Introduction: Maleficent Costume & Props

About: I am a maker, DIY'er, Dad, Engineer, and all around life Long Learner. My mission is to try new things, attempt to do more by learning from others and share my experiences with others for enjoyable experience…

Grimm's Fairytale of Sleeping Beauty and the villainess, Maleficent was the perfect project to test out my new 3D printer! After seeing the Disney live action movie starring Angelina Jolie, I thought... "Hey, she's not that bad of a person" so let's make a costume showing her real side! As queen of the fairies, and her power over nature, I felt it more appropriate to make her skull cap less evil looking and more organic. I also thought her walking staff was a great opportunity to bring an egg design that could light up and show off her powers! If you study the movie you will find she has a variety of features - a number of rings (yes, the raven skull ring appears briefly) and her horns are a deep brownish/bronze - not black. So this costume is more true to the real maleficent as I saw her.

The costume consists of the following:

- Head piece with horns and detailed skull cap

- Neck Choker with feathers for a fluffy collar look

- Walking Staff that lights up Red, Green or Blue on command

- A Walking Staff activator Talon Ring

- A Raven's Skull Accent Ring with Purple LED Eyes That light up with a tilt switch.

  • However... the dress and cape are your choice!

Materials: (Electronics noted farther below)

Staff: Scrap wood easily ripped into strips and sanded. Wood Glue. Brad nails. Paper covering (wood glued strips). Jute twine. Hot melt glue. 1" x 1.5" pvc sheet 1/16th thick (Battery cover). 3D printed egg and 3D printed egg stem. Epoxy. Acrylic Paint - Brown, Black, Umber, Purple, Green.

Talon Ring: Sheet of copper, or brass (solder-able). Solder. Solder flux.

Skull Ring: 3D printed Skull, Hot melt glue, Liquid rubber electrical coating - Black. Black feathers.

Head Piece: 5 mm craft foam (Skull Cap). 2 mm Craft foam (Accents). Contact cement. PL400 Foam Adhesive (FOAM COMPATIBLE !!!). R5 Pink Insulation foam 2" thick. Hot Melt glue. Plastic Hair Headband (about 1" wide at top). 4 - #6 Screws 2" Long. 1/2" Wood Dowel 3" Long (4x). Acrylic Paint - Brown, Black, Umber, metallic bronze.

Choker: 15" Lace, 30" ribbon, Black feathers (2 types), hot melt glue, sewing machine / thread.


Staff: 2 - 10 mm RGB LEDs, 2 or 1 - 3Vdc 2032 Battery, Resistor ~ 25 - 30 ohms for 1 cell, or 50 hms for 6vdc (2 cells). Small piece circuit board or plastic. 2 - copper sheeting cut into disks for battery connections, wire, solder.

The LEDs are wired in parallel as shown in the figure. Assume they will draw 0.020 Amps each for maximum brightness over a 2 volt drop. I Designed the Stem to hold 2 - 3 vdc coin batteries, but when I added in the copper sheet connections, the tolerance got too tight and could only fit 1 battery in the stem. So either open up the slot in the 3D stem or get a thin connector and maybe holt melt glue it in for positive connection (see photo).

Raven Skull Ring: 2 - 10 mm purple LEDs, 1 - 3Vdc 2032 Battery, Resistor ~ 25 - 30 ohms, Tilt switch.

See the wiring diagram as they too are in parallel. The tilt switch basically causes the raven's eyes to light up and off as the wearer moves their hand. It adds to the wonder as to how it works and seems to be responding to the environment versus just boring blinking eyes.

Step 1: Make Some 3D Parts !!!

3D Print your parts.

I attached the files here and used PVA filament Translucent for the egg, silver for the stem. I used minimal fill percent (15%) to get some reflection inside and a heavier wall for rigidity. For the stem I used the same due to the diameter being so small. 3D printing has so many tunable variables for the object and desires of the designer so I'll let that up to you. Basically, standard settings should be just fine if you have someone else print it for you. Same is true for the Egg Stem, and the Raven's Skull.

The Stem is designed for the LED NEGATIVE to go up from the battery compartment into the egg, and the 3 color wires to come down through the oval chase hole and down to the ring switch on the staff. Then the return wire comes back up to the stem and makes contact at the BOTTOM of the battery compartment. (See stem Wiring Diagram and how the wires are chased). The stem is also hollow on the bottom so it can be fitted over the top of the staff. Just trim the diameter of the staff or dowel join it and epoxy it into place.

