I was hired to decorate an Adventure Time themed event with Candy Kingdom being one of the main attractions. I decided to build 28 custom 3 dimensional candy people in total as well as Cotton Candy Trees and a 22ft Lady Rainicorn (Instructable coming soon).
The candy people are made from foam blocks and extruded polystyrene insulation board using a Hot Wire from Hot Wire Foam Factory and a standard jigsaw.
This build will guide you through the process if you ever find yourself needing Candy Kingdom candy people!
Step 1: Materials & Tools
If you are near a Tractor Supply, pay them a visit and ask if you can take away their foam blocks that they use for trailers. Many stores spend money to dispose of these or end up paying fines from the city when it's windy. I stuffed as many as I could in my Jeep.
If you aren't near a Tractor Supply, you can find them online by doing a google search for foam blocks. http://www.buyfoamblocks.com/ is one option. They even sell cylinders, among other shapes.
The Extruded Polystyrene is the blue foam available at Lowe's or in the pink version from Home Depot. I believe there are other brands available online. I purchased the 2", 4x8 ft sheets to make the Peppermint Butlers, Candy Hearts and other flatter type characters.
Other materials and tools needed are:
Tension Wire 170-ft Galvanized Steel Chain-Link Fence Tension Wire.
Foam Pipe Insulation for legs and arms
Foam pipe insulation 90 Degree Elbows for feet
2ft Bow Cutter from Hot Wire Foam Factory
Small Bolt Cutter
Paint rollers & Brushes
Craft foam sheets
Hot Glue gun & hot glue
Respirator and standard fume mask
Step 2: Cut the foam
For Peppermint Butlers and other flat style Candy people, simply make your shapes whether they are circles or hearts or squares. This is easy and you can use something round from your house to serve as a template or make yourself a compass. I used a round mirror to make my circles and free handed the hearts.
If cutting inside, wear safety mask and goggles as this foam gets everywhere and should not be inhaled.
For the Sugar cubes characters you don't have to do much if you already have blocks. My blocks were in the shape of rectangles, so i cut off one side to make them into squares.
For the Peppermint rolls and Marshmallow characters I had to create a mechanism for my hot wire bow that would allow for easy and smooth cutting. When using a hot wire on foam, wear a respirator. Melting foam is toxic and incredibly bad for your lungs.
The mechanism is very simple. Using 1x4s, scrap wood blocks and wooden dowels, we simply screwed the 1x4s to the blocks, drilled holes into the sides of the 1x4s for the dowels, then screwed the blocks to the workshop table, inserted foam block into dowels on each side, placed hot wire in front, and spun foam block in circle for a perfect cylindrical shape!
Step 3: Draw, Paint & Glitter the Characters
This is where creativity comes into play. My very good friend Robin hand drew the different versions of Peppermint Butler and I free handed the details for the peppermint rolls, marshmallows and other characters. We used sharpies for the edges and the hand painted the rest.
Do not ever use spray paint on the Extruded Polystyrene boards as it will melt the foam. Only latex!
For Tug Me Hearts, simply cut letters and eye shapes out of craft foam, using hot glue to adhere.
After you are done bringing these little guys to life, it's time to move on to the legs and arms.
Step 4: Making the legs, arms and feet
Using your pipe insulation, cut your lengths to size. Just refer to the cartoon to figure this out. There is even an Adventure Time Wikipedia with all the different characters from the show for reference.
Using your bolt cutters, cut varying lengths of the tension wire, making sure to cut them longer than the legs themselves as these will be going a few inches into the foam characters.
Line up all your varying lengths of foam legs and spray paint with your colors. Let dry.
Drill a small hole into the foam where the legs and arms will go, squirt hot glue inside and insert tension wire. Hold for 30 seconds to let hot glue set.
Insert foam pieces and then hot glue where leg meets body. There may be a better glue for this application but I have yet to find it. There is a crazy chemistry that goes on between different types of foam and glues. Hot glue will melt the pipe insulation and the foam board at times. At other times, it works fine. If the glue gun itself touches the foam legs, the foam will melt. There are options like styrofoam glue but it doesn't set quickly.Either way, this works for the time being.
The feet can be spray painted and immediately glittered and then left to dry. Once dry, hot glue to ends of legs.
Let everything set for a bit before moving.
Step 5: Finishing and preparing for install
For final details and extra dimension you can add things like bow ties and wigs and even cowboy hats! I found these little embellishments at Party City for very cheap.
For hanging these characters I drilled small holes into the backs with a squrt of hot glue and then inserted eyehooks. Once dry, I tied clear fishing line for hanging.
Making of video below. This also has the build for the 22ft Lady Rainicorn (coming soon)
Thanks for reading!