Anubis – Collar

I wasn’t really sure how I was going to do the collar for the Anubis costume.  Really, I started working on the scarabs before I actually knew how I was going to do the collar, not really knowing how I was going to use them….


I thought of a few ways to do the collar/necklace, such as:

I didn’t want to go with the cardboard/craft foam option that was the method of choice on some of the costume/craft sites… when I was looking at real collars/necklaces, they were fully beaded, which was the option I was leaning towards if I could find a huge amount of beads for cheap…

Focal beads

I knew that regardless of how I did the collar, I wanted to use some ‘focal’ beads or cabochons for the collar.  I really wanted gold or turqoise scarabs for these focal beads.  I have a brass stamping that I thought I would incorporate as well.

Necklace Base

To start off, I started making some scarabs – but while I was waiting for the resin to set up, I made the necklace base.   I used pictures from Zarifas site to get an idea of what it looks like – but wasn’t making mine with wire and tiny beads like they do.

Three diferent kinds of golden ‘etched’ beads. This is what was in one package – you can see the proportions are in no way even.

I knew I was going to need a LOT of beads, so I picked up 5 packages of gold beads from Michaels. These are three different golden beads in one package – but the numbers aren’t even, so it’s hard to say how much of each style you’ll get.  Since I had the curve to deal with, different sizes actually worked really well.  I ended up only using one and a half packages of the beads actually, and was able to take the remaining three packages back.  (I have no idea when I’ll need cheap, plastic, gold beads again…)  I also picked up one LARGE package of black plastic faceted beads.  Like the gold beads, I ended up using a LOT less than I thought I would – and could have bought a much smaller package if I had known.  Finally I picked up some turqoise beads with two-holes.  I had been looking for spacer bars all over the place with no luck, so these would have to do in their place, plus they added back the turqoise colour I was looking for.

Most of the supplies for the collar/necklace

Additional supplies:  thread (to test the design) and a needle, a clasp, beading wire, crimps, and pliers.

I used my bust form to start the necklace (to shape the curve) and then cut it apart and re-did it again, before putting it together in wire.  The photos probably show more than I can with just text… Basically it is one inner necklace bound to the next layer with the bar-beads, then another layer, another, and finally the fifth layer.  It looks quite big on my bust form, but isn’t nearly so big on me (since I’m a lot larger than my form!)

The finished collar/necklace


Clay originals

To make the scarabs, I started with some “Pluffy” – a foam-like modeling clay by Sculpey.  I just rolled out ovals, and then with two of them I pressed the details in with the broken off tine of a plastic fork, and with another I added details on with extra clay. I was surprised how easy the clay was to condition and shape – although it was harder to get firm exact edges as with regular Sculpey clay.  It reminded me a LOT of Model Magic – though apparently if you don’t bake it it will stay soft and shapeable.  Neat! The shaped item was pretty soft  – but upon baking it firmed up not terribly unlike regular oven-baked clay. I also love how LIGHT the final piece is.

clay scarabs on top of the clay package

Note: I don’t know how this clay lasts (in terms of how fragile it might be long-term), but it was so much easier to work with than regular Fimo/Sculpey, that I think I’d prefer to use it in future.  It doesn’t come in nearly as many colours, but since they’re blendable and paintable, it should be ok…

I just looked at online photos of scarab cabochons for the idea of what they should look like.  I had looked in a number of bead and Egyptian shops for beads -but found nothing.


Next I grabbed some two-part molding putty and molded the three scarabs.  This is so fast and easy – though once you mix up the putty, it sets up in about 10 minutes, so the working time is pretty short.  Because of this, I had a few other shapes to mold at the same time – whatever else I want to mold at some point, if I have some spare putty.  In this case I molded the ankh for the pendant for this costume, and a cog button I got in Vancouver a year or two ago.


Doh – this was NOT a successful attempt – I went to my resin, and the catalyst had glued itself shut.. so I used a different catalyst, and it never did seize up.

