Friday, July 6, 2012

Otakon 2012: Jafar's Staff

My son Ian is coming to Otakon this year for the first time, and he will be dressing up as Jafar from Disney's Aladdin. This costume has two very important elements: the huge turban, and the snake-head staff.
We looked online for staffs to purchase, but most of them didn't even closely resemble the cobra-headed staff in the movie:

So I got to work making one. The first order of business was trying to figure out how to get the snake-head shape. Then I remembered we had a leftover prop from our Halloween Haunt days:

(Note: this is a picture from the Fakerubbersnakes website; I forgot to take a picture of the whole fake snake prior to starting the process)

I decapitated the snake:

But with that open mouth, it didn't look much like the movie staff. However, Ian had the brilliant idea of bending the lower jaw down to meet the neck, which would also put the head in the right position relative to the staff. And I used a heat-set interfacing called Inn-Spire to form the cobra hood. A few more steps later, and this is the result:

Did I mention that the snake had to have illuminated red eyes? We achieved that effect with a few parts from Radio Shack:

Now we had the basic form. But we couldn't just spray paint it and call it done; it needed some more work. To give the head a nice shape and outline, I used plaster gauze. I cut it into lots of small pieces and started covering the head, building up the cowl and smoothing out the neck. After an hour or so of layering the gauze, it was starting to look pretty good:

But the gauze had one pretty serious drawback: the texture was lumpy and bumpy, and the gauze pattern showed through. If we just spray painted it like this, it would look terrible. What to do? I turned to my favorite resource: the members of The Creative Machine list on Yahoo. Several members recommended I use spackle to smooth it out:

So I got to work, spreading it with my fingers into all the nooks and crannies and smoothing out the surfaces.

It's messy stuff, but it worked like a charm. The spackle completely concealed the gauze texture.

After a little smoothing with a wet sponge and fine sandpaper, it was ready for painting!

But we encountered a slight problem:

Spackle is porous, and didn't take the paint well. See the difference between the PVC pipe and the spackled area? This wouldn't do. We had to seal all the spackled areas with Mod Podge.

Diana helped smear the Mod Podge. Did I mention it was like 95 degrees outside while we were doing this? I must be insane. But it was worth it.

Finally, it was time to paint. I used a metallic gold called "Gold Medal."


Very shiny!!!!


Here's the switch and battery compartment:

We're running 12v lamps off a 9v battery, so will be carrying spares. I can't wait to get the rest of his costume finished now, so I can show you the full effect!!


  1. That is very cool! It DOES look like the movie staff. Good job.

  2. Welmoed, this is awesome! The finished result is fantastic. I love seeing the in-progress shots!

  3. V.E.R.Y. cool. Well done! I know how hard it is to be a Mum who can Do Things. They never seem to believe you can't and thus your imagination is stretched to the limits. So when you do manage, you have no recourse to saying No the next time! LOL

    all the best for the costume.
    Sandy in the UK

  4. I love this. Congratulations on stretching creativity to its limits!

  5. You did a terrific job, Welmoed, meeting each challenge as it arose. Congrats on a job well done! Charlotte

  6. So impressive! You may have inspired me for my Disney Halloween trip!

  7. Wow, that turned out so nice! What a fun project! Great job again Welmoed!

  8. I am aghast, that is superb!!!
    I once found a real Disneyland prop one on ebay (couldn't afford it!), and yours is such a detailed replica! ;-)
    Amazing job!

  9. You should make and sell them. I'm haveing a real hard time on how to make this. I can't find any snake heads

    1. I must admit, it's tempting... It was a lot of fun to make, and I learned enough during the process to make a few improvements!

  10. ok this is fantastic. ive wanted one since i was a kid and i would pay almost anything for one.

  11. Amazing. I love your creativity! I have twin grandsons who want costumes every time we visit Disney and this time I am charged with Jafar! They are 5 and are villain mad-one is Captain Hook and the other is Jafar if I can make the costume in time.

  12. Have just been asked to make this costume ,you have inspired me ,thank you

  13. Love it! Our family will be Aladdin characters this Halloween. I'm gonna pin your tutorial.


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