You can use this Mulan inspired hair comb as decoration or wear it as part of a costume. I used paperclay to make the comb. This clay air drys hard and light. In other words, the comb is light enough to wear in your hair all day, but secure enough that you shouldn’t have to worry about breakage.
clay tools and exacto knife
paint: white, aqua, turquoise, antique pink
gold 3D paint
E6000 or hot glue
4 inch protractor or round bowl with 4 inch diameter
Taking your scrap paper and your protractor/bowl, create a half circle and cut out to make your guide.
Place some wax paper over your guide and wet the surface with a little bit of water.
Break off some of your paperclay (make sure you store left over clay in an airtight container such as a ziploc bag). Remember when using paperclay to keep water at hand. If the clay starts to stick to your hands or isn’t molding well, wet your hands to add moisture to the clay. Remember: paperclay air dries. Using your guide, create a half circle out of paperclay about 1/8 inch thick.
Next, take your knife and make a score line about 1/3 inch from the boarder. Do not cut all the way through. You’re just marking a guide so you can cut the teeth of the comb.
Now you can score lines for your teeth. I scored mine just under 1 centimeter wide. Don’t like where your score line is? That’s okay. Just smooth over the scoreline with your finger. Once you have the teeth scored how you like them, fully cut the lines and work the sections out. I used the tip of my knife to start pulling the clay up. Remember not to cut the line at the top of your arch on the teeth that need to stay in.
Smooth over the score line on the arch area of your teeth. Taking your knife, create a taper on the ends of the teeth so they are not squared.
Next we’re going to create the “leaves” for the flower. You will need 4 for each side so 8 total. The sizes can very a bit. These will be shaped like a triangle. See the photo below for shape and size reference.
One thing I love about paperclay is that you can use water to attach clay pieces. The water acts almost like a glue. So, keeping that in mind, put water along the edge of the leave to help attach to the comb. You can overlap your leaves a bit then use a damp finger or wet clay tool to smooth out.
You can see in the photos to the left how I overlapped my leaves just a little then used my clay tool, dipped in water, to start smoothing the leaves out. I finished smoothing them out with my finger.
You can see in the photo below that all my leaves are attached and smoothed out.
Next we need to create the flower petals. There will be 5 petals. Once again you will be creating triangular shaped pieces, just on a larger scale. You will notice that I folded 3 of the petals over and left two flat.
Test your layout to make sure the size of your petals is right and remember where each petal needs to go.
The petals will overlap each other, but this time we won’t smooth out the overlap. Start with the bottom most piece and, using water, attach to the comb and smooth out the seam. Continue with the next one, smoothing out the seam where you attach the comb but don’t smooth out the overlap.
For the top 3 petals, do the sides first. I dipped my finger in water and ran it along the entire underside of the folded petal. You can them smooth out onto the comb to help attach as shown below.
You can run the thin end of your clay tool, dipped in water, along the inside seam of the petals to help smooth it out a little and help with attachment.
Attach the middle piece of the top petals. Smooth this out like the others, but don’t smooth the petal overlaps.
It’s time to let your comb dry. This may take a few days to dry completely. Let dry overnight before you peel off the wax paper. You’ll know when it is dry when it is no longer cool to the touch. After a good 24 hours, you might turn the comb over. Only do this if the flower petals feel stable and are no longer cool in temperature.
While the comb is drying, you can create the stamen for the flower. These are the little pink stems that come out of the center of the blossom.
Start with making a long, thin rope out of some paperclay. You can see that mine is just over 3 inches long.
Cut your rope into 3 pieces. They don’t have to be perfectly even, but should be similar in length. Roll one end in a bit and pinch the other end flat as you can see in my photo below.
Let your stamen dry. These are small enough that it should only take an hour or two for these to completely dry and harden.
Once everything is dry you can start painting. The photo below shows the paint colors I used. I could only find Turquoise in chalkboard paint but that’s okay. My antique pink color is called Berries ‘N’ Cream and is so old that I’m not even sure this brand is still around.
You will use the turquoise on the leaves, the aqua on the comb arch and the teeth, the white on the flower petals, and the pink on the stamen.
Make sure you get in all the creases. I also painted the back of the comb. If it’s just for decoration, this may not be a necessary step, but if you plan to wear the comb you will most definitely want to paint the back.
The next step, once your paint is dry, is to take your 3D gold paint and outline the petals, leaves, and arch of the comb. In the movie it shows all the comb’s teeth outlined in gold, but I just don’t have a steady enough hand to do that kind of detail.
Let your gold paint dry completely. Drying time will depend on the thickness of your lines.
You should have painted your stamen pink. I used E6000 with a precision tip for jewelry to attach the stamen to the comb.
Put the glue on the flat end of the stamen and glue to inside of flower.
E600 takes a full 24 hours to bond. It may feel stable sooner than that though. Avoid moving the stamen or wearing the comb until the 24 hours is up.
There you have it! You’re own Mulan inspired hair comb ready to display or complete a cosplay outfit.