So… I had to wait, and headed back to the hobby shop to get more resin casting chemicals.  The hobby shop I went to before – didn’t have any of what I had used before. *headdesk*

So, I went off to WalMart and found a clear-drying acrylic resin… I prepared the mold by brushing in copper powder for cast pieces to start, then mixed up the resin along with a small amount of black resin dye.

Brushing the copper powder into the mold, getting ready to cast the pieces

 The previous resin set up quickly – within 10 minutes. This stuff said on the package that it would take 24-48 hours.  Doh!  I just couldn’t win! I waited more than 24 hours and it STILL hadn’t hardened.

Waiting for the resin to cure

I actually ended up waiting WAY longer than 48 hours – I waited about 6 days, and the resin never did cure.  I finally got so frustrated that I pulled the pieces out of their molds to see what happened.  I talked a little about this in the Acrylic Water Kit post back in November, and could only think at that point that the dye had been the problem. (I later realized that this stuff just wasn’t what I needed it to be through additional trial-and-error.)

A cast item – you can see how parts are still ‘wet’ and how significant residue was left behind in the mold.

Above is one of the pieces – you can see that parts of the cog are still wet, and significant residue is left behind in the mold.

What I’m looking for…

I was super bummed, and went out hunting for the resin that I had (very successfully) used before – Amazing Casting Resin.  Unfortunately I never did find it. (Though as an aside, after the project I found another shop where I might be able to get some, and if worse comes to worst, I could always order some in too. However I did find another product – but it would also take 72 hours to cure… which makes making multiple items really annoying… At this point I was so frustrated, that I decided just to forgo casting my pieces in resin, and switched back to clay.

I ended up re-molding the two essential items (the ankh for the pendant and one of the three original scarabs) using a different mold material (I had used up all of my original mold material). Once again the molding part of this worked nearly perfectly, which is good – because there was only just enough molding material to do the items I absolutely needed!

Re-molding the most-needed pieces

From there I just went back to the “Pluffy” modeling clay, and cast the ankh (I actually made two, just in case..) as well as four of the one scarab that I made a mold from. One challenge is removing the sof, molded clay from the old. With resin, the items harden in the mold, and can be easily removed.  Since this isn’t air-dry clay (and frankly I didn’t want to wait that long either) I needed to pull the items very carefully from the mold, and then set them aside to bake. For the scarabs I also ran a toothpick through them to make a hole so they could be easily strung. These were baked as normal, and then painted. 

To paint the scarabs, I started off with a layer of navy blue mixed with metallic turquoise acrylic paint, then dry brushed them with gold mixed with copper. Then they all got a coat of clear, glossy varnish.  My original intention had been to try to paint them to look like turqoise, but I actually really like the final result.

The finished scarabs

Adding the scarabs to the necklace

… well… I didn’t.

Yep. After all of that work, I decided I liked the collar the way it was, and the scarabs didn’t really match the blue beads well enough anyways, so I totally didn’t use them. BOO. I hung on to them though for something else….

Anubis – Staff & purse

Ankh sketch

I’m calling the hanging ankh a ‘purse’ even if it isn’t actually a purse… basically it’s just an ankh that I’ll end up carrying, so I’m calling it a purse.


1) The staff started off as a bamboo pole that I had (I had actually planned to give it away, but never ran into the person I was going to give it to – so I re-purposed it for the Anubis staff).

2) For the ankh itself, I started off by drawing an ankh on my computer (so I could make sure it was even, and then easily size it up and down for a pattern), and then measured the diameter of my pole (approx 1.5″) and printed off the ankh pattern so the base of the ankh would accommodate the pole.

3) This I cut out of styrofoam. I cut two copies out of a thin foam (leftover packing material, not purchased) and then cut the top half out of a thicker foam, then cut side pieces of the thinner foam as well. Basically the bottom of the ankh is an empty box, while the top is solid, so that the ankh will fit over my bamboo pole.

4) I taped the bottom half of the two full ankhs with masking tape, and then taped the full ones on either side of the half, thicker foam piece. Then I taped in the side pieces.

