Walkthrough - Making a Headdress
Article by Laura Sindall (Sands) posted Tuesday 9th December 2008
This is just a general tutorial on how I make the basic shape of my headdresses, with a few suggestions on how to make various accessories that may protrude from your headdress.
- Chicken Wire
- 3mm Gauge Wire
- Masking Tape
- Paper Mache – Wall paper paste, Uni bond, Water
- Paper Pulp/Clay
- Sand Paper
- PVA/ Varnish
- Spray Paint
- Get the chicken wire and place it over your head. Push it down and around your head, so when you lift it off you have a dome shape of your head. Cut excess chicken wire off and bend the edges so they are all smooth. You should end up with what looks like a little skullcap made out of chicken wire.
- With your 3mm gauge wire (you can use other wire but I find this is the most practical) cut pieces the length of the skullcap. Run them up and over the chicken wire so they go from the front to back. Keep pressing the skullcap over your head so it retains the shape of your head. Put as many of these wires in as you like. They act as support wires and just make the headdress stronger. You can also build up over your skullcap with the chicken wire to get the desired shape of your headdress.
- If you have any large shapes that come out of the headdress make a decision as to what material is best to make this out of. Consider weight, stability, and practicality!
Eg 1. My Hideyoshi sunrays are plywood with holes drilled into the back that have wire attached it to the skullcap.
Eg 2. Orochi snakes are made out of mount board with wire stitched onto them that run into the headdress. I covered the wire with raised craft foam details.
- If you want to line it with felt then go for it, I’m often too lazy and just make sure I have no hard edges jutting into my head! Hideyoshi is my only lined one! Now cover the top of the skullcap in masking tape. Do it in medium sized strips, making sure the entire things covered.
- Get your paper mache out and start paper macheing that headdress! I make my paper mache out of unibond, wallpaper paste and water. DON’T cut the newspaper, rip it, the torn edges blend much better and don’t leave hard edges or lines. Let it dry for a day or 2.
- Check the paper mache, you might want to put more layers on. If not then it’s onto paper pulping! I always mix mine to a runny porridge consistency and have a big bowl of water next to me. Take small handfuls of it and press it onto your headdress. Keep wetting your hand and rub it in small circles so that it smoothes out over your headdress. Keep doing this till the entire headdress is covered. Now leave it in an airing cupboard for 2-3 days.
- Once TOTALLY dry sand that thing down like its nobodies business! If you have an electric mouse sander it’ll make it a lot faster but I’m cheap and use sand paper and watch 5 episodes of deal or no deal while mind numbingly sanding.
- Ok so you now have a smooth headdress, but you need to seal it so you can paint/spray it. I personally use paint varnish, it gives me a finer finish than PVA, which tends to clump up and not have such a runny consistency! Give it 2-3 coats of varnish/PVA.
- Now paint away! I usually prime first, either with poster/emulsion paint or prime spray paint. Then just spray paint it with your desired colour and hey presto! One lovely headdress. FINISHED
- Sometimes I add a strap to keep the headdress on my head. You can either stitch in elastic though I prefer to use the same kind of straps you would find on a bike helmet.
- I often use craft foam to add details, such as the front cap and side frills on Hideyoshi, and the raised details on the blue wings on Orochi.
- If the headdress is heavy at the back I stuff a load of lead at the front of the headdress to act as a counterweight…bizarre I know but you’ll be safe from aliens reading your thoughts! Jenova is extremely heavy (over a stone!) as the entire front is lined with lead.
- Its best to add any side details on after you’ve finished smoothing down the main dome section and sprayed everything else keeps everything neater.