Faux Metal Letters Made From “Melted” Styrofoam

Big foam block dissolved into plastic goo

I am a little obsessed with “melting” styrofoam lately. It is fun and crazy science and when you mix it with a little creativity you can make some interesting stuff.  It does take awhile to harden but once it does you have a lightweight sturdy shape that floats in water.

I am cringing a little as I think of all the times I have thrown away my take out containers and other foam packaging. But now that I know I can make hard plastic from it I will never have to do that again.

It is a simple process to “melt” the foam into a gooey substance using acetone but before you dissolve the foam you need a form to shape it. I have not tried a silicone mold and I don’t know if it would work as the acetone does melt some other plastics. Don’t ask me how I know this. 🙂

I have made the molds for my projects from cardboard boxes partly because I wanted to make my own shapes and partly because I like to re-use the boxes.

To make a cardboard mold start with a template. Trace the template on the a piece of cardboard.

Making a cardboard mold for styrofaom

Cut strips of cardboard and use hot glue to attach the sides of the mold. Be sure to keep the glue on the outside of the mold so it does not interfere with the finished shape.

Making a cardboard mold for styrofaom

Once the mold is completed it is time to dissolve the foam. Use pure acetone available from home improvement stores to dissolve the foam into a plastic goo.

Place the plastic substance in the mold and allow time to harden. (This shape and thickness took a couple of weeks.)

Dissolved foam in cardboard mold

Once the shape is hardened it is time to remove the cardboard. This is not very easy and does take some scraping, filing, soaking in water and scrubbing.

Removing foam shape from cardboard mold

(To be completely honest after all that I still didn’t get all the remnants of cardboard off but since I decided to paint the letters with a faux metal finish  I figured it would be OK.)

Plastic M made from foam

For the faux metal finish I used silver spray paint.

Plastic M made from styrofoam

To finish the antique look a small amount of black paint was brushed on and then dabbed off with paper towel.

Plastic M with faux metal finish

For more details, you can see the whole process here on a smaller project that I made a few weeks ago.

Just in case you didn’t think I was serious about my foam obsession, I made a second letter just for fun.

Faux Metal Letters made from styrofaom

Happy Upcycling

Faux Metal Letters made from dissolved foam


15 Replies to “Faux Metal Letters Made From “Melted” Styrofoam”

    1. Sorry I don’t know I have not used liquid fabric softener before but when it comes to crafting I will pretty much try anything. 🙂

  1. That is about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Do you know if it were pressed between two different sized bowls if the bowls could be separated? Or if it would stand up to the elements if it were used for planters outdoors in the garden?

    1. I like your idea. I am not sure if it would work or not. The project needs air to harden and until the foam goo is dry it is kind of sticky.
      But you could always give it a try.

    2. If I were using two different sized bowls/forms I would try either spraying with cooking oil (Pam, etc.) or wiping a small layer of vaseline on the surfaces the foam would touch. That should allow for a quick release. Vaseline would probably work for the paper, too.

  2. I really love this project. I never thought there was anything I could make with styrofoam. I will try either the spray oil or Vaseline in the mold and make my project outside. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Like this project MUCHLY! Thank you for sharing it.
    Regarding the sticking problem…would spraying the mould with oil spray not help in releasing the end product?

  4. Thank you for sharing Cindy,
    This is the best thing I have seen for up cycle in a long time. I see myself making allot of different things with hard to deal with foam.
    I have never liked it going to the dump.

  5. How are the fumes? I know pure acetone can be strong but I am not sure about the chemical fumes created by the dissolving of the plastic?? Does this need to be done in a well ventilated area?

    1. A well ventilated area is always a good idea. There are some other tips on the “dissolving” process in this video.

    2. a BRILLIANT idea! but I too wonder about any fumes that will, I’m sure be created during the melting of the styrofoam.
      Even if we can’t smell it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful.
      Sorry, don’t mean to be a wet blanket on what is a terrific idea, just want to be safe! Thanks for one great idea DN

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