Nailed It! DIY Horns

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Nailed-ItToday’s Nailed It! comes from YouTube.

This awesome idea with Cosplay potential is by KlairedeLysdotcom, and if you visit her YouTube channel you will be impressed with the beauty of her makeup tutorials and high quality of her photography.  This video has been on my to-do list for a long time, because if I could unlock how to make realistic horns that wouldn’t cause massive headaches when attached to a headband, my business would really start to take off during convention season.  So, I decided to take this on with my camera in my hand to see if it is as easy as Klaire makes it look.

 

 

First off, I had to gather the materials.  On the video, Klaire mentions that she uses “Play-doh” to make the horn shape.  Watching the video I immediately notice that I have never seen Play-doh that came in that large amounts in industrial beige.  So I checked on Amazon.com, and failed to come up with that stuff; so I assumed it to be modeling clay.  Of course, I was unable to get my hands on a large amount of beige modeling clay, and took an alternative route: I bought a large package of multi colored clay sticks and smashed them together.  Everything else was pretty much what I had on hand: water, white kitchen towels (paper towels), PVA glue (Aleene’s tacky glue), spare paper (old phone book), cotton for stuffing, and plastic wrap (not pictured) .

IMG_20140317_081211
Gathered ingredients to make my own horns

  The beginning was the most fun for me: make the horn shape.  I wanted to make simple pan horns, so I rolled two slightly bent and slender tapered cones using 6 sticks of modeling clay each.  However, I decided that these might be too small for a first try.  Plus, they kept slowing bending back towards the table when I put them upright.

Roll the modeling clay into my shape; get the horns to stand straight up; realize that they really want to fall down
Roll the modeling clay into my shape; get the horns to stand straight up; realize that they really want to fall down

So, I restarted – with double the amount of sticks per horn – and made ones that resembled what Klaire made.  So far her instructions were easy: make a horn, and make the other one to match but in the opposed direction.  Next I had to wrap the amazing Technicolor horns in plastic wrap.  This is to keep the ensuing papier mache from permanently adhering to the clay, preventing its eventual removal.  I had trouble getting the last little bit sticking down, which bothered me.  So I pinned it down with just a little tape.  This will haunt me later.

New horn style, bigger, and more swirly; make the left side match the right side; cover each evil horn in a protective layer of plastic wrap.
New horn style, bigger, and more swirly; make the left side match the right side; cover each evil horn in a protective layer of plastic wrap.

Here we come to my first major problem.  Klaire’s instructions are to add PVA glue to a pan, and “add water” to make the liquid paste for the paper.  It is here that it is obvious that she has done this a few times, because it works perfectly for her.  As a scientist I can tell you, it did NOT work perfectly for me.  PVA glue is thicker than Elmer’s glue, but is still already a paste.  Adding not enough water does nothing to its density.  Conversely, adding too much turns it into pretty much just white water.  Klaire gives no instructions as to the ratio of glue to water, which drove me batty.  I tried a high glue mix first, and the paper did not soak up enough water to not stick to my fingers, making it useless for attaching smoothly to the horns.

I remembered to take a picture after about the fifth attempt at the PVA glue-water ratio; I just coudn't make this shape look like a proper horn.
I remembered to take a picture after about the fifth attempt at the PVA glue-water ratio; I just coudn’t make this shape look like a proper horn.

So I added more water, but this time I apparently added too much.  The glue-water absorbed readily into the paper.  But… it didn’t stick to the plastic wrap, to each other, or to anything at all, really.  I mean I couldn’t get this wet slop to stick to anything.  I tried long skinny strips like Klaire did.  I tried small patches of paper.  I tried fat strips, wringing out the excess glue-water, adding a piece and letting it dry.  I couldn’t do any of her cosmetic ideas: flattening the paper against the shape and smoothing out bubbles.  When I tried to smooth down a raised piece, most likely the piece slipped off the plastic onto my table.  Gah!

Another attempt at trying to make a smooth, awesome looking horn; closeup at my inability to smooth the paper into the paper.
Another attempt at trying to make a smooth, awesome looking horn; closeup at my inability to smooth the paper into the paper.

After several tries, almost emptying a brand new bottle of glue, I gave up before I decoupaged my office by angrily flinging wet glooey paper all over the place like a rampaging monkey.  I returned to my local hobby shop for help with papier mache, and found Cellu-clay.  It is basically newspaper that has been pummeled into grey dust, with the glue added to it and then dried into a soft, dusty brick.  You add water (they are specific about their water, amount and temperature) and mix until it is clay-like.  I did this enthusiastically with my hand.  It felt… interesting.  And the best parts are: it didn’t stick to my fingers, and was easy to clean by re-wetting.  Off I went covering the model horns with this wonderful grey glop.     And I found a couple of new problems.  It did indeed work… to start. As you can see by the picture above, it was very bumpy.  I tried to smooth it out, and it started falling off in glops.  Also, it didn’t like sticking to the plastic wrap either.  I got almost finished covering one horn and realized that I had no idea how to lay this down to dry without accidentally sticking it to the table.  I propped it up in a shallow plastic container, and the Cellu-clay left the horn for the plastic box as if attracted by magnetism.  Defeated, I stopped the papier mache altogether and scrapped the project.  I know it sounded like I didn’t work on this for very long, but I spent almost one whole day working on this.  This project was supposed to be fairly easy, and after a whole day of toil, this is all I have to show for it:

IMG_20140317_092815   Just so you know, this is the slightly covered horn, wrapped in muddied plastic wrap and Cellu-clay, that I threw into the grey sludge when I gave up.  Then my scroogy nature took over and I actually ended up with this:   IMG_20140317_093732   Two pounds of wetted and mixed Cellu-clay that I WILL find another use for.  The package said It should last like this for up to two weeks, so the clock is running.  However, I didn’t end up with horns that I could use in my hat and hair accessory making, which still has me rather upset.

Screwed

 

 

End result: SCREWED!

 

 

 

 

So I am looking for alternative methods for lightweight, at least semi-realistic horns that I can make.  I will return to you with any information I find, and eventually we can all look slightly evil together.


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