Friday, July 13, 2012

Otakon 2012: Maleficent's Headpiece

There's still a pretty long list of stuff to do for the Otakon costumes. And now there are just two weeks left to accomplish it all!! Not starting to panic, though... yet.
Yesterday we worked on the headpiece I will wear as Maleficent. Here's what it is supposed to look like:

But those horns are difficult to replicate. First of all, they're not exactly straight up and down, as they look in this picture. They're actually more tilted to the back. And for the purposes of costuming, how the heck was I going to make them both sturdy and lightweight, and make sure they wouldn't shift around while wearing them?
Most commercial Maleficent costumes rely on plain cloth horns stuffed with polyfil and sewn onto a cap. But I really wanted something better than that.
Getting the right shape of the horns was the first issue. After trying to shape a twisted and bent cone out of Timtex, I gave up and decided to mold the right shape out of crumpled aluminum foil. I then wrapped the shape with plastic wrap and used plaster gauze to create the shape. Once it dried, I carefully removed it from the mold and repeated the process, to get two identical horn shapes.

But how to get them to stay in place on my head? My daughter Diana had the solution: use the plaster gauze to create a sort of "skull cap", and attach the horns to that with more plaster gauze. So we got the supplies together and she started work.
The first step was to wrap the top of my head in plastic wrap, so the plaster gauze wouldn't end up embedded in my hair. Then she started applying strips of gauze, first dipping them in water and then smoothing them in place, overlapping them to build up the proper shape.

The cap is starting to take shape.

The skull cap is done, and it's time to add the horns. This meant a ten-minute discussion on the proper positioning of the horns, with both of us pulling up reference pictures from the web and fiddling with the placement. Finally we settled on the location, and she started to fix them in place with yet more plaster gauze.

There was a little fine-tuning to be done; for one, there was a bit of a gap above my right ear. We ended up fixing it by just smooshing it in, compressing that side just a bit and using yet more gauze to hold it in place. Finally we were satisfied with the shape, and all that was left was for me to sit for about 20 minutes and let it all dry enough so I could take it off without risk of distorting the cap.

The next step in the process will be to spray-paint it black, so that the white of the gauze won't show through the black fabric that will cover the horns. A tight-fitting coif will form the remainder of the headpiece, so it should be held pretty firmly in place.
So, progress! But there's still so much more to be done. I'm optimistic that I can get it all done in time; most of the very difficult stuff is done (except for Jafar's headpiece... still arguing with that).


  1. What an extraordinary amount of cleverness - oh, and work. I think you're amazing and can hardly wait to see the finished product.

  2. Please post pictures of the finished head piece and costume

    1. The pictures are in the post titled "Otakon 2012: Our Costumes." I don't have very good pictures of the Maleficent costume, unfortunately.

  3. omg that looks awsome, i plan to go as maleficent for Halloween this year. ill be making the head piece and her staff. if you have any more good tips for making the horns let me know :)


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