Those little soot sprites from Miyazaki's films (Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro) are too freaking cute. I decided that I must have them. Luckily for me, they were pretty easy to make. You only need a few things to begin, and the materials won't even come close to breaking the bank.
I was inspired by some Pinterest tutorials that allowed you to make them by using yarn to make your own pom-poms, but that's a little more complicated than I cared to go. These guys are just Styrofoam balls, paper, wire, and a little spray paint.
Step 1: Materials
+ Glue (school glue or craft glue is fine)
+ Strips of paper (about a centimeter wide. Length doesn't matter as much)
+ Wire (mine is black, but since we're spray painting the color doesn't matter. The thickness doesn't matter here either, as long as you can bend it)
+ Styrofoam balls (fairly small but not tiny. Mine are a little bigger than an inch in diameter)
+ Wire cutters/pliers
+ Spray paint (black)
+ Markers (light colors & a black)
Step 2: Legs and Arms
Stab the wire through the Styrofoam ball (all the way through). When you've reached an appropriate length for the arms, cut excess wire and position it so it's centered (both arms are the same length).
For the legs, cut two smaller pieces of wire and stab them into the bottom of the Styrofoam ball. (These guys are fun to make because they're not really all that uniform. The kookier they look, the better.)
Step 3: Painting
Paint away! Just place your Styrofoam creatures on a protective surface so it doesn't stain your (well-ventilated, I hope) workspace. If you're a patient person you can do several light layers of paint and let dry in between. If you're me, you will hold your spray right next to your project and slather a thick coat on there. *BUT* If you do that there is a chance it will disintegrate some of your Styrofoam. It did that to mine. Luckily, these creatures are not always perfectly spherical in the films, so it worked out.
The second you have finished painting (whether it's your first light coat or a single thick coat), set them upright to dry. I stabbed their arm wires into my bag of Styrofoam balls to keep them upright. Do this immediately after painting, because if you leave them lying flat the Styrofoam will cave in.
Step 4: Creating the Star Candy
While you're waiting for the paint to dry, use the time to create the star candy!
There is a lovely tutorial on Pinterest that I used for this. You can find it here: http://www.dumpaday.com/genius-ideas-2/diy-craft-ideas-45-pics/attachment/craft-ideas-5-3/
Basically, you fold your paper so it looks like an awareness ribbon. Then you tuck the short end of the ribbon through the hole and pull it gently. Crease it and then fold the rest over again many times until you have a fairly solid pentagon. Then tuck the end under the little pocket you've created. Now use your nail to push in the sides between the corners.
Ta-da! You have a 3D star. Now color it in with your markers.
Step 5: Eyes
You'll want to make sure the paint is dry before you do this. Otherwise the black paint will seep through the paper and ruin your soot sprite's eyeballs.
To make the eyes, cut a small rectangle out of paper and fold it in half. Then cut the corners off and round them out to create 2 equal-sized eyes. Dot the center with a sharpie and you're ready for gluing. I recommend a very small dot of glue on the back side (in the center), but make sure you have enough glue so that there's still a decently thick layer after you spread it around with your finger.
Since the eyes are flat and the ball is round, it won't be a perfect fit. I just gently pressed both the top and bottom parts of the eye to the foam to make sure that there was a good bond between at least those 2 portions of the Styrofoam and paper.
Step 6: Hanging
You're almost done! If you want to hang them like I did, you can use the wire to create a little hook. Just twist the wire into a loop, then grab the loop with some pliers to hold it in place and wrap the excess wire around the bottom of the loop. Then stab the hook you made into the top of your sprite. Tie some fishing line to it for hanging later.
Step 7: Attach the Star
This part is tricky. You can use glue to secure the stars, but I personally don't like the way the dried glue looked. So I just cut slits in the sides of the star and shoved the ends of the arms through. It's tricky because they're tiny, but we'll worth the effort.
And that's the end of it! You're done! Hang them wherever you please. Be sure to take pride and Instagram your work :p