Introduction: Tiki God - Eva Foam Costume

Picture of Tiki God - Eva Foam Costume

I love Halloween, and try to come up with a cool costume each year.  Well this year, my inspiration came from a couple tv shows and this site... Face Off and Heroes of Cosplay.   I saw a number of really great costumes and decided that I wanted to go big and ambitious.  I read through a number of really great Instructables on how to create a costume from Eva foam, and I jumped right in... And I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

Step 1: The Concept

Picture of The Concept

I came up with a number of ideas for this costume, but finally decided on the "Tiki God".  I had my wife take a front and side photo of me so that I could sketch out the correct proportions of the costume.  I sketched over top of the 2 photos on my iPad and had a plan. 

I originally planned on doing foam covering my arms and legs as well, but after putting on the main part of the costume, I decided to go bare due to the heat I was already feeling.  Also, knowing that I wanted to go out dancing and drinking, I needed to make sure I designed something that was somewhat functional, without having to remove the costume to drink or use the restroom :).

Step 2: Starting With Eva Foam

Picture of Starting With Eva Foam

Like I said before, I read a number of other Instructables on how to work with Eve foam, but had never actually worked with it myself.  The best one of these was"Creating a Costume/Cosplay from E.V.A Foam" by ToweringProductions.  He listed supplies and where to get them, and that came in very handy for creating my costume. 

I started off by heading to Home Depot and bought a couple packs of the colorful children's foam flooring.  You get 4 2'x2' pieces per pack for about $18.  Check availability online.  The Home Depot nearest me didn't have any, but the one near my work had dozens.

Next I did a little math to figure out the circumference of the tube of foam that I would need to fit around my body, and luckily it came out to be about 4'.  I say luckily, because the foam pieces are 2' x 2', so I just connected the teeth of the floor tiles together and used some duct tape to hold it together.  I made sure the seams were on my sides.  Once I got the tube on, I felt for where my face would be, and marked it with a marker.  Then after I got the tube off, I cut out an initial face hole.

Step 3: Sketching Out the Design and Blocking in the Face Shapes

Picture of Sketching Out the Design and Blocking in the Face Shapes

Based on my initial sketch, I started sketching out the parts of the face on the tube of foam. 

Next, I started cutting out the various face shapes from the extra sheets of foam flooring.  Since my project is meant to look like carved wood, I didn't need to be as precise as someone that is doing body armor or the like.  I used a pair of poultry scissors to cut the foam, which made that part go very quickly. 

I built up layers of the foam to vary the depth of the piece of the face.  I also picked up a pack of 1/8 inch thick foam sheets at Michaels, which I used to smooth over the built up layers of the eyes and nose.  I also used the thin foam sheets to cover up the duct tape seams that I still had that was holding the foam squares together.

I used hot glue to glue all of these pieces onto the main tube of the costume.  I recommend that you get a good large hot glue gun if your going to build costumes.  I had the little craft glue gun in the beginning, and I was constantly having to to reload it with those tiny glue sticks.  I got a medium size gun, but with really log glue sticks and that made the rest of the project go much smoother.

WARNING!  Hot glue works great, but it burns like a *#)$%*^!  And when it drips on you, or you press a piece of foam together and a nice steaming hot glob of hot glue sticks its self to your thumb, just make sure that there aren't any kids around to hear the colorful language the ensues.  I ended up with 5 small burn/blisters on my hands during the creation of this project, but they were worth it.

Step 4: Clean Up, Detail, and Paint Prep

Picture of Clean Up, Detail, and Paint Prep

Once I had the basic shapes all in place, I went in first with a dremmel tool to smooth out all of the edges.  The scissors were great for speed, but they left choppy edges, so I smoothed all the edges, ground down any corners, and even cut some chips into the top and bottom portions of the Tiki Head to give it a distressed look.

Once I felt good with the clean up, I sketched out where I wanted to carve in some deep grooves to give the wood some distinctive aging.  You can use any pen for this, since your going to paint over it soon.