From there I covered the whole thing with masking tape,  to make the ankh a bit more stable, as well as to prepare the foam for paper mache.

Top half of the thicker foam attached to the full ankh for the staff

5) I really loved the extra dimension that SamUK made on her cosplay staff (visit this link – it’s gorgeous!) using craft foam, so I also cut out some additional shapes from craft foam and glued them onto the ankhs before covering them in paper mache.  I just used hot glue for this step.

6) From there I covered the whole thing with paper mache (just using white glue and warm water plus a ripped up newspaper. I only used one layer of paper mache, since I didn’t really need to add any extra bulk.

Close up of some of the detail with the foam covered in paper mache and wood filler

7) Next -wood filler.  I picked up one tube, and about half way through the ankh for the “purse” and the staff I realized that I was going to need more…. either way – I smeared the stuff on, then smoothed it with my hands, and when it was still cool to the touch but drying I sort of “buffed” it with my hands.  (I actually did this on one, and less so on the other – and the buffing really helped make the sanding a lot easier…)  A few hours later (I went for sushi in between!) I sanded the ankh.  The sanding didn’t really get it quite as smooth as I wanted, so I went  onto the next step…

Smoothed out wood filler

8) I have NO idea if this is the right thing to do – but I used a tiny drop of warm water on my fingertips to smooth the filler even further, let it dry again (but this time overnight) and then lightly sanded it again.

9) From here I wiped off the remaining dust and spray painted the ankh black as a base coat. I was sad to see a lot of the details of the additions seem to fade away with the matte black colour.

The ankh spray painted black

10) Then I spray painted it copper, and finally I painted with gold spray-paint. I really didn’t like the gold, and really liked the copper, so went back in and added a few ‘highlights’ of copper as well. The gold just didn’t look ‘metallic’ enough for me.  Once that dried,  I went in with black acrylic paint to bring back out the details and ‘age’ the gold a little bit, before spraying the ankh with clear varnish.  It’s funny.. I spent so much time sanding to ensure that the smooth parts were smooth… and then went back in with the black paint to bring out all of the defects. Hahaha

Finished paint job

11) Of course, from there I had to attach the ankh to the pole itself!


The flashlight inside the channel in the ankh

1) For the ankh that I would carry, I took the same pattern as the ankh for the staff and enlarged it so that the top loop would accommodate my hand (since the ankh is shown often carried in the hand rather than by a cord in most of the carvings – rather than my inspiration statue).

2) This I cut out of foam core (again, leftover from another project, rather than something I purchased for the purpose) twice, like the previous project. I then cut the same ankh out of styrofoam that is thicker than the foam core, but thinner than the thick styrofoam I used for the staff ankh.

I found the styrofoam fairly easy to cut with a box cutter (with my self-healing mat under to protect my table) but the edges are ragged.  On the other hand, the foam core has nice clean lines, but is much more challenging to cut.  The foam core is also quite a bit heavier than the styrofoam – not seriously heavy by any means, but noticeably heavier.  The result is also much firmer, and not as ‘spongy’.

3) Next, in an effort to accommodate a small flashlight (so that my ankh might ‘glow’) I cut out a channel from the inner foam.  I hope that this works, but it’s not vital for the prop, so if it doesn’t I won’t be devastated…

4) Then like the previous ankh, I layered the foam core, styrofoam and second foam core ankh and taped them together, then fully taping the ankhs for firmness and to give the paper mache something to stick to.

Two ankhs, taped up and ready for paper mache

5) Just like the ankh for the staff, I added on some details with craft foam using hot glue, then covered the whole thing in paper mache. From there I added the wood filler, sanded, water-smoothed, and sanded again.

The two ankhs before painting

6) From here I wiped off the remaining dust and spray painted the ankh black.  Then I spray painted it copper, and finally I painted with gold spray-paint. Like the staff ankh, I really prefered the copper to the gold, so went back in and added more copper to highlight the peice a bit.

