Final Fantasy IX - Garnet's Headdress

As far as headdress projects go, this one has it's own special difficulty, since it's based not on an historical example, but on a game designer's imagination. As such, it's doubtful you'll find any patterns for existing headdresses which will resemble it, so you'll just have to make the pattern yourself from scratch.

Here are the materials you'll need for this project:

Styrofoam wighead (to shape the pattern around)
Pins / Tape
At least 20 sticks of hotglue
a 12" x 24" sheet of .020” styrene
14 gauge wire and wirecutters
2 small craft/bridal combs

To start this project, I would, as I mentioned, first need to make a pattern. I studied several reference pictures and made various sketches of the headdress, to give myself a better idea of how it would appear as a 3-D object. I then taped two pieces of 8-1/2” x 11” paper together into one sheet and draped it horizontally over my styrofoam wighead, pinning it in place.

The paper didn’t lay perfectly flat of course, so I would have to do some darting later, but for now I just started loosely sketching the design of the headdress onto the paper, noting the positions of most of the major elements.

Once I had the general design worked out, I was able to fold the paper in back to get it to conform to the shape of the head. (And thus, work out where the dart in the pattern would go.)

Making the pattern was largely a matter of positioning and lining up major elements of the headdress’ design to landmarks on both the reference picture and on the styrofoam wighead, (paying particular attention to where the eyeline was on BOTH.)

Once I had finished sketching in pencil, I re-drew the final pattern in marker, making the design as clean as I could (since I planned on using it as a template for cutting out the styrene that I'd use for the supporting structure of the headdress.)

One thing to note: I only drew HALF of the pattern onto the paper, since I wanted both sides of the headdress to be exactly symmetrical. (My plan was this: draw the pattern on only one side, cut it out, flip it over to the other side of the paper and then trace it out to provide the cutting guide for the other side…)

Like so...

Notice the notch I cut into that one part of the pattern? That’s where I put the dart in the paper to make the pattern conform to the shape of the wearer’s head. The edges of the notch should be taped together during the pattern’s final fitting to the styrofoam wighead. )

Once all of the tracing , cutting out, and taping had been finished, I pinned the resulting pattern to my styrofoam wighead. What I had at this stage looked like this:

The next step was to cut the notches apart and lay the paper pattern down flat on a piece of .020” styrene. I then carefully traced around the styrene with a thin-tipped alcohol-based marker.

The next step, of course, was to carefully cut the traced shape free of the styrene with my sharp, pointy-handled scissors.

When I got to the part with the dart, I cut only one side of the notch, then I slid one edge of the dart under the other and hotglued the two sides together.

Like so:

When I had finished cutting out the shape and had placed it on the styrofoam wighead, it conformed to the shape of the head much like the paper pattern had.

Now came the fun part: adding the wire understructure and combs. I unwound some of the 14 gauge wire and then shaped it carefully over the surface of the styrene shape. When I was able to roughly determine how long the wire should be, I cut it to length.

I wanted the combs to sit directly at the sides (and be facing towards the back ) of the head. After determining the combs’ angle and placement on the headdress and wire understructure, I took a pliers and turned back the ends of the wire into loops so the wire wouldn’t cut the wearer of the headdress. (The combs themselves would be placed directly over those looped ends of wire.)

Attaching the combs to the wire was a simple procedure. I placed comb into position on the end of the wire and then, taking a smaller gauge beading wire, I wrapped the two together, (threading the smaller gauge wire in between the tines of the comb.) I further secured the comb to the big wire by running a line of hotglue over the base of the comb. I repeated the same procedure for the comb on the other side of the headdress.

Now that I had attached the combs to the wire understructure, I could attach the wire to the styrene shape I had cut out earlier. I did the attaching with a needle, some 4-ply thread, and a needle-nosed pliers, tacking the wire and styrene together at several key points. (After I had finished sewing them, I dabbed the threads with a small amount of hotglue to secure them.)

Here’s what I had when I was finished….

