Ram’s horns – construction

A commission for a pair of my Ram’s Horns was the perfect excuse for me to document their construction process.

This time around, to save me some labour, the lovely SamLR used the python library ‘dfx writer’ to generate 50-odd circles ranging from 7mm to 32mm in radius, in steps of +.5mm radius. Each one is numbered, and has two holes in for the wires to go in. The circles for one horn fit on two sheets of A4. A little spray glue later, and we had a few fun hours cutting little circles out of cardboard with scissors and stabbing through the holes with the spikes of a pair of dividers.

We then threaded the circles onto folded wires, separated by two cardboard spacers in each gap. Another time I’d like to make ’em all on a laser cutter – that would approximately halve the construction time.

Once the cone is constructed, I bent the wire in opposite directions to form the horns’ spirals.

Plaster of paris fabric strips are really easy to use – cut to size, dip in water, slide it between through two fingers to squeeze off the excess water, then drape over the form, overlapping and building the surface. By placing the fabric strips diagonally – what you’d call ‘on the bias’ when cutting fabric – the fabric distorts to suit the form. I pushed the fabric between the circles to shape the distinctive ridges.

Once the plaster was dry, the texture of the fabric was still very visible. I mixed up a loose slurry of plaster and water – far runnier than you’d expect – and laboriously re-surfaced the horns, touching up the shaping where necessary. As I worked the plaster in my tub gradually got thicker, and I was able to use globs of it to improve the shape of the ends of the horns, covering up the stubby ends.

I painted the plaster horns with acrylic paints – yellowey undercoat and dark brown on the outside. A little tricky to paint without lifting the plaster surface, but otherwise not too bad. Then it was mounting – a plastic hairband from Claire’s Accessories, trimming the wire to suit and planting it back into the body of the horns.

Ta-dah! On their way to one hopefully happy customer.

27 Replies to “Ram’s horns – construction”

  1. Thank you so much for this tutorial! The instructions and pictures are clear and easy to follow – I have used your tutorial to make a pair of horns for my friend. I looked through a lot of options and this was by far the best! Very low or no cost and the most natural looking and comfortable lightweight horn. Thank you again for sharing! You made this project SO much easier!
    :) Erika

      1. Hi Morag, I havent quite finished them yet (they’re for a masquerade on July 5th, 2014) However, I do have in progress photos. I have posted them to my deviantart page for you :)
        oovorpalaliceoo dot deviantart dot com

  2. Beautiful! And just what I was looking for. I wanted to double check the dimensions. The largest circle is only 32 mm? With that size I can fit all 50 of the circles on half of a single sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch (Inches alas, in Canada) paper.

    1. A4 is 8.27 × 11.69 inches, so it should give you just about the same results – the base of the horns should be a bit over 6cm (about 2 1/2 in) across. Best of luck!

  3. Obrigado por postar a construção desse pelo chifre, sou apaixonado por chifres e este foi uns dos melhores tutoriais que já vi, muito facil e do jeito que eu quero fazer. Obrigado por compartilhar.

    1. You’re very welcome, I’m glad my tutorial is useful to you! If you wanted to share some photos that would make me very happy indeed ;)

  4. Can you make me a pair of horns for marko from saga? If so how much? I’d need them by mid July latest.

    1. Hi Phil, I responded via email on 1st June, but I fear it may have got caught in your spam filters or something?

    1. I think it was about 1m, then folded in half. I don’t know exact thickness of the wire, but it was sturdy garden wire – I can bend it by hand, but not very precisely, and I needed pliers to get a good tight bend at the end.

  5. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! The result is beautiful.

    I’m trying to make these, but I’m having trouble getting the wire through the cardboard (particularly the smaller circles) without it mangling it up pretty bad. There’s a lot of poking and bending of the cardboard before it goes through. :/ Did you use something to poke the holes through the cardboard before putting the wire through?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Lana, thanks! Yes, that’s right – I poked through the two labelled holes in the cardboard first with a small metal spike – the dead end of a pair of compasses is a good option, as it can’t push all the way through. Best of luck!

  6. My horns are really heavy and I don’t know how to fix them with the hairband cause I doesn’t stay at its place and always slides backwards and falls down :((

    1. I’m sorry to hear that! It’s hard to diagnose from here, but my first stops would be getting a REALLY wide headband that fits you well and has teeth to grab onto your hair, changing where the horns are relative to the headband so the weight is pulling straight down when you stand up (mine would fall off if I lean too far forwards or back, but I’ve got the weight balanced just right), and perhaps use hairspray or gel in your hair to give the hairband more to grip onto. Best of luck!

    1. It’s more tricky – in my experience, it’s hard to get paper strips to conform to the curved shape without awkward kinks and corners and angles, or just slipping off the form entirely. Paper pulp is even worse, because you still need something to bridge the gaps. I tried stocking fabric, but couldn’t get a decent bond with the pulp. Depending what your limiting factor is here, I’d suggest a combination of the two – soak woven fabric in your glue mixture and drape the form, and once you’ve got that as a base cover it in papier mache as you usually would. I’d love to hear how you get on!

  7. Thank you so much for this tutorial…. it has been great fun to read and can’t wait to apply it on my present project.
    Rev. Jose Lopez NYC

  8. This is the second time I use this tutorial to make horns for a cosplay, and it is by far the easiest, the cheapest and the most lightweight way I’ve ever tried. Thank you so much for this amazing tutorial!

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