Intro: Headless Horseman Costume
Last years Halloween costume was an amazing success. I learned a great deal, I will be sharing that with you.
I will detail how to carve, mold and slush cast your own hard plastic mask, sew a cape and make a wooden prop sword, I modeled my sword off of the johnny depp movie version, from Sleepy Hollow.
Thanks for taking a look and PLEASE VOTE!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Find some inspiration! I searched the web, looking to find anything close to what I had in my head, I drew a rough sketch and then went to work! There is a list of tools and materials below.
table saw, sander, drill, scroll saw, clamps, hole punch, scissors, sewing machine, clay carving tools, painting supplies (airbrush, paint brush, etc) fibre glass tools.
clay (sulfur free), wood (misc sizes), foam, smooth cast latex, smooth cast polyurethane, black and red fabric, black fabric trim, misc black leather and clasp, oven hardening clay, misc paints, EL wire, fiber glass, resin, sand paper, bondo
Step 2: Rough Out Your Sculpture
I do not claim to be a great sculptor, the advise I learned I will share though, TAKE YOUR TIME! make sure what you carve is symmetrical and balanced. This is clay and can be fixed, so don't be afraid to make some mistakes!
I started out by measuring my head, cut a wood cross section in two directions and then glued pink insulation foam in the corners. From here I Carved a very basic shape of an elongated pumpkin. I slowly began giving it facial features, like a chin, forehead, than I added a mouth area and eye sockets.
I added a few coats of bondo to harden the foam. I then took clay (sulfur free) and started to build up the areas for the face using mostly my fingers to get the basic shape into place.
Step 3: Refine and Detail the Sculpt
So my basic idea through this build was to make it look like a skull was pushing through a pumpkin.
So here I kept adding details with sculpting tools, making sure they flowed with the curves of the pumpkin, attempting to give it a natural feel. I gave it grin lines and a brow. The most difficult process was smoothing out the sculpture. I used a scrubber, scrapers, water, alcohol, fingers... nothing seemed to really work well. in the end I just had to do some finish sanding to the cast.
Step 4: Making a Mold and Casting.
This is my very first attempt at casting and mold making, not an expert, but this is how I did it and what I learned.
For this step, I bought a package of smooth on OOMOO 30. It was not near enough for this size mask, I needed at least twice as much. The mold was a little thin and it made the slush casting process more difficult. A word of advice, this stuff cures quickly and you have to apply the next coat before the last one cure completely, so they bond properly. I think I went a little too fast at some points, resulting in some product loss (dripping too much off of the sculpt) so again, take your time here. I used cheap plastic solo cups to measure and mix, follow the mixing instructions closely here! I brushed the OOMOO on with cheap paint brushes (they will be destroyed in this process). I also added a little red color pigment to the OOMOO between coats, this allowed me to make sure I got even coverage.
After the silicone cured, I had to figure out how to make a 2 part, ridged outer mold. I settled on a fiberglass outer mold. Being that this is the first time I had worked with fiber glass, It was a challenging endeavor! I started by trying to prop up and hot glue some cardboard barriers on the centerline of the mask. I then coated the cardboard with petroleum jelly, so the resin would not adhere to it. I made a few layers with strips of fiber glass and coats of resin. Leaving a day or so to let one half cure, I then flipped it over, removed the cardboard, coated the other half with petroleum jelly and made the other half of the shell. The difficult part here was pressing the cloth into all the nooks and crannies!
Next I used smooth cast 300, again fast de-mold time, 10 min, this stuff gets hot, and you have to put about 4-5 coats on. this was pretty straight forward, mix a batch, pour it in the mold and then rotate the mold to make sure you cover all the areas, let cure, rinse and repeat. Give it about a day to fully cure, remove the outer mold, then peel off the inner mold carefully. just like magic, you have a perfect replication of your mask!
Step 5: I'm a Doofus...
Okay, I admit it... I made a mistake measuring... some how I did not carry the one, the rear part of the head was not deep enough, my noggin would not fit in the mask! After a brief panic attack I took action. Cutting along the rear folds in the pumpkin to take the rear section out. I then extended it with thin metal strapping and 2 part epoxy.
I then covered the gaps with a thin layer of craft foam, reinforcing it from within the mask with more foam and hot glue. After painting it was hard to notice that the mistake had been made!
The stem and minor repairs
I used oven bake brown clay to sculpt the stem, I then attached it with a epoxy and a 2 part plastic repair substance I found at my local hardware store. I also found some soft spots in the mask after sanding it. in the second picture you can see the repairs. I used the same 2 part plastic repair goo here too.
Step 6: Painting
You can use many methods to paint, for me , the best and most realistic results, I like the air brush. you can mix colors on the fly, change settings at will. I started by laying down a few coats of grey primer formulated for plastic. I then used a few coast of flat black. Here I moved over from spray paint to acrylics. I mixed brown acrylic paint with water and put a few coats on the mask, followed by about 5 layers of bright orange. I then lightly sanded, then started adding light brown to accentuate the darker areas and add depth. I kept adding layers of the darker colors until I was please, then added some more orange to bring out the higher points. To finish the mask, I used a few coats of semi gloss to seal my paint job.
I also added about 3 foot of EL wire to give my mask a glowing effect in the eyes and mouth! to achieve this I hot glued it in place around those orifices. I also added some cut up and painted craft foam to the eyes and mouth to give a look like pumpkin guts were still inside. Before spray painting the craft foam you must coat with Plastadip first!
To finish I added a foam lining inside the mask, to make it comfortable to wear, I hid the 9v battery and power inverter in the brow of the mask.
Now the Mask sits in my office, as a decoration!
Step 7: The Cape
I did not document this process very well, I really had no idea what I was doing. But it turned out to be an amazing cape! Luckily the assembly is pretty straight forward... So I bought 1.5 yards of both red and black thin fuzzy fabric. I cut the V sections out, reference the drawing, for the shoulders. Then sewed those parts together, trimmed with a 4" sheer fabric, cut and ripped the fabric to make it look aged. Then tattered the bottom of the cape. I used some ages brass buckle and cool round decorative parts for the cape clasp. I attached to leather and sized it to my chest. I finished the cape by stretching and gluing fake spider webs to the back of the cape.
Step 8: The Sword
So I know this is not an exact replica, I was limited on time and materials. I opted for a thicker build, so it would hold up better. I also epoxied a threaded rod in the middle for structural integrity and assembly.
I started by measuring and roughing out the design on MDF, the core of this sword is 1/4" alder and the top and back of the blade are 1/4" MDF. I cut out the 3 pieces and glued them together. Then I cut out the guard parts, joining the two with wood glue and later with epoxy. I beveled the blade with a sander and hand files. Also adding a blood grove in the center with a table saw. The snake head pommel was make out of a the same 3 piece wood assemble as the blade. I cut the part down with a scroll saw and the gave them detail with files and a dremmel. I attached the pommel to a dowel and glued a nut in place to screw into the threaded shaft in the blade. for the grip I sanded down a hollowed out dowel attached it to the threaded rod and then wrapped it with white leather. I used Flat black and metallic paint to finish it off. I also added red painted nail heads to the snake, for eyes.
Step 9: Final Thoughts
Well, I won a few Halloween contests at a few parties and scare a few kids, I'd say it was a success! I really learned a lot from this build, and I hope I shared with you what I have learned, too. Not shown here are the leather pouch, leather sword sheath and leather belt I also built for this costume. there were a lot of trial and error on this projects and a lot of new materials I had to learn about. So documenting all of that was a challenge. I did the best I could at the time. I hope you have enjoyed the read, and PLEASE VOTE! thank you again!