Trash costuming: Rams-horn headdress

I love using up trash in my projects, for a few reasons. Number 1: It’s good for the planet. Number 2: I’m not quite as worried about testing my limits and screwing up; if I can’t salvage a project, at least it was trash already. Number 3: I’m simultaneously lazy and extremely frenetic. When a project occurs to me, I need to get started on it NOW, nothing silly like going to the store.

So, when I decided I wanted an elaborate hat for cool festival nights, I wanted to get started NOW, and I didn’t want to spend any actual money. I cheated a little; I’m a habitual crafter, so I already have things like wire and spray paint sealant. But the horns themselves are a wire coat hanger armature covered in strips of cardboard and tape, old brown paper bags, and paper mache paste from flour and water. (Side note, I’m recently learning about the raw awesomeness that is paper mache.) The crown is braided copper wire salvaged from an old lamp/headlight. Originally I was going to make a dreadlock wig out of leftover tulle scraps and wool roving, which I may still do, but I was a little bit burnt out after the paper mache (it took so long!) and just wanted a finished project.

This isn’t a tutorial, exactly. I have a couple of photos so that anyone who is so inclined can have an idea of how I did mine, but you should do yours however works best for you.

I love the look and feel of the brown paper bags so much, I might not even spray paint them. I might fleck a light dusting of gold paint splatters, though. I might also cover them in small gold foil pieces, if I ever drink enough Modelo/champagne to collect that much.

One note about armatures: I covered the wire coat hanger in cardboard rings. To make the rings, I took strips like an inch wide or so and marked lines at about every inch along the strip, then took an x-acto knife and cut through all but the back layer of the cardboard. This allowed it to bend and curve easily and uniformly. Covering the whole thing with tape let me cut the horns off and reuse the armature, but if you were making these, you could easily leave them in for stability and strength.

This my armature. Inside is a coat hanger bent to the shape I wanted.

This my armature. Inside is a coat hanger bent to the shape I wanted. You can see the tip poking out.

You might want to make a new armature anyway; the horns need to curve in opposite directions. I had to break and re-shape my armature, which resulted in somewhat uneven horns. This was because I only had one wire coat hanger, and wasn’t going to break my own rules. One benefit to this was that I could dry the horns in the oven, which I wouldn’t want to do with a metal coat hanger and tape inside.


I carefully cut the horns off of the armature, patched them back together with long paper mache strips, and added another full layer of paper mache on top of that.

At the end (I don’t have a picture of this) I poked a couple of holes and threaded braided copper wire through them. I also threaded braided wire across the top center, holding the horns in place and on top of my head. I may replace the top wire with a simple chain, for more flexibility.

The finished (for now) project

The finished (for now) product


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