One of the elements I wanted for my Enchantment Under the Sea costume was ear-fins. I saw a few variations on Pinterest (some using wire, some using foam, some using paper) and decided to do mine in wire and fabric, since then I could match them to other elements on the costume which would also be fabric-based.
Here’s the basic process if you want to make your own:
- Soft wire (sorry I don’t remember the gauge)
- Needle nose pliers & wire cutters
- Paper, pencil
- Hot glue, tacky glue (I used Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue)
- Thin knit fabric
- Acrylic paint, water, paintbrush
- Acrylic rhinestones
With fairly soft wire (I don’t know the gauge of what I used) I shaped the wire around the back of my ear, creating the shape of the support. I curled in the edges to avoid them poking me. Later in the process I found that they snagged my hair a little, so I used glue to cover them entirely and create something less-likely to snag my hair.
Duplicate & add to the wire support
I then traced the support onto a piece of paper, and duplicated the process for the second ear. Then on the paper I drew the shape I wanted, and used another piece of wire to trace the shape with wire. That was twisted onto the ear support. Repeat for the other ear. I found pliers useful for getting the sharp corners.
From there I took additional short pieces of wire to create the ribs – they’re visually interesting, and also support the overall shape of the ear-fin.
I used very thin strings of hot glue to attach fabric to the back of each fin. Flip to duplicate so you have a symmetrical set.
The fabric I chose is a shot fabric (meaning it changes colour based on which direction you view it from) the colours are royal blue and teal, and then it also has a bit of a silver metallic too. It’s a swimwear fabric I bought YEARS ago at Dressew in Vancouver.
Securing & trimming the fabric
Next I sewed the wire to the fabric for additional support. I used a metallic silver-blue thread which tangles easily, but I thought would be better considering the metallic wire and the metallic fabric. I trimmed the extra fabric and then did a quick whip-stitch around the perimeter of the ear-fin again to tuck in any poorly-trimmed bits of fabric. I used a knit fabric so fraying isn’t a concern.
Painting & embellishing
Then I painted the ear-fins. I used a metallic-pearl teal on the “inside” of the ribs, and a darker steel-blue (with a bit of metallic/pearl) on the “outside” of the ribs to create depth.
Since these won’t ever be washed, I just used acrylic craft paint which I had in my craft drawers. I found wetting the fabric a bit before painting helped get the feathering I was looking for rather than hard edges in the painting.
After the ear-fin had been painted, I waited for that to dry, and then used tacky glue which dries clear to attach a series of small rhinestones to the ear-fin.
I also put some clear-drying tacky glue into the “swirls”, and used the same glue to cover any rough bits of wire – mostly so that they won’t catch in my hair. The result is nearly totally clear and smooth.
When wearing the ears, I could shape the soft wire with my fingers to bring the ears forward, as well as to curve the wires connecting the “ribs” giving a more dimensional appearance.
While I was working on a painting where silver powder had been added to a glaze (acrylic) I sponged some of the extra silvery-glittery glaze to the tips of the ear fins too… mostly just because it was there – it’s noticeable, but not especially so. My goal was to bring some back some of the metallic look the fabric had, before I added the paint.
Stay tuned.. I’ll eventually have some photos of the finished costume to share! If you’re looking at these in the future, you should be able to click the “Enchantment Under The Sea” tag to see all of the related posts.
Update: December 7, 2014
Here is a photo taken just before I headed to the event, wearing the hat, necklace, ears, dress, and gloves!