So, I was going to do something simple for this year's Christmas dress up party. Maybe throw on a Santa hat and call it good. Yes, even though I love making costumes, sometimes I just want to....not.
However, a couple of days before the party, while I was in bed in that beautiful half awake, half asleep state where everything makes sense, I dreamed of a giant Christmas ball that you could wear on your head. Kind of a like a DIY bobblehead costume with a Christmas vibe. When I woke up, I explained it to my wife. She just shook her head. That's when I knew it was crazy. So crazy it just might work.
I tried, and was super happy with the result! If you are looking for a sweet Christmas costume idea that's a bit...extra special, this just might be what you are looking for. The thing I am excited about is that this could be the basis for any number of big round things you could wear on your head!
Here are the tools and materials I used:
- Pattern - I'll show you how to create your own, or head over to my website to find the one that I created.
- Cling Wrap
- Plastic Packing Tape
- Long elastic bands
- Ring ruler (optional)
- Ballpoint Pen
- Cutting Surface
- Inflatable Exercise Ball
- 2 mm EVA craft foam
- 10-12 mm EVA Foam
- 6mm EVA Foam
- Sharp Knife: If it is not really sharp you will have a terrible time when you are cutting the foam.
- Hot Glue Gun- I love my glue gun because it is adjustable temperature. I like to use it at as low a temp as possible so that the glue cools quickly.
- Paint: I used acrylic paints for the red and black, and DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics “Vintage Brass” for the gold.
- Paint sprayer (optional) I used Homeright Finish Max Super
- Airbrush (optional)
- Rubber Gloves: Used for applying the metallic paint.
- Clear Sealer: I used Pledge floor gloss
- Window screen
- Gluing Surface: I absolutely love using a silicone baking sheet . You can use wax paper, but the glue will still stick a bit to it and be frustrating.
- Please note, the above links are affiliate links, and I do get a small commission if you buy through these links.
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Step 1: Wrap the Ball
Rather than make a pattern off a giant ball, it's a lot easier to make it from something small and then enlarge it, so start with your basketball for the pattern.
Wrap a layer of plastic food wrap around a basketball. Don’t stretch it too much or it will try to shrink back once you cut it off.
Wrap a layer of plastic packing tape over top of the plastic wrap. You don’t have to be super particular about wrinkles or anything, just make sure the whole ball is covered.
Step 2: Draw on the Ball
Draw a line around the centre of the ball. The great thing about basketballs is that they already have a line at the centre, so all you have to do is follow it!
Use elastic bands to split the ball into 6 equal sections.
I used a ring ruler to make sure the elastics were evenly spaced. Using the elastics as a guide, draw two more lines around the ball.
Step 3: Cut the Pattern
Cut one of the 6 sections off the basketball.
Fold that section in half and cut along the fold.
Figure out how big you want your giant ornament to be, and scale up the pattern piece to that size. For me, I scaled my basketball sized pattern up 240% and printed it out on my computer.
Step 4: Cut Out the Pieces and Start Gluing
Once you have the pattern, print it out and trace it 12 times on 10mm thick foam and cut it out. The pattern I made allows three sections to fit on a standard puzzle piece foam mat. It is important that you use a very sharp knife so that you can make a nice clean cut through the foam.
Glue the foam pieces together in sets of three, starting at the point and working your way back. I use hot glue for most of my projects because it creates less toxic fumes, but it will also work with contact cement.
If you use hot glue, just glue a small section at a time and hold it together while also pressing the seam down onto your gluing surface. Hold it until the glue cools. Then move on to the next section. This is a lot faster if you use a glue gun with adjustable temperature control because you can set the gun to a low temperature so you don't have to hold the pieces together as long.
Step 5: Glue the Four Quarter Sections Together
Glue two of the quarter sections together to create a half sphere. This is a little tricky, but the best way is to glue the top centre point first.
Once that is nice and solid, glue the very bottom edges so that the dome will hold its shape. You can then work your way along the rest of the seam, gluing it together. The best way to get a nice seam is to apply the glue and then press directly on the seam until it is slightly convex in the spot you are gluing. Hold it until it has cooled. Repeat for the other two quarter sections.
Now you should have two halves which can be glued together. Glue the two halves together at each vertical seam first and then go around the ball gluing the rest of the horizontal seam.
Step 6: Cut a Hole for Your Head
Now you can cut a hole in one end of the ball, making it just large enough to slide easily over your head.
Step 7: Heat Form the Foam
Although this makes a pretty round shape, it isn’t perfect yet, because it was made from flat sheets of EVA foam, so the next step is to form it using pressure and heat. Inflate an exercise ball inside the bobblehead, just enough so that it is reasonably firm. You don't want to create too much pressure on the glue seams.
