1. Sand Down any bits you don’t want. I used a 240 grit sand paper to remove the Nerf logo and any of the text I didn’t want.
2. Take it apart…. take lots of photos as you go so you can easily remember how to put it back together. Put screws into separate, labelled baggies!
3. Undercoat, still not sure on the colour scheme so far but its going to be a dark colour scheme so I’m going for a matt black base layer. I was pretty heavy on the paint so actually had to sand some pits back and respray them once it was all screwed back together. Even so it still looks pretty good so far….. please note the single unidentified screw. Still not sure where that came from but it seems to work fine without it. I also had to fire about 20 times before the action was smooth again, at a guess the paint was too thick in some sections and just wore down or settled in some way. I certainly would not like to do too many layers over the moving parts!
As I want to make them quite large but not uncomfortable to wear I don’t want to use oven drying clay (like Fimo). I’ve previously made some twisted goats horns from clay but they are slightly uncomfortable to wear as they are too heavy.
My initial idea is to make a wire frame and then cover it in a few layers of paper-mache before covering them in fur. I don’t see any issues with this although I will have to coat the paper-mache with a water-proof PVA to weatherproof them.
The first step was to make the basic shape out of wire (the lighter the better but still has to be fairly sturdy).
Then wrap this basic shape in masking tape. At this point it will still be quite angular and not rounded off, don’t worry about that… each layer added makes it smoother and the fur should hide a multitude of sins!
Once you have this shape to your liking you can move on to the next stage, there will only be limited changes once you have covered it in paper mache.
The mix that I used was one part flour to one part water with a sprinkle of salt. It was a recipie that I grabbed from the internet somewhere but it worked first time for me so I’m sticking with it. The idea for those who haven’t used it before is to mix it all together and then dip strips of newspaper into the mix scraping off any excess mix and then laying the paper onto you blank, in this case our wire and masking tape hare ear.
One tip I do have is that it make life easier to suspend the blank from something while you are applying the paper mache as you are going to run out of hands and its not a shape that will stand up on its own.
This allows you to cover everything except for the tip of the ear, which you can come back to once the rest of it has dried. I had intended to do several layers and allow it to dry between layers but after one layer of paper mache it seemed tough enough to go without extra layers and I was conscious of keeping the weight down as well.
The next step is to get the fur on! I was aiming to just have one seam on the fur down the middle of the ear at the front so the seam is in the hollow of the ear. The longer the length of the fur the more forgiving it is with hiding mistakes. I just started glueing from the from the center of the ear and rolled the fur around the ear gluing as I went but leaving the tricky bits like the bottom and the crooked tip until the end. I left the tricky bits until the end as it is much easier to do once you have cut away any excess fabric and it isn’t flapping around in your way.
After a few experiments with clips for the ares they turned out to be just too heavy and large for the clips to deal with so they had to be sewn onto a band instead. The band was just two layers of fabirc with some interfacing to stiffen it up a little.
Final Review & Improvements
The ears were pretty good when finished but as normal I had over engineered tham and they were too heavy! The tail that I added last minute was far simpler. For the tail I just created a very simple wire frame and wrapped the fur around it sewing it in place on the back and adding a belt loop.
To improve these ears I would either remake them in the same way that I made the tail or add an additional support running from between the ears to the back of neck. I have already been asked for a smaller version of these so when I get chance I will make another pair and upload the results.
My first thoughts are that it should either be battery powered or 12v DC, this will allow it to be powered easily from a solar or deepcycle system as well as it being easy to obtain AC to 12V DC converters, that would depend on the distance from the power supply to the chandelier as 12v DC cabling would be expensive and ineffective over a long distance.
OK so I was making it way too complicated, I must remember to keep things simple and get them done… versions 2, 3, 4, 5 can be more complicated and expensive. Version 1 should be simple, cheap and work!
Item 1….. a £3 battery powered LED lightbulb from Asda
Item 2….. a chandelier(ish) from B&M for £7.99
The only downside is that the bulb turns on/off by pulling on the cord and the chandelier is heavy enough to pull on the switch. The solution is to order some cheap 2mm chain from ebay so the chandelier hangs off a spit ring by four chains and the bulb hangs off the same ring by its pull string.
So went and bought something more appropriate from B&Q…
Cut the cord from the light as short as I could and tied on a carabiner.
