Today I’m going to show you how I build all of the risers for my Funko Pops collection. I learned how to create these myself via trial and error; if you find ways to improve upon my method then please let me know!
First things first, you’re going to want to create a suitable work area as things will get a little messy. I put down two large plastic trash bags for two reasons 1. they won’t stick to the glue and therefore risers like newspapers will and 2. I didn’t have any newspapers. Once you setup your work area, you will need the following supplies:
- Dry Foam Bricks (found in the floral crafts section)
- Mod Podge (the bigger the bottle the better because you will be using a lot)
- Yards of Cloth (any color though cotton is preferable, 1 Yard goes a long way)
- Scissors (to cut the cloth obviously)
- 1″ Soft Bristle Paint Brush (don’t use a foam brush, that would be BAD)
- Little Wooden Sticks (toothpicks will also work but rougher texture are better)
- Boxcutter Knife (this is just if you need to cut the bricks so it’s Optional)
Only use Dry Foam and not Wet Foam bricks. The latter won’t work too well for our purposes. The size you want for Pops is shown in the photo at right or 2.6″ x 3.4″ x 7.8″. Pops are about 3.4″ tall so these are perfect for our risers! I buy all mine at Joann Fabrics with coupons so they’re anywhere from $3 to $5 a piece for a 6 pack of bricks. There are countless types of Mod Podge out there in just about every store’s crafts section. Just get the basic matte finish in the large cheap bottle and not any of the fancy stuff. As for the cloth, cotton is the easiest to work with for our purposes and lighter colors won’t show dust like darker colors will so that’s why I chose white cloth. If you’re not familiar with cloth sizes; a yard goes a long way. If you’re only make a few risers, start with one yard of cloth. If you’re going to make like a dozen risers then get about two to three yards of cloth just to be safe.
Step one is to take the foam bricks out of their packaging and plan your risers. It’s always best to plan ahead before you get started doing something you can’t undo! As you can see from my photo, I had to cut some of them to fit the shelf just right. I used the box cutter to do this since I could extend the blade long enough to cut almost completely through the brick. This will create a bit of green dust wherever you cut them so keep that in mind when cutting the bricks. I also needed to see just how many bricks I needed to fill this shelf with risers. Keep in mind you will only need to cover what is visible with cloth meaning that top row of bricks and that first row of bricks. That bottom second row can remain as-is for now. We will be doing something to them but that’s for later. Now that I now what I need, we can begin to get really messy!
No matter how many bricks long you want your risers, I recommend breaking them up into parts of three or four bricks at most. For instance, my widest Marvel shelf is six bricks across but I broke the risers up into two pieces of three bricks each. This is for stability reasons and it makes things easier should you ever need to move the risers from place to place.
So, here we have three bricks that we’re going to make our first riser with. To give them some added stability and to hold them together better, we’re going to use those little wooden sticks I told you to get. Just stick three or so in one side of a brick then try to even up the next brick and connect the two. (It’s best to do this on a flat surface with a flat wall behind you so you can line them up as best as possible. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up with off-center bricks and it’s a little difficult and messy to fix them.) Repeat this step to connect the third brick to the first two bricks. You could also put some Mod Podge in-between the bricks but I find that unnecessary. The sticks will do well enough for now and later the cloth will hold all the bricks tightly into place.
Next comes measuring out the cloth and cutting said cloth. I forgot to take a photo of this step. What you need to remember here is that you don’t need to cover the entire riser with cloth; just cover what will actually be seen which is the front and top with a taper over the bottom and back. The sides are a little hit or miss for me but you’ll see more of that later. You can kind of see how I cut the cloth for my riser in the next photo where I began to attach the cloth to the riser.
Once the cloth is cut, it’s time to take out the Mod Podge and paint brush. Cover the back of the riser with a semi-thick layer of Mod Podge using the brush to paint it onto the bricks one by one (don’t pour it onto them!!!) The reason you cover the entire back and not just the part where the fabric will go is because the Mod Podge works as a sealant to seal in the foam. Maybe you noticed that it’s kind of crumbly and dusty by now? This will help with that. Once you have the back covered with Mod Podge, fold over the edge of the top edge of the cloth onto the bricks and gently press it down while also tugging at the long edges to help pull the bricks together more.
By the way, you don’t have to be perfect at cutting cloth for this. I’m certainly not and my scissors are awfully dull as you can see from the photos. The edges of the cloth will go on the back and bottom of the risers so no one will be seeing them. Yay! Also, don’t worry about getting Mod Podge all over your hands and letting it dry. It’s water based so it washes off easily with soap and warm water… unlike super glue but that’s another story entirely.
Once you get the cloth edge into place, you’re going to want to paint some more Mod Podge onto this. Paint it directly onto the cloth edge you just placed to seal it into place and smooth it completely down. I find that painting across the edge first and then diagonally from the top of the cloth down to the exposed brick is best. Now repeat for the bottom of the riser; cover the bottom with Mod Podge, tighten the fabric over the bottom remembering to also pull lengthwise to further pull the bricks together, then paint more Mod Podge over the edge of the fabric you just placed to seal it and smooth it down.
Don’t worry about doing anything to the front or top of the riser. This will leave the cloth soft for your Pops and make the cloth brighter/less green. You could use Mod Podge on all of the brick to completely smooth down the fabric like I used to but you’ll end up using a LOT of Mod Podge that you don’t really need to use and this takes less drying time. I’ve made risers both ways. I like this new way I’m showing you best.
Okay, the edges of the risers are a little hit or miss for me mainly because I never seem to get the cloth centered quite right when I’m gluing it down so I end up with what you see in these two photos. The main thing is to completely paint over each edge with Mod Podge then fold the edges of the cloth over, painting each edge down with more Mod Podge until you get it all glued down, smoothed out, and sealed. Depending on where you are going to put your risers, the edge may be seen so keep this in mind when you’re building them. If you’re putting them in a bookcase, no need to worry about a thing as long as you smooth them down as much as possible. If you’re putting them on a exposed shelf, you might want to think about something to hide the edges with.
Now you should be done with the messy part and your riser should look something like the photo on the right. Depending on the humidity in your locale, give it a few hours to dry completely before putting the riser in place where you want to display it and maybe wait a full day before putting any Pops on it… just to be safe. To know when it’s dry, the white of the Mod Podge will turn completely clear and it won’t be at all sticky but you probably guessed the latter.
Now that the risers are finished and dry, it’s time to connect them all together on the shelf to the base bricks that no one will ever see. I am making two levels of risers here so I can show off three rows of Pops on each of my shelves. To make sure the risers stay in place, I am using more of those little wooden sticks to connect the finished risers to the base bricks to lock everything in place. (Ignore that one riser that is completely covered in cloth. That was my first attempt at a riser some years ago before I perfected my method.) Use the sticks on the exposed parts of you finished risers on the backs and the bottoms.
Now we’re all done and we can start putting Pops on our risers! (Note: about half of the risers seen in the photo were ones I crafted a few years ago, I only crafted the ones on the middle shelf and one on the bottom shelf as of yesterday and today.) Yay! I haven’t gotten around to figuring cost for these risers yet but they are definitely a lot cheaper than their acrylic alternatives and a lot more fun to make. They also have less chance of causing splinters or grievous injuries than their wooden counterparts.
For the most part I am done… with my Marvel shelves that is… until my two new shelves arrive then I’ll need to make more new risers… plus, I need to make a few new risers for my other Pops sections. A collector’s work is never done, or so it seems!