Flower Crown with Real Antlers: Tutorial


For any Fannