If you know me by now, I am always on the hunt for a cheap, fun and genius project to hand off to you guys. The star of this project comes in the form of black pipe insulation. This is the perfect vehicle for making light (relatively durable) chains. What’s great about the pipe insulation is it’s already black and most of them these days are slit down the middle with a heavy adhesive ready to go.

Now, you could use pool noodles. You know I love me. a good pool noodle project, but then you have to split it down the middle, paint it, blah and so on. This is incredibly easier and the end result is pretty damn neat. These chains are a little less “realistic” and more in the spirit and fun of the display. Also, the detail is minimal so in bright lighting it’s very clear these are foam pieces. With the right Halloween lighting, they look cool as hell!

Let’s gather some supplies:

  • Pipe insulation
  • Serrated knife
  • Marker (I used a silver Sharpie)
  • Ruler or yard stick
  • Spray paint or acrylic (orange, brown, or rust colored)
  • Low temperature glue gun (optional)

The steps couldn’t be any easier and here are some tips too to avoid some headaches along the way. Start by measuring out and marking the pipe insulation where you want to make your cuts so that they have an even thickness. I went with half an inch. It’s not too thick and not too thin when it breaks apart easily.

Measure twice!

Once you have the insulation marked, use the serrated knife and cut through the insulation. A box cutter will not cut it as well and you will have to work harder. If you want a cleaner line you can use a wire foam cutter. Cut one loop at a time and then peel the adhesive tape off and link the loop together pushing it hard so it sticks.

In theory, cutting all the links first then piecing them together makes the most logical sense, but this adhesive tape tends to come off as you cut it and the adhesive starts to dry as it hits air. While this is tedious, it will work a lot better and you will have a much stronger chain. Trust me, I have tried both methods. If for some reason your adhesive is weak or not working at all, you can use a low temperature glue gun. You don’t need much and the glue will burn some of the foam so go light.

As I mentioned above, these don’t have fine details, but I want to add some detail to give these chains a little more character. Using either acrylic or spray paint, I wanted to create a rusted effect. I used a rust colored orange and a brown spray paint to give it that illusion. REMEMBER: spray paint eats foam so spray lightly and from a distance. If using acrylic paints, go lightly as well and alternate dabbing the colors. If your plan is to use these outside, be sure to seal the paint.

Because these are a rounded chain, it doesn’t necessarily represent the oval shape most chains have. If you would like to create an oval shape, I would use a heat gun to warm the foam up and shape the oval and then set something heavy on top (like a sack of flour) overnight to help keep its shape.

And that’s it! Happy crafting!

Any questions? Please let me know

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