7) From there I went in with black acrylic paint to bring out the details and ‘age’ the gold a little bit, before spraying the ankh with clear varnish. From here it’s good to go; I just need to drop in that miniature flashlight!

Hey there Pinterest users!

Make_a_light_costume_accessoryI’m updating this post to add a Pinterest-friendly how-to guide. Just click the image for a full-size version.

Anubis – Mask

Inspiration and ideas

I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out how I was going to make the jackal head for the mask – starting just with what mask I was going to use for a base! I had a headband mask (which would be very well supported, but fans out at the sides and might look silly when covered with the headdress – plus it’s such a pretty black velvet and I hesitate to cover it all up…) and a large mask blank with an elastic back (which would be easier to work with, but didn’t quite cover as much as I would have liked…).

I decided to start with the mask blank.

From there I made the ears, and then got to focus on the nose.


Figuring out how to shape the nose of the jackal;  I thought about making a wire form and covering it with paper mache, of sewing a fabric nose and making it into the mask, using expanding foam, molding it in leather, making it in foam-clay (like model magic), making it in paper and covering it with plaster, and a few other ideas.

I decided at first that expanding foam might work best.

I took a look at Angela’s blog where she has a tutorial on how to make a super-light-weight sword using expanding foam.  She has quite expansive instructions. (including a reminder that this takes a while due to all the drying time), but the basic steps are:

  1. Cut out a one-dimensional template out of card
  2. Spray the template with expanding foam on each side
  3. Carve away the excess foam
  4. Cover the foam with masking tape (to seal the foam)
  5. Cover the masking tape with paper mache and let dry
  6. Cover the paper mache with celluclay, let dry, sand, then paint. (The celluclay gives it a smoother surface than just sanding the paper mache.)

Another similar tutorial from Kamui Cosplay

I thought that this would be a fantastic way of making a nose that I could shape the way I wanted (through the carving of the foam) much like making the nose out of clay, but much lighter…

Avianna used a similar technique to make a mask – but added in model magic to add extra details to the mask.  Her instructions are quite good as well, but the basic steps are:

  1.  Put the paper mache over a mask blank
  2. Adding features with paper mache, paper towel soaked in paper mache glue, and model magic
  3. Evening out the surface with paperclay
  4. Sanding the paperclay, and finally finishing the mask with paint and details like eyelashes, hair, etc.

So, I figured that if I combined the two, I could make the mask with the nose on it, while keeping it quite lightweight.  Ronnie Not The Bear suggests that paperclay is great because it’s easy to sand, and has some example pictures of the benefit of sanding.  Also I was really impressed by the shine she got on her horns by sanding…
Although the photo of this ‘inspiration’ mask isn’t very illuminating – I did love the comment about using a taxidermy nose for the nose of the jackal – and picked up a teddy bear nose at the Creative Stitches show – with the intention of using it in this mask too.

Getting started

Once I had my plan, I needed to actually get started on it. Since this was one of the most challenging aspects of the costume, I spent a lot of time working on the easier projects first so I could mull over the ideas in my mind before moving forward… I also needed time to shop for that expanding foam.  Note to self – Home Depot is useless – it’s so hard to find things in there! I found the foam at Rona easily – along with all of the other things I (thought I) needed.

… and then I changed my mind.


I cut the ‘nose’ shape out of cardstock to start with – with the intention of spraying foam on it – but once I cut it out, it just seemed too small to really make any sense out of with the foam.

  1.  Instead I went back to the foam core that I had used for one of my two ankhs, and traced my nose shape out of foamcore, then four subsequently smaller shapes and finally two “cheek” pieces. I previewed what the plastic nose piece would look like on the foam nose too.

    Previewing the plastic nose

  2. These are layered   4 3 2 1 2 3 4 with “1” being the original nose shape and “4” being the ‘cheek’ pieces.  (I also cut out the centers of some of the pieces to lighten it further.)

    The layers of foam core

  3. I glued the layers together using hot glue and filled in some of the space with hot glue as well.  Looking back I could have also carved in the angle into the individual steps of foam, but I didn’t.

