Introduction: An Actual Sunhat

The sheer snazziness in this sunny hat is stupefying! I saw the Silly hat contest and this sprang unbidden from my subconscious. My favorite part of this project was surely the planets- they actually orbit the hat! I hope somebody out there takes a shine (quite literally) to this solar system!


One straw hat. Must be straw! I used an old fedora I had lying around, but a floppy wide-brimmed hat would be best to create the 'sunhat' effect and hold up any sagging planets

Paint, especially yellow/orange/red- you'll need a lot of those colors for the hat

Modeling clay such as Play-Dough, in assorted colors.

Black Pipe Cleaners; or better yet, just straight-up jeweler's wire (I didn't have any)

A shortish pencil, a bit bigger than the ones from IKEA

Drinking straws, because mistakes were made (only necessary if your wire is flimsy like pipe cleaners)

Fun and Imagination!

Step 1: Paint the Hat

As this is your hat, it's only fitting that you should be the star in the center-stage! Paint your chosen hat with a fiery mix of red, orange, and yellow in a camouflage pattern. If you want to look even more glam, add a very light dusting of glitter.

Step 2: Orbit Infrastructure Part 1

Alright, this is the tough part, the make-it-or-break-it. We will now have to make a system wherein the planets can orbit semi-normally, while still looking cool.

So the first thing we'll do is poke a hole right through the top of the hat with our IKEA pencil. This is where the 'must be a straw hat' part comes in. This pencil is going to be the center (axis? focus?) of our orbit around the sun, so paint it red-orangeish if it isn't already. You can add some fiery patterning if you like.

You are now going to secure this pencil in place using ANY MEANS NECESSARY (that doesn't disrupt the look). I used some Play-Dough to secure it on the inside and outside, making sure the glob on the outside was orange to match it to the hat. Hot glue would be another- and probably easier- option. You're welcome to try it out, just make sure the paint you are using works on it.

Almost done with this part! Make a disc out of clay and a bit of wire (just wire; you can unravel the pipe cleaners to get some), making it fit perfectly around the pencil. Stick it on there about an inch above the hat, making sure that it stays in place. I used a little cap on the tip of the pencil to hold it; use hot-glue if you must, and do the next step while waiting for the clay to dry.

Step 3: Orbit Infrastructure Part 2

In this step, we are making the varying orbits of the planets using wire. I used black pipe cleaners because a). They fit with the cool space theme and b). I didn't have any normal wire. These next steps can be rather time-consuming, so break out some music!

First, decide how big you want the largest orbit to be -mine was about 9 in (23 cm)- and cut a piece of wire about 2 in (5 cm) larger than that. This will be Neptune (sorry Pluto). Make a loop at one end so that it fits around the pencil without sliding off the disc, and bend the other end up 1/2 inch (1.5 cm). See pictures for reference.

Make THREE more of these same shapes with decreasing orbits, for each of the even-numbered planets (Venus, Mars, Saturn, and the aforementioned Neptune). Adjust the bold measurement depending on the planet the wire is intended for so that it's a bit more than the radius you'll be making it.

Now take one of the orbit sticks you've made and make another one a bit smaller than it, but without the loop on the end. Attach it to its partner stick as shown in the picture, or like this: '----------O------------'. I used clay to attach the second stick, as it kept flopping down. Do the same for the other three orbit sticks. You should now have four... double orbit sticks.

***IMPORTANT EDIT: When the project was nearly finished, I realized that pipe cleaners are Not Structurally Sound Materials, and had to improvise. If a) You used pipe cleaners or b) Your orbit sticks start to flop, reinforce them by encasing them with the drinking straws, painted black. That's all they are needed for. Onto the next step!

Step 4: PLANETS!!!

The final, and most fun step! Optionally, you can enlist the help of a kid or two- it's a fun activity for them and you can rest your hands for a bit. You (and your minions) are going to make small clay models of each of the planets. Some of my tips for the less straightforward ones:

Earth- You can either mix blue, green, and white clay to get a marbled effect, or make small patches of each color and layer them on the planet. Add a little moon to the planet by carefully skewering it on some wire.

Jupiter- This can either be light reddish-brown or marbled white/maroon/dark brown, but the red spot has to be added separately. Don't make it too big!

Saturn- Just make a thin circular band of marbled grey-white, and have it sit flush against the planet. Since the planet is so small, there's really no need to raise it up.

Step 5: Enjoy!

Stick each of the planets on their corresponding orbit sticks and carefully place them onto the clay disc from step 2- it should definitely be dry by now. You can add a final disc on top to keep the planets from falling off.

That's really all there is to it! If you want to beautify your Sun-hat a bit more, consider adding glitter onto the sun, extra stuff like comets or a wormhole, or spaceships and UFOs. I hope you like it!

Silly Hats Speed Challenge

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Silly Hats Speed Challenge