Tips and Tools
What type of cardboard should I use when making my costume?
Probable the most important thing about making your cardboard costume is the quality of cardboard. If your use a poor quality of cardboard, your costume will be harder to cut out, difficult to put together and probable won't look as good. If you use a good quality cardboard it will be easier to cut out, come together better and look better for it.
You want cardboard that is firm and crisp NOT flimsy and soft. Firm and crisp 2-5mm thick single wall cardboard (see below). This cardboard will be easier to cut (with cleaner lines) and will hold its form when gluing your costume together.
Single faced cardboard is great for making costumes and is best used as an decorative additions to your piece. It's great because it's flexible and easy to mould to your creation. You will see some of our tutorials use it for making horns, wings, decorative buttons and trim.
Single wall cardboard is the main type of cardboard used in our costumes. The quality of your cardbord can make a massive difference in cutting your template out and putting it together. We have found cardboard
2-5mm thick that is firm and crisp works best.
We don't use double wall cardboard or even triple wall cardboard in our designs. It doesn't mean to say this isn't a great medium, multi layered cardboard is so much fun to work with and makes great sturdy cubbies. It's just that our templates are not designed to be used with this type of cardboard.
What type kind of tools will I need to make a cardboard costume?
One of the best things about working with cardboard is that most of the time it's a free material that is usually discarded. However there are still a few tools that you will need to change your cardboard box into your costume. Here are a few of our favourite tools we like to use.
You can use any blade you like for example a box cutter, utility or Stanley knife. We prefer to use a scalpel for cutting out the templates as a sharp scalpel will cut your cardboard neatly and with precision.
Hot Glue and Hot Glue Gun
At this moment in time we use hot glue for a lot of our costumes, it's the only glue that holds and glues the cardboard strong and quickly for you to be able to construct the costume. We have looked high and low for a biodegradable glue and followed up many leads in search of one but have not yet found one (if you know of one please contact us, we would really appreciate it).
You don't need a fancy glue gun anyone will do, and most hot glue types will work.
If you don't want a damage table top cutting mats are great, if you don't have one you can always lay a couple of layers of old cardboard down to protect your bench from the blade.
You will need some sticky tac to secure your paper template onto the cardboard before cutting. You only need the tiniest amount, just enough to hold it still while you cut out your sections.
Masking Tape (Not essential)
We use masking tape to temporarily hold edges together while the glue drys. It also helps you have tighter and cleaner edges. You can use any masking tape however the best ones are the ones you use for painting. You want them to not damage the cardboard when you remove them once your join has bonded.
Kraft/Brown Gummed tape (Not essential)
This stuff is great for holding tricky joins together and hiding mistakes or blemishes in the cardboard. We love anything that hides mistakes because mistakes are all apart of the creative process but we don't want anyone else think that we made it by accident.
You'll want a metal ruler when cutting the straight lines with a blade. The metal ruler prevents you from cutting the ruler and or your fingers (we really don't want that).
Any old scissors will do (most preferably they are sharp). You will use scissors to cut the templates out and to lay them on the cardboard.
Craft and stick glue
Some of the templates will require glues other than a hot glue, to glue paper designs down or cardboard decorations on.
Marker or Paint pens
We use very minimal amount of decorations on our creations. So most of the time we just use a marker or paint pens. However you can go to town on the decorations and make it your own (obviously).
What are some of the techniques used when working with cardboard?
Scoring is when you score (cut) the cardboard ever 1-3cms, being careful not to go all the way through, basically cutting the outer layer of cardboard. This will make is possible for you to loosen the cardboard where you have made the score lines. Enabling you to mold and curve the cardboard into the shape you want. All of the templates will have these score line marked out for you already, all you need to do is score along the doted line.
When you have joins that expose the inside fluting of the cardboard, you can use an angled edge to hide this. Turn the cardboard over with the planned side facing down. With your sharp blade cut into the fluting on a 45 degree angle. You should not be cutting or changing the outer edge just the inner edge that will not be seen. This edging is not essential it just gives you a tight and clean edge.
Score around the rim of the cardboard (about 2-5 mm away from the edge), using some tweezers pull a layer of the cardboard along with the fluting away. This will leave you with just the outer layer of the cardboard wall. This will give you a lip which can then be used in a join to another piece of cardboard, which will then cover the adjoining cardboard fluting, creating a smooth edge. This is not essential but it give you a nice clean joining edge.