 around the oval cutout, with the open end facing the back.

Glue piece 21 on top of piece 20.

Glue piece 20/21 so the concave section matches the curve of the back part of the oval cutout on the stock.

Glue piece 22 on the back of the circular piece of the vortex canister.

Repeat for the other side.

Step 27: Cover the Back of the Foam Stock Stack

Measure the width of foam at the back of the stock. With the foam I used, it was 47mm.

Cut a strip of 2mm foam the same width as the stock and glue it to the back of the stock. Let the strip hang over the rounded ends, and once the glue has cooled, trim that overhang flush with the rounded part of the stock at the top and bottom. Repeat for the other side of the stock.

Glue piece 17 to the side of the stock at the back, lining it up with the edges. Cut off any that extends past the centreline on the top and bottom. Repeat for the other side.

Step 28: Cover the Top and Bottom of the Foam Stock Stack

Cut two 40mm wide strips of foam.

Cut one end of one strip to fit flush against where the two 17s meet at the top. Glue it down along the top ridge of the stock, covering up the 4 layers of foam that make up the stock. I find it is best to apply the glue to the strip rather than the stock, as the glue heats up the foam, making it more moldable. Glue a short section at a time, molding the strip to flow over the contours of the stock. The one section that is too much for the foam to mold around is the pointy bit that sticks up. For that part, it is necessary to cut a “V” shaped cutout on the side of the strip before gluing it down. 

Glue the second strip to the bottom of the stock using the same technique.

Step 29: Fancy It Up….

Glue the two swirly piece 18s on to the stock on both sides.

Glue the two piece 16s around their respective circle pieces. Piece 16 is actually made to be marked onto two strips that are 45.5cm long. Once you have cut the strip, the pattern will be traced onto it 3 times. There are two different outside lines due to the fact that the two strips need to be different widths.

Trim off any excess on the ends of the strips.

You are going to cover the outside edges of the round pieces to hide the seam between them. The two circular pieces are different widths, because one has the added thickness of pieces 3 and 4. Piece 16 has two outside lines on it, so use the outside measurement first to cut a strip of foam 45.5cm long and then use the inside line measurement to cut a second, thinner strip the same length.

Step 30: The Scope Pieces

*** The golf tube I used had a 32mm outside diameter. I am not sure how standardized golf tubes are, so you may need to slightly lengthen or shorten some of these pieces if your tube is different***

Cut a piece of golf club tube 26cm long.

Cover the tube with copper tape. Because this is a larger tube, it will take more tape. Mine used 2 and a quarter strips.

Glue the ends of piece 24 together to make a tube.

Slide piece 24 onto the leftover portion of your golf club tube. This just makes it easier to add the next part as well as confirming that your golf club tube is the same diameter as the one I used. If it is not, you may need to alter the scope pieces to fit. 

Glue piece 25 on top of piece 24, matching the curves.

Glue the ends of piece 27 together.

Glue piece 26 around piece 27, lined up with one edge.

Glue the ends of the two piece 28s together to create tubes.

Glue piece 30 on top of piece 29, running down the centre.

Glue the ends of piece 29 together to create the barrel ring. 

Test that the barrel ring fits over the three barrels. If it is a little tight, you can stretch it a bit.

Step 31: A Few Faux Rivets

There are a few ways to make fake rivets. You can use small google eyes, foam discs, or my favourite: 5 minute epoxy.
The thing I like about epoxy rivets is that they don’t all look the same, which gives a better simulation of something hand made in the past. They also don’t jiggle like the google eyes do.

Using 2 part 5 minute epoxy, squeeze out equal parts and mix them thoroughly. You only want a very small amount of epoxy as it will start to harden in a few minutes.

Dip the head of a wooden match or something similar into the epoxy and lightly touch it against the place where you want your rivet. 

Slowly lift the match head away, leaving behind a small blob of epoxy. 

As the epoxy cures it will get thicker until it is leaving long strings behind when you make your dots. This means it is time to make another little batch of epoxy. 

As you are working, stay aware of how you are holding the pieces and that you aren’t touching rivets that aren’t fully cured.

Apply rivets around piece 25, 27, and the centre band of the barrel ring.

Step 32: Scope Mount

If the foam you are using is textured on one side, you may want to sand the texture off piece 23 as it will be viewable from both sides. 

