ADVENTURES WITH STYROFOAM {Guest Blogger Robin Calkins}

This year, for the first time, I tried my hand at some basic Styrofoam work for After Prom. Before I get into that, let me say that for years, we have had a graphic artist do some really awesome foam work for our event. His name is Dennis Ruybal, and his artwork rocks! Just to give you an idea, here are a few pictures.

He has done super heroes, cruise ships, vampires, werewolves, cartoon characters, The Beatles, The Yellow Submarine, 12 foot long guitars of varying design, all sorts of signage, a sarcophagus, oversized dice, poker chips, and the list goes on. He has a personal collection of tomb stones that he uses for Halloween (and I used for After Prom this year) that is simply amazing. I swear I would go to pick them up thinking that they were going to be heavy; they looked so much like stone. You can find Dennis Ruybal Design on Facebook.
Just a note here, Hollywood (and Broadway) has been using foam to create props for years. Take a look at some of the special features on movies like the most recent Star Trek movie. The size of the foam blocks they use is intimidating.
Now, I decided this year that I wanted to do trees in my area. I saw some tree forms in one of the Prom/Events magazines, but then I saw what they wanted for a set of four. I quickly realized that I needed to come up with a cheaper solution. We usually get one block of foam that we have cut into 1 ½ inch thick panels (8’ x 4’), which gives us between 22 and 24 sheets, and for this we pay less than $250. Well, Dennis was going to be using a lot of that block of foam this year and it was looking like he may need more. So, I thought why not try my hand at some foam work too. We ordered another block of foam and I used 8 sheets of this to make 8 tree forms. Here is what I came up with.

Before dressing:

After Dressing:

Like I said, it is basic, I don’t airbrush, so I don’t ever think I will be a threat to Dennis. I did find that it was fun to do, very messy, and don’t ever use an electric sander to sand the edges (my husband’s idea). Word of warning, wear a mask (when sanding), and use the longest Xacto blade you can find or a Hot Wire tool for working with foam, to cut with. Use fine grit sand paper, by hand to smooth the edges. Oh, very important, have a Shop Vac handy. You and wherever you work will be covered, I mean covered in Styrofoam, as if it snowed.
Get good dense foam, like packing foam, not the kind they sell at the craft stores. You can get it at Depot or similar stores, or go to a foam distributor like we do for After Prom. Most of all, don’t be afraid of it, just go for it, and enjoy the process.
Happy foam cutting!