Cut 4 short lengths of chain, attach them to the chandelier by taking off a string of the sparkly bits and sliding the chain over the strut/arm then putting the sparkly bits back on! The other ends of the chain were looped through a split ring.
Then I can feed the carabiner through the center of the chandelier and clip it onto the split ring.
And thats your lot…. an LED, battery powered chandelier that can even be carried around. Aside from the messing up buying two lots of chain and I cheated as I had the carabiner lying around, I reckon it still came in under £15.
My first idea was to have a belt with attached firey tail and a horses head! The horses head would hinge at the point it connects to the belt and the head could be controlled using the reins which would be stiff rods as oppose to flexible material. This design would be rounded off with a fire skirt and sword (or whip!).
One thing that may be used with any of the following designs would be Horse Feet / Hooves! This is a fairly simple one to do as its just a boot cover with a metal strip around the bottom for the horse-shoe. It would be nice if the fabric for the covers were white at the bottom fading into black or some other suitably horsey colour! I was thinking of black as it would be easy to clothe the rest of the person in black.
This version is an overhead puppet based around a back pack frame. The horse itself is moveable and controlled by the vertical rod in front of the wearer, the horse itself pivots on the backback mounted pole. This version could feature a fire mane and tail and be rounded off by the Hoof Boot Covers.
One extra thing that would need to be added to the backpack mounted version would be chocks or blocks to prevent the horse swinging to far forward or backward (noted in this image by angles A and B).
This version is not one of my favourites but included here as an option. The ‘riders’ legs are actually the back legs of the horse and there are a pair of small fake legs to make it look as though he/she is riding the horse. The rigid bridle allows the rider to control the horses head and body. Links at the knees make the horses front legs walk in time with the rear legs. I feel that this costume would be too flamable and would not pack down to allow easy shipping but is included here as an option.
This is a two person varient of the Backpack ‘Obby ‘Orse. In this version there are two backpack frames with the front person controlling the head and the back person controlling the tail. This would give the horse four legs! One extra thing that could be done would be that the person controlling the tail could lift the head controller allowing the horse to rear-up and lift its front hooves! This version could again feature a fire mane and tail.
This would be a slightly more traditional hobby horse in that it is basically a ride on stick with a horses head. A couple of slight additions would be the additional bar holding the seat (a bicycle seat) and the flaming tail. This version could again feature a flaming mane.
At this point without further input I have two favourites – the Two Person Backpack Variant and the Slightly More Traditional Hobby Horse. Without further input from the end users / clients though its hard to know which factors weigh more heavily. Should the prop be ultra portable, light and simple or is visual effect and impact a greater consideration?
After going over the options with the client we have settled on the one man backpack version. This will collapse down to a quiet compact set up as well as being a larger statement. Another bonus of this design is that a lot of the components can be recycled down to the other models in case there is a major flaw.
There are three main points in this sketch;
A – The pivot points that must be allowed to freely rotate.
B – The handle(s).
C – The point where the horse attaches to the backpack frame.
In the sketch there are A1 and A2 designs showing two options for the pivot points. I believe that this needs a little more refinement as A1 does not feel like it would work and A2 seems to be over engineered. The whole idea of this is that it is as simple as possible.
This is A3, the third itteration of the pivot point design.
A – Bolt
B – Washer
C – Tube (bolt goes through the tube!)
D – Spine of the horse
E – Vertical support pole
F – Nut
All of the nuts shown in these sketches will probably end up being wing nuts so that less tools are required during assembly.
The main points left to cover are:
Attaching the head to the spine.
Attaching the wick to the head and tail.
Making the support pole and spine breakdown into smaller poles.
Before covering these last points I think it is worth making a mock up of the horse so far to test the weights and ease of use. I will have to do this without drilling the holes for the pivot points as the balance point will shift as the final points are resolved and I want the balance to be easy to use. Lots of gaffer – the temporary solution while I test things out!
It turned out pretty well and didn’t deviate from the designs really. Nearly all of the horse packed down into the rucksack the shoulder frame is based around which worked well.
I did do a couple of unlit practises with it to figure out how long I could get away with the tail being before it got close to the operator when they span round!
In the end I abandoned the idea of the chocks or stops to prevent the amount of travel or rotation of the horse. I was falling into my usual trap of over engineering everything. Must remember my motto… “Keep it simple, get it done!”