How to Use Styrofoam for Props

By Edwin Navarro
Styrofoam comes in different shapes, sizes and colors that can be easily transformed to make photo studio props.

Styrofoam is a great material to use in making photo studio props because it's relatively cheap and highly versatile. It can easily be bought in arts and crafts stores. It's lightweight, easy to cut into different shapes and easy to paint. Styrofoam props can include: numbers and letterings, clouds, columns, rocks and boulders, animal figures, snowmen, snowflakes, brickwall and fireplace setting.

Pick the right shape, size and thickness of your Styrofoam for your intended props. If you plan to do an assortment of props, it's more economical if you buy a large size and then cut it into smaller pieces. If you have a desired color for your props in mind, colored Styrofoams are also available.

Use a pen or fine-tip marker to draw the shape of your props. You can also draw your design on paper first so you have a visual guide of your final product.

Cut out the Styrofoam to its desired shape. Use a cutter with a retractable blade and slice through with a saw-like motion. An electric Styrofoam cutter can also be bought in arts and craft stores. This has a heated wire that can cut more precise shapes in Styrofoams.

If your props have different parts, assemble and glue it together. Put adhesive glue on both parts that need to be connected. Let the glue sit in for awhile until it gets tacky before pressing the parts together.

Paint your assembled props using a paint brush and water-based latex paint. Do not used oil-based enamels or spray paints as some contains solvents that can melt the styrofoam. Let it dry in a cool, dry place not under the sun, since too much heat can also expand the shape of Styrofoam.

Add embellishments to your props. Decorate as much as you want. You can add buttons, glitters or different ornaments to your props. You can also screw in a hook and add a yarn if your props will be in a hanging position. After screwing a hook into the Styrofoam, put some drops of adhesive glue on it so it won't easily come off.

Tip

In taking a senior photo, a styrofoam cutout showing the candidate's year of graduation is a great prop. Year or age cutouts can also be used in shooting birthday photos.

Warning

Take precautions when cutting Styrofoam. Retract the cutting blade when you're not using it. Paint Styrofoam in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling harmful vapors.

About the Author

Edwin Navarro has been writing news and articles of general interests since 1993. His articles and photos have appeared in “Outcrop University Publication” and “Samoa News”. He received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of the Philippines in 1997.