Lay a sheet of sandpaper flat on the table and rub the foam piece back and forth until the texture is removed. You can give the foam a quick hit with a heat gun to help smooth out the sanding. (Do it outside.)

If you haven’t already, punch the 9mm and 12mm holes in the scope mount (piece 23).

Apply hot glue to the smaller concave section of piece 23 and glue the scope holding ring (piece 28) into that hollow.

Repeat for the second scope mount.

Step 33: Paint the Scope Parts

Paint the scope parts you just made as well as the barrel ring. Just don’t paint the bottom of the scope mount so it can be glued later.

I found it easiest and less messy to slide all the scope parts onto the leftover section of the golf club tube for painting. 

Paint everything black with 2-3 coats of paint.

Paint the scope mounts silver. 

Paint the larger tube section of both end caps silver. 

Paint the raised strips on both end caps bronze.

Paint the barrel ring bronze.

Step 35: So Many Discs!

Punch from 2mm foam: 

  • Seventeen 12mm discs

  • Sixteen 9mm discs

  • Nineteen 6mm discs

As it is hard to explain the locations to glue the discs, just refer to the pictures above. 

Cut screw heads into all the discs you just glued on, except the ones that are a stack of two, and the 9mm ones on the side of the vortex canister

To make the screw heads, use your super sharp knife to cut two parallel lines near the centre of the disc. Don’t cut all the way through the disc. Once at the bottom of your second cut, turn the knife horizontal and cut across the bottom, linking the two vertical cuts together. If you are lucky, a small strip will come out, but more likely you will need to cut across the bottom from the other vertical cut as well to get the strip to come out cleanly.

Step 35: Wire It Up

Using a pen or other sharp object, poke holes in centre of the remaining discs - the ones stacked two high and the ones on the side of the vortex canister. 

Please refer to the photos to see the exact positions I used for my wires.

Use the same wire as you used to coil around the PVC tube.

Push the wire into one of the holes in the discs. 

Bend the wire using pliers so that the wire can reach its terminating disc.

Cut the wire and push it into the disc.

Once the wire is bent the way you want, glue a few sections of it down to the foam to hold it in place using super glue. 

Squeeze a small amount of super glue where the wire is pushed into the foam disc as well.

Cut four 75mm long wires.

Bend them into “U” shapes.

Insert them into the discs on the back side of the vortex canister. One “U” will go into the 1st and 3rd disc, and one into the 2nd and 4th disc so that they overlap. 

Cut five 75mm pieces from a thicker wire. I used an old computer cable that was no good anymore.

Bend them into a “U” shape

Use those pieces to connect between the doughnuts on the vortex canister and the doughnuts on the hooded tube.

You want to make sure the wire is connected to the thicker foam of the vortex canister and not just glued to the thinner foam of piece 3. So squeeze some super glue into the hole in the thicker foam, without getting any on the thin foam of piece 3. Then insert the wire through piece 3 and into the thicker foam, pushing it in firmly. You can then push the other end of the wire into the hole on the hooded tube. Now squeeze a few drops of super glue where the wire enters the doughnut on both the hooded tube and piece 3. 

If you cut up an old power cord for the thicker wire, make sure you cut off and discard the end that plugs into the wall so that no one can accidentally plug it in and get electrocuted.

Step 36: More Rivets

Mix up some more epoxy then place rivets on the following locations:

  • On the top and bottom stock strips.

  • On piece 17

  • Around the ring at the end of the vortex canister (piece 4)

  • Along the strip on the edge of piece 13.

Step 37: Make Trigger Guard

Mark a line 12mm up from the open end of the PVC end cap. 

I find the easiest way to mark something like this is to find an object that I can rest my pen on horizontally that will bring the pen up to the right height. Then I hold the pen still and rotate the end cap, leaving a perfect line all the way around.

Handy tip: if you have a deck of playing cards, you have the ability to make a stack that is highly adjustable.

Cut along the line you just made to create a ring. I used a jewellers saw with a wax cutting blade. I love this tool, and it is pretty cheap and extremely versatile. I have a video here about them if you are interested.

Mark the length of piece 31 on the ring and cut along those lines.

Put on your respirator and gloves, go outside and slowly heat the strip of PVC with a heat gun.

Heat the PVC strip a section at a time, slowly bending it to match the trigger guard template on the pattern. I found it easiest to start with the small spiral, bending with a pair of pliers. 

