Introduction: Beard of Bees Costume

About: I'm a video editor by trade but enjoy making all kinds of things to entertain myself and others.
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

Happy Halloween!

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