She drew my name for Christmas, and I knew just what I wanted. We both have come to love all things antlers and (faux) deer heads and this creative, resourceful girl figured out how to make her own! I dropped some pretty good hints :), but still had no idea that she actually made one for me until she lugged a really big box into the living room while we were opening presents.
She was nice enough to share how she did it with us, so I'll let her take it from here...
Create a cube of floral foam bricks that is roughly the size you would like your head to be, not including the antlers. Stick a couple of popsicle sticks or wooden skewers halfway into each brick to secure it to the brick beside it. Once you have your cubes all set, start carving. This is entirely freehand at this point. Grab a picture or figurine to use as a guide. A serrated knife works best. The floral foam is extremely easy to carve and you can turn your knife sideways to do more of a shaving motion for the curvy areas. Leave a flat surface on the back of the head or neck to mount to a plaque or wall when you're finished.
To make your antlers after the head is carved, bundle two groups of pipe cleaners, 20-25, and stick them about an inch down into the top of the head. Bundle two more groups of pipe cleaners, this time 15-20, and tape each bundle to your first group of pipe cleaners already stuck into the head. Trim the ends so that the pipe cleaners are at more of a point, and then use your tape to secure all the ends together, creating a precise point. Curve your pipe cleaners into the desired shape. If they are too heavy to stay up because of their length, clip a wire hanger to the length of the pipe cleaners plus a little extra to stick down into the head. Place the wire hanger inside the bundle of pipe cleaners and stick it into the head. Reshape your pipe cleaners with the hanger inside now. Grab another small bundle of pipe cleaners and cut them in half. Trim and tape off the ends as stated before to make points. Attach as many of these half-sized bundles as you want using tape to secure them to the original pipe cleaners stuck in the head. Gently curve the pipe cleaners with your fingers to create your desired shape.
Mix up a paper mache paste on the stove using water, flour and sugar. Tear strips of packing paper or any other lighter weight paper and dip them into the paste, wiping off the excess. Apply to the entire head and antlers, smoothing any wrinkles as much as possible. Once you have applied one layer of the thinner paper, cut even strips of a thicker paper. I like to use the scrapbooking paper from Hobby Lobby. Using a thicker paper at this point creates a smoother looking and sturdier surface. The print on the scrapbooking paper can be the final look if you desire, or you can spray paint over it. Choose a fun print for the entire head or differing prints for both the antlers and head. The paper mache paste that you coat the paper with will dry clear. Let dry overnight.
After everything dries, paint the entire thing with a nice thick coat of Liquid Laminator from Hobby Lobby. This dries clear while hardening and sealing the entire head for more durability. This product gives the head a nice, smooth, almost plastic feeling finish. Let dry. From here you're either done, or you can spraypaint the head and antlers, or as I did, spray paint the head and cover the antlers in ribbon using a hot glue gun.
Use the flat surface that you left on the back of the head to mount to a plaque. You can purchase these from Hobby Lobby for a couple of bucks. I drilled a few of holes into mine and glued some dowel rods in, then stuck the plaque directly into the back of the head or neck. Attach a hanger to the back and stain or paint your plaque before doing this.
* * * * * * * * * *
And, here he is in his new home.
Here's the first one she made for her friend's baby shower...lucky baby, huh?
And in case you were wondering, I've moved this little guy and these to other areas of the house, so it doesn't look like my living room was invaded by a herd of deer. I know you were concerned. :)