We get a lot of inquiries from customers asking how to make fake rocks for a play, or how to make paper mache prop rocks for a wide variety of different uses ranging from zoos and water parks to TV shows, concerts, and trade shows.
While small fake rocks are relatively easy to make, larger faux boulders become much more of a challenge to make realistically.
In many cases, prop rocks are not necessarily single use items. Meaning they will be used, put away in storage, and used again at a later date. The main problem we see when people make fake rocks out of cardboard, foam, or paper mache isn’t necessarily appearance, but durability.
How To Make Prop Rocks That Last
Materials like foam, cardboard and paper mache are not very durable and do not hold up very well especially in the types of environments where these prop rocks are often used. They can be kicked, sat on, thrown around by stage hands etc. It’s not easy being a DIY prop rock!
This is why people often inquire on how to make polystyrene rocks because it is not only extremely durable but can also produce very realistic rock-like textures and colors.
The problem for many is polystyrene rocks are molded, and molding this material requires the plastic to be melted and poured into a mold. These rock molds are extremely expensive and not very cost effective for producing only a few prop rocks for a stage performance, play, water park, trde show booth, etc.
It really all boils down to what you intend to use the prop rocks for. If it’s a one time use that does not require much durability, then making prop rocks from foam, paper mache or cardboard may suffice.
If you need prop rocks for a trade show, play, concert or other production requiring re-use, and durability then your best bet is a polystyrene prop rock that can handle being stepped on and thrown around.