You’ve probably seen brightly colored foam puzzle mats anywhere kids play or spotted black and gray ones on the floor of a gym. Perhaps you even have some stuffed into your garage or addict. The floor mats are made from Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam, and if you don’t already have some, they’re easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive. They come in varying thicknesses, and they’re great materials to use in cosplay. I have five suggestions on what you can do with the mats.
Weaponry – You can layer the textured mats and cut them into any weapon shape you desire. DNCustoms used the mats to make a M8 rifle to go with his Mass Effect costume. He traced his template onto the foam mats, stacked up the pieces, and with sanding, detailing, and paint, it became a fantastic looking prop. It definitely took a lot of work, but it looks like it was worth it.
Armor – Whether you need to make a chest plate or full body armor, EVA foam is just the thing. You can get a six piece set of puzzle mats for as low as $20. The process is similar to making a prop weapon from the material: design or print an existing pattern, trace it onto the foam, and cut it out with an X-acto knife. You can use a heat gun to flex the foam into shape so it will curve where it needs to.
Headpieces – Even though the floor mats can be thicker than craft foam, it still works for hats and headpieces. Since a helmet curves at multiple points, the angle of the cuts is important. Making good bevel cuts will be key to everything fitting together properly with glue. Schenz has a detailed tutorial that explains the ins and outs.
Wings – EVA foam is lightweight enough to work for full size wings, but I think it’s especially suited to smaller wings – like the kind you’d need for a My Little Pony costume. The thicker mats are tougher than craft foam so your wings should last longer. You could reinforce both materials with fiberglass cloth to make them even more sturdy. Seal the foam with Plastidip or Mod Podge before painting.
Scale armor – Making scale armor is tedious no matter which material you use, but if you use EVA foam, it will at least be lightweight. You can make the base of the armor from foam and flatten it with a heat source. From here, it’s time to make a pattern for scales, seal the EVA foam, paint them, and then cut the individual scales. Yes, you’ll need sharp scissors and patience. The scales can simply be glued to the base layer. Read more at Instructables.