You have to be careful not to reheat the parts you have already bent, or the PVC will want to return back to it’s original shape. 

Your trigger guard doesn’t have to match the template exactly, just try to get as close as possible.

Step 38: Attach Trigger and Guard

Once it is bent, file the non-curly end to a chisel point to help when inserting it into the foam.

Sand the trigger guard with some fine sandpaper to help the paint to adhere. 

Cut a 37mm long piece from the strip of PVC leftover from the trigger guard. That will be the trigger. File one end of the trigger to a chisel point and round the corners on the other end. 

Cut a slot in the bottom of the stock right where the most forward bump is on the stock. Push the trigger guard into the slot to make sure it fits properly and is positioned where you want it. You can then mark where the trigger will go inside the trigger guard. 

Cut the slot for the trigger. 

Mix up some 5 minute epoxy, push some in the holes with a matchstick, and then push the trigger and guard into place. (This would also work using hot glue) 

Put a bit more glue under the swirly part of the guard where it meets the stock and glue it to the stock.

Step 39: Mount the Scope….Mount

Slide the two scope mounts onto the scope tube.

Position them on the tube so that they line up and are the correct distance apart to sit in the centre of the circle pieces on the vortex canister. 

Decide where you would like to mount the scope. I mounted mine off centre just for some added interest. 

Apply hot glue to the bottom of the scope mounts and then glue them into place. 

Once the glue is cool, remove the scope tube from the mount so that it doesn’t get paint on it.

Step 40: Paint a Bunch of Bronze

I gave the whole gun one coat of black paint (not the copper taped parts though).

Then I gave it a second coat of black everywhere except on the stock, which I painted burnt umber so that it would look more like wood.

Once the paint is thoroughly dry, apply the metallic paints. 

The parts I painted bronze were: 

  • Pieces 18, 16, 19, 10, 11, 3, 15, 14, 22, and 12

  • The strip on the edge of piece 13

  • The trigger and guard

  • The coil

  • The wires

Step 41: Paint a Bunch of Silver

The parts I painted silver (actually a mix of silver and pewter paint) were: 

  • The strips around the top, bottom and butt of the stock

  • Pieces 20, 21, 13, and 9

  • The gaps on the front of the vortex canister

I then went back and repainted most of the screw heads black so that I could use the contrasting metallic paint to the surface the screw heads were mounted on. To add a bit of depth and age to the stock, I painted some black paint along every raised edge. I faded the black paint out as it progressed away from the edges. This improves the look of the stock greatly. 

I gave all the foam parts a coat of pledge floor polish to protect it and give a bit of shine. 

Important note: The copper tape will tarnish naturally over time. I like the idea of getting a natural patina, but if you would like to keep the copper parts shiny, you can give them a coat of floor polish as well. Just realize that once coated, you can never go back :)

Step 42: Final Scope Installation

Push the scope tube into the mounts.

Apply epoxy to the inside edges of the two end caps and slide them on to the scope tube.

Position the scope tube how you want it in the mount and squeeze some super glue between the rings on the mount and the scope tube to hold it in place.

Push the barrel ring onto over the three barrels and use a few drops of super glue to hold it in place.

Step 43: Add Some Orange for Safety

Make a tube of foam and paint it bright orange, or cover it with some orange tape. This is a bit helpful in showing that this is not an actual firearm. You can make the orange cap removable so that when you are in a safe place, it can be removed.

Step 44: Done.

Thanks for hanging out with me!

If you'd like to see more of my projects you can find me here: 

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Bringing a Meme to Life!

A few years ago I received an email thanking me for the dive helmet pattern and tutorial. I love hearing how people can combine a few simple supplies with a bit of imagination to create something fantastic:

Dear Chris,
First of all, thank you so much for this pattern! I've never worked with foam before and wow did this open my eyes.
My husband and I are taking part in a project that's wrapping up in a couple of months. A photographer couple have had a "neo-victorian photography atelier" for the past seven years. ( will be some of their last portraits. Since most people have come up with alter-egos and a backstory, so have we: we will be posing as a sea-monster researcher couple from late 1800's. So, of course we needed a diver helmet! 
It turned out to be quite tricky to get one - even for a loan. But then I found the Lost Wax youtube-channel and was mesmerized! Once I got the pattern, it was easy to follow, worked beautifully, the video helped a lot and gave a ton of confidence to just dig in. The material tips were also informative. Even though I didn't order the linked ones, it gave a good idea of what to use. Still, I improvised a bit. For example, I took apart a gold gel-pen and used the ink from that, since all I could find was patina paint, that would've melted the foam. The old camping mat I used was already battered and torn and ready for the bin - voila: sea-snake bites and other scars of exotic excursions!
All in all, the end result is awesome. I also made boots to match.

