Questions on making my own latex weapons

Sorry if this has been posted 1000 times, I did research, but didn't see the answer to my questions.
Also, probably some noob questions, so be warned.

I have made boffer weapons, but I want to make something at least a little bit cooler. Also, The boffer i had was really old and worn down and ended up actually borrowing the npc weapons for the event.

The problem I'm encountering is that I can't find the proper latex/sprays. I bought plasti-dip in the past, but it seemed VERY stiff, to the point that I wouldn't want to be hit with it, let alone passing the guidelines. (NOTE: I only found the dip, never found the spray.)

I will be making quite a few weapons, for myself, my fiance, and my friend. If I can, I'd like to buy in bulk, but everywhere i search it always says that the latex is sold in small bottles. Also, I much prefer to go to a store than order online, but am not completely opposed to it. (I live in the Upland/Claremont areas, but will be traveling to the SF Alliance.)

I think that latex weapons often look the best, but I have only been to a handful of games. I think that spray on is probably more simple than brush, is that correct?


I already have the foam camping pad for the foam.
I've also heard that contact cement is the best. Do you agree?

As far as alternatives to latex and plasti-dip (both of which i am ok with using, when i know how to properly use them of course) would Mod-Podge work at all? or another alternative that i can buy at michaels/hobby lobby?

Thank you all for answering my noob questions. I look forward to playing!
 

Kevar

Fighter
Seattle Staff
Marshal
Alright, lets see if I can add a little insight and answer a few of these questions. First of all just so you know I am just starting to work on custom weapons myself and done a fair amount of research. There are some INCREDIBLE crafters here on the west coast (I play in the Seattle/Portland games currently) that you will get to know by asking around when you see cool swords and they are a wellspring of knowledge.

As a resource I would recommend checking out the Facebook group Plastidip Artists. They are a great resource for simple and complex questions and its always a great place to check out for inspiration about designs.

So to get into your questions: Plastidip is probably the best tool for your to use for coating foam to get that awesome look. You are right that it is pretty thick but if you thin it down with naptha (sp?) and just do a few more coats that will allow it to get into the smaller spaces and cracks in your project. Remember to use a respirator when working with the stuff as it is loads of chemicals to breath in, and I also recommend getting a cheap metal mixing bowl for your work so that you don't run the risk of a plastic that melts! :) Camp foam is a great starter foam, and what I would recommend for your first few builds. The reason I say it is a starter foam is that it isn't very dense, so the pores will show more even after multiple coats. This isn't a problem for some people, and some people cant stand it! It all really depends on how much you are going for the super smooth latex/"real" look. Personally I still use camp foam on most of my projects due to cost, and practice! When you are looking to get different foam you will want to look up higher density EVA foams. Contact cement is king (or queen) for sticking everything together. I recommend DAP brand because it is readily available and affordable. Make sure to be patient and let it set before sticking it all together...makes a huge different. The last major thing that you will want to do it paint and seal your project. Any acryllic paint will do, and I recommend just getting it from a craft supply store. For sealant there are a LOT of options. The #1 choice you will see around online is THR or Through The Roof! it is, in fact, clear roof sealant. Stuff is awesome from what I hear (haven't used it myself yet) but it takes about a week to fully cure. The other options are really any hobby sealant, or quite a few different roof sealants. There is this kind that I just read about that is available some places called Frog Juice (?).

Sorry for the wall of text, but I hope this helps you get going in the right direction. If you want to put your toes in first (like I did / am doing) I recommend making custom crossguards and pommels first to get used to the process and tools that you will use. After that just experiment and do cool stuff!

Look forward to hearing about all the cool stuff you are making, and have a great time! Welcome to Alliance!
 

SkollWolfrun

Squire
Oregon Staff
check out PlastiDip Artists page on Facebook. They have tons of great builders.
I work regularly with PD and is 2nd all of what Kevar/Brent has pointed out. Respirator, make a couple cheap weapons using camp foam to gain confidence before shelling for microcell foam. I avoid EVA only because you can get the micro cell in longer sheets cheap, most EVA I find is the flooring tiles and not have to deal with the seams of EVA flooring is preferred.
 

Stig

Artisan
For latex check with costume shops. I use it with a brush but do at least 10 coats as it smooths out after more coats and ends up more resilient. I tint the latex instead of of painting it (use acrylics) as the color won't peal.
Ie: 5-6 coats black latex, till it's a good solid color. Then same with whatever top color is desired, silver -blades etc. I'll dry brush some areas if that effet is wanted with straight acrylic as you can't dry brush latex.
*Latex immediately bonds to latex and is air dry more then heat dry*
After done I'll give it a day to cure then top coat with plastidip clear spray. It bonds rather nicely to latex.

Plasti dip spray is better then dip and has more give. Dip is good for a handle or a shill but not so much a striking surface.

If used this method with all my builds, only one with plastidip spray so far, and there all held up rather well for a few years now but more so the 2 hand sword with the plastidip top coat. I've used it 90% of the time for atleast 2 years now and barely any wear other then wrinkles where it has softened up and a couple nicks out of it.
 

John

Artisan
Haven't used Plastic dip (spray on) on a sword yet but it is what I use to coat the open cell foam for some thrown weapons and a polearm head. They seem to be holding up through my testing so far but I haven't got the thrown weapons in game yet. The polearm was loaned out for it's first game and I didn't hear of any problems with it.
 

Durnic

Squire
Owner
Oregon Staff
Marshal
I exclusively use plastidip when I make my weapons and it has held up very well.
 

markusdark

Knight
There is a place in San Francisco called "Douglas and Sturgess" www.artstuf.com where you can buy gallon and five gallon containers of 'mask latex' - a thicker latex made for casting masks. A gallon runs around $45. I use it for my weapons. Painting it on with a brush you won't get a completely smooth finish but I find the texture left works well with dry brushing. I like to add in about 2 ounces of black acrylic paint to each gallon - having a black/dark base to work off of. Using white paint doesn't work well as it will yellow. I'll also create some brown colored latex and paint it in long strokes for wooden shafts. The natural 'streaking' that happens makes for great wood grain. The latex, uncolored, dries naturally in a light tan color. It also works well with porous materials such as open cell foam.

I have recently taken to spraying it with a couple of clear coats of plasti-dip to seal it away for those who are worried about latex allergies, protect any painting I may have done to the weapon as well as to cut down on the tackiness/gripping that rubber tends to have. You can also use a silicone spray to help remove this as well but you can overgrease it as well as it can have a bit of a 'oil' smell to it for some time after application. Another cheat I've used is baby powder.

I have heard that painting on via a brush with plasti-dip does produce a smoother coating (seen examples and I agree) but I'm not a big fan of the smell (I have to work in a one bedroom apartment). Latex has an ammonia scent to it but not nearly as powerful as plasti-dip.

There's a new brand of 'latex free rubber' that is making a splash in the FX industry called "Creature Cast Rubber" which apparently has very low (or non-existent) odor, works just like latex as far as casting and so on and is just as durable. Price is about 60% more than the mask latex mentioned above.
 
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