Hey look at that. We have a huge DIY Wampa head mounted over our fireplace (“fireplace”). Here’s how to make it.
As you know, this is a Wampa. You might have seen some of the Photoshopped taxidermy Wampa head pictures floating around the interwebs for the past few months (like these). We saw them too. And said “Yep. A Hoth-based Star Wars carnivore head would look great over our mantel”. That’s a reasonable thing that people say, right?
We set out to keep the cost low and build the head with common household items (plus some faux fur). Total cost for the project was under $20 – even less if you don’t add the fur – it took a few hours to make, plus a ton of drying time. It measures approximately 30×25″, and 17″ deep.
Here’s what you will need:
Paint – acrylic, poster paint
White Fur (optional)
Wood Grain Contact paper (optional)
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back blu-ray (to watch while you make it)
Here is the initial sketch. I did take some artistic liberty with the design, so he’s a little less “puff ball”. Kat approved, so we got to work.
We started with a large cardboard box. I cut a pet food box apart and created a rudimentary mouth over the base box. Balls of newspaper taped together became a basic muscle structure.
After we had the general shape we wanted, we dove into the paper-mache. We found this site and went with her user-friendly recipe. 1 part flour to 4 parts water, boil the mixture, stir until it’s a thick paste.
We tore a stack of newspaper into
probably a million several strips. We dipped the strips in the mixture and applied them to the frame. For the lips, nose, eyes and tongue, we used paper towel instead of newspaper. It was very moldable and made some smoother shapes. Those were attached to the head with excess paper-mache glue stuff.
After letting everything dry overnight, Kat and I painted the entire head with white poster paint. Much cheaper than acrylic paint.
We rolled up and taped a bunch of cardboard teeth, and covered them with paper-mache paper towel. The horns are rolled up brown grocery bags taped into a horn-shape, covered with paper-mache newspaper.
We painted the eyes/eye area, mouth, tongue, and teeth with acrylic paint. We added another strip of paper-mache paper towel as gums to secure the teeth. The teeth, tongue and eyes were coated with Mod Podge to give it all the appropriate shiny/slobbery effect.
Initially the plan was to just paint the Wampa head with a couple coats of white paint and leave it like that (which is why it’s covered in paper-mache in the first place). After one coat, we kind of “meh’d” and decided that faux fur would look better. If you want to cover your DIY Wampa head with fur as well, the paper-mache newspaper on the head is optional (though it does help you work out its “bone” structure so you get a better idea of what the final piece will look like).
The faux fur is about $8/yard at your local craft store, assuming you use the coupon they all have on their apps/newsletters. One yard is plenty. Work in small sections with the fur, gluing it piece by piece. Finish it off with gluing the horns into place, and adding little cardboard/fur triangles for the ears.
We stapled a small piece of scrap wood to the back of the cardboard box (er…Wampa skull) for hanging. The decorative mounting board was constructed out of cardboard, covered in wood-grain contact paper. You don’t want to put any weight on the cardboard mount, which is why it sits around the wooden back.
After a trim around the eyes and a little off the top, we attached a picture mounting wire to the wooden frame in back and hung Mr. Wampa above the mantle. He doesn’t weigh much, since he’s hollow and made of cardboard.
So there you go, a Star Wars DIY Wampa head made from things you can find around the house (plus some fur). What do you think?
One last thing:
We are nominated for Apartment Therapy’s “Homies Awards“, for best Home Project/DIY Blog. I think we’re the only geek decor blog on the list, and guarantee we’re the only site with a Wampa head and 8-bit fireplace. So show some geek love, and give us a +1. It means a lot to us. [awww. Sappy] Update: Voting has ended – and a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported us! We ended up in the top 60 out of almost 300 – and for a small personal geek DIY blog, we’re pretty excited about that!