May 6, 2010

Home made insect antennae

I've got these two little girlies. One wants to be an inventor and the other wants to be an "inventor-princess" (she says princess-inventor, but I'm guessing that she wants to be a princess that invents stuff, rather than someone that invents princesses. Not the first time I've been wrong about this sort of assumption though). What's going to appeal to them both? Well, I found a stack of books at a yard sale a while ago, a stack of twelve stories based on the characters of Disney Pixar's "A Bug's Life" movie. The two main characters in these books are Flik (an inventor ant) and Dot (a little princess ant who is Flik's good friend and loves his inventions). Perfect. Not to mention both kids are really into bugs of any kind!Ever since getting these books, they have loved playing make believe together being Flik and Dot. I thought it would be nice for them to have little dress up antennae for their pretending. Here's a pic of Flik and Dot, so you can see what I was going for with the shapes of the antennae. Flik has straight ones and Dot has curly ones.
These antennae are made with electrical ties, a drinking straw, felt (bit of hand sewing) and a bit of electrical tape and hot glue. I already had the cheapo plastic deely bobber head bands to hand, and it just took about an hour for each pair to do the hand sewing and put them together. Sorry in advance for the not so great photos. I did this at night when the kids were in bed, so the lighting is pants, but I hope you'll still be able to see what I was doing to make these.

My first thought was to use some kind of wire to make the antennae stand up, but that seemed like it wasn't going to work because they would get bent out of shape really easily and stand a good chance of poking someone in the eye. I remembered we had a bag of electrical ties (or rip ties) left over from a birthday party (I know, we have the most wild parties huh! I'll leave it to your imagination to guess what those were for) These plastic ties were the perfect material to have as the underlying structure to the antennae. They were firm enough to stand up, but flexible enough that they wouldn't break or hurt anyone. I used two to make each antennae, so four for each headband. I threaded the first one into the second just a little bit and then used electrical tape to tape down the end, making a right angle. Then I bent around the pointed end of the second one and taped that down, so that it would make a nice curved end to the antennae that wouldn't poke anyone.
Then I just snipped off the docking part of the first tie so that I could fit it into the drinking straw later. Once I had those fixed up, I used some felt to make the covers. For the blue "Flik" antennae I just made the covers straight, so one rounded end piece and one pointed. Below you can see the two pointed bottom sections before sewing, one rounded section before sewing and one of the rounded sections after being sewn and turned out (I used the electrical ties to turn them out, cunning huh!)
This way the pointed end one when turned out would fit over the bottom electrical tie leaving a 45 degree mitre kind of edge to sew the top cover onto. I suppose I could have sewn them together and threaded the whole thing over, but we're working with 20/20 hindsight here.

So I sewed on the rounded end one first and secured the end over the middle joint, then slid up the other peice to join it and sewed that on.
Here are the finished antennae ready to be attached to the headband...
Next thing was to snip a bit of drinking straw and use some electrical tape to secure it to the base of the electrical tie poking out the bottom of the antenna.
All the remained was to hot glue the straw over the little knobble on the dealy bopper headband and then neatly hotglue the felt around the bottom too.
With "Dot's" antennae I used exactly the same underlying electrical tie construction, but for the top part of each antenna I cut and sewed up a curled cover. The electrical ties are bendy enough that they will happily slip into that curled shape and hold it nicely.

They antennae bob around in a really cute way when the kids are running about wearing them :) They have agreed that I now need to make a leaf crown and some "sewy seeds" for them to play with. I bet I'll end up making some butterfly antennae too. I thought it was worth sharing this as it might come in useful for some people making Halloween costumes in the future (ladybugs, butterflies etc). I'm currently finishing another project for the kids involving more electrical ties. Hopefully I'll be able to get that up on the blog at some point too.
For those of you that really had dreadful pictures in your head as to what electrical ties could possibly be used for at a party, rest easy, we used them to hold a cardboard cut out of a pirate ship onto a play structure at the park about a year and a half ago ;) See...


plinehan said...

"One wants to be an inventor and the other wants to be an 'inventor-princess'"


Unknown said...

Adorable! Nice work. I can totally see how you could use this tutorial to make other kinds of headpieces as well.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea! And I love that your girls want to be "inventor" and "princess inventor". How cool is that!!
Thanks so much for sharing!

MaryAnne said...

I thought of "A Bug's Life" as soon as I saw that first picture! These are really cute, and I didn't even know electrical ties existed. I learn so many things from your blog =)

And, I think I need to start spending more time at Lowes/Home Depot. I am clearly missing out on crafting opportunities by sticking to craft stores!

tracey (aka rainbowmummy) said...

You know I read this post this morning and all I've been able to do all day is say to myself "I'm a beautiful Butterfly" and then giggle. A lot.

Also your kids are so freakin cute. Total mini yous.

Rhiannon said...

So very clever! I'm bookmarking this for future reference : )

Unknown said...

Just wanted you to know, we made your "phallic" lightsabers today...hee! hee!

Much fun has been had with these at our house- thank you for always sharing your GREAT ideas!

Wasp Catcher said...

Your little girls are adorable! It's so nice of you to make antennae for them! Both those stories are really educational and are good at teaching kids about bugs. Who knows? You may end up with scientists instead!