Introduction: Brain Coral Headpiece

About: I'm an artist, designer, and illustrator. For a more extensive view of my work and recent projects, I'm on Instagram at paul_j_maguire

Wearable sculpture with undersea theme. Lightweight and dramatic, can be made cheaply with simple supplies.


Black foam core 3/16" thick

Craft knife, straight edge

Cutting board

Hot glue gun

Elmer's glue


Round form: plastic dome, yoga ball, or form of your choice.

Flat paint brush

Styrofoam head form

Plastic tub

Glitter (fine)

Marker or tape

Step 1:

Cut foam core into 1/2" strips, then cut across the strips at slight alternating angles. Flip every other one. When they're all oriented short side down and placed side by side they will describe a curve. the drawing exaggerates this process.

Step 2:

Bend your pieces by crimping them manually. For tighter curves cut a few angled slots. Apply hot glue and hold until set.

Step 3:

When you've got a handful of these ready, attach them end to end with hot glue while standing them on edge over your dome/ball/form. (My dome is 12" in diameter)

Step 4:

From time to time you'll need to chamfer the edges to get them to line up correctly.

Step 5:

Continue one at a time.

Step 6:

If you want a guide to work from, use a marker or tape to indicate your design directly onto your form. There are images of Brain Coral on the web that you can use for inspiration. I used skinny tape on the inside of my plastic dome as a rough guide, visible in these photos.

At the end of every hot glue session go back and add Elmer's glue to every joint for extra strength.

Step 7:

To decorate your coral, apply Elmer's glue a little at a time with a brush like the one in the photo demonstration. Add glitter, repeat. Do this over a tub (glitter gets everywhere). In the photo I'm posing with one of my test mock-ups. You may make the sides a different color from the outer edge. If so, do the sides first, edge last.

Step 8:

Finished Brain Coral, detail.

Step 9:

Make a headband out of 1" foam core strips, hand-curved and glued together. This photo shows one cross piece going side to side. I added another going from front to back.

Step 10:

The mock-up in this photo shows the support "stems" for attaching the coral to the headband. I used three of these. I reinforced the points of attachment with a shortened and sharpened toothpick buried inside each tip, as shown in the drawing. This also provides additional strength to the support.

Step 11:

Glue securely with Elmer's. Test placement first on styrofoam head. Cover the foam core band with a wide cloth headband of your choice. I made one from an old black t-shirt plus a few sequins. The finished headpiece weighs 7 ounces.

Finally, vacuum up. Glitter gets everywhere.

Step 12:

Go out and dazzle people at the event of your choice! In this case, Coney Island's Mermaid Parade. Cheers!