Color Changing Staff- The circuit for the egg LEDs is closed by the talon ring bridging the contacts of the circuit board that is mounted just within the bark of the staff vines. Maleficent can change the color by sliding her ring across different terminals and stating things that relate to love (Red), wealth (Green) or general (Blue) as she talks to people. If done with practice it is hard to tell how the staff is changing color. The contacts were made on a piece of circuit board and wire. You can use plastic with drilled holes as well. Anything to create a gap for each wire circuit will do. Then embed it into the bark. See the close up picture of the contacts.

Step 2: Fabricate the Magical Staff

Measure your staff for a comfortable height with your forearm horizontal. This will help you control the staff light switch with the ring most easily. Too low or high of a staff height and your hand is fighting to hold onto the staff while trying to turn on the light. Cut a central staff core stick the entire length you need. Be smarter than me and cut the top diameter to accept the hollow end of the 3D printed stem. I had to trim mine down after because I didn't take the time on the front end.

Rip the wood into thin strips and glue / brad nail them onto a main staff stick. Let the whole assembly dry over night and become on piece. A band saw helps create curves here to make it look like a vine as much as possible. This will save you a lot of drum sanding time.

Drum sand all the twists and turns of the stick and when done, mix some wood glue and water and apply strips of paper onto the staff for a more wrinkled, bark look. Let completely dry overnight.

Epoxy glue the stem to the staff, then assemble the LED wiring into the egg. I wired the LEDs in a vertical orientation and slid them into a hole I drilled into the egg. A small amount of hotmelt glue held them into place just fine. Next, pull the wiring through their respective chases in the stem.

Now epoxy the egg (complete with the LEDs already mounted inside!) to the staff.

Cut the splines to support the sides of the egg and give the look of the vines growing over the egg. I used a contour gauge to help define the exact curvatures and transferred the pattern to a scrap of plywood. These were hot melted to the egg and were extremely secure. I added jute twine to start building up more vine to cover the top of the egg.

Step 3: Pattern the Head Piece!

This is the most important part of the build, so go slow and steady here to get the best results. Patterning of one's head is hard to do with help, so I would definitely say to not attempt this alone.

Here are the basics how I did it. There are several places on the internet that illustrate how to pattern a head gear item, but to do this well, spend a few attempts practicing and if you are not happy with the results, redo it. This is because it took me two solid attempts before we got it right and you NEED a very tight fit to support the horns size and weight. I purposefully made the horns as light as possible but firm and durable. The scale of the horns are large in the movie so I decided to have a tight head fit and a band inside from which screws go into the horns to make it one solid piece.

1. Get a plastic bag and pull it as tight as you can over your head and while holding this down, have a friend wrap strips of duct tape around, down, up and all over in all directions around your head. Be sure to cover at least a good inch beyond where you think the skull cap needs to be. WRAP AS TIGHT AS YOU CAN !!!

2. Take a sharpie and find the vertical centerline dividing the left and right sides. Sketch in the edges of where you think the skull cap will fit on your head. Draw a cutting line on each SIDE of your head about 2" above the ears nd extending back to the nape of your neck, and forward to the temple. You should ultimately end up with a TOP Panel, and a SIDE panel. The side panel will be mirrored to be the same piece for the opposite side of you head. draw match marks ACROSS the cutting lines so you can have registration marks for aligning up the pieces when rejoining the materials.

3. Cut the lines and then lay the dust tape pieces flat as possible on a table. The curvature will not allow them to lay flat so this is where DARTS come in. Cut as few darts as possible to get the pattern piece to lay flat as possible.

4. Once you have the duct tape laying flat, transfer the shapes to manila folder board for rigidity. Where each match mark is on the duct tape, be sure to cut a small notch in the board as these will be the locations to mark on the foam where the pieces need to rejoin (as it was on your head). I then used these as templates and traced the pattern on 5 mm art foam. It is easy to forget to make the little marks for the notches of the match marks - important for aligning the pieces.

5. Once traced to foam, carefully cut the foam pieces out using a sharp knife. keep the edges square. Label each piece, When all cut out... apply a coat of contact cement to all the edges that will be mated to one another. Coat each surface to be mated, and repeat for two coats. Let dry between coats.

6. Now comes assembly... CAREFULLY align the edges of the top crown piece center-line and press the main central seam together. BE CAREFUL as the contact cement is a strong bond and cannot be easily redone!!!

7. Work up the joining of the crown until all the edges are mated and form the central curve of the helmet. The main idea is to keep the match marks aligned and... the surfaces flush to one another or you will see these seams very easily.

8. Now apply the same techniques to the side pieces, aligning the match marks as you go along the seam - keeping the surfaces flush to one another.

