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Bonus Armoring Advice

I. Helpful Things to Remember When Constructing Your Armor

1. Be neat. Glue dribbles, warped edges or paint jobs that look like they've been applied by blindfolded blind people are all things which will detract from the "wow factor" of your armor. (If you don't care how cheesy your armor looks then don't bother spending your hard-earned money on foam and plastic--use cardboard instead. You'll achieve the exact same effect at only 1/4th the price.)

2. Try not to burn or hurt yourself. Hotglue is called hotglue for a reason. Label warnings on cans of spray enamel have been printed there for a reason. Do NOT wield a craft knife or anything with a sharp edge when you are tired. Nothing stifles one's enthusiasm for a project more than having to drive 15 miles to the nearest hospital at midnight to get one's blood-spewing injured hand stitched up in a crowded emergency room. (I know this from experience...)

II. Helpful Things to Remember When Wearing Your Armor

1. All armor--no matter what material it's made of-- is going to be hot to wear. Make sure wherever you wear it has adequate ventilation and, if possible, air conditioning. Don't go out and stand in the midday sun for hours on end if you can avoid it (unless you WANT to die of heatstroke). If you're standing in line waiting to go onstage for a costume contest, ask the people running the contest if they'll let you stand someplace cool and have someone fetch you when it's your turn to go on. (Or better yet, just take the armor off and don it only when it's your turn to go.) Drink plenty of water even if this makes you go to the bathroom a lot.--It might be wise to have a friend around who can help you get in and out of the armor if and when the need arises.

2. Be careful if your armor or prop is huge, heavy, or has sharp edges. Especially when you're walking around in big convention crowds or trying to step onto elevators. You might find it wiser to save your big-ticket armor outfits for the masquerade and wear (or carry) something more comfortable for walking the halls.

3. Don't try and fight in the armor. It's durable, but it will not hold up in combat. This kind of armor is purely for show. (If your armor should get cut or damaged in any way, make sure you have a mini-glue gun and a small roll or sheet of plastic with you for repairs.)

4. Find out what your convention's weapons and prop policies are before you begin your projects. Nothing sucks more than dragging a 6-foot long katana with you only to discover that you can't carry it with you on the convention floor. Most anime and sci-fi conventions have posted rules concerning the size and peace-bonding of weapons, so make sure you follow them.

III. Storing Your Armor or Shipping it by Mail

1. Get yourself a box (or boxes) large enough to keep your armor in. If you don't have box of suitable size handy, don't spend money buying one from a packing store. Just go to your local grocery or hardware store and ask them on what day they receive their weekly shipments and if they'd let you secure a box from them at that time. (Or, better yet, go diving in their dumpster. You're bound to find something good. Just make sure the box you choose doesn't have any stains or anything gross hanging from it. A lot of businesses have a separate dumpster reseved just for cardboard, but still, trash can find their way into these things sometimes, so it's wise to be careful.)

2. Once you've secured your box, wrap your armor either in bubble wrap or in clear plastic grocery bags and place it gently in the box, heavier pieces first, lighter pieces on the top. Don't cram your armor in so tightly that it's pressing hard against the sides of the box--it may crack, especially if the place you're shipping it to or from is suffering from a bout of cold weather. If, after packing your armor, you find you have a lot of space left at the top, fill it with plastic baggies, newspaper or bits of styrofoam--something high-volume yet lightweight. Tape the box securely (and remember to put extra tape on the bottom so it doesn't fall out.)


4. Make sure, when selling a prop or a piece of armor on ebay, that you budget out enough money to ship it. The post office LOVES to slap oversize shipping charges on any package which looks even slightly bigger than the norm, so your best bet --if you're shipping a suit of armor or something of that size-- is to reserve at least 30 dollars for shipping and insurance charges. (You may be able to get by with paying less, if you ship it FedEx or by some other mailing service.) It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you put insurance on your armor. Put what you think the armor is worth (and prepare, if it gets lost, to provide PROOF to the post office that the armor is actually worth that much--if you sold it at an auction, provide an ebay or paypal receipt or a check stub which dates when and from whom you received the payment.)

IV. Miscellaneous Advice Sent In By Other People...

Tom Tipping sent me the following tip via e-mail:

Hi, I found your armor making pages while searching for ideas for making Alphonse Elric's armor for my son. He wants to portray Al at AX2005. I've been making costumes for over 20 years. When I read about how you made Link's Mirror Shield, it reminded me of a trick I used for a shiny, metallic finish. My son wanted to be the Green Power Ranger for Halloween and I needed to make golden shoulder pieces. I tried using 'fusing web' (Pellon or Wonder Under) on mylar gift wrap. I then fused the mylar to a heavy fabric. It worked. The texture of the fabric comes through. You might want to try this the next time you need a 'mirror' finish. Use of a chemical adhesive, like spar varnish or urethane foam sealant, may allow for 'cold vacu-forming'.

I might try this method at some point in the near future. If anyone else cares to try it out, let me know how it goes... If anyone else has another tip they'd like to share, feel free to e-mail it to me at

This concludes the main tutorial. Feel free to browse the other sections of my site, by clicking the links to your left. The links under "PICTURE TUTORIALS" will take you to my large collection of step-by-step, photo-heavy prop and armormaking tutorials.

My Cosplay Gallery Page
Reminder: Volumes One, Two and Three of The Cosplayer’s COSTUME PROP AND ARMOR COMPENDIUM are finally finished and available for sale! Learn everything you need to know about prop and armormaking from a professional, award-winning costumer. Each book covers a multitude of topics for the begining and advanced costumer, with hundreds of photos showing each step of the costume-making process! Order your set of books today, or click here to learn more about them.

Here are just some of the topics covered by the books:

* Extensive advice on setting up a safe and efficient workplace
* Information on tools and materials
* Advice on the collection and use of reference materials
* How to measure yourself and how to build and adjust forms for the proper fitting of armor.
* Elementary and Advanced-Level construction methods
* Methods of decorating and painting the surface of your props and armor
* The making of swords and other bladed prop weapons.
* How to create weapons and armor with a realistic metal finish.
* How to create "futuristic" and robotic-type armor.
* How to create replica armor from different historical eras.
* Sculpting, molding, and casting your own accessories.
* How to make Resin Gemstones of any shape and color.
* And much, much more!

Feel free to visit my Online Costume Gallery to look at samples of my work. I also have a personal blog where I post advice and the occasional picture tutorial.