Next I used my soldering iron to melt some 1/8 inch deep grooves running from top to bottom.  I also used it to melt the grooves for the teeth.  Foam melts very easily, so be careful that you don't melt all the way through the foam.

I read that foam doesn't take paint too well on it's own, so you need to coat it in Plasti Dip.  I got it in spay can form.  Basically, it's a liquid rubber that serves as a base coat or primer for the rest of your paint.  Give your foam a good even coating of Plasti Dip and let it cure over night.

Step 5: Painting and Adding the Visor Screen.

Picture of Painting and Adding the Visor Screen.

After the Plasti Dip cured over night, I brushed on an even coating of acrylic house paint "Nutmeg".  I knew acrylic would have some flex to it and be more forgiving than enamel.  Let dry for a few hours, then the real fun begins.

Once the Nutmeg was dry, I broke out my .69 cent bottles of Acrylic craft paints, Dark Brown and Black, and started to paint in the aging and distressing.  I started out with the dark brown first, and slopped it in and around all of the edges and grooves of the various face elements.  I like using a simple foam craft brush for this, it soaks up a lot of paint, and does some nice dry brushing afterward.  Before the paint could dry, I would then take a shop rag, and wipe the dark brown over the surface of the whole Tiki, just hard enough to wipe the dark brown almost off of the undercoat of Nutmeg.  Then I went in black to darken all of the edges and creases.  Again, wiping away any black that got on the front surfaces.  Despite the size of the costume, I got through the wood texturing in about 2 hours.

After the painting was done, I found some plastic crochet mesh at Michaels, cut and glued it in place to cover the face hole in the middle of the Tiki headband.  I painted the outer mesh to match the wood as much as possible.

Step 6: Adding the Grass Skirting

Picture of Adding the Grass Skirting

I wanted to disguise the arm holes a bit, and attach the grass skirt directly to the costume.  I bought a 24' table grass skirting, since I knew I was going to use it all over the costume.  Much cheaper than buying multiple skirts.  I stared by spreading a generous amount of hot glue inside the costume above the arms, then I glued 2 layers of grass skirt above each arm hole.  Then I did the same to the bottom of the Tiki, but I went for 3 layers on this part.

It's funning.  Looking at the Tiki on it's own it looks like it has hairy ears and a beard.

Step 7: Fire... Fire... Fire...

Picture of Fire... Fire... Fire...

Originally I wanted to have blowing silk fire, like the fake fire in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.  But I couldn't find any battery operated fans that were strong enough to do the job, nor small enough since it has to sit above my head in the costume.  So I decided on shaping the fire with hot glue, and then illuminating it.  I bought red thin netting, and orange silk and cut them into triangles.  I then proceeded to glue, fold, press, burn fingers, repeat.... till I had the red and orange glued all the way around the top.  The fire looked cool in bright light, but just didn't have the wow factor till I had illuminated it.

How to illuminate the fabric from inside above my head???  This had my scratching my head for a couple hours, then I remembered that I had a bunch of LED tea lights left over from my wedding.  Now I just needed to figure out a way to get them to float a couple inches away from the sides, and a couple inches down from the top to get the best illumination on the cloth.  The answer turned out to be a simple metal hanger.  I grabbed a metal hanger from my dry cleaning, then stretched it out to better fit the oval of the inside of the TIki.  I bent the hook down and glued it to the inside of the Tiki.  I cut the hook off of another hanger, and glued it in place opposite the other hook to give it support.  I then glued 6 LED tea lights to the hanger.  They don't weigh much, so the hanger works just fine.  Then all I need to do is turn on the LED's and the fire has that inner illumination that I was looking for.  Also, I still have plenty of air flow above my head since the Tiki gets pretty dang hot inside fast.

Step 8: How to Get in and Out of the Costume

Picture of How to Get in and Out of the Costume

I couple people have asked a some great questions regarding the back of the costume and how do I get in and out of it.  I wrote the original instructable at 2:am... so please forgive my forgotten step.

