Good for Halloween, for Fursuiting, for Festivals and Music gigs, for Lady Gaga wannabes, for Cosplay, or just for fun: some very lightweight, 3D curly or helix-shaped (helical?) horns. They are hollow, and the lights within them light up the night. The lights can even be seen during daylight - just not so bright. These horns are durable, but crowd-friendly. They have no sharp points, and each one weighs about 100gms (about a quarter of a pound). I read that the faun's amazing horns in Pan's Labyrinth weighed ten pounds! No comparison intended. My homemade horns pale into nothing beside those made by professional costume/prop makers.
These horns have ridges or 'growth rings' like real horns, and the lights shine out from between the ridges. At night they glow; switch the lights off during daylight, and they even sparkle on a sunny day! OK, so not everyone's a fan of glitter...
How was I going to make some horns which were all of the above? While walking through a gardening store I saw some topiary plant supports, and an idea started to form...
Supplies and Tools
Lay your twisted garden supports side by side. Don’t cut them yet. Decide
Use a marker to mark, on each garden support, the length you want, allowing a bit extra at each end for handling, and because part of the base is probably going to be hidden if it’s embedded in a headpiece or mask. Don’t cut them yet, as, unless you have some kind of clamping tool, or some kind of fixed pole to carefully bend them around, they are almost impossible to bend once they have been cut.
Bend each garden support just above where you used marker pen to mark the base of the horn. You have to bend them extremely slowly and carefully, because sometimes the garden support gets a kink in it, and it forms an angle instead of a curve. Bend to the appropriate curve: i.e., almost no bend for an antelope or similar, and an exaggerated bend for a goat or goat-like creature. Put the 2 garden supports side by side again, and if you’re OK with how they look, then go ahead and cut them with a hacksaw.
Take your tape and apply it to your garden support “horns”. Leave a small section of the base of the garden support ‘horns’ untaped. Build up the rest of the base of each horn by wrapping it in tape. Allow the tape to taper off to nothing when it gets near the tip of the horn. You now have some spare length at the base and at the tip of the horn, for handling purposes.
The garden support is about 1cm thick. If you thicken the part that ‘grows’ from the head to 3cm thick, by the time you get the outer shell finished, the completed horn will end up being about 5cm thick on the base – the part that ‘grows’ from the head. If you want it to be thinner or thicker at the base, wrap less or more tape.
I stupidly bought a 5 metre-length box of cooking/baking paper. It's way too short, and it ends up having to be joined. A join means the paper is more likely to get stuck inside the horn. Get 10 metres or longer. Preferably longer.
So take your roll of cooking/baking paper out of its box. Be careful with this next bit. Take a tough pair of scissors and stab a hole through all the layers - even the cardboard core - about 1 inch or 2.5cm from the edge. Cut all the way around, through all the layers - even the cardboard core. Try not to tear the paper – it’s easier to work with in one piece. Discard the bit of cardboard core.
Keep wrapping. Make plenty of overlap. Don’t leave any part of the garden support uncovered. It’s better to use too much baking paper instead of too little (the more slippery it is, the easier it will be to remove the twisted plant support 'core' later.) Wrap further than necessary – almost to the tip of the horn, and secure it with a rubber band at the tip. If the baking paper rips, or you run out, temporarily pin it while you start wrapping with another strip of baking paper; pin that too, then slide a rubber band over both, removing the pins. But joins should be avoided - they make it more difficult to remove the plant support core later.
Secure one end of the strip of baking paper to the thick end of the horn, and start wrapping it round the horn. You have to wrap kind of firmly, or the baking paper will just slip around. But not so firmly that the baking paper tears. Wrap it round a few turns, then use a pin or thumbtack or small rubber bands, whichever works best, to hold the end in place – it’s extremely slippery. I found that small rubber bands worked OK.
The crepe paper diffuses the light and gives a really nice glow - see attached photo. It's very inexpensive. A layer of crepe paper adds strength and durability to the horns. It's also great to work with because it's stretchy, and it comes in a million colours, from garish to dull. You can choose your crepe paper colour to match whatever theme you need - bright and sparkly, cute and pretty, raw and organic, or creepy/horror.
I tried using paint only, but IMO the crepe paper looked much better on the horns.
Take the coloured crepe paper out of its packet and cut straight across the top of it. Make your strip about 4cm (1 ½ inches) wide – if it’s any wider, it will not stretch well.
I find that foam glue works best for this next part. It seems to work better than PVA/school glue. So mix some foam glue with a little water. I make a mix of 2 parts glue to 1 part water.