I decided at this point of the headdress' construction, to attach the green resin gemstone to the front of the forehead with hotglue. Once it was secure, I created a setting of sorts by squeezing a thin framing border of hotglue around the gem. (It’s hard to see in this photo since the hotglue is the same color as the styrene sheeting…)

I wanted to thicken the structure of the headdress and help secure the wire that I had sewn to it, so I hotglued scraps of .020” styrene to the underside of the forehead area.

Once the hotglue had cooled, I carved the excess plastic away with my utility knife, taking are not to cut my fingers

And here’s what I had when the carving was finished. The wire is now sandwiched between two layers of styrene and the headdress is finally ready to be decorated.

Using my reference pictures as a guide and an alcohol-based marker as my writing instrument,
I drew and shaded in the areas of the rose/flower design which would make up the final sculpted decoration of the headdress. (Note: I’m using alcohol-based markers because they don’t smear on plastic like water-based ones will.) Hotglue was to be my decorating medium of choice for this project…

Now came the really tough part (and the tough part to photograph, since warm hotglue is clear and doesn’t show up very well on camera.) I applied the hotglue to the headdress with a very steady hand. I did have to deal with a lot of stretchy strings to deal with as I pulled the gluegun away from my project, but I didn’t worry about them too much as I could carefully brush them away once the decorating was finished.)

Note: when applying hotglue, care should be taken so that adjacent design areas don’t touch each other.

Here’s another look at this photo: The areas that are red were the ones I applied during the first round of decorating. When those cooled, I then did all the yellow areas. (If I had tried to ao all the areas at once, they would have run together and formed a single muddled puddle of hotglue.)

This picture shows one of the “side roses” of the headdress. To create sufficient depth of decoration in certain areas, I had to apply two or more layers of hotglue, building them up to become outer rose petals, thicker leaves, etc… I had to keep a real keen eye on hat I was doing because of the transparency of the hotglue. (I used the blue areas I had marked in as a rough guide for the design, although sometimes I found myself having to deviate from them now and then.)

Once all of the hotglue had been applied to the headdress (and the only thing I can really say about HOW to apply it is to get an actual gluegun and start practicing. It WILL take practice and you can expect to screw up quite a bit when you first start so maybe you should get a scrap piece of plastic and draw some practice lines first *takes deep breath*), I could then put on the first layer of enamel paint. Once I had finished this step, I could finally see the hotglue design clearly. (At this point, if I wanted to make any changes to the decoration, I would have to wait several hours for the enamel to dry, scrape off the hotglue from the area I wanted to change and then re-apply it.)

Here, the first coat of paint is finished. (I had to take care not to get any on the resin jewel. In retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea to cover it with masking tape so it wouldn’t get smeared with paint, although brush cleaner could have removed it if such a thing had happened…)

I used later coats of enamel to antique the decoration. (First by laying down a black coat over the entire surface, then painting the raised areas with pure silver to highlight them.)

Once the painting was finished, I added the hanging chains in back. (I was able to find packages of silver chain selling at the local Michael’s crafts store for about 4 dollars per package.)

I attached the chains to the headdress by sewing them on with a needle-nose pliers and thread. (The picture to the left shows the placement of the chains and the threads, which I further secured with dabs of hotglue.)

The part of the threads which showed on the front of the headdress were covered by an additional layer of enamel paint.

The last thing I had to do was add 5 green gemstone drops to the forehead of the headdress (under the giant round resin gem.) Since I couldn’t find any commercially-made drop shaped gems, I had to make my own out of sculpey which I painted with green metallic acrylic paint. Attaching the drops to the headdress was simple enough—I strung them on a small gauge wire loop which I hotglued to the underside of the headdress and then covered with a circular piece of styrene.

One thing I forgot to mention earlier was the fact that, before I applied any paint to the headdress, I tested its size and ability to remain on a wearer’s head by slipping it over a wig that I had placed on my dressform. (I even tried it on myself to see how comfortable it was.)

The crown was very lightweight and form-fitting, and as such, it could now be painted and worn for long periods of time. (If I had chosen to make the headdress out of a heavier and more fragile material like sculpey it would not have been nearly as easy to wear. Not to say that sculpey can’t ever be used for crowns, but for something this delicate covering this much surface area, a lighter material was definitely needed.

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Thank you.