GeekMom DIY: Sorting Hat

Reading Time: 3 minutes
DIY Sorting Hat, Image: Sophie Brown
DIY Sorting Hat, Image: Sophie Brown

There’s no doubt that Harry Potter has made something of a comeback in 2016. With Cursed Child beginning performances over summer and the script released in book form, three new volumes of Hogwarts histories published just a few weeks ago, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them coming to cinemas (and bookstores) very soon, the boy wizard (should that be man wizard?) is very much back on everyone’s radar.

Harry Potter also makes a perfect, not-so-spooky Halloween theme for home decorating and what would make a better centerpiece than your very own Sorting Hat? I made this super simple paper mache hat last Halloween and love the way people always do a double-take when they spot his face!

You Will Need:

1. I first spent a good amount of time looking at reference photos online to get a feel for how the Sorting Hat’s face is formed. The most distinct feature is the eyebrows which create the illusion of eyes out of shadow below them. My hat already had ridges so I figured out where I could best add to these – if you have a smooth original hat then you can simply choose to place your face anywhere.

I mixed my PVA glue with a little water, then began rolling my toilet tissue into sausages and quickly dipping it in the glue mix to soak it through. Paying attention to the photos, I placed my sausages onto the hat form to create the curve of the eyebrows and also create two lips.

At this point, the hat looks rather silly and caricaturish, but that helps create a distinct face later on. If your hat is smooth you could also choose to create extra bumps and ridges elsewhere.

Leave your hat until the tissue paper had dried and become rock solid.

Sorting Hat Steps One and Two, Images: Sophie Brown
Sorting Hat Steps One and Two, Images: Sophie Brown

2. Using small pieces of torn newspaper dipped in the same glue/water mix, begin smoothing out the face by layering them over the sausages and smoothing them down into the original hat form. This may take several layers. The top of the eyebrows should smoothly flow upwards to join the side of the hat, but the underneath should not be as smooth a transition, this will create more depth and shadow at the end. Don’t worry about keeping the newspaper pieces smooth. The crinkles and creases will help sell the illusion of fabric.

3. Paint the entire hat with the dark brown paint. Use enough layers of paint to fully cover all the newspaper and tissue and make your entire hat the same colour.

Sorting Hat Steps Three and Four, Images: Sophie Brown
Sorting Hat Steps Three and Four, Images: Sophie Brown

Break 2

4. Using the bronze, carefully dry brush over the highlights of the hat. I used a stiff bristled brush, dipping it only a millimetre or so into the paint, then brushing 90% of the paint off onto a sheet of newspaper before applying it to the hat. Apply the bronze only where the light would catch – I focused on the tops of the eyebrows, top lip, and a few creases. Do not apply any inside the eye shadows. The bronze paint will catch the light and make the shadows forming the eyes appear more pronounced by contrast.

And there you have it, one finished Sorting Hat! At this stage, you could go one step further and attach two pieces of fabric to create the hanging swags seen in the films. As my hat will mostly be sat on flat surfaces, I left these parts off. Your hat will make an excellent Halloween decoration, but could also be left out all year as part of a Harry Potter display. If you have a go at making your own, we’d love to see it, so please share your pictures on our Facebook page.

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