Back when I was working on my Wild Things costumes I went to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse and bought a bunch of pieces of recycled foam. One of those pieces was a broken foam mannequin. She was made out of old molded foam and had a bar running down the center where she had been previously attached to some sort of stand. I though that I would just be able to cut her up and and turn her into Wild Thing feet but the top layer of the foam was really flaky and gross and ended up shedding all over the apartment. I ended up keeping her out on the balcony while I tried to figure out what to do with her. After a few months of her sitting outside exposed the elements (becoming crustier by the day) I decided that I would either have to do something with her soon or throw her out. I didn't want to let such a good find go to waste, so I got a coping saw and set out to turn her into a working dress form.
I didn't get any pictures of the process because it was very, very messy, but basically I had to saw away at all the top layers of foam (luckily the foam on the inside was in much better condition) to sculpt her down to fit my measurements. The original mannequin was a few sizes bigger than me so the sculpting process took a considerable amount of time. Once she was about the right shape I made a stand for her by epoxying a galvanized pipe fitting to the metal bar that was already running through her center. I then took one of my mask making armatures that already had a 3/4" pipe attached to it, added casters to the bottom, and screwed the dress form into a 1/2" to 3/4" reducer. Now I have a rolling armature that I can change out between my dress form and my masks and I can raise and lower the form just by changing out the length of pipes!
The final step was to cover her so that she wouldn't shed anymore. I got some rolls of white duct tape and covered the sculpted foam, trying to smooth out my rough cuts in the process. I'm quite happy with the final result! She's a little funky and a little bumpy, but I'm proud of her and she'll serve my purpose well. I stopped by the Depot again after I had finally finished and picked up a few vintage patterns (for $.75 each! Hooray!). I've been sewing little odd costumes and toys most of my life, but I've never really taken on the challenge of constructing my own clothing. I'm excited to get started! And of course, I'll post pictures here of any projects that I have in progress.