I originally thought that I would cut the back of the costume up the middle, and then use Velcro straps to close the seam.  I did cut it about a foot up, and proceeded get into the costume, but discovered to my dread, that I could not get out of it.  After a couple attempts, and some short anxiety attacks, I handed the scissors to my wife and told her to cut me out of the costume.  I told her to cut a straight line from the bottom to the rear corner of one of the arm holes.  In doing this, it became extremely easy to get in and out of the costume.  I then glued the original cut that I had done to the back of the costume, and reinforced this repair with a piece of the thin foam from Michaels.

To close up the new seam under the armpit, I took some 1" velcro that I had from a previous costume, and cut it into 1/2" strips.  I then glued the two sides of the velcro to each side of the new seam, trying to keep the seam as hidden as possible. 

So now I can open the seam, climb into the costume via the armpit seam, and once inside, I just press the seam together and it almost vanishes.  This turned out to be a much better solution to getting in and out then I had originally planned.  Thanks to good ol claustrophobia and scissors :)

Step 9: The Tiki Torch

Picture of The Tiki Torch

After putting on some more skirting on my arms and legs, I grabbed a Tiki torch from... yes my Tiki Bar at my house and posed for my finished picture.  But then I realized that the TIki torch needed the same cloth fire treatment.  I basically did it the same way as the top of the TIki costume, just with only 2 LED's and a simple frame glued inside the empty torch... yes made from scraps of the extra hanger that I had left over.

So that's my first crack at working with Eva foam and fabricating an entire costume from it.  I still have a month to go before Halloween, so I'm sure I will come up with something else to make before then.  Oh, and I made the whole costume in about 7 evenings after work.

Step 10: BONUS! Tiki Priestess Chest Plate

Picture of BONUS!  Tiki Priestess Chest Plate

Actually, I made a Tiki priestess chest plate this weekend.  I did it the same way that I did mine, but just much much faster.  I did it all in about 8 hours.  Here are the pics of the step by step.  I'll save you the same description as before. 

I hope this inspires someone else to try some fabricating with Eva foam.  It's a lot of fun!


NickD195 made it! (author)2017-10-31

Hey Aaron,

Thanks for the killer Instructions! This was my end result. It won first place in our company costume contest. I went with hair and added some straps inside. Also the head part come off as well. Nick D

PartyChill made it! (author)2017-10-08

Thank you. I made this for our trip to Hawaii over Halloween and it traveled well. I was going to toss it when we were done but it was so awesome, I couldn't throw it away. I used it again for a Luau themed event that I hosted and we just won the Creative Costume category at Legoland Brick-or-Treat!

Gemxprt made it! (author)2017-07-30

Thank you.
And thanks for the inspiration.
I survived a heart attack in June but have thankful returned to the project. As my wife and I like to put a bit of "sexiness" into Halloween she got me to call it "King Kama-Wana-Lea-U" like the 70's t-shirt. Painting it really brought it to life! I plan on filling the eyes and mouth with flames

Gemxprt (author)2017-02-09

Love these...

Already started fabrication...FEB!

Question...How does the Tiki Priestess affix her chest plate?

AP3D (author)Gemxprt2017-02-27

Hey sorry I didn't see your message. We cut some strips of cloth from what she used to make her skirt. I then got glued them to the top corners and sides and just tied them in the back like a bikini top. The chest piece was so lite, the straps don't need to be too thick. Hope that helps.

Gemxprt (author)2017-02-27

Anyone ?

indeepknit made it! (author)2017-01-30

I recreated your tiki god with my own twists for the Remix contest! Thanks... it was very fun to make! I might try it again with different facial features sometime soon.

AP3D (author)indeepknit2017-01-30

Glad you enjoyed making it. Looks great! I'm going to create a new one myself this coming year.