Photo credit: Atelieri O. Haapala, Helsinki, Finland

Photo credit: Atelieri O. Haapala, Helsinki, Finland

Fast forward a bit and now the photo has been published in a 10 year anniversary book by Atelieri O. Haapala. Along with that, I discovered there was a little more to the story. The photo is a fun replica inspired by an old photograph which gained new life as an internet meme:


I’m so glad I could be a little part of these beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing!

Photo credit: Atelieri O. Haapala, Helsinki, Finland

Photo credit: Atelieri O. Haapala, Helsinki, Finland

DIY Deep Sea Diver Costume Helmet. Making a Vintage Diving Helmet!

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I love the ocean. I can sit on the beach all day just watching the waves do their wavey thing. Sadly, I happen to live in the middle of the Canadian prairies. No ocean to watch here. But there's always the world of make-believe, and what better way to get in the ocean vibe than with an amazing deep sea diver costume. I created this costume pattern to try and recreate the feel of the classic "Mark V" dive helmet which has become an iconic image of divers and the sea. It was used by the U.S. Navy from 1916 until 1984! Let's make one of our own.

For detailed instructions you can check out my video tutorial or just keep reading below…

Here are the tools and materials I used:

  • Pattern: I used the one that I created. You can find it on my website. It includes an adult and a child size. 

  • 5-8 mm thick EVA foam: I used the foam from an anti-fatigue floor mat, but you can also use the less dense foam from a camping mat. 

  • 2 mm EVA craft foam: One sheet is enough 

  • Vinyl tubing: 3/8" outside diameter 

  • Wingnut: 1 

  • Super Glue 

  • Hot Glue Gun: I love my glue gun because it is adjustable temperature. I like to use it at as low a temp as possible so that the glue cools quickly. 

  • 6 & 8 mm leather punch

  • Cutting Surface 

  • Gluing Surface: I absolutely love using a silicone baking sheet. Nothing sticks to it. 

  • Sharp Knife: If it is not really sharp you will have a terrible time when you are cutting the foam. I like to use a scalpel

  • Blowdryer: Used for heating the foam so it can be shaped. 

  • Ballpoint Pen 

  • Scissors 

  • Paint: I used Liquitex Basics "Mars Black", Liquitex Basics "Bronze" and DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics “Vintage Brass” 

  • Rubber Gloves

Please note, the above links are affiliate links, and I do get a small commission if you buy through these links. It doesn't cost you any more and it helps me out!

Step 1: Safety First!

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It's fun to get started, but you want to stay safe so that you can enjoy your amazing creation!

  • Wearing the dive helmet severely limits your vision. Be very aware of the activities you are taking part in so that you do not get into a dangerous situation. Children should always be supervised by an adult to ensure their safety. 

  • Some EVA foam contains a chemical called formamide. There are some people that say there isn't enough formamide in EVA mats to be harmful, and others that say there is. Do your research and come to your own conclusions. At the least, I would say it is a good idea to open your foam mat up and let it sit in the sun for a day or two, as most of the chemical will off-gas from the foam. Or buy foam that is labelled formamide free. 

  • Do not wear your helmet until all fumes from glue and foam are gone. The helmet is a fairly enclosed environment and you only have one set of lungs. 

  • Do not block off the viewports with glass or plastic. These are open to allow proper airflow for breathing. Closing them could cause suffocation. 

  • Sharp knives and hot glue can cause injury. Be sure to use in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 2: Print and Cut Out the Pattern

The pattern I used is made to be printed on a standard home printer, therefore it is necessary to tape some of the pages together to create the larger pieces. If you hold the pages up to a window, you can see the alignment crosses through the paper and get them taped together perfectly.

Cut the pattern out of the paper, cutting as close to the line as you can without removing the line.

Place the pieces on the foam and trace around them with the ballpoint pen, holding them firmly so that they don’t move while being traced. Many pieces will need to be flipped over and traced again as indicated on each piece. This is especially important if you are using foam with only one smooth side.

