The Art of Darkness

Voodoo Top Hat

June 23rd, 2010 by Cobwebs

Top HatdeviantART user AngelDemonn made an interesting voodoo top hat that might serve as inspiration for a similar project. She doesn’t provide a lot of detail about construction other than to note that boiling your own chicken feet isn’t such a hot idea, but the pictures should provide a general idea of how to get started.

The hat itself can be (depending upon your funds and ambition) a cheap Halloween prop or a quality reproduction hat.

The chicken bones used to decorate the sides of the hat are fairly easy to obtain as a by-product of chicken stock: After simmering for several hours the bones come out almost completely clean, and any lingering shreds are easy to remove with an old toothbrush. I’ve seen instructions for removing the last bits of meat by immersing the bones in a lye solution overnight (which will also whiten them), but I don’t know if messing with caustic chemicals is really worth it in this particular instance.*

Feathers are available at craft stores, as are embellishments like glass beads and metal charms; you might also be able to find animal teeth, claws, skulls, or other bits that add to the hat’s potential “magic.” Instead of the moss used here, some wide ribbon, tulle, or a bit of tattered velvet might add visual appeal whilst looking less…um…mossy.

This would be a great finishing detail for a Loa or calavera costume,** or simply to wear out clubbing.


*I use lye when making soap, so if you plan to try this method, a couple of suggestions: 1) Do it outside or in a well-ventilated area, because the fumes are nasty. 2) Mix it in something that’s both nonreactive (stainless steel or enamelware is good) and heatproof, because the chemical reaction causes the stuff to become insanely hot. 3) Add the lye to the water, not the reverse; the lye can splatter when water is poured on, and you really truly don’t want to be splashed with lye. Also using protective eyewear is a really good idea.

**Yes, yes, wrong culture. Sue me.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. Holly Says:

    I’ve done the chicken stock method before, and the last bits of meat on the bones can be removed with an old toothbrush fairly easily. I’d recommend soaking them in water afterwards, because the process of cooking them boils fats into the bones. Soaking the bones in cold water for a few days/weeks will remove the fat from the bones, albeit slowly. You just have to keep changing the water once it gets too cloudy, until it remains clear. Generally there will be a few bits of tissue still attached to the bone and you can brush those off with the toothbrush or your hands if you’d like, but I’d recommend wearing gloves, because the bones will smell and you won’t be able to get the smell out of your skin easily. Trust me.

    And if you want to avoid a Fight Club-style scenario with lye, simply leaving the bones drying in the sun will bleach them easily, although you may want to build a small barrier to prevent small animals, like house cats, for instance… from trying to play with them.

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