Cover the ball with cling wrap, and then a strip of tape along each glue seam. The reason for this is that you want the EVA foam to stretch in the middle of each panel, but don’t want it to stretch around the outside edge of the panels. This also gives all the glue seams some extra strength so that they don’t burst.
Then use a heat gun to slowly heat up each section of the ball. It is important to take your time on this step, as it will take a while for the foam to be heated all the way through. As well, if you hold the heat gun on one spot for too long, the cling wrap will start to melt. It’s a good indicator that you need to slow down if that happens!
Leave the ball for a few hours to cool down, and the ball should be nice and round when you remove all the wrapping.
Step 8: Cover the Seams
Cut some long strips of 2mm thick EVA foam about 4cm wide.
Glue the strips down, covering all the seams. Cover all the vertical seams with a strip each, and then use separate pieces around the horizontal centre line between each set of verticals.
Step 9: Get It on Your Head!
Make a long tube of foam - I used some 6mm thick EVA foam. This tube needs to sit on top of your head like a hat. It is what is going to hold the bobblehead up when you wear it.
Once you know the size of the tube for your head you can use it to mark out the hole in the top of the ball. You want the tube to fit tightly in the hole.
Cut out the hole and slide the tube down through the opening.
With the tube pushed down quite far into the ball, put the ball on your head and use your head to push the tube back up until the ball is positioned in the right place. Carefully take it off without moving the tube and then you can glue the tube in place at the top of the ball. All the weight of the ball is resting on this seam, so make sure you glue it well.
Step 10: Cut Eye Holes
Now that you know where your eyes are going to be when wearing the bobblehead, you can cut some appropriately placed openings so that you can see. I cut some diamonds, but you can do whatever you want.
Step 11: Add Some Embellishments
Since this is a Christmas decoration, it's a good idea to add some more decorative elements. Like some sweet swirls! Draw the swirls on the original pattern piece and then trace over the lines while holding it against the foam. This leaves a faint impression which can then be drawn over with a pen so it is easy to see.
Use your glue gun to create raised lines along the swirls. If you have a glue gun that has temperature control, turn the temperature down so that the glue coming out will be a bit thicker and hold its shape. Hold your glue gun about 1cm above the foam and as you squeeze the trigger, let it fall gently onto the line. Move the tip of your glue gun so that the glue strip follows the line. This technique does take some practice, so I would suggest giving it a try on some scrap before you use it for real on your ball.
Step 12: ..and More Embellishments
Push and twist the back of a pen against the foam strips at regular intervals, leaving circular indentations. These will be to give the impression of rivets along the strips.
Cut another strip of 2mm foam for the rim around the top of the tube. I found this cap which had a great texture, so I heated the strip with my heat gun and then rolled the cap over the foam, while pressing down quite firmly. It’s too hard to heat the whole strip at once, so I heated it a section at a time.
Cut some scallops in the strip.
Glue the strip around the top of the tube. Cut another strip of 6mm foam and glue it into the tube to create the hanging tab.
Step 13: Paint It Up
Paint everything black. I used the “Finish Max Super” HVLP spray gun that was given to me by Homeright to speed up the process. In order to get a good result with the sprayer, I did thin down my acrylic paint with water.
Paint the sections red. I used my airbrush and some acrylic paint, well thinned down with water. I needed quite a few coats to get a good colour, maybe 3 or 4 coats.
There is no need to go out and get a paint sprayer for this, a good old paintbrush and some acrylic paint will do a great job, it just takes a bit more time.
Once the red is painted, go back over all the foam strips with a paint brush and artists acrylic paint to cover up any overspray from the red paint, as well as seal the foam and give it a good surface for the application of metallic paint. Give it at least two good coats.
Step 14: Apply Metallic Paint to Swirls
(optional) Use your airbrush to create some depth in the design before adding the metallics. I spray black paint along all the swirls, as well as beside all the foam strips.
Apply metallic paint to the swirls as well as to all the foam strips. I used DecoArt Americana Decor Metallics “Vintage Brass.”
The technique I use for metallic paints is to take a bit of paint on my gloved finger and rub it on a piece of scrap cardboard until there is not much left on my finger. Then I rub my finger on the area that I want to look metallic.
If you happen to get a bit of metallic paint on the red background, just grab a wet paintbrush and wash it off.
Step 15: Cover Your Eyes
I wanted to make the diamond holes a little less obvious yet still be able to see properly, so I used some insect screen to cover the holes. I painted them with the metallic paint before I glued them across the holes.
Step 16: Make It Shiny and Protected
The last thing I did was spray a coat of Pledge Floor Gloss over the whole ball to protect it and give it a shiny resilient surface.
Step 17: Get Out There and Have Some Fun!!
Now go show off the amazing, fantastical Christmas Bobblehead costume you just made all by yourself!
If you want to check out some of my other foam costume patterns, you are always welcome to check out my website.
Have fun making!
Second Prize in the
Big and Small Contest