Upcycle Cosplay

By Alicia Ballard

One of the most wonderful things about the cosplay world is the use of DIY techniques. In celebration of Earth Day, here are a few ways to upcycle materials into props!

If you find yourself with an event or convention approaching with a Mage/Wizard or Harry Potter costume planned, all you need is: an old book, some cardboard, paint, and craft glue to make a prop spell book.




I used the tools and supplies that I already owned to measure, draw, and cut. Once I had my pieces, I used craft glue to glue the pieces in place. For the strips around the spine I used a book press to hold them in place while they dried, but a stack of heavy books would work just as well.




Finally comes the paint.




You can weather the pages using tea bags, I have not done this step. It gives the pages an authentic look. I do suggest doing this step before gluing any of the cardboard pieces on, because they may make it difficult to open the book.




A quick and easy, but essential prop to any It cosplay is a paper boat. With just an old piece of paper, a folding tool, and some origami know-how you can be talking to a sewer clown in no time!




I used a slightly torn piece of cardstock, but any paper would work. It mostly depends on the level of detail you want. I also used this folding tool, but a stiff ruler would do the job too. First I fold my paper into a paper boat, if you need more instruction on the folding you can find how-to videos online.



After I fold, I add a little detail (this step is optional) and some clear tape on the seams to hold it together. Don’t want your boat unfolding in the middle of a convention! This prop is simple and easy to make, and once it’s time to take off the costume, the boat makes for a great shelf decoration!


Paper Boat Finished


Plastic can be found anywhere and everywhere. When you use anything with packaging, throwing it away can feel bad. Plastic can take upwards of 400 to 1,000 years to decompose. You can turn plastic into an array of various items, props, or faux-weapons. Here I will be demonstrating this by showing how I turn a plastic VHS case into a faux-flower.




I use a printed template and cut along until I have my shape. Then I take an old bobby pin and glue it on. Once it’s dry, I’m happy with it. Yet, you can paint, add petals, or make it any shape, whatever feels more natural to your cosplay!

Flower Finished


The possibilities are endless with cosplay, but every project doesn’t have to mean going out and buying an array of expensive material. You can find materials just by looking at the world around you!