I had some ideas for Halloween costumes pop into my head the other day and one that really stood out was a crow beak with bird talons wrapping around the head. I sketched the idea on some scrap paper and the idea began it's weekend journey.
For costumes I generally use cheap easy-to-use household materials like paper mache. Here is my list of materials:
* 3 feet of household electrical wiring ( for armature)
* aluminum foil
* masking tape
* white glue ( for paper mache)
* spackling mud
* paints (gloss black spray paint or acrylic) and Rub n Buff Spanish copper
* black feathers
Step 1: Armature
In this step I made a stiff bendable frame using two 18 inch pieces of 12 guage NM wire that can be picked up at any hardware store. I bent one piece over my head into a crow beak profile shape and the other piece into a "C" shape. Near the crow beak intersection on the wire, I cut the insulation to expose the wires inside. Then I pried up one of the wires and inserted the "C" shaped wire to it's center and wrapped it in many layers of tape.
*If I made this again I would add 4 inches to each talon so the mask wraps around the head better.
Step 2: Shaping With Foil and Tape
Using aluminum foil and masking tape, I filled out the general form of a beak and talons by loosely wrapping the foil around the armature wires. I kept the foil "fluffy" and used tape to lightly wrap everything. This step is just general shaping so fine details aren't too important here.
At this point I test fit the shape on my head and bent as needed while it was still flexible.
Step 3: Elastic Band
Here two pieces of elastic strap were attached. I tied knots in the end of each strap and taped each one with the knot to the talons. I wrapped with several layers of tape.
This band is just tied on the back on the head to keep things snug.
Step 4: Paper Mache
For paper mache I generally use torn newspaper in a paint pan with a mixture of 2 parts warm water and 1 part white glue; tearing the paper into small strips for sharp contours and round shapes. Then I drape on a few layers while letting each layer dry before adding the next. This step takes the longest so I set the mask in front of a small heater to speed things up. At the end I spread on a coat of white glue to make a light shell.
Step 5: Hot Glue and Shell
Details and surface prep are applied in this step. With the hot glue I first added a beak ridge, then some rings around the talon connection to the toe.
Next I mixed some prepared spackling mud and white glue with a 1:1 ratio. This makes a sandable "bondo" shell that is pretty strong and safe to work. With a paint brush I spread the mix thinly over the entire mask and let it dry. I then sanded until the shapes were satisfying and added more mix to areas as needed. Then at the end I coated everything with white glue for another shell layer.
Step 6: Paint and Finish
Toward the end I noticed this needed to look better so I added texture lines with hot glue to the toes and a sharp beak point with thick paper and more mud. After drying and sanding, I painted gloss black onto all surfaces. Some areas looked too shiny so I added an acrylic matte coating to reduce shine. I also hot glued black feathers where the beak and talons connect.
One last cool paint effect was adding Spanish copper Rub n Buff to the toes.
This was not super comfortable (duh, its claws on your head) so I glued some EVA craft foam on the underside to cushion the talons. I plan to wear this with a black hooded cape and black face paint with yellow eyes painted on my forehead. I'll add a photo later.