Aluminum foil tape for prop work
Cata: This is a material test for aluminum foil tape. We first learned about it as a prop material from this video by Adam Savage and decided to grab a roll to play with. This is a test of aluminum foil tape directly on craft foam.
There are a few things to keep in mind with foil tape. The first thing is foil tape is very unforgiving; once you set it down, you will not be able to remove it without tearing the tape and possibly ruining whatever you’re placing it own. Foil tape also creases easily and you’ll want to be careful when placing it down (there’s a backing you peel away so you can work a small section at time).
This is a single layer of craft foam, no sealing with Mod Podge/water or anything else. I cut a stripe of tape just a little bit larger than the piece I’m covering; it’s much easier cutting a piece slightly larger and folding the edges over or cutting the excess away. You’ll want to overlap the pieces a bit instead of trying to line them up edge to edge. I imagine with some a harder surface like wood or plastic you’d be able to blend the edges. They also blend pretty well at a distance. This is under indirect lighting.
Same piece under direct lining. You can tell on the right where I tried lining the edges and didn’t get it perfectly. The line on the left is a light overlap of a few millimeters.
You can also heat form the craft foam into curves without stressing the tape. The tape will get hot so you’ll want to be careful, but it’ll hold its shape and not warp. I’ll have to do more tests on other shapes and seeing how it holds up.
Same piece, another angle.
You can also finish it! Because it’s really shiny you’ll want to tone it down. You can sand it, which I’ll have to do more tests on with finger grits. But the left most panel is a layer of satin acrylic finish (krylon) with black acrylic paint drybrushed on top. The center is just satin acrylic finish. The third is nothing. As you can tell from the center panel, even a light coat of satin acrylic coating will take the shine down.
Simulating what the prop would look like at greater distances.
Conclusion: I’m still going to do further testing on it (curves, acrylic paint, spray paint), but this is a material we will definitely consider for future props. Maybe not for full sets of armor (other painting methods or stretch vinyl over foam would be easier and more cost effective), but definitely smaller pieces of armor or weapons.