Krampuslauf in Graz, Austria.
One of many cities that still practices the noble tradition of honouring Krampus. If the idea of a Santa parade makes your black-lipsticked lip curl, this is the party for you:
Krampus is a mythical holiday Boogey-man with roots dating all the way to Iron Age Germanic people. There are proxy creatures in several other European traditions, including my own Romanian folklore, which I shall treat in greater length in a later post (it’s so creepy it warrants manuscripts).
Last year I had the pleasure of attending the annual Toronto Krampus Ball featuring mesmerizing acts from live musicians and performers.
To no surprise, Squid Lid‘s unique holiday tradition is back this year!
Krampus is serious business, and “COSTUME ENCOURAGED” means you better show up with horns on.
Be it Halloween, Krampus, ye olde’ hippie festival in the sticks (everyone does those right?), sometimes life just calls for horns.
Dreamstate and I are industrious, craftsy folks, so we whipped up two awesome pairs of horns using this easy method:
Source the following
- A decent sized piece of corrugated cardboard. A large pizza box should do.
- Hot glue
- Paper streamers. Your local dollar/party supply store should I have an assortment of colours, though I used white as a base
- A paint tray or some sort of shallow container you can mix some goopy papier mache in
- Papier mache materials – water, flour, corn starch, whatever glutinous thing you want. Go as far as oatmeal if you wanna get a gory texture
- White paper glue
- Acrylic paints – any craft store brand should do, you’re going to be slopping it on, so no need for high grade product here
- Krylon finishing spray
- One of these fleece earmuff things! Assembling the horns required some hardcore Dollarama lifehax and of the three pairs I’ve made so far this is the best mounting option.
Here’s the concept:
Concentric circles of diminishing diameters, held together with globs of hot glue, layers of paper and paint.
As long as you cover them in a few opaque layers of paint, the sloppier you are with the execution, the more textured and dramatic your horns will look.
Start by cutting bands out of your pizza box. You can make them all the same width if you’re lazy. I started with 3″ strips for the wider base circles to 5″ wide bands at the tip; this will elongate the horns.
Roll the strip. If you’re using thicker cardboard, gently massage it into shape, so you don’t get sharp angles or weird folds
The biggest band at the base should be close in diameter to the size of your earmuff. Those fleece ear covers I recommended are great because they cling on pretty tight and they have a nice wide band for support. Keep in mind, between all the glue and layers of paper, these will have a little weight to them, so a thin metal hairband may not be enough to support them.
Use a little hot glue to secure the ends of the cardboard together and form the first ring. It’s ok to overlap, any crease will get covered up with paint. If you do have a noticeable ridge try to line up all the segments to face whatever the underside of your design is.
Repeat with varying lengths of cardboard.
The first set I made, I tediously measured each strip to allow myself a 1 cm buffer of glue filling to hold the segments together. By the second pair I gave up and just made circles that roughly stacked within each other and piped in a whole bunch of hot glue to hold them together.
You’ll need a couple packs of glue sticks to do this. Fill the gaps indiscriminately until overflow, which will give you a nicer transition between the segments than the hard straight edge of the cardboard.
This step can be tricky, you’ll have to work fast and keep the model moving in your hand. Yes, I keep writing DIY guides that involve rolling things while scalding your fingers.
Anyway, once you’ve glued all your concentric segments you should have something like this
Mix some papier mache.
If you failed second grade arts and crafts, this is achieved by mixing a cup of water with enough flour or cornstarch to form a paste. I also dumped most of a bottle of cheap white glue in there and whisked it in to give the mixture more consistency.
Because both pairs were going to have a dark colour finish, I put in a couple drops of blue and red ink to tint the mache layers and save myself some effort covering stark white paper. You can also stir in some acrylic paint, or otherwise leave the mixture white for light finishes.
Dunk streamers through the paste and start rolling it around the horn skeleton. I used streamers for this instead of newsprint because the wrinkled paper adds a really interesting cracked bone texture to the finished product.
Wrap the bases thoroughly with multiple layers, drying the model between applications. While I was elbows deep in glue and ink wrapping one horn, Dreamy blow dried the other. It took bloody-forever.
But worth it.
Wrap the edge of the horn in electrical or duct tape. This step will make it easier to sew them to the band in the last step.
Once everything is bone dry, start painting. I was pretty rough with the application to add even more texture, and used undiluted acrylic right out of the tube. You’ll want opaque layers.
You can then go through and paint more intricate details. I did a geometric filigree pattern in UV blue on top of Dreamy’s and just a mottled dark to bright red blend over mine. For the mottled colour, dip the tips of a ragged brush lightly in the brighter colour and dab it all over, blending the colours.
Once your paint has dried, give it a healthy coating of finish spray. I had Krylon matte finish from a Warhammer minis painting kit (don’t judge me), but any top coat from the hardware store will do – avoid glossy since horns are usually dull shades.
The last step is attaching the horns to the headband.
This is why I lined the base with tape, so the thread doesn’t rip right through the cardboard. There are enough layers of glue, paste and paper in there that it should be durable, but the plastic liner makes them sturdier.
I sewed the cardboard horn to the earmuffs using a thin needle and durable nylon thread – you can also use floss if you have it on hand, but paint it over in your main color, otherwise it will glow in blacklight.
See you freaks at the Krampus Ball this year!