Howdy, been a while since my last post, but nothing like a local anime/manga/etc convention to make you feel inspired to make things...!
This is a mini-tutorial of how I made the prop head for my boyfriend who wanted to cosplay as Kuma/Jinno/Jinnosuke from Afro Samurai.
Here is a reference photo for Jinnosuke/Jinno/Kuma from Afro Samurai (action figure):
Materials for base:
-24-inch inflatable beach ball
-newsprint (ripped into large-ish pieces)
-Styrofoam pieces (mine were from a box that a computer part came in)
-Styrofoam sphere for the eyes (not what I did, but using a styrofoam ball cut into two would be far safer)
Materials for covering the head:
-brown acrylic paint
-white acrylic paint
-foam block (ours was about 3 inches thick/deep)
For the base/head: I inflated the 24 inch beach ball (got it at Toys 'R' Us) and mixed the flour and water and tore lots of newsprint pieces. I covered the the beach ball in papier mache, but left a un-covered circle with a diameter of roughly 6-7 inches around the ball's inflation nozzle. Allowing enough time to dry (aided by good ol' sunshine on the back porch), we did several layers. Essentially, we put enough layers until we felt the thickness was appropriate and would hold up to handling at an anime convention. After applying the appropriate thickness of papier mache layers, the ball is deflated normally via nozzle (no popping needed like what is necessary with balloons) and easily removed from the paper shell. Using an electric knife (used for carving turkey...ours is very dull, but apparently ideal for this project), I widened the hole so that the wearer could put on the prop. I used the electric knife like a jigsaw and made an oval opening.
For the nose and ears: Using scissors and and electric knife, I shaped pieces of foam found in a box that some computer part was shipped in. One could use foam balls or boxes purchased from a craft store, but we had this around the house. These parts will be attached prior to painting and yarning.
For the eyes: In the materials, I listed a styrofoam sphere that could be cut in half and call it a day. However, when I made this project, I saw that I had burnt out over-the-mirror bulbs from my bathroom and had prepped them by removing the filament and rinsing the interior as described in any of the ubiquitous "How to Hollow Out a Lightbulb" tutorials out there. I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING WHAT I DID WITH LIGHTBULBS TO MAKE KUMA'S EYES (buying a styrofoam ball is worth the cost here)...That being said, this is what I did: the bulbs were covered in papier mache, allowed to dry and then the end was broken off. Too much of the bulb was covered with papier mache, and the eyes needed to be less buggy than they were made so they needed to be cut down. Because the glass is attached to the paper, simply cracking the glass and then ripping/peeling away the glass/paper combo worked well, but little pieces of lightbulb glass were very dangerous. Again, don't recommend this...
Assembly of base and salient features (ears, eyes, and nose):
Ready to use the secret ingredient (that foam block)? You'll need it before continuing assembly! Using duct tape, or making tape, tape that block (again, ours was about approximately 4 inch wide x 6 inch long x 3 inch deep/thick) to the back portion on the interior of the head. This is what the wearer will have resting against the back of their head. (Because the front of the face can be heavy, the block in needed so that the wearer can have their head safely upright while the facial features are properly aligned and visible.
Here I had a volunteer (my mom) wear the to-be bear head, and a reference image of Kuma taped to her chest. Using the reference, I taped the eyes, ears, and nose onto the head with masking tape (and marked the nose location with a pink marker).
Once the pieces were where I wanted them, I papier mached them in place and let it dry.
Covering: Using the white acrylic paint, I painted only the eyes and a little outside of them. Then I mixed up some brown and white acrylic to to make a beige-ish color and painted the nose and inner ear that color. For the rest of the head, I painted it with the plain brown paint. Here is a shot:
After giving the eyes another coat of white acrylic, I began applying the yarn in coaster sized spirals to the head, inspired by Mexican yarn art. What I did was either make a small circle of glue or a large outline of a circle in glue (depending on whether I was going the spiral from the inside or from the outside) and then applied the yarn. Beige went in the ears and on the nose/mouth and brown went everywhere else (not on the eyes of course!).
Here is a shot, mid yarning:
The black yarn was used as a seam along the centered meridian of the bear head and to make Kuma's black nose.
Last step: Use a sharpie (with a steady hand) and draw in the eyes.
Let me know what you think! (If I make a tutorial again, I would definitely take more pictures of the process...)