Intro: Dragon Headdress With EL Wire
This is an Instructable about how to make a dragon headdress out of sheets of foam (sparkly and normal), fishing wire, and strand lights/EL wire (optional). The total cost of making this headdress is about €40 (€1.50/piece of sparkly foam, €1/piece of normal foam, €2.50/set of glitter glue pens, €5 for strand lights, €13 for 3 meter EL wire).
3 pieces sparkly green foam, 40cm x 60cm x 2mm
3 pieces plain green foam, 40cm x 60cm x 2mm (I actually recommend 5 pieces to have 3 layers for each ear, but I only used 2 layers for ear and thus only used 3 pieces of plain green foam total)
Large scraps of sparkly silver foam
Scraps of red sparkly foam
Scraps of white sparkly foam
15-pound (or thicker) fishing wire
50-light strand of battery-operated holiday lights
3M or 5M EL wire strand with battery pack (I used 3M, but I recommend 5M because I did not have enough EL wire to outline the bottom of the jaw or the horns on my headdress)
4x sparkle glue pen, silver (or color of choice for lines on ears)
4x sparkle glue pen, blue (or color of choice for lines on horn)
Hot glue + hot glue gun (or other strong glue)
Safety pins (several boxes)
Step 1: Print Pattern and Cut Out Templates
I've attached Photoshop and .jpg versions of my pattern, scaled to my head size. If you wish to rescale to your own head size, there is a guide line in the .PSD file which represents the depth of the head. Rescale this to your head size and rescale the rest of the layers to match (press Shift to maintain aspect ratio when scaling).
Step 2: Cut Out Foam Pieces From Patterns Provided
Photo 1: side piece of head. Photo 2: ears, horns
Trace the provided patterns onto foam and cut out with scissors. Cut out eye holes and nostrils with the utility knife. Each ear should take an entire piece of foam, and you can fit both sides of the head on the third piece of foam. Save as much foam as possible at the edges of the foam pieces in order to have enough for the top and bottom of the head (next step).
The foam I used was thin and too flexible to maintain its shape in a headdress. So, I traced two copies of each individual piece; one on sparkly foam and one on normal foam in the same color. I then hot-glued the pieces together to form a stiffer component.
Note: One thing I would change if I could do this project again is to use 3 pieces of foam for each ear, rather than 2. With only 2 pieces the ears are still a bit flimsy. However, if you do this you may have to readjust the balance of the headdress when adding the lighting pack, as it will be heavier at the back.
Step 3: Create Custom Top and Bottom Pieces for the Head; Create Custom Teeth
Photos 1/2: top and bottom pieces of my dragon headdress. Photos 3/4: top and bottom teeth pieces
There are no patterns for the top and bottom of the dragon head (the forehead and the bottom of the jaw). For the top piece, I held the sides of the dragon head up to my head to get an idea of the width of my head. Then I cut a strip of sparkly foam that width and the length of the dragon head. I taped the head together with masking tape, and disassembled it to taper the middle piece a couple of times. When I was happy with the shape of the top of the head, I put the headdress on and held the bottom of the jaw together to estimate the width of the bottom strip. Again, I assembled the headdress with tape and played with the shape of the bottom until I was happy with it. Note: you want the bottom piece to be snug against your neck; this will help hold the weight of the headdress in place on your head.
If you want your headdress to have white teeth, you should cut these out now as well. I traced the teeth from the pattern for the left and right portions of the teeth (though I made the fangs longer and pointier to make the dragon look more vicious), but for the middle portion (visible from the front of the headdress), I used the width of my middle headpieces as guides to hand-draw teeth. If you want your dragon to have white teeth, you will also have to cut off its green teeth at this time as well.
Step 4: Draw Details With Glitter Glue
Draw the silver lines on the ears and the blue lines on the horn using glitter glue pens. I did these lines freehand; for the ear lines I marked a central point and traced my lines from the point to the spikes in the ears. You will need a lot of glitter glue; make sure to apply lines slowly and to use sufficient glue to avoid gaps in your line. Let dry for at least several hours--when the glitter glue is flat, it is dry (at least for the type of glue I used).
Step 5: Add Eyes and Nostrils; Cut Out Pupils and Nostril Insets (optional)
Cut out rectangles of sparkly red foam slightly larger than the eyeholes, as well as rectangles of gray sparkly foam slightly bigger than the nostrils. Use the hot glue gun to glue the pieces behind the eyehole and nostril cutouts. Also, use hot glue to attach horns to ears.
If you plan to add strand lights inside your dragon head to backlight the eyes and nostrils, you will need to make cutouts in the eyes and nose for the lights to shine through (see second photo). I used a utility knife and cut these out freehand, basically tracing smaller outlines of the outer eye/nostril shapes.
Step 6: Assemble Headdress With Masking Tape
Double check that you are happy with the look and fit of the headdress. Make sure it is snug around your chin so that it can support the weight of the lights. Note: if you plan to add lights to the headdress, they will sit in a pouch above your head, so you should leave an inch or two or room between your head and the top of the headdress.
Step 7: Stitch Headdress Together Using Fishing Wire
Using a standard needle and 15 pound fishing wire, I whip-stitched together the main pieces of the head. Then, I stitched the ears onto the head using a basic running stitch. Last, I stitched the teeth on using a running stitch. Note: use lengths of fishing wire about the length of your arm, and check often for knots. Tie off pieces securely on the inside of the headdress.
Photo: inside of headdress, illustrating whip-stitch which joins the main pieces, running stitch which attaches the teeth, and inside of eye which was hot-glued on.
Step 8: Add Interior Lights
Photo 1: strand lights with battery pack. Photo 2: view of bottom of headdress, showing pouch with lights and batteries inside. Photo 3: headdress after installing interior lights. Photo 4/5: headdress with interior lights being worn
Make a simple pouch out of extra foam to house the strand lights, strand light battery pack, and EL wire battery pack. Leave the strand lights tied with a twist tie (or tie them into a similar shape as the photo with a twist tie). To make the pouch for the lights, I just cut a strip of foam, folded it over the lights, and duct taped it at one end to form the pouch. I positioned it directly over my head on the inside of the headdress, and adjusted it to fit. Then, I used a running stitch to attach it to the top of the headdress with fishing wire.
If you don't want to add EL wire to your headdress, this is the last step!
Step 9: Add EL Wire
Photo 1: EL wire safety pinned into headdress in draft design. Photo 2: Completed headdress with EL wire stitched into place.
Insert EL wire battery pack into interior foam pouch and unwind the wire. Outline the headdress with the EL wire, securing with safety pins. I used a 3M strand of EL wire, but it was too short to outline the bottom of the jaw and the horns. So, I would recommend trying a 5M strand of EL wire.
Once you are happy with the EL wire design, stitch it into place with fishing wire using a whip stitch.
Enjoy your headdress!