You’ve made a plaster mold of your head and built up the structure. You are now ready to decorate your plaster hat. Let your imagination run wild! By this point you should have some basic design that you are working toward, although it is perfectly fine to make the details up as you go.
Step one: assemble your materials.
Your materials can be anything. You will probably want paint, paintbrushes, water for rinsing, masking tape, newspaper and some sort of glue. I used hot glue for mine. If you want something stronger, you can use E-600. If you are adding large items to your hat, you may need more plaster gauze. I’m adding antlers to the front and pheasant wings to the back, and other feathers for accents. I’m also thinking of adding some organza flowers. Other decoration ideas include wire, glitter, metal foil, mosaic tiles, fabric, ribbon, silk leaves, etc.
Generally I paint first and then add other decorative elements. With this hat though, the antlers lay somewhere between structure and decoration, so I added them first. To hold the antlers in place while I worked with the plaster to attach them, I wired them to the legs of a camping chair:
The masking tape keeps the wire from sliding. Right now the antlers are just resting against the front of my hat. Next, I wrapped wet strips of plaster around the base of the antlers and up onto the hat. With most of this project, I’ve been emphasizing that plaster is heavy and you only need a few layers. Attaching large objects to the hat is the exception to that rule. Things like antlers are also heavy and you want to make sure you use enough plaster to hold them securely. I probably used around 5 or 6 layers.
You want to make sure that the plaster is 100% dry before removing the support structure (in my case the wire and chair legs). I let this sit for two days.
My husband added wire antennae to his hat, which are also attached with plaster and thus happen in the pre-painting stage of decorating.
Once you have your large decorations plastered on and the plaster is dry, you can move on to painting. For this hat, I’m decorating with gold paint, purple paint and glitter paint. I decided to airbrush the hat because it is faster and I happen to have an airbrush we got to make our wedding invitations. A paintbrush would also work. First, you want to use masking tape and newspaper to cover areas you don’t want to paint.
Then, paint. My husband is painting his hat green.
The benefit of airbrushing is that it dries very quickly. Once the base coat is dry you can paint other decorations on it. If you want to paint strait lines, try using pieces of string for guidance:
You can also add your other decorative elements at this point. I added a half-pinwheel of purple feathers right above each antler and glued pheasant wings to the back.
For whatever reason, the purple paint is showing up blue in photographs. I also painted gold designs on the back of the hat:
I’m also planning to add organza flowers in brown and purple to the hat, like a garland around the wings. I need to finish sewing the outfit that goes with this hat first though, so I know how much organza I have to work with.