Halloween Costume Horns: Guest Contributor

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This Halloween dress yourself up as something completely different. Wear those horns and wear them proudly. Now you can create your own horns out of clay. We had a guest send in many different horns for you to make. Danielle Ackley-McPhail from Clay Sculpture knows just the kind of horns you’re looking for. Here she lists how you can make a variety of them:

1. Nub Horns – (kind of like a goat or the stereotypical devil horn) I roll the clay into a ball and cut it in half; that gives me my wide base and the top surface is roughly in the shape I’m going to want it to be in when I’m finished. Then I take the ball half and start pressing and pulling gently on the top in one direction until it narrow into a nub. The top can be rounded or pointed, depending on the look you want to go for, just use your fingers to shape until you reach the desired effect.


2. Curved Horns – Start with a rope, instead of a ball. Keep it kind of thick, at least at the base end and roll it a little bit into a cone shape, letting it narrow as desired, with the tip either rounded or pointed according to the effect you want to achieve.

3. Ram’s Horns – Start with a rope, instead of a ball. Keep it kind of thick, at least at the base end and roll it a little bit into a cone shape. Hold the base gently in your one hand, not too hard, then with your other hand twist the clay while at the same time pulling slightly. The tip will spiral and narrow to a point. While you are twisting, let the horn curve under as well, with the tip either staying in a flat curl or tugging it out slightly so they point out. Once you have your shape use your clay knife to slice the base at an angle from front to back.


4. Spiral Horns – Follow the above directions only do not curve the horn as it is spiraling.

5. Unicorn Horns – make one spiral horn only in a larger scale. Watch where you put the holes for the elastic and don’t make the horn too big because balance can be an issue.

6. Cat’s Ears – start with half a ball and work with the clay, pressing your finger in until you end up with a roughly cat-shaped ear where the front edge is a little fuller and the outside edge is flat. Take a bit of white or beige clay and add it to the depression, working the edges until the two clays mix on the outside edge. Follow the rest of the above directions in regards to drilling the hole, texturing, and glazing. When you make the second ear, make sure it is a close approximation of a mirror image to the first ear.


Achieving Different Effects
1. Try mixing different colors for more interesting effects, particularly when making spiral horns, though the swirling/marbling effect on smooth horns is interesting as well.

2. Experiment with embellishing…glitter, beads, bells, many small craft items can be adapted to make more elaborate horns. Embed them while you are making the horns or attach them after you have baked them, depends on the effect you are after.

3. Play with textures. It can be as simple as purposely overlapping your own fingerprints lightly on the surface of a horn or pressing a textured cloth or other item into the clay after you have the shape you are looking for. Another technique is to take your skewer or a toothpick and drag it through the clay to create patterns or lines to mimic natural horns. I have in the past rolled particularly malleable horns in glass microbeads. Sometime the beads stick after baking, sometimes they come off the minute you touch them, but once they harden you are left with either a rough, jeweled surface or (if they come off) an interesting pebbled texture to the surface of your horn. You can even engrave initials in the base, but do it deep because it will bake in a bit.

4. If a color does not turn out nice once you have baked your horns, or if it should scorch because you have baked it too long, or if you just want to go for different effects, you can use acrylic craft paints to cover all or part of the clay. One particular idea for this would be to create a colored horn and then dry-brush over it with a light coat of gold or silver paint (or just make a solid color horn after you have just made a gold metallic horn and the residue on your hands will transfer on it’s own 😉

General Notes on Horn-Making
1. Keep in mind, with this hand-crafted item the adage no two are alike is quite applicable. Don’t let yourself get frustrated. Strive for similarity, but if you end up with two vastly different patterns rework the clay and try again. This is of a particular issue with mixed color spiral horns or rams horns.

2. When creating the hole for the elastic make sure the tool goes straight through and is reasonably placed in the same spot on both horns or they will not sit in the same orientation when you are wearing them.

3. Polymer clay is known for breaking, particularly delicate pieces. Should the tip of your horn break off use a bit of superglue to reattach the segments. In most instances it won’t even be visible.

Additional Clay Tips
1. Some brand names are SculpeyIII, Premo, and Fimo, though some craft stores have begun producing their own store brand. Comes in solids, metallics, pearls, and effects, including glitter and glow-in-the-dark.

2. Premo and some solid colors are firmer and take longer to knead into a malleable state. If the clay is too firm when you try and work with it, it will crack instead of stretching as you roll or flatten it.

3. SculpeyIII pearl colors are often too easily worked. If the clay too soft it will not hold its shape as well but will hold fingerprints extremely well. If the clay gets too malleable set it aside and let it be awhile. It will harden a little and be easier to work with later.

4. When working with more than one color scrape your work surface with the edge of your clay knife to scrape up any residue and then wipe firmly with a paper towel to minimize unwanted color transfer.

5. Do not grip your clay too firmly or the shape will deform or fingerprints will set. If you have fingerprints you need to get rid of and your horn is smooth surface just roll the clay gently on your work surface, but not too much or you will change the shape. You can also smooth out the fingerprints by lightly drawing your fingers over the space but not pressing down. With polymer clay it is difficult to avoid all fingerprints, but many of them will lessen or disappear altogether in the baking process.

6. It has been my experience that the white clay is a dull color and does not bake very bright. I tend only to use it if I swirl colors. If you want a brilliant white and don’t mind some sparklies (and if you can find it) I recommend using Femo Special Effect in white glitter. It stays an almost glowing white and the glitter is the translucent type, not the metallic type so it produces a gorgeous effect.

Please note that certain colors will transfer to your skin and work surface more readily than others. Any red, some of the metallic blues or deep purple, the metallic gold (which can make some nice effects on any horn you create after that), so keep this in mind when working clay on your work surface or if you are making multiple sets at once in different colors. Always leave the red for last, do the lighter colors first, and wash your hands in between if color transfer is an issue.

Be sure to check out her basic horns too!

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  1. says

    It was mentioned that polymer clay is prone to breaking. This is only partially true.

    Polymer clay is prone to breaking when a poor quality clay is used and/or the piece is under cured.

    To avoid breaking problems with polymer clay, use a good quality brand such as Premo, Fimo or Kato, then bake for 1 hour at 265 – 275F for Premo or Fimo and 325 – 350F for Kato. Use and Oven thermometer, to avoid scorching.

    I know the packages say 30 minutes but most ovens don’t hold their temp consistently. Baking for an hour makes up for that.

  2. Teena Krueger says

    This was taking directly from the web site for kato clay,
    Kato Polyclay, oven hardening polymer clay, bakes at 300 F (150 C). However, it can also be cured at 275 F (135 C) with good results and has been approved to cure at 350 F by our toxicologist, however caution should be taken when curing at that temperature, time should be limited to 10 minutes as you will run the risk of discoloration. You should never exceed 365 F. In prior laboratory testing, it has been determined that tensile strength increases at elevated temperatures.
    I would not want you to ruin your horns by changing the color.

  3. says

    Thanks Teena,

    I’m not familiar with Kato brand as my stores primarily carry Femo or Sculpy, but I will certainly take care when baking. I have experimented with increasing the time slightly but have not had opportunity to find out if it has made any difference. You are right, though, some of the smaller or lighter color horns have been affected by the increase in baking time, fortunately mostly the bottoms. Unfortunately it seems the type of thing you have to learn by trial and error 🙂

    Thanks for reading and posting! Good information to have!


  4. says

    I just like the helpful information you provide for your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and test once more here regularly. I am fairly sure I will learn a lot of new stuff proper here! Best of luck for the next!


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