It is important to mark the labelled alignment points around each piece. They help so much in knowing how to line everything up later. Extend them in from the edge of your pattern once you finish tracing each piece.

Mark each foam piece with its number, and if it is a flipped piece, add the letter "a" after it: 1a, 2a etc.

Step 3: Cut Out Your Foam

Using a sharp knife, cut out all the foam pieces that you traced earlier, cutting directly on top of the pen line. I like to use surgical scalpels for this as they are very sharp and allow me to make tight curves.

Make sure to keep your fingers away from the scalpel blade so you don't cut yourself!

If you are getting a rough edge on your foam, your blade is too dull and you need a new one. Or you can sharpen it if you have a sharpener and know how to use it:)

Step 4: Foam Forming Fun!

Heat pieces 1, 2 and 3 one at a time with the blowdryer, and mold them over your knee to give them a rounded shape. If you are using textured foam, keep the texture to the inside.

Repeat with pieces 1a, 2a and 3a.

Step 5: Before You Glue...

If you use hot glue, just glue a small section at a time and hold it together while also pressing the seam down onto your gluing surface. Hold it until the glue cools. Then move on to the next section. This is a lot faster if you use a glue gun with adjustable temperature control because you can set the gun to a low temperature so you don't have to hold the pieces together as long.

As you get used to your glue gun, you can also try wiping the glue off the seam just as it gets cool, giving you a nice clean seam. Just be careful not to burn yourself on glue that is still hot! 

Another tip for clean hot glue seams is to rub vigorously over top of the seam after the glue has completely cooled with some scrap foam to clean it up. I have a little video about getting nice hot glue seams that you can watch here.

I have changed my technique over time and find it easiest to glue with the finished side up rather than down against the silicone mat. This means that I will basically make the helmet inside out until near the end, at which point I will turn it right side out.

Step 6: And...Start Gluing

Using your hot glue gun, start by gluing together the V-shaped cut-outs on pieces 1, 1a, 2, and 2a.

Glue pieces 1 to 3 lining up alignment marks 10 and 11.

Glue piece 2 to the now combined piece 1 and 3, lining up alignment marks 6, 7, 8, and 9.

Now glue the other edge of piece 2 to the edge of piece 1, lining up alignment mark 4.

Repeat these steps with pieces 1a, 2a, and 3a to form the opposite side.

Step 7: Two Halves Come Together. Excitement Builds.

Glue the two halves together, starting with the long seam down the back.

Before you glue the two shorter seams, turn the helmet right side out.

Now you can glue the two short seams on the front of the helmet.

Glue piece 4 to 4a to create a ring. 

Glue this ring to the bottom of the main helmet body. Line up one of the seams on the ring with the front centre seam on the main helmet body. Then line up the other seam with the rear centreline and glue into place. Now work your way around the seam and glue a bit at a time until the ring is evenly and completely attached to the main helmet body.

Step 8: The Faceplate

Glue the ends of piece 5 together to make another ring, and then glue the flat side of the ring to piece 6. Line up the marks on piece 5 so that they are in the centre of the flanges on opposite sides of piece 6. In other words, you want the thickest part of piece 5 where the tabs come off piece 6.

Glue the completed faceplate (pieces 5 & 6) to the front of the helmet, keeping the flanges on the faceplate horizontal across the helmet.

Step 9: The Side Viewport

Glue piece 9 and 9a over the holes on the sides of the helmet body.

Take two piece 10s and two piece 11s, and glue them together with the slots interlocking to make a grid. Repeat for the second grid.

Glue the grids onto the two side viewports.

Step 10: The Top Viewport

Form a ring with piece 7 and glue the ends.

Glue piece 7 to piece 8, this time lining up the narrowest part of piece 7 with the centre marks on piece 8. Once those two spots are glued, work your way around until the pieces are all glued.

Glue the top piece over the rectangular hole on the top of the helmet body.

Cut diagonally on each end tab of the grid (piece 16).

Glue the grid over the top hole.

Step 11: Bits and Pieces

Glue two of piece 12 together. Glue it to the side of the faceplate so that the smaller tab on the faceplate goes in the gap.

Curve the tab on the faceplate down and glue it into place.

Glue the front grille (piece 17) diagonally over the front faceplate.

Stack and glue three of piece 15 together. This stack gets glued on the opposite side, directly under the larger tab.

