making a gigantic headdress?

topic posted Sat, November 5, 2005 - 6:48 PM by  Annie
I have made a few small headdresses, very nice to wear, but want to start making larger ones. Maybe 14 inches high, 18 inches wide. Lightweight, but hard to balance. Do not want to have the effect of a large helmet holding it on, so I think I need to make a brace or harness that I wear on my upper body, with a rod up behind my neck and helping to balance the whole. Like they do in Beach Blanket Babylon. Anyone have any know-how to share? Or any easier ideas? Thanks, Vixens...
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SF Bay Area
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    Re: making a gigantic headdress?

    Sat, November 5, 2005 - 9:38 PM
    You know, I work at a Mardi Gras supply company and we have a HUGE "headdress" (it's not really worn on the head, but more like what you described) that was worn by the queen of some Mardi Gras parade or other. It extends well above the head and out and is made with wire, feathers, applique and LOTS of hot glue. As I recall, it's got two harnesses that rest on the shoulders and are joined by a rod in the back for support. I think it also has ties to secure it under the arms and maybe also ties to secure it around the waist. I'd have to look at it again for sure, though. I could take some pics of it for you, if you like.
    • Re: making a gigantic headdress?

      Sat, November 5, 2005 - 10:13 PM
      Wow, Kaapali, that headdress must be a work of art! I'm glad you understood what I was getting at there. Sounds like you have a fascinating job, and that headdress sounds like a great source of structural information. I would love to see any digital pix you had a chance to take. (I remember my mother speculating, when we say BBB as kids, that this is how they handled their gigantic headdresses, and I have always wanted to create one for events. )
      • Re: making a gigantic headdress?

        Sun, November 6, 2005 - 8:55 AM
        I would make a support from a hard frame back pack.

        Then using this as a structural beginning.
        Figure out what I could do without.

        Assuming of course that you do not want backpack frame.

        You could find where the weight is carried and how the belt transfers the weight.
        • Re: making a gigantic headdress?

          Sun, November 6, 2005 - 5:37 PM
          I worked at BBB a few times and you're right. The big ones were made on a harness with a rod that goes up into the headdress. Depending on the size of the headdress, or course. Some had shoulder braces, some had vest-like braces and the big one you see at the end of the show was more like a set piece the actress actually walked into. It rolled around on casters. You have to be careful about how much bulk you're adding to your costume, of course.

          Most of them were made on fitted buckram wig caps with wide elastic chin straps. They were made from wet buckram stretched over a head form and cut to fit the actor. Those could actually hold quite a big wig and headdress, since it fit so well. So decide how big and heavy your headdress needs to be and go from there.
          • Re: making a gigantic headdress?

            Tue, November 8, 2005 - 10:33 PM
            Kathy, thank you for the info. It helps. Can you think of any place I might see pictures of these contraptions, or diagrams of their structural aspects?
            • Re: making a gigantic headdress?

              Thu, November 10, 2005 - 4:08 PM
              No, it's been years since I worked there. The buchkram caps looked like a regural wig cap, only made of buckram and fitted tight to the head. They then took several regular wigs, cut them apart and glued/sewed them to the cap along with the hat stuff.

              What kind of headdress are you wanting to make? How big and what's it made of?
              • Re: making a gigantic headdress?

                Fri, November 11, 2005 - 7:37 AM
                If it's light weight you can use two layers of buckram (iron together and they stay pretty good) then zig zag over millinery wire. Add extra wire to support outside frame (going from crown to outer edge, etc). I've seen large, light weight head pieces down entirely in buckram and wire, covered with fabric with accents of lace, feathers, faux jewels, etc. Exquisite.

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