Introduction: Easy, Lightweight Antlers or Horns
I've recently seen tons of burlesque performers, hipsters, and photography models all over the internet wearing awesome elaborate antler head dresses. I thought one of those would be the perfect addition to my Lorax costume this Halloween, but I didn't have any real antlers handy and all the ones I saw in costume stores or online looked flimsy and fake. So...to the craft cave I went!
Unfortunately, I didn't take enough pictures to make a complete Instructable for the antler head dress, but I *did* also make a pair of horns for my housemate's devil mask using the same method! This method is cheap, quick, and fairly easy, and results in very lightweight horns/ antlers. The best part is you can adapt it to make horns or antlers of almost any shape or size. As an added bonus, several people thought the antlers on my head were real!
- Wire hanger
- Masking tape
- Aluminum foil
- Hot glue
- Acrylic paint (in whichever colors you need for your completed vision)
- Latex mask (for devil)
- Wire headband (for antlers)
- Fabric or felt (for antlers)
- Faux leaves, or other decorations (for antlers)
- High-temp glue gun
- Leatherman, or other pliers with wire cutting capabilities
Step 1: Form the Horns
- Decide what shape and size you want your final horns to be. It may be helpful to draw out your basic shapes before cutting the wire.
- **Careful. Hangers are very springy. You may want to wear eye protection for this step so you don't poke an eye out.** Straighten out an old wire hanger, and cut pieces to the appropriate lengths for your project. For the devil horns, I used 2 12-inch pieces.
- Bend a 1-inch segment of wire at a 90-degree angle to give the finished horns a way to attach to the mask or headband, then bend the remaining length of the pieces to match the final desired shape of the horns.
- Cover the wire frame in aluminum foil, sculpting the basic shape of the horn. This will be the same shape and size as your final product, so make sure there are no unwanted lumps or bumps.
- Wrap the foil structure from top to bottom with masking tape. This serves three purposes: (1) to smooth out the crinkles of the aluminum foil, (2) reinforce the aluminum foil and to hold together any pieces you may attach to the wire base, and (3) it allows paint to stick later on.
Step 2: Hot Glue Ridges!
This is the step that makes the horns or antlers look authentic and organic. If you've ever handled real antlers or horns, there are generally ridges in the bone that form lines or spirals around the horn. They tend to be more pronounced at the base, and then get less obvious toward the tip. Simply use a hot glue gun to draw ridges or spirals on your horns/ antlers!
**Careful. Hot glue is, perhaps obviously, HOT. Don't stick your fingers in it while it's cooling.**
Step 3: Layer on the Paint
- Working from lighter to darker colors, layer on acrylic paint to give the horns depth and texture. Allow paint to dry completely between layers.
- Once all base layers of paint have been added, use an accent color to highlight the hot glue ridges.
Step 4: Attach to the Mask
- If you're working with a purchased mask, remove the tiny little latex horns, being careful to match the hole to the size of the new horns you'll be attaching.
- I ended up removing the 90-degree bent section of wire at the base of the horns to attach them to this mask, since I didn't want the excess wire to jab my buddy in the head. Cover the exposed wire nub with hot glue, just to be safe.
- Hot glue away! As long as it doesn't go everywhere and ruin the look of your completely painted horns, there is no such thing as too much hot glue in this step. You want the horns/ antlers to be completely attached and stable enough to wear without falling off. I made a point to glue both the inside and outside of the devil mask, just for good measure.
Step 5: Antler Variation
- For the antlers, I used 2 12-inch pieces, 2 2-inch pieces, and 2 3-inch pieces of wire.
- Use masking tape to attach the smaller pieces of wire to the main branch of your antlers before wrapping with aluminum foil.
- When painting my antlers, I made the tips significantly lighter since deer and other creatures with antlers will rub them up against trees, etc. and cause wear near the tips.
- Leave the 90-degree bent section of wire at the base of the antlers so you can hot-glue them to a metal headband using that bend as an attachment tab.
- Once your antlers are securely glued, cover the headband with a soft fabric or felt to make it more comfortable to wear.
- Adorn with faux leaves, fabric flowers, jewels, or whatever else you want to make a fancy finished head dress! Again, hot glue is your friend.
Step 6: Rock Your New Horns!
Let the complements roll in as you strut a little taller than normal! These antlers were very comfortable to wear since they are lightweight and well balanced. This method would be perfect for making horns or antlers for Halloween, cosplay, a photo shoot, or just generally demonstrating your supernatural awesomeness.
If you happen to make your own set of horns or antler head dress, I'd love to see it! Comment below with your photos :)