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The quest to find a fiberglass-free means of creating armor was begun by me after my initial fiber-glass-based attempts to create an armored breastplate for a video game character resulted in my creating a shapeless, shell-like mass which sort of looked like armor if you squinted at it and used your imagination, and which would have fit me perfectly, had I been willing to have several of my ribs removed before attempting to wear it. It also resulted in heavy lung and finger damage (and my almost winning a Darwin award), thanks to my innate inability to use proper protection whilst working around mind-bendingly dangerous, flesh-hostile chemicals.

I figured out pretty quickly that if a doofus like me wanted to make costume armor, I'd have to find another way, and one which involved no risk or danger to my person whatsoever. I researched into various methods and materials and soon hit upon the idea of using thick ABS plastic. The problem with thick ABS plastic though, is that in order to shape it, you have to melt it in your oven. (Thereupon we run into the problem of toxic fumes --and that whole risk and danger thing.) Besides, if you're not careful in handling ABS plastic when it's warm, it can wind up looking like something a blind five-year-old put together while wearing boxing gloves.

Then I hit upon another idea. Craft foam. The kind you can buy in fun, festive, multi-colored sheet form at craft and fabric stores everywhere. It can be cut into virtually any shape, has the right combination of stiffness and flexibility, and takes glue well. The problem with craft foam, however, is that it's porous and prone to being stained. And paint will not stick to it very well (unless you cover it with a sealant.) It is possible to make decent-looking armor this way, however, I wanted a method that was a little more durable and took a little less time. One day, while I was at (what was then) my job, I saw someone throwing away sheets of a thin, acrylic substance (which I later learned was thin ABS plastic,) which the company had been using it to make templates for carving patterns into granite slabs. I took some home, cut it into a shape, and hot-glued it over a piece of craft foam. It created a piece that was durable, had a smooth finish and took enamel paint very well. Voila. A new method of making costume armor was born.

Here it is in detail, starting with--

Page 2: A Guide to Materials

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All anime characters featured are copyright their respective owners.
All costumes created by and all pictures property of Amethyst Angel c. 2005