Artist Corner – Beastly Intentions! – Richard Johnston

Making a Beast headdress to a deadline can prove to be quite challenging but even more so when it is supposed to resemble someone else’s designed headdress too!

Due to a mix up in scheduling, the pantomime production company were not able to use the headdress and clawed gloves they had hired so they approached theatrical scenery and prop making company MYA Workshop in Yapton near Arundel, Sussex, to solve this problem.

The bicycle helmets gave a good basis to start from

Upon examining photos of the originally made headdress, I discovered that some sort of real fur had been used, probably a long haired goatskin or possible yak fur. As it would have been very difficult and time consuming to try and match the real fur, some faux yak fur was found instead and the project began!

I started by buying a bicycle helmet, removing the outer plastic cover and then began to carve and sand the polystyrene foam into less of a helmet-like shape. Then the horns were carved from plastazote foam, ridges added using a soldering iron to melt the surface, then heat formed into shape using a hot air gun and stuck to the head shape using a glue gun. Then upholstery foam was glued on and carved to give a better shape and plastazote ears glued on.

The Beasts Hands!

The next job was to stick on the fur fabric and it was very time consuming but eventually the whole headdress was covered. But, at this stage, it looked rather like a large teddy bear! Fortunately, after a bit of a trim with an electric razor and a wash and scrub and brush using paint, water and PVA glue, it was beginning to look more ‘beastly.’ There was also a blonde wig to be added to the back of the head and a goatee beard and bottom lip and fangs to make plus the gloves with claws so there was still plenty of work to do.

I started making the bottom lip and fangs by first sculpting the shape using grey clay and then covering that in plaster to make a mould. Into that negative shape, I poured liquid latex and left it overnight to form a thick skin. One dried, pulled from the mould and painted, I added the goatee style beard and scrubbed and painted it using the same process as for the head. Then the fur fabric was added to some leather gauntlets and claws made from heating up and shaping some Worbla and glued on using the hot glue gun.

Front of the completed outfit

Eventually, the whole ensemble of head, goatee and gloves were completed just in time for the client to collect. Phew! We are all now looking forward to seeing some photos of the actor wearing the whole costume on stage!

If you would like to see more work from MYA Workshop then please do have a look at the Facebook page here:
or on Instagram: @myaworkshop
Richard Johnston –

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