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I, with the help of one of the actors fathers, am building the set out of foam!!! It is so great!!!!!

basicly, i wanted to know what everone else uses to make there sets, and would sugest using some insulating foam that you can get at the hardware store. Its cheep, easy to screw into things, easy to paint, easy to carve.....

zac850 said:

I, with the help of one of the actors fathers, am building the set out of foam!!! It is so great!!!!!

basicly, i wanted to know what everone else uses to make there sets, and would sugest using some insulating foam that you can get at the hardware store. Its cheep, easy to screw into things, easy to paint, easy to carve.....


If you love that stuff, you should try some liquid two-part foam MIX for molding things and pouring into casts....thats cool stuff...but the chemical reaction can burn ya if you get too close..and you gotta work FAST cause once the chemical reaction starts for the foam it doesn't stop and it will harden FAST if you don't get it poured.....

In general--foam & foam moldings sometimes get used, mostly wood around here tho.

oh, so you would carve a mold out of wood or something, and just pore the foam stuff into the mold, COOL!!!! i gotta find some of that stuff...
we make EVERYTHING out of it. We have pillers, walls, windows molding, even a critics box for the play were doing now... everything excecpt doors...

its great stuff, easy to work with, light, easy to atach to things....
You don't find it to flimsy when it comes to walls? We have started building walls out of Hollywood flats which are 1X4 and 3/16" ply. They are light and sturdy. I would think your set wouldnt hold up to much with foam.
I once had a part in carving the 4x4x8' blocks of foam used at Great America New York's Ukon Express roller coaster ride. We used chain saw bladed grinders, wire wheels, belt sanders, electric meat cutters and hot melt knives to do most of it. For my own scenery, it's great and cheap for working with and I have used it alot. I like the stuff as a designer. My greatest effect was a pierglass made of Blue Dow board. A Pier Glass is a very curved and almost Art Nouveau style wood carved wall hanging mirror. It would otherwise be very hard to carve for a show. A little spray paint primer and it's not only somewhat prepped for painting but foam is textured for things like rock. Little more attention to some areas that need a recess, and a little less elsewhere. Very easy to shape it.

Also of note on the amusement park gig is that we used Typar suites and full face masks. That should be the norm in school also. When working on foam no matter what the type, please at least wear face masks in a ventalated area. Bad chemicals come off foam. One lingering memory from working on foam is something similar to how actors "feel their part." One look at foam and I can thru memory feel the upper part of my lungs sting from all the foam fumes I breathed in over the years. I don't have to work on it anymore to get sick, it's just a memory thing now. Face masks with foam is a good thing.
what we do to make it sturdy is back parts of it with wood. we drill the foam onto the wood, and that keeps it sturdy. We routenly go around the outline of whatever the shape is with wood, and if it needs it, a cross in the middle for extra support. We then drill it/hammer it into the stage
If you do not have the storage room or a scene shop and everything you build is going last only the run of the show, then foam scenery is the way to go. I have used blue foam it quite a few productions. Just remember to base coat the foam with a mixture. I usually use 1 gallon white paint, 1/2 gallon water and 1/2 gallon glue for size and less water for dutchman. (Dutchman is for dipping strips of muslin into from creating seamless seams and curved arches and such). Use Elmers white Glue that yellow wood glue is hard to paint over.

You can also to a stucco affect as well. You spatter the blue foam with paint and then butane it while the paint is wet and the non paint area disolves away into an incredibly toxic breathable, but you do get a nice texture, it should be done out doors by mask wearing adults only.
we use the pink foam that is used in insulating houses, and that works for us well...
Between Pink and Blue, I believe it's just the color. Both are what's called Extruded Polystyrene as opposed to the white dots that's called Expanded Polystyrene. Same material for the most part in all just different processes and colorings. Pink for Pink Panther - Owen's Corning verses Blue for Blue Dow Board. A look at the R-Value and any MSDS data for the board should be able to confirm blue and pink are the same.

By the way, it's not flame resistant and it's poisoness if it burns so there are certain safety precautions for use with it such as flame treating all sides and only a certain percentage of the stage area that is allowed to have it given a smoke trap door or other fire safety features which will let the smoke and poision out. That is I believe such regulations are about standard. Don't think foam is flame retardant but again that should be clearly posted on the board if it is - they would want to brag about it. Look into that. Gesso/Scenic Dope/primer especially if Phlex Glue or Sobo making up the scenic dope (as opposed to white glue that does not stick as well) will coat it and provide some flame resistance to the front face but the rear and other sides will need other protection.

It's also damaged by UV and heat such as a light focused upon it. Plus it does not like to be carried on the roof of your car.

As for attachment, 3M orange "Foam Fast" works really well, otherwise there is some contact cement specifically designed for foam on the market. Liquid Nails works sometimes depending upon the lot number. Some lots of it will burn thru, others will work fine. There is panel adhesive sold in gallons also that's made for attachment but it will not bond as well as the above three. All the above is also flammable.
Foam is absolutely awesome!! Our theatre company goes through over 100 4'x8' sheets of foam per play. We did "The Tempest" two years ago and screwed some 2x4's into a piece of plywood at an angle, and then covered the outside with foam and painted it like wood.
I tend to stay on the low tech side of carving foam, due to the fumes put out by burning and chemicals. We just stick to carving and shaping. The grinder is our friend. We used to use a lot of foam a few years ago, but steel has taken over as the material used most often. But lumber will never go away. :) I am still looking for a source for expanded styrofoam, as we lost ours a few years ago. 3" blue foam is getting really expensive (in my opinion, and in my neck of the woods). But if a design calls for it, as my current one did just today, I will buy it. And the two part foam trade name frothpak- awsome!

The difference is the thickness I think. Pink=1 1/2" Blue =1" Don't quote me on it though.

We use a little bit of everything, steel, foam, luan, wood, mylar, particle board, plywood, you name it we use it.
Pink is available in 1" and is used for insulation mostly, but that is what we use. Lowes and Home Depot both stock it.

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