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This Halloween I decided to make a faux beard of bees, Here is what I did.
 
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Step 1: Building The Mold

First I made a template to find out the size of my face using a piece of paper, i just held it up and drew the shape of a beard around my face.

Using the template as a guide I made a mold from foamcore.  I glued the pieces together with hot glue and covered the mold with papier-mâché to add rigidity. I made sure the mold had a lip around the perimeter.

Step 2: Preparing the Mold

Next I filled the mold with white modelling clay about a half inch thick all around.

Step 3: Making the Stamps

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I made three bee shaped stamps which I would use to imprint the clay in the mold.  These were made from sculpey polymer clay and baked for 15 minutes at 130 °F to harden them.

Step 4: Imprinting the Mold

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I used the stamps to imprint the bee shapes into the clay filled mold.  I used 3 stamps so that there would be less distortion in the clay around the imprints I had already made.  I slowly made my way around the mold varying the depth of the imprints.  

Step 5: Casting the Latex

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I used liquid latex from the art store to cast the beard.   I carefully brushed the latex into the mold in thin layers using a hobby brush I got at the dollar store. I decided to do 20 layers so that the beard would be quite strong and tear resistant.  Each layer took a few hours to dry. It is important to have as few air bubbles in the latex as possible you can use a hair dryer or blow through a straw to pop any persistent bubbles.

Step 6: Removing the Latex from the Mold

I shook some baby powder onto the latex to keep it from sticking together and used my hobby brush to distribute it evenly.  Then I slowly went around the perimeter of the mold and pulled the latex up a bit. After I made a few passes the latex came out of the mold quite easily with a bit of a zipper or velcro sound. I trimmed the excess latex around the edges with a pair of scissors.

Step 7: Adding Ear Hooks and a Strap/Speaker Mount.

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In order to wear the beard I needed to add a couple ear hooks and some rigid points to add a neck strap.

I used a few pieces of a bent clothes hanger for this.  I applied a couple of coats of latex before bonding them in place with more latex.  The neck strap mount would also hold a speaker to produce a buzzing sound.  

There are better pictures in later steps. 

Step 8: Painting the Beard

First I airbrushed a coat of opaque black on the whole beard, then I applied a dry brushing of opaque white. Next I airbrushed a yellow "candy" to dry brushed white.  I did some touching up with some amber, yellow and white dry brushing. I used a black sharpie to fill in the bee eyes and used a bit of clear nail polish to add gloss to the eyes.

Step 9: The Wings

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I created a image files with 70 pairs of bee wings on it which I had printed onto acetate(transparent sheets) at Staples. It cost me about 4 dollars for 4 pages. I then used an exacto knife and scissors to cut the wings out.  By using a dried out pen I was able to rub the wings to give them some wrinkles and depth like real insect wings. I kept the wings separated to avoid any confusion when I glued them on.  I used superglue gel to glue the wings to the latex.

Step 10: Connecting the Speaker, Adding a Strap

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I added a speaker to the clothes hanger inside the beard.  I downloaded a bee buzzing sound effect and set it to loop on my phone. The speaker cable will be hidden under my shirt. I added a strap made from clothing elastic and the clips from a cat collar I got from the dollar store

Step 11: Hero Bees

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I made a couple of "hero" bees to be accents on my beekeeper style hat.  These were made from sculpey polymer clay  with twist tie legs. they were painted similarly to the beard. I used more super glue to attach them to the hat.

Step 12: Wearing the Beard of Bees

Happy Halloween!
wannabemadsci2 months ago

Just amazing. Great detail in execution and in explanation.

foxconnmold7 months ago

Too cool!Very good

Bryan Smith2 years ago
Bravo! Very nice and original.
teruko2 years ago
How long did it take you to make your beard?
nsnip (author)  teruko2 years ago
It took around a month from start to finish including materials testing and design. It's difficult to estimate the exact hours of working time. Waiting for the latex to dry between each coats was the most time consuming part, but also the easiest ;)
teruko2 years ago
Quite possibly the best thing ever made by human hands.
That bee stamp you made has such amazing, realistic detail! Bravo!
pjkumpon2 years ago
This is so awesome on so many levels
nsnip (author)  pjkumpon2 years ago
Thank you!
Ballyman2 years ago
Lots of work and attention to detail!
nsnip (author)  Ballyman2 years ago
:)
turbobug2 years ago
good job, the bees look on the big side what reactions did you get?
nsnip (author)  turbobug2 years ago
Thanks, I made the bees larger than life for two reasons. I thought larger bees would be more recognizable and the bigger the bees the less time I had to spend painting and gluing wings.
poofrabbit2 years ago
Wow this is awesome, what a clever idea!!
nsnip (author)  poofrabbit2 years ago
Thanks
How cool!!!! Points for most original, as far as I have seen!
nsnip (author)  stringstretcher2 years ago
Thank You!
kcli2 years ago
Too cool! As a beekeeper I wanna try this next year. You got my vote ;-)
That is so detailed. Amazing work! :D
nsnip (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Thank you very much!
stevie32 years ago
That is AWESOME! You've just given me ideas for several projects. Thank you for the detailed work. WOW! Awesome!
nsnip (author)  stevie32 years ago
I can't wait to see your projects!
mikeasaurus2 years ago
Ha! Well done, sir!
nsnip (author)  mikeasaurus2 years ago
Thank you!
At first glance I thought it was the real thing. I especially love the hero bees, but the whole thing is awesome.
nsnip (author)  Dominic Bender2 years ago
:)
ceanes2 years ago
wonderfull, piece of art
nsnip (author)  ceanes2 years ago
Thanks
awesome work! gotta ask though... why? what was your inspiration?
nsnip (author)  desertsniper2 years ago
Thanks, I think a beard of bees is a hilarious costume.
This is so awesome! You did a beautiful job on painting those bees realistically!

I probably won't make the bee thing but I might have to borrow your latex/molding technique! haha
nsnip (author)  Julianne fights Dragons!2 years ago
Thank You!