You want to cosplay, but you don’t want to cut corners? Then you’re going to need all the pieces of the outfit. This is essential for a character like Barret Wallace. I have provided tutorials on how to make the burly sidekick’s gun-arm and wrist-cuff, leaving only his terribly impractical tube of a waist-guard. Ready to feel like toothpaste squished into a pipe? Here we go.
What You Will Need
Approximately 5 sheets of Foamies 6mm thick craft foam (found at JoAnn Fabrics)
1 Foamies 36″x60″ 2mm foam roll (also found at JoAnn Fabrics)
8-15 rivet-like buttons (number depends on your waist circumference)
2-3 packs of industrial-strength Velcro (sticky-back, preferably)
Scissors (fabric scissors, ideally)
Any metallic spray paint (like the Nickel shade at JoAnn Fabrics)
Any clear matte paint sealer
Step 1: Measure and Cut the Base
The first thing you want to do is take your waist measurements to make the base layer of the waist-guard. Barret’s waist-guard covers his midsection from the solar plexus to the hips, approximately. So, take this measurement on your torso and you’ll have your width.
Next, measure your torso’s circumference, allowing about 4″ overlap. This overlap is where you will put the Velcro for easy closure.
Once you have these measurements, take your foamies roll and apply your dimensions with a sharpie. The base layer of the waist-guard is three sheets of the roll, so you need to divide the roll into three identical sheets. This layering will give the waist-guard the sturdiness you need. Just draw on your length and width, cut, and repeat until you have three torso-sized strips.
Carefully stack these three layers, trimming off any overhang so they are uniform. Then, one sheet at a time, hot glue them together so that your three sheets become one solid band. This is your base!
Wrap it around yourself just to make sure it fits snugly. Also, take a sharpie or some pen and mark off the overlap. Knowing where the band overlaps is important so you don’t put anything else there but the Velcro at the end.
You should have at least a little of the roll left, which you will use later for covering edges.
Step 2: Measure and Cut the Bands
You’ll notice Barret’s waist-guard has two raised bands going all the way around, one on the top and one on the bottom. This is the next part you’ll be making.
For this, measure the width (top edge to bottom edge) of the base layer you just made, and divide this measurement into thirds. You want the two raised bands to be even, and evenly spaced. For me, they measured to about 4.5″ each, with about 4″ separating them, but your measurements may be slightly different.
Once you have these widths, take your 6mm thick craft foam sheets and, looking at them lengthwise, draw on your raised-band-widths and divide each sheet into two 12″-long halves. These 6mm sheets come 12″-long, and you want that length to make the raised bands, so cut them lengthwise.
Sheet by sheet, cut out your band-strips and glue them onto the base layer of the waist-guard, making two rows (one on the top and one on the bottom edge). Begin gluing these strips from the mark you made indicating the waist-guard’s overlap. Let that mark be your starting point, and just glue strip by strip across the band until you have two uniform raised bands. Make sure to stop at the other overlap-mark, leaving yourself that 3-4″ space for the Velcro.
Now, you’ll want to cover these two raised bands with 2mm foam from the roll. The same measurements, just cut the 2mm foam into four strips as wide and long as the two raised bands you just glued on. Take two of these strips and stack them, trimming off excess, then glue them together. Then lay this glued strip onto one of the raised bands, carefully gluing it down from one edge to the other. Repeat this for the other raised band. This will give the waist-guard more sturdiness and durability.
Looking good by now, right? Let’s keep going!
Step 3: Edges!
Remember how I said you were going to use some of the 2mm foam for edges? That time is now! The importance of this step is to give the waist-guard a smooth and even look, covering any jagged sides you may have.
So, measure the edges of the raised bands (the sides where you can see the layers of foam; top edge, inner bottom, inner top, bottom edge). Then, cut out strips of 2mm foam to cover these edges, gluing them over these exposed areas so that you have what looks like one large layer of foam instead of many thin ones.
Once done, take your hot glue gun and smear seams over the cracks (where the foam meets). Not a lot, just a thin spread. Some don’t like this method, but I think it looks like welded metal once painted, so use your judgment.
Step 4: Mod Podge
Now comes that step that’s liable to put you to sleep. Time to mod podge this monstrous strip of foam. Mod Podge is essential when making foam props because it is a sealant. It fills the otherwise-porous craft foam so that paint actually has sheen and glow. Very important when the prop your making is supposed to be metal.
So, cover your workspace with newspaper or a tarp before moving on. Mod Podge is water-based (basically white glue), but you still don’t want it getting on anything valuable.
Once done, just begin brushing on the Mod Podge in coats. Apply a coat, wait for it to dry (about 20-45 minutes), and repeat. You’ll have to put probably between 3 and 5 coats on to get a really solid seal, but it’ll be worth it.
Oh, and don’t forget the edges (but you don’t have to worry about the overlap. No one will see that part).
Step 5: Buttons…Buttons Everywhere
You’re almost done! For this step, take your rivet-like buttons and glue them in an evenly spaced line across the middle of the waist-guard (again, stopping at your overlap marks). For me, this took 15 buttons, but you may require less. Just space them evenly and you’ll be fine.
For added durability, take your scissors and poke a small hole in the foam where each button will go, then fill each with hot glue right before jabbing the button on. Most buttons of this variety will have a little hook on the underside, which is a perfect appendage to stick into this gluey hole (well that sounded awful didn’t it?).
Step 6: Time to Paint this Muh’
Get out into a ventilated area and prepare to paint. The nice thing about this waist-guard is you only need to worry about painting one side, so no flipping or awkward positions.
Covering the ground with a tarp or pizza-box-quilt (this cosplayer’s standby!), take your metallic spray paint of choice and spray a nice, even coat on the waist-guard. Don’t spray from anything closer than 2 feet to prevent pooling.
Once you have an even coat applied, wait for it to dry completely, and apply a second coat. Use your judgment. Paint until you don’t see any white foam, just smooth and solid grey. Again, don’t forget to paint your edges.
You can choose to weather this piece, just like the wrist-cuff. To do this, take some black or brown paint and smear a small amount over the waist-guard with a dry paper towel. You won’t need much. Just take a little and brush it into the corners and smear it around in rough, dry streaks to give the prop that used and worn look. It can make a massive difference.
After all this, apply a coat of your matte sealer. This prevents tackiness and keeps the paint from smearing on anyone who happens to run up for an impromptu glomp.
Done? Then guess what? You’re almost completely done… One more step, and it’s easy peezy.
Step 7: Velcro!
You should have adhesive industrial strength Velcro (because you don’t want this thing falling off until you’re ready to take it off). Take this Velcro, and cut it into enough strips to cover your overlap portions. It doesn’t matter which part of the Velcro goes on which part of the overlap, just make sure you’re consistent (hooks on one side, loops on the other).
Be careful: don’t put any Velcro on the outside of your overlap cover; put it on the underside so that it can actually close with the other side. If you need a reminder about which side of your waist-guard is the overlap cover, wrap it around yourself and double check. This is simple, but can easily be breezed through and messed up. Just be careful and pay attention to what you’re doing. You’ll be fine.
With that, you’re done! You are now ready to prowl the conspace like a sailor-mouthed eco-terrorist with only one arm and too many metal accessories.
Have fun, and be sure to post pictures of your cosplay!