Step 12: The Breastplate

Heat piece 11 with the blowdryer. Curve it so that it bends gently in half.

Line up the tabs on piece 11 with the centre line of the helmet. The tabs are glued on the outside of the helmet and positioned so that the top edge of the breastplate slightly overlaps the bottom edge of the helmet (about 1 cm). This helps piece 11 to keep its curve once it is glued down.

Once the front and back tabs are glued, glue along the sides (where the shoulders would be) and then glue the rest into place.

Step 13: Long Strips of Foam

Cut a strip of foam in accordance with the pattern (measurements depend on the size of helmet you are making) Glue this strip over top of the seam between pieces 4 and the helmet body. When you get all the way around to where you started, cut off any excess length so that the ends of the strip meet nicely.

Cut a strip of foam about 1/3 the width of the previous one. Glue this strip down the centre of the wider strip. Again trim off the extra.

Cut one last strip of foam according to the pattern measurements. Glue this strip of foam, starting at the centre back, all the way around the outside edge of the breastplate, and cut off any excess.

Step 14: Valve Assembly and Transceiver Recess

Glue piece 13 on top of piece 14, then glue it in place on the helmet.

Glue the ends of piece 18 together to create a tube. Glue piece 19 on top of that tube.

Glue piece 21 on top of piece 19 and glue the two flanges down to the outside of the tube.

Glue piece 22, 23, and 24 in order on top of each other to complete the valve assembly.

Step 15: Nuts, Nuts, Nuts....

Use some 3/8" outside diameter vinyl tubing, and cut it into 12 short pieces using the tubing cut guide in the pattern.

Cut 12 foam discs using an 8 mm leather punch.

Push a foam disc into each tube pushing it back so there is a little space in front of it. Use a small stick or something similar to do the pushing.

Apply some super glue around the inside edge of the vinyl tubing and quickly push the foam disc forward so that it is flush with the front edge of the vinyl tube.

Step 16: ...and More Nuts

Glue the ends of all piece 20s together to make 12 little rings.

Spread glue inside each ring and then squeeze it around one of the vinyl tubes you made in the last step. The vinyl tube should be flush with the back of the foam but stick out from the top side. Hold it until you are sure the glue has cooled completely. Repeat 11 more times:)

Glue the nuts equally spaced around the dive helmet rim.

Step 17: Weight Rings and Name Plate

Make 2 loops by gluing the ends of piece 25 together. Cut a little off one edge to create a flat spot, and glue them to piece 26.

Now you can glue those two loops onto the breastplate.

If you would like a nameplate on the front, you can use a pen to etch whatever you would like into piece 27. Just draw your design and then go over it a few times with decent pressure until you have compressed the foam.

Step 18: Faceplate Embellishments

Glue a wingnut to the faceplate tab.

Use super glue to glue some 6 mm foam discs to the four points of the faceplate grille.

To make them look like screws you can cut two slits across the surface of the discs, and then cut perpendicular across the bottom of those cuts to remove a little strip of foam.

Step 19: Paint It Black

Paint the helmet black. Give it at least three good coats of artists acrylic paint.

Step 20: Rub on Some Copper

I used Liquitex Basics bronze acrylic paint to colour the main body copper. (See completed picture for reference)

Don't use it like normal paint though. Squeeze a little on a piece of paper, and then with a rubber glove on your hand, rub a little on your finger and then rub that lightly onto the black painted surface. It takes patience, but produces a great result!

Step 21: Rub on Some Brass

Use the same technique to apply the brass colour to all of the accessories and foreground areas.

For this, I used DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics “ Vintage Brass.”

Step 22: You're Done! Give Someone a High Five.

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Thanks for hanging out with me! I love to hear what you do with my patterns so leave a comment or send in pictures of your creations.

Are Lost Wax patterns scaleable? Apparently so.

I never expected my steampunk top hat to get this big!

I recently received an email from Steve sharing his creation made from a scaled up version of my flared top hat pattern:

Hi Chris, we recently used your pattern to make a rather large version of the top hat for a xmas float parade. our version was made out of thick corrugated cardboard. very hard to work with but it was a big hit with the crowds. very impressed with your pattern as we weren't sure out it would work when blown up to epic proportions but it worked a treat.

So impressive! Thanks for sharing this Steve!


How To Make a Bobble Head Costume. My Christmas Costume Idea!

