The difference between Smoothfoam and Styrofoam

smoothfoam versus styrofoamI never really knew just how many creative opportunities I was missing until I started working with craft foam in my projects. It’s such a wonderfully versatile material—the lightweight and bright white surface is a nice alternative to wood, chipboard or paper maché.

The two most common brands of rigid, dimensional craft foam are Smoothfoam™ and Styrofoam™. Both brands are made from polystyrene, but the manufacturing process is different for making each of their sheets, balls and other shapes.

What crafters need to know is how the difference in manufacturing impacts the surface – Smoothfoam (expanded foam – shown at the top above) is smooth and dense, while Styrofoam (extruded foam – bottom) is textured and crunchy.

Both kinds of craft foam can be used interchangeably in many types of projects, however they each also have unique properties that lend themselves better to certain techniques.

stylish foam crafts book lisa fulmerSmooth foam is lovely to paint, distress and heat-carve, and it hugs straight pins and wires tightly. Textured foam is great for dry floral arranging or when you need to easily poke in thicker items like chenille stems, and the texture is nice when you want a crystallized effect.

Both types of craft foam are inexpensive and very lightweight, making them ideal for centerpieces, garlands and wall art.

For more tips, techniques and tutorials, check out my new book, Stylish Craft Foam Projects!

Excerpt reprinted with permission from Fox Chapel Publishing

Valentine’s Day Paperweight Cube

smoothfoam heart paperweight cubeValentine’s Day is my favorite holiday of the year – all that pink, red and sparkly with liberal doses of chocolate. I mean what’s not to love about the holiday of love? My desk is a giant mess, so to keep certain papers in order (and also to honor the holiday), I made a Valentine’s Day paperweight cube. Smoothfoam is lightweight, but all the straight pins used to tack in the sequins gives this DIY paperweight cube some heft. You can decorate the sides any way you want – try adding photos inside the hearts and flowers.

You will need:

3″ Smoothfoam cube
Red acrylic paint
100+ silver sequins
75+ fuchsia/pink sequins
1 tube red seed beads (size 11/0; silver-lined)
1 tube pink seed beads (size 11/0 )
Washi tapes – red and pink patterns
Valentine-themed scrapbook paper
Card stock – pink, yellow, fuchsia, hot pink
4 pink head pins
2 packs silk steel pins
Scalloped circle punch
Felt heart stickers
Red craft felt
Craft glue
Sponge brush, scissors, pencil, ruler

smoothfoam heart paperweight cube top

1.  Paint the cube with two coats of red. Allow to dry in between coats.

2.  Cut a 3″ square from the Valentine-themed paper. Fold it in half, draw half of a heart shape and cut it out.

3.  Glue the paper heart to the top of the cube, let dry, then glue a felt heart to the center. With a pin, pick up a red bead and then a pink sequin (with the cup side facing up) and push it into place along the edge of the heart. With a pin, a pale pink bead and a silver sequin, edge the square with sequins.

4.  Cut four 3″ pieces of washi tape. Pin a row of silver sequins with red bead on the edge of one side of the cube. Lay down one strip of wash tape. Pin 2 rows of silver sequins with red beads,  lay down another strip of washi tape. Continue in the same pattern until the side is covered. Add more silver sequins/red beads to the top and bottom edges of the cube face.

5.  On the next side of the cube, glue another paper heart to the center. Pin an outline of silver sequins with cup side facing up.  Stick a felt heart to the center.

ObermeyerHeartCube3s6.  Cut 7 pieces of washi tape and cover the next side of the cube face. Punch or cut a flower from the pink card stock (I used my Accucraft machine). Position the flower in the center of the cube with a punched scalloped circle in the center. Pin red bead/silver sequins around the flower center. Edge it with a pink sequin and red bead.

7.  Repeat step 6, but use a different washi tape and different color flower.  Use silver sequins with a red bead throughout.

ObermeyerHeartCube48.  Push pink ball head pins into each corner of the bottom of the cube for feet. Customize this DIY paperweight for any holiday or celebration!