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Step-by-Step Beret Project

by Peter_Nix (Tips, Techniques & Questions)

While this step-by-step tutorial is all about creating berets, there's obviously no reason why it can't be adapted to other forms of headgear.

Before getting started I'd like to take a moment to thank Lamanda2 for letting me bother her with my Sculpey questions as well as for sending me her step-by-step instructions which this is based on (see, I do listen to people :D ), Kramer29 for also answering my Sculpey questions, Pharazon for helping me with this article as well as anyone else who I haven't listed (I've read other questions and answers created by other people...).

Different Beret Styles: US Army wear their berets flat across (read: "parallel to") their brows. The Iraqi Army, and a few others tilt it off the left side of the. The way I create the berets is by tilting the front (and back) of the beret so that it is closer to the right eye and higher above the left eye. Anyway for this tutorial, I'll be creating berets my way (hanging off the right side of the head, with the front tilted across the brow higher over the left eye than the right eye).

What you need:

  • Sculpey III (I'm sure other Sculpey products would work, but this is what I'm using)
  • Either a head or a minifigure that is not necessarily needed anymore (I use the minifigure and have noticed that the hairdrying loosened the limbs)
  • A flat metal tool (it doesn't even have to be metal, but it should be strong enough, it could be a sculpting tool, an Xacto knife, or, in my case a metal emory board (I thought that I'd be able to file down sculpey with it if needed, but that didn't work to well when I tried it)
  • A hairdryer
  • An oven, preheated to 275°F (130ºC) [Instructions from the side of the "box"]

1- Take a small amount of Sculpey (a little bit smaller than pea sized), just enough to create a skull cap for the minifigure, this piece will act as an anchor for the finished headpiece, and mold it around the stud at the top of the head.
Note: I find it easier to use an old style head with the full stud for this step.

2- Using the hairdryer, apply the heat on high for about 3 to 5 minutes (Don’t burn your fingers!) till Sculpey is firm.
EDIT (a note on "heating the Sculpey until firm"): The heating itself won't make the Sculpey firm [at first], when the Sculpey is still hot/warm [after the dryer is turned off] it will remain moldable for a bit longer as it cools and firms up (hardens). Once totally cooled, it will will be hard(er; the "er" is there since you still need the baking, the hairdrying is mainly to keep it from losing shape when you remove it), however, I try to remove the piece while it's firm yet not totally cooled. Of course, trying to take the piece off while still too warm might warp the piece (I've done that and now have one beret that can't be worn), but removing it when its totally cooled might break the piece (I've also heard a story about the piece not coming off- since I've never tried to do that, I could only imagine that the piece was left to cool on the head and became [almost] permanantly attached (I'm sure it could be broken off and retried- but if the piece looks good why do that?).

3- Let the piece cool only a bit (if it cools too much, it might break) and remove it. Some suggest twisting the piece to remove it, I personally like the idea of  taking the flat metal tool and working it around the under-edge of the piece, pushing up gently a bit at a time until the seal is broken and the piece could be roved easily.

4- Take some more Sculpey, just enough to wrap in a thin layer around the head like a head band. (approximately 1-2/16"L x ¼"W x 1/16" D; in reality, I don't measure I just go by what looks right).
Take the flat strip of Sculpey and wrap it around the head. It doesn't matter where you start since you'll be flattening it and molding down the seams in the next step. Make sure as you are wrapping it that most of the strip wraps to the skull piece.

5- Once the strip is wrapped around the head and skull piece, mold the strip around the top of the skull piece, it doesn't have to totally cover the skull piece and it shouldn't be too thick at the top but there shouldn't be any seams- it should look like a single, uninterrupted piece (this can also thin out the sides somewhat- you don't the sides too thick either).
Additionally, use the flat tool to push up on the bottom of the beret, not to remove it yet, just to level the brow and make sure the sculpey doesn't cover the eyes.

6- Once the piece looks right to you (remember, people wear berets in many different ways- so as far as I'm concerned there's no correct way to create the shape- it's all personal aesthetics), take more Sculpey, enough to cover the top of the head and a bit more to hang over the side. Flatten it into an oval-like shape- the part that will be covering the top of the skull piece should be made as thin as possible, while the part that will be hanging over can be a bit thicker. Also, don't worry if it's too long- we'll probably be trimming some Sculpey off to get it approximately the right size. Place the Sculpey on top of the head piece and mold it to the previous piece so that it ends up looking like one solid piece.

7- For the hanging over piece, take the flat tool and use it to shape the Sculpey to give the front and back the appearance of "beret folds" (like the material is hanging over, not just the tilted side but a bit in the front and back as well). If it looks too long (mainly it's a personal preference) "clip" off a bit of Sculpey until you get the desired length (or add and mold a bit more if needed) and shape it to a rounded off design.

8- Once the beret is trimmed and shaped the way you want it to look, apply the blowdryer heat on high for 3 to 5 minutes.

