This Halloween I decided to make a faux beard of bees, Here is what I did.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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