    All of the layers glued together

  4. Next I covered the  nose with a layer of paper mache, trying to fill in some of the hollows with paper mache to make the nose “curve” in three dimensions.
  5. Once dry, I glued the nose to the mask with hot glue, filling in any of the minor spaces between the two with glue.  Then I blended in the nose to the mask with more paper mache.

    The nose glued to the mask with the first layer of paper mache

  6. Once that dried, I started covering the nose and the mask with wood filler, and pressed the black plastic nose into the tip of the foam/paper/filler nose.

    Mask with wood filler.

  7. Once that was all dry, I took it outside and spray painted it black.  Note to self – try to do these projects when it isn’t -16 outside…
  8. Since I didn’t really want to spray paint again for the back side (It was just too cold out there!) I brought the mask in when dry and used acrylic paint to continue the  paint job on the front of the mask and the back of the ears. Although the paper mache seemed really smooth on the ears without the wood filler – once the paint was on it was really clear that it wasn’t – the paint seemed to exaggerate the texture. It was a bit too late to do anything – so I just kept at it. I had read that a product called Mod Podge was self-leveling; something like this might have helped as a starter coat before the paint, but that’s something for next time I guess!  (I ended up doing a layer of acrylic paint, a layer of paint mixed with glue, and then a layer of gloss black acrylic paint… all of those paint layers smoothed out the roughness of the paper mache pretty well.)
  9. Next I mixed some copper and some gold acrylic paint, and painted the ears of the mask and around the eyes.
  10. Then I punched the hole for the earring, painted the inside of the hole (and the back of the ear where some of the paper had been exposed during the punch) with black paint, and then painted the whole thing with a layer of clear gloss varnish. Despite the fact that glossy finishes show off imperfections more -I really did like the look of the glossy paint when it was wet more so than the dry matte finish, so I wanted to get that shine back.


I loved the look of an earring in the Anubis’ ear, so I looked around all over the place for a chunky cool bold gold ring to make into an earring.  I really couldn’t find anything that appealed to me that was also … well.. cheap.  I found packages of golden-tone rings for chain mail – but I didn’t really need 100 Anubis earrings! I found packages of golden ‘wedding’ rings for wedding favours – but again, I didn’t need 50 rings either.

I ended up finding a curved key holder that vaguely resembled a curved barbell earring – but it was silver-tone! One coat on either side of the key ring with some golden spray paint (appropriate for metal) and I’ve got a golden Anubis earring!

The key ring works by unscrewing one of the two balls, passing the ring through the ear-hole, and screwing the ball back on again. (Just like a curved barbell.


Finally, for the mask I needed to attach the elastic to wear the mask, and lining the inside of the mask with felt.

The inside of the mask filled with black felt to make wearing more comfortable. I used clear-drying glue, but you can see a spot of white through the felt while the glue was still wet.

Anubis – Ears

For the jackal ears, I started off by looking at a number of tutorials & inspiration sources for ears and horns – since I wasn’t sure if I wanted soft ears, or if I wanted ones that were hard.

Inspiration and resources

Some of the tutorials I looked at included:

  1. Bison ears and horns: This tutorial uses pink insulation foam to create the horns – by carving the horns, covering the foam in paper mache, and then painting the horns. The ears are soft, and made from felt and faux fur.  Both are mounted on an elastic headband.
  2. Industrial Anubis leather mask: This is just a photo of a mask that someone made. I’ve done leather shaping in the past for a mask, and I wasn’t really all that happy with the result – I think that the leather that I was using wasn’t the right stuff – and I don’t really have a form to shape the leather on. Still, it’s a great inspiration image! Oddly enough, by the same artist I actually like the ears on a rabbit mask more than the Anubis one. These ears are taller and I really like the curves.
  3. While I was wandering around the internet, and found this sketch to use as the basis for the shape of the ears.