9- Remove the beret from the head, put it into the preheated oven and [I] bake it for 15 minutes.
Once baked, remove from oven, let it cool and then paint it...

Feel free to ask any questions, and I'll answer them as quickly as I can. If any of this article was difficult to understand, let me know as well, but please be specific. Enjoy.

-Alan

 

  




"I am the Alpha and the Omega- I am the creator and the destroyer..."
by Lamanda2 on Mon, 10/02/2006 - 22:33

Very well-done article Alan!

It is always interesting to learn others' techniques, and this topic in particular it is especially interesting to me, as it is about sculpey. I liked to read about how you shaped the sculpey, for the most part it seems you use the tool (But correct me if I am wrong.), while I mainly rely on my fingers, of coarse having long, thin fingers is very handy for sculpting small accessories. : )

This 'how-to' inspires me to give a beret a try, perhaps two even- One using your article, then another trying to go it on my own.

Again, great work with this, I am sure this will inspire many of our members to break out the sculpey and get to work.

~Amanda




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by Daredevil on Tue, 10/03/2006 - 02:05
Peter, great tutorial my man! I I assure you that I will be adding this to out tutorial database!


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by Peter_Nix on Tue, 10/03/2006 - 07:30

Amanda and Daredevil; thanks for the kind words. As for tool/fingers- I do use both; the tool I used for removing the beret from the head (almost like trying to pop the lid off of a soda bottle) and for shaping the fold of the beret's extra piece (the "hangover part") to make it look more "beret-ish". But for the general shape I use my fingers. (Of course, since it's a small project it's hard to say how much of a percentage I use of either- so you might be right)

Amanda, considering that I've seen your work before and got help from you in the past, I'm almost nervous about you trying the berets out since you'd definatly out-do me :D (but definatly go ahead with it- and don't forget the camouflage coloring when you're done!).

-Alan




"I am the Alpha and the Omega- I am the creator and the destroyer..."
by brickman144 on Tue, 10/03/2006 - 20:24
doesnt it shrink when u bake it?


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by pork demon on Tue, 10/03/2006 - 23:18
i made a beret by cuttingup one of  the standard black "mans" hair, the one with the fringe and sideburn things, you know the one.


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by Pharazon on Wed, 10/04/2006 - 01:20
Very well done tutorial if I may so myself ; ) Actually, I don't have much experience with Sculpey and this tutorial gave much general information on working with the stuff. Wish I had some of these tips earlier. I may make a beret myself now, maybe even different styles and have a beret fashion show. Again, great tutorial and thanks for the info man!


~MCN Moderator of the Minifig MOCs Forum~
by Peter_Nix on Wed, 10/04/2006 - 13:51

Brickman- I haven't encountered any shrinkage, and my soldiers haven't complained yet. As far as I know, Sculpey doesn't shrink when baked. It should stay the same size as before baking.

Pork Demon- Have you posted any pics of the beret anywhere?

Pharazon- Sorry I took so long : ) but I'm glad it sounds like it would help.

-Alan

 




"I am the Alpha and the Omega- I am the creator and the destroyer..."
by ZIGGY1 on Thu, 10/05/2006 - 15:54
This (seems) really easy to follow and I plan to try it! I hope it comes out good. Now I sort of know how to start off lots of peices thanks to you! :-):


 Tra La (until I think of a sig)
by Peter_Nix on Fri, 10/06/2006 - 07:13

Your welcome and as always, I'm glad it can help.

I should note, just for honesty's sake, that Steps 1, 2 and 3 might need to be modefied for some types of headgear- I tried starting off a bandana for LSF Gamma with those steps and it made the front look too bulky and strange looking so I have to figure out a different way for one of those.

-Alan




"I am the Alpha and the Omega- I am the creator and the destroyer..."
by Lamanda2 on Fri, 10/06/2006 - 07:22

I usually use a smaller ammount of sculpey for the blob Alan, try that out and I think it should work better.

~Amanda

(Yes, I know I have yet to make a beret yet ; ) )




MCN Brick Talk MOD
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by Peter_Nix on Fri, 10/06/2006 - 08:07

Hi Amanda. Concerning the bandana, that's what I was thinking of. Or at least molding it in a way that it was more angled (almost like a cone but flat on the top- which would probably require trimming some off as well). My whole idea of that piece is to give the beret something to latch onto and give some control over the end result so I cant make that piece too small (I could forget all about it- and for the beret forgetting about it would work, but I will need it for the bandana- I'm attempting the bandana the same way as it would be in real life, take the triangle, wrap two ends around the side of the head and the third end over the top of the head. Without the anchor piece it will probably get mushed (yes, that's a technical term :D ) and lose it's look of being a bandana and instead be a blob thrown at the poor dude's head even with sculpting). But I have to see how that's going to work out. Thanks for the advice.

-Alan




"I am the Alpha and the Omega- I am the creator and the destroyer..."