Hold the tip of the horn, and start painting some glue from the base, to about half-way up the horn. Start wrapping the strip of coloured crepe paper, starting from a fraction below the base.
Stretch the crepe paper a little, but go carefully – too much stretch, and it will rip as soon as it hits the glue. If not stretched a little, it will go all baggy. Overlap the edges as you wrap, but by a very small, miniscule amount. If a small tear develops, ignore it, and keep wrapping. Small imperfections look natural - they look like real horns; and anyway, a small tear will be well disguised and almost disappear in the next step. If the tear is large, then overlap the crepe paper slightly more on the next turn. But don’t overlap too much – you want the lights to be able to shine through the thinness of the crepe paper.
Flip the horn and paint the top half with the foam glue/water mix, and wrap the crepe paper up to just past the tip of the horn. The horn could probably be stood on a heavy bottle while the top half gets painted and papered. Tuck the extra crepe paper under at the base and over at the tip of the horns, and paint some glue on to seal it. It gives a nice edge, and hides the green plant tie.The crepe paper will adhere nicely to the glue, but it will start to look slightly weird and areas of the soft plant tie will start to show in parts. The colour in the crepe paper may even run slightly in parts. This is all OK – it looks kind of raw and organic, and it will mostly be covered by the glitter paint and glue mix in the next step. Go straight on to the next step - don't let it dry. But it's not a catastrophe if it does dry a little.
The glitter paint needs to be clear or translucent. It has to be water-based. I found that the kind of glitter paint that we bought, well, it looked and acted more like glue than paint. Anyway, mix 1 part of water-based glitter paint with 2 parts of foam glue and 1 part of water. Mix it well. The reason for mixing it with a lot of foam glue is, I found that the glitter paint didn’t paint on well, on its own. It needs a lot of foam glue mixed with it, or (as I found out) it won’t stick to the surface properly, or spread smoothly. Add a little more water if necessary.
Take a flat, soft paintbrush – the kind that looks a bit like a pastry brush, but with softer bristles – and paint the glitter paint and foam glue mix onto the horn. Be extra careful of the crepe paper. Don’t touch any part of the painted section – the crepe paper will joyfully stick to your hands, and pull away from the horns!
Paint part way inside the tip and base of the horns, to avoid that paint or glue 'tan line'.
Take a look at your paint job. It won't look great. It will look uneven and lumpy, and the definition of the rings formed by the plant tie will be lost. Easily fixed. Clean the paintbrush and remove the excess water. Take the damp (NOT soaking wet) paintbrush and go over the paint, wiping and dabbing it into the areas between the plant tie rings and mopping up the excess paint at the same time. This will make the crepe paper cling to the plant tie, and give back the definition.
Allow to dry. It will go several shades darker when the foam glue dries and becomes transparent, and the colour of the crepe paper takes over. Flecks of glitter, suspended in the paint/glue, will also become visible.
A note about the Christmas, or 'rice' lights: once they're fully installed, they're not removable. Push them part-way into the base of the horns, switch them on and see how they look first. Different coloured lights can change the colour of the horns.
A further note about the Christmas, or 'rice' lights: the battery pack attached to the end of them is fairly big, and it wouldn't fit through the holes I had made in an old bike helmet. I found it easier to drop the lights into the horns AFTER I had hotglued the horns into the bike helmet - not before.
The Christmas lights can be doubled over to shorten their length, if wanted, as they are probably a lot longer than the horn and will hang out the base of it. If you choose to double the lights over, be careful not to bend kink or pull them too roughly.
I don't know if they help any, but the first four photos show the steps in this process:
Tie the sinker to the end of the piece of string, hold the horn upside down and drop the sinker into the wide end of the horn. Shake gently, to help the sinker along its way. When it comes out at the tip, tape the end (or the middle, if they are doubled over) of the Christmas lights to the other end of the piece of string, and carefully feed and pull the Christmas lights down into the horn. Do the same with the EL/glow wire lights, if using them. Hold the horn so that the lights are going in downwards – gravity will help get the lights in. If using the 'rice' Christmas lights, there’s no need to secure them in any way – they won’t come out. However, if using EL/glow wire lights, the ends need to be taped or attached in some way, just inside the tip of the horns.
The only thing left to do is hide each battery pack in your headdress, or in a hidden pocket or strap, and voila! Lighted horns.
I hope somebody tries out this method of making horns for Halloween, for Cosplay, for Fursuiting or just for fun :)