There are lots of nice crafts and decor pieces you can make from simple Styrofoam, but if you’ve never crafted with it, there are a few things that might surprise you. For instance, did you know that some paints will actually melt Styrofoam? Wouldn’t you hate to be in the final stages of a fabulous creation only to see it melt before your eyes?
Small Styrofoam shapes are inexpensive, so it’s a good idea to try the intended paints on a small Styrofoam ball or other shape, before using it on your creation. Many spray paints will melt Styrofoam and some brush-on paints will as well. You can, however, use water colors, tempera paints and various other paints on Styrofoam. Some paints will have recommendations listed on their labels. Read the labels before purchasing paints you intend to use on Styrofoam.
Many craft and decor projects require glue to be applied to the Styrofoam. Different glues may be used to do different projects. For example, white glue might not be ideal for adding glitter to the Styrofoam since the white glue can slowly run down the Styrofoam shape while drying. Spray-on adhesives work really well for things that need to dry quickly, like glitter.
Although hot glue can melt Styrofoam it can still be used to affix various items to it. Never let the tip of the hot glue gun touch the actual Styrofoam. Use small amounts of hot glue when working with Styrofoam and dispense the glue onto the embellishment – when possible – rather than the Styrofoam. If a mistake is made, and a glued item must then be removed, there will usually be obvious melting of the Styrofoam underneath.
You can often save money by purchasing Styrofoam by sheets or slabs. Since it’s easy to chip or otherwise damage Styrofoam it’s important to be very careful when cutting. One thing that can help you cut Styrofoam with ease is a serrated knife. Pass the knife through a candle or block of wax, before cutting the Styrofoam, and it will be even easier.
When doing large Styrofoam projects you don’t often need heavy hardware to hang it. Create a hole and hang on the wall or even use stick-on tabs which allow you to easily hang pictures and other wall items. If the finished creation isn’t very heavy you can even hot glue a sawtooth hanger on back.
Toothpicks can be a big help when it comes to securing corners and such. One example of that is the making of Styrofoam window cornices. Cut a slab to go across the top of the window, one that goes across the front, and two that become the end caps. Dip toothpicks in glue and slide them into corners. Connect two pieces of Styrofoam while you secure the corner. The toothpick will offer a little extra strength in the corners of the lightweight cornice. For some large projects you can use something larger, like a wooden skewer, to help secure vulnerable areas. You don’t necessarily have to use the entire skewer, but instead, can cut the skewer in half or other lengths.
Toothpicks can be used to decorate Styrofoam as well. When making something like a sucker tree from a Styrofoam cone the Styrofoam is often still visible when the project is finished. Glue curled ribbon pieces to toothpicks and place them in areas that will help conceal the Styrofoam.
Foil can sometimes be problematic when it comes to gluing. Create foil balls for a project, stab with a toothpick or skewer, then push the toothpick into the Styrofoam shape. Toothpicks work for attaching many other small objects to Styrofoam shapes.
There are various tools and implements which will help you make designs and further shape the Styrofoam. A putty knife is one example of a tool that can help create great patterns and designs. If you’ve created window cornices, for instance, you can upholster it by using a putty knife. Lay cotton or foam over the Styrofoam to pad it. Draw a line across the front of the cornice to mark an area where you want to make an indentation. Use the putty knife, along the line, to push the fabric as well as the cotton down into the Styrofoam. You can create rolls and other designs by using this technique.
Styrofoam can become some of the most beautiful and treasured pieces in your home and you’ll have lots of fun working and creating with the unique material. Break a corner off a slab while working with it, though, and it could be very costly. Use some of these tips to help you have the most success.