9. Cut out any designs like flowers and vines as I did to help hide the seams Be creative! There are no rules to the many headdresses Maleficent wore in the movie!

10 I used 2 mm foam for the detailing using contact cement again and to give the helmet a lot of depth.

Step 4: Fabricate the Horns

1. Cut the shape for the horns from the 2" insulation foam paying careful attention to their curve ratios of the inflection and their size to Angelina's head. These are very large horns!!! Use a band saw or a coping saw, or use a utility knife on 1" foam and glue two laers together to get the thickness needed.

2. Sand the horns round using a drum sander. Be careful not to break off the tip as it gets very thin (I did and had to redo the horn).

3. Once shaped, I drilled two holes into the bottom of each of the horns and glued a wooden dowel into each hole for accepting a wood screws from underneath the headband and into the wood. Two screws each ensure the horns will not twist during use and is more secure. I located the horns on the skull cap and also applied PL400 adhesive to the foam horns and screwed them to teh inside of the hair barrette. See photo. Let dry thoroughly to ensure they are well bonded to the headdress.

4. I then added more 2 mm foam strips on the outside to help support the horns to the cap.

5. Starting at the tip of the horn, apply more 2mm foam "growth rings" using hot melt glue gun. Cut the rings so the have notches and are hour glass shaped to account for the curvature of the horn and can lay flat with no puckering. Work down tot he base, then wrap the horn with the cap's rings.

6. Paint all the horns and cap with black acrylic paint. Follow up on the horns with a bronze highlight for more reveal / contrast. Her horns pierce this cap's design.

Step 5: Feather Collar

Using a cloth tape measure, measure the circumference of your neck. I use millimeters for getting better accuracy and easier math than fractional inches. In our case the neck circumference was 344 mm.

Divide the circumference into thirds. As two thirds of the circumference will be covered in feathers, and the one third will be open at the front of the neck. So there will be feathers on each end of the choker coming to the front by 344/3 = 144 mm. You can see in the photo of the rear of the finished collar there was a significant gap due to the collar being pushed outward by the skull cap. If you want this more fuller in the rear you may want to add some length to the lace but not too much so that the ends over lap, then you will not be able to tie it snug around your neck.

Cut the lace the length of the circumference and lay it down on some aluminum foil. Take a sharpie and on the foil, mark 1/3 of the circumference in from each end to know when to stop gluing feathers on the lace. We used two different types of feathers for added dimension and interest. So mix and match and hot melt glue each feather stem onto the rear of the lace extending about 1/3 down the thickness of the lace for good adhesion. After gluing down 1/3 of the distance along the choker, repeat from the opposite end.

Cut a ribbon to have approximately 8" beyond the length of the choker, allowing for a final trimmed length AFTER you have tried the final choker on, WITH the helmet so you have enough to tie off and look good. You can always cut it shorter from each end if too long. Hot melt this tie ribbon along the length of the choker with equal lengths extending beyond each end.

For security, we ran a couple of run stitches down the ribbon and ran a heavy stitching on the ends for good binding to the lace.

OPTIONAL: Try the choker on and if uncomfortable with the feather stems, you may want to glue some black felt or similar fabric on the inside for a smoother finish to the skin. Ours was fine and did not need anything as the feather stems did not prick the skin at all but laid flat.

Step 6: Finish the Rings!

Raven Skull Ring: Once the ring was printed out, I inserted the circuit shown in the diagram. The tilt switch allows for the ring to turn on and off as Maleficent moves her hand. We used purple LEDs for intrigue of the eyes.

The file for the skull is found on Thingeverse but I also posted it here as well.

The ring itself I created using Tinkercad for a quick fix to the specific diameter of her finger. Epoxy the two together and close the back of the skull with epoxy too. Then I coated the entire skull with black paint and glued on some additional feathers for effect.

Copper Talon Ring: I had some scrap copper flashing and used a tin snips to cut an arrowhead shape about 30 mm long 15 mm wide. To get the dimpled look, I hammered the talon with a nail set, then heated it all up to tarnish it a bit. I also cut a strip to fashion a ring loop and formed them both into shape with pliers. I made sure I had a good lump of solder under the ring to help close the circuit on the staff. And then solder the two pieces together and your staff circuit switch is ready to go.

Final Words: We got a lot of compliments at a charity Halloween party, with many asking how we did this. It just took the time to make the details and a little bit of patience for getting the design right. Take the time and you will have a great costume for parties to come! By the way the knight is all out of eva foam too !

Halloween Contest 2018

Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2018