- garden wire (£3)
- newspaper (free if you have it, or about 30p)
- white kitchen paper towels (60p)
- wallpaper paste packet (80p)
- bowl of water
- masking tape (£1)
- wire cutters
- black or white headband (75p)
- brown, orange, yellow and gold paint (or colours of your choice).
- fake foiliage (£3)
- patience! :)
Total - Approx. £9.45
(NOTE! I upped this estimate, as I actually had newspaper, kitchen towel, masking tape and paint already available. This makes the total as little as £4, but I got caught out and had to buy it from a pet store!)
Finally it's done! The tutorial to make simple (and slightly poseable) horns! Or in this case, miniature antlers, but for regular horns it's the same. I added this to my satyr outfit to embellish it, and it took me about a week, not because it was difficult - it was actually very simple! - but because it required some time to dry the paper mache. So please bare that in mind if you are getting ready for an event! I made these a good month before I wore them to Comic-con.
Make sure to gather all your materials. As explained in the 'you will need', a lot of these materials, like kitchen towels, newspaper and tape can be found around a household. In any case, they wouldn't been much money to get ahold of anyway, and wallpaper paste is something that is good to have in any arty box, not least because it's super cheap, and a single packet can make a really big amount of paper mache!
Also, please take into consideration reference imagery. This is a golden rule when making any kind of costume, because the best inspiration and point of reference is always nature. Below, I gathered a bunch of antler designs that other people had made and also on animals in the wild, for shape, colour and design. I then embellished the idea with less realistic elements later.
Take the wire and make two long pieces to be the base of the antler using wire cutters. The heavy duty garden wire is a bit tricky to work with but it well worth it, because it is extremely sturdy whilst still being poseable. Don't make them too long, as they will be difficult to support on your head. For bigger horns it would be wise not to use paper mache, but foam. In this case, we are using paper mache so be sure to keep them small. Wrap the wire around the hairband as securely as possible, using pliers to help you. Don't worry about it being unsteady, the paper mache will help it connect later.
Bend over the end to make a rounded edge rather than a point. This is partly for safety, but also because when you add the paper mache it will poke through the paper as it is drying or wear through over time. And it hurts to get caught on cut wire!
A trick to making antlers more real is to have a curve in them. Don't just make them straight - on real deer, horns bend around. The profile picture above shows this curve, rather than just being straight points.
Repeat the process to make two smaller pieces of wire, bending the end, and attach them with masking tape, taking into account the same curve on the head, as shown above.
Mix your wallpaper paste with water and shred up some newspaper. Then begin the messy fun part! Start putting on your paper mache to form a horn shape, tapering off towards the end of the horns. Make sure to wrap around the headband as well to reinforce the antlers so that they don't wobble. Then - make yourself some tea and be patient! This stuff, depending on how thick you put it on, will take a few days to dry properly. I recommend 24 hours before starting the next stage.
This is fairly optional but I choose to use kitchen towel paper in the wallpaper paste and go over the antlers again to make them white. This gives them texture and also makes them easier to paint without the newspaper print coming through. You can also do this with white paper, or simply do a base coat of white paint later.
I used the kitchen towel (which is absorbent and quite easy to work with) and then worked into it to make it more gnarled.
After leaving the antlers to dry for about a week, I then set about painting. While the paper mache was drying, I twisted the antlers over a few days to make a spiral affect. The antlers will remain poseable when gentle, steady force is applied, which will let you to make final tweaks. I painted using brown, yellow, white and gold, working with the shape to paint in the folds for a fantasy type appearance. I also painted part of the head band as well. You can use whatever colour you like, of course!
This is pretty open to you. I chose to embellish the antlers with fake foliage, which you can purchase from any good pet store that sells reptilian goods. You can also purchased fake ivy and other such foliage online. I would avoid using real leaves because they will wilt, smell, or might irritate the skin.
Foliage is great to hide the base and make the antlers pretty seamless. You can try fake flowers, beads, glitter, or even adding some real twigs in there. The only limit is your imagination - and what you can carry on your head!
Why not try making the wire into a different shape? Try rams horns, devil horns, or curly, more outrageous horns. If you like, you can send us a picture of what you have created, on our 'say hi!' page. We'd love to post photos on the website!