ElkeP1 made it! (author)2016-06-12

*Loved* this Instructable! Thanks so much for sharing your process! I don't think i got the distressed paint job quite down (other than getting a bit distressed while doing it! haha)... but still happy with how they turned out ^_^ Thanks again for this totes rad inginstructable! it was a great first EVA foam project for me to start with

AP3D (author)ElkeP12016-11-04

I love your variation on the design... Very clean! The viewing area and eye details are very nice!

ElkeP1 (author)AP3D2016-11-06

Thanks so much! :)
& Thanks for creating your original & sharing your process! So great!

AP3D (author)2016-11-04

I am really blown away by how many people have come up with their own variations of this costume!!! This is exactly why I posted the original Instructable... and thrilled to see what you all have come up with! :)

curlgurl2007 made it! (author)2016-11-04

This was awesome! Made a great unique costume, which I turned into our family theme this year. One tip--instead of using the multi-colored Eva foam pack, just go straight for black. It would make covering up all the color a lot easier. I made my son a smaller version and added the pineapple to make it different than my husband's. Thanks for posting this!!!

AP3D (author)curlgurl20072016-11-04

That is really awesome! I'm so glad you all liked it enough to get everyone into it. Two thumbs up!

Flito made it! (author)2016-04-14

Thank you very much AP3D for the awesome Instructable,

You Tiki costume is the best, So I had to recreated and the results are amazing.

I finish it in 2 weeks.

Thank you…I couldn't have done it without you….

hyoung (author)2016-03-25

this instructable is baddassery and awesome sauce. love it. great skills indeed.

boymowgli (author)2014-11-17

Fantastic creation! A friend built a perfect replica of your project and 4 of us were in the 2014 DooDah Parade this past weekend, as the Tiki God and his 3 comical warriors! We were on the 6 o'clock news even! So much fun! Mahalo!!

AP3D (author)boymowgli2016-02-08

I'm just now catching up on replies. I'm really glad the design worked out for you guys! That was exactly what I was hoping for when I posted the Instructable. :)

BLUEDEMON01 made it! (author)2015-11-19

thank you for the great idea.AP3D

I made this one a little larger. in the circumference aspect cuz I'm a little bigger in the mid section. About 9 inches more so total of 57". and about four inches shorter. the fire and the lights are removable so is the skirt. I installed it with velcro strips.
I had some people ask me if it was really heavy. they thought it was a real log. by the nose there's a little diamond flap. you could install a straw to drink your beverage. good times and thank you again

AP3D (author)BLUEDEMON012016-02-08

Sorry for the long delay. That looks great! The headband on mine came off, attached with Velcro, so that I could eat and drink as well.

AP3D (author)BLUEDEMON012016-02-08

Sorry for the long delay. That looks great! The headband on mine came off, attached with Velcro, so that I could eat and drink as well.

WilliamB177 (author)2016-02-07

Hey I am part of Wicked Coastal clothing, would you be interested in crafting us one of these costumes?

AP3D (author)WilliamB1772016-02-08

Sure. I had a blast creating mine. Please send me some details at:

ornarvaezjr (author)2015-06-21


boymowgli (author)2014-11-17

boymowgli (author)2014-11-17

boymowgli (author)2014-11-17

Fantastic creation! A friend built a perfect replica of your project and 4 of us were in the 2014 DooDah Parade this past weekend, as the Tiki God and his 3 comical warriors! We were on the 6 o'clock news even! So much fun! Mahalo!!

boymowgli (author)2014-11-17

Fantastic creation! A friend built a perfect replica of your project and 4 of us were in the 2014 DooDah Parade this past weekend, as the Tiki God and his 3 comical warriors! We were on the 6 o'clock news even! So much fun! Mahalo!!

boymowgli (author)2014-11-17

Fantastic creation! A friend built a perfect replica of your project and 4 of us were in the 2014 DooDah Parade this past weekend, as the Tiki God and his 3 comical warriors! We were on the 6 o'clock news even! So much fun! Mahalo!!