Ok, so I came up with a few different options for the materials to make the ears:

  • soft foam (open-cell foam) (like upholstery foam) – an acquaintance made ears this way for a rabbit costume and they looked great. She told me she basically carved away at foam, and then spray painted them.  The bonus is that they’re super light weight and mildly flexible – meaning fewer bumps to wreck them. The downside – the paint flaked off. So – If I wanted to do this I would either need to find a paint that was foam-compatible (might be hard) or cover them somehow before painting. I would likely need to glue these onto the mask or a head band to make them stand up.
  • craft foam or cardboard to support the shape, covered in tape, paper mache and wood filler, then painted. With this method the result will be a lot more firm (and thus more delicate against wear) but they should hold the paint a lot easier.  They’ll likely be a little bit heavier as well. I could either glue these onto a mask or headband, or paper mache them on (after glueing) to make the transition a bit smoother too. I do like that with this idea, the final version can be quite thin, like a real ear.
  • carved hard foam or carved expanding foam. Like the horns in the tutorial above I would carve the ears, cover with paper mache, then likely wood filler, and finally paint it.  Like the option above the result will be pretty firm, should hold the paint well, and will apply the same way. I could likely get a bit more three-dimension out of this option, but the end result will likely be a lot thicker.
  • faux fur – This option would really be the easiest for me to do – assuming I can find the right fun fur.  Like the example above in the tutorial, it’s a pretty simple shape and a pretty simple construction.  A bit more complicated would be if I could find some long pile fun fur, and make something like Baarak’s ears which are long fur which is shaved and airbrushed. These look amazing!  But… I don’t have any super-long pile white fun fur (and when I looked at the fabric store the other day, none jumped out at me either… Plus, I don’t really think I want these to look that “animal” like – rather I think I want something harder and not as realistic to the animal, but more to the funerary masks.

Choices, choices…

Pattern for the ears

I started out with a paper pattern to figure out the size and shape of the ears, as well as how to get the curve that I wanted out of them.  The paper pattern actually worked out really well, and I decided to just go with the thinner option and cover the ears with paper mache to stiffen them a little.

  1. I cut the pattern out of card stock to start with, and tried them on the mask blank in various ways to see how they would look.

    Previewing the ears on the mask

  2. Next, I started to cover the ears while taped to the mask with paper mache.  I first papered them unfolded, then while the card was damp with glue, folded over the tab and curved the damp paper.

    Paper mache on the ears and mask

  3. From there I moved onto the nose… (more on that to come…)

Anubis – Ears, Mask & Headdress

In a previous post I broke down the elements of the Anubis costume I wanted to make for an upcoming Masquerade party.  In this post I’ll start looking at the ears, mask, and headdress specifically.

When I was doing the breakdown, I was trying to decide how to mount the ears, mask (nose), and headdress.  My options were:

  • Mount the ears on the mask and wear the headdress over top
  • Mount the ears, headdress and mask on a hat form
  • Mount the ears and headdress on a hat form and wear the mask separately

My concerns were balance (keeping it all ON) as well as what else I might have to do while in costume… and if I wanted to be able to take off one part of the costume (namely the mask) while still keeping on other parts of the costume.  For instance to eat/drink, etc…

Ideally I decided I would like to do the nose/mask as one item, and then the ears and headdress as a second item – likely mounted on a hat form.  However, then as I was working, I ended up making them up as one unit instead. Initial plans don’t always work… (Plus I didn’t have a hat form that I wanted to give up for the costume…)


Like the sketch from my inspiration, I wanted the shoulders of the headdress to be cut out so that it would lay flat in the front.  I basically just took a rectangle of fabric (the same gold as the back of the front flag panel for the skirt), folded it in half (right side together) and sewed the three remaining sides. Then I cut out the shoulders, and curved the back corners.  I sewed up the curves (minus a small portion to turn it), turned it, slip-stitched the opening closed, and pressed it, pressing a section at the front back. I’m not 100% happy with this – I think perhaps I might want to do this as more of a hood instead, but for now this will have to work. (If I end up with more time I might re-make this..)

Ears & Mask

Well, I had too much to say about the ears and mask, so I split the posts – so stay tuned!