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So, I was going to do something simple for this year's Christmas dress up party. Maybe throw on a Santa hat and call it good. Yes, even though I love making costumes, sometimes I just want to....not.   

However, a couple of days before the party, while I was in bed in that beautiful half awake, half asleep state where everything makes sense, I dreamed of a giant Christmas ball that you could wear on your head. Kind of a like a DIY bobblehead costume with a Christmas vibe. When I woke up, I explained it to my wife. She just shook her head. That's when I knew it was crazy. So crazy it just might work. So I tried, and was super happy with the result! If you are looking for a sweet Christmas costume idea, this just might be what you are looking for.

The thing I am excited about is that this could be the basis for any number of big round things you could wear on your head. If you make any, I'd love to hear about it!

If you prefer to watch, you can see the video tutorial here.

Well, let’s get making….

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Wrap a layer of plastic food wrap around a basketball. Don’t stretch it too much or it will try to shrink back once you cut it off.

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Wrap a layer of plastic packing tape over top of the plastic wrap. You don’t have to be super particular about wrinkles or anything, just make sure the whole ball is covered.

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Draw a line around the centre of ball. The great thing about basketballs is that they already have a line at the centre, so all you have to do is follow it!

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Use elastic bands to split the ball into 6 equal sections

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A Ring Ruler is a great tool for lining up the elastics

I used a ring ruler to make sure the elastics were evenly spaced. Using the elastics as a guide, draw two more lines around the ball.


Cut one of the sections off the basketball.


Then fold that section in half and cut along the fold.

Figure out how big you want your bobble head to be, and scale up the pattern piece to that size. For me, I scaled my basketball sized pattern up 240%.

Alternatively, you could skip all the basketball fun, and just grab the pattern I already made here

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Once you have the pattern, print it out and trace it 12 times on 10mm thick foam and cut it out. The pattern I made allows three sections to fit on a standard puzzle piece foam mat. It is important that you use a very sharp knife so that you can make a nice clean cut through the foam.

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Glue the foam pieces together in sets of three, starting at the point and working your way back. I use hot glue for most of my projects because it creates less toxic fumes, but it will also work with contact cement. If you use hot glue, just glue a small section at a time and hold it together until the glue cools. This is a lot faster if you use a glue gun with adjustable temperature control. You can see the one I use here.

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Glue two quarter sections together to create a half sphere. After a bit of frustrating trial and error, I figured that the best way was to glue the top centre point first.

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Then glue the very bottom edges so that the dome would hold its shape. You can then work your way along the seam gluing it together. The best way to get a nice seam is to apply the glue and then press directly on the seam until it is slightly convex in the spot you are gluing. Hold it until it has cooled.


Now you should have two halves which can be glued together. I glued the halves together at each vertical seam first and then went around the ball gluing the rest of the horizontal seam.

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Oh, and don’t forget to make a hole for your head to go through. I cut a bit off the tip of each pattern piece for my second half, guessing what size it should be, but you could also wait until it is assembled and then cut the circle, starting small and widening it until your head just fits through.

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Although this makes a pretty round shape, it isn’t perfect yet, because it was made from flat sheets of EVA foam, so the next step is to form it using pressure and heat. I inflated an exercise ball inside the bobblehead, just enough so that it was reasonably firm. I didn’t want to create too much pressure on my glue seams.


I covered the ball with cling wrap, and then a strip of tape along each glue seam. The reason I did this is that I want the EVA foam to stretch in the middle of each panel, but I don’t want it to stretch around the outside edge of the panels. This also gives all the glue seams some extra strength so that they don’t burst.


Then use a heat gun to slowly heat up each section of the ball. It is important to take your time on this step, as it will take a while for the foam to be heated all the way through. As well, if you hold the heat gun on one spot for too long, the cling wrap will start to melt. It’s a good indicator that you need to slow down if that happens!


Here’s a look at the ball after it’s been heated. It shows quite clearly where I have positioned the packing tape as well. In the video I wasn’t sure if I had given the ball enough heat, so I also submerged it for a while in a tub of hot water, though I think that probably was not necessary.

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Leave the ball to completely cool, to lock the foam into shape. I just left it overnight and unwrapped it in the morning. See how nice and round it is!

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Cut some long strips of 2mm thick EVA foam about 4cm wide.

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Glue the strips down, covering all the seams. I covered all the vertical seams with a strip each, and then used separate pieces around the horizontal centre line between each set of verticals.