Way back in the
god-forsaken dark ages of torment and gnashing of teeth halcyon days of the HSC (senior year of high school for those outside Aust), I tried my hand at crafting wearable Greek helmets. I remember making 4 and 1/2 versions of the archetypal Korinthian helmet, all begun on a papier mache base which was then coated with a layer inside and out of fibreglass. The result was a sturdy final product with some interesting textures offered by the fibreglass, which gave the impression of oxidised bronze, but there were pitfalls.
Fibreglass once set can’t be remodelled, so it is important to get the base framework (in my case papier mache and cardboard) absolutely right before application. The fibreglass itself is applied much like wet plaster bandages, using the fibre sheets and a catalyst chemical in place of medical supplies. But once the fibreglass is set, sanding or cutting is not recommended as the fine powdery dust created can cause respiratory problems down the track.
So this year I began my first project in EVA foam, creating a set of Greek armour from the 5th-4th Centuries BCE. Cutting pieces out of EVA foam, then fanning them with a heat gun until they were pliable, I could shape and reshape the foam to achieve the subtle curvatures that were impossible to make out of fibreglass without using a plaster mould. The other advantage to working in foam is being able to try the helmet on and reshape it as necessary; I had to rework the eyes as the opening sat too high above my eyebrows, hence the putty fill on the right eye.
It has definitely been easier to scratch time out for working this way, as working with EVA foam only requires a bit of space and minimal tools outside of a heatgun and a few craft knives to work with, so minimal setup and cleanup.