GotMoxie83 (author)2014-10-19

Thanks for the great instructable. This is how my project came out following your advice. I decided to shave down the opening and make it so I could slide open and just the mesh like a window for easy drink access! Also at Hobby Lobby they have cheap battery powered 6.5ft corded white led lights to easily glue to the inside.

mjones73 (author)2014-10-14

another good source for eva foam is Walmart in the camping aisle. foam sleeping mats work great and are much larger than the puzzle tiles.

AP3D (author)mjones732014-10-14

True, though I find the rolled up Eva foam a little too soft for my needs. I like the rigidity of the floor tiles, but that's just me.

ALECIALLEY (author)2014-05-22

OMG....its Amazing

TheSDBux (author)2013-10-20

Thank you for this build, without it I would not of had the idea to build my own.

AP3D (author)TheSDBux2013-12-08

I like the mix of color you added to it. You really made it your own ;). Glad to been able to help.

shawnlambert (author)2013-11-01

Thanks again for this instructable. I got tons of compliments on it; one guy even wanted his picture taken with me.

AP3D (author)shawnlambert2013-12-08

Turned our really nice ;). Yes it was a popular costume to have pictures taken with. We went to Carnival in West Hollywood. I bet my wife and I are on a hundred Facebook pages ;)

AP3D (author)shawnlambert2013-11-01

Nice job! Looks very familiar :) The costume was a huge success this Halloween. I'm glad to see someone else got to play tiki god as well.

shawnlambert (author)AP3D2013-11-01

I tried to copy your design exactly (because it came out so good), but I still think yours looks better...I cheaped out on grass, paint color and some of the wash steps could have been better, and the buildup on foam I used a different kind that was harder to work with. Anyway thanks again--you are very creative to have come up with this by yourself. It was my 1st foam project and I have to admit I like working with it--cheap, easy to manipulate, and light to wear.

bwaldron1 (author)2013-11-01

Thank you so much! I love all things tiki, i had looked a a ton of foam techniques, and had settled on a giant robot, but then saw what you had done and it was a lock! A few modifications, some strobe lights and a ton of hot glue burns ( you were not kidding) Thanks again i have won 3 contests so far with a big one tomorrow night/ i let every one know i got the idea from you! hope you like it.

AP3D (author)bwaldron12013-12-08

I love how you used the extra edging for carving detail! I didn't get to enter an contests this year, except the one on this site, but I am glad to see that the idea was a winner.

Ferd64 (author)2013-11-02

Thanks for the instructable. Everyone loved it and it really ups the bar for next year!

AP3D (author)Ferd642013-12-08

Looks great! Glad to have been able to inspire others. I'm already thinking about what to do next year.

Random_Canadian (author)2013-11-06

Sooooo, I normally don't vote for contests that I enter... BUT I have, and I have to say the this is the most original and creative costume yet... Incredibly well done! Others coming up with their own spin! NOT.... Iron Man (OMG! stop with iron man) !!!!

Seriously, if you don't place with this one I will gladly give you 2 years of PRO memberships to this site ( I am not affiliated with this site)...

AP3D (author)Random_Canadian2013-12-08

Thank you for your very kind comments. I did get second place, and I'm glad to see that so many people not only liked it, but made their own versions this year.

Twila327 (author)2013-12-08

Thank you for your awesome instrucable. I made a smaller version for my 5 year old son. He loved it and now is sporting a Santa hat for Christmas.

AP3D (author)Twila3272013-12-08

I am so glad it was an easy one to follow. Seeing these pics really made me glad to have posted it. I tried to make something for my step daughter, I bet she will let me now ;)

poofrabbit (author)2013-11-21

Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween costume contest! Can’t wait to see if you win good luck!

Neffer23 (author)2013-10-31

is there anyway to put up straps inside? (im a small kinda guy)

shawnlambert (author)Neffer232013-11-01

Just make the circumference of the initial tube small enough so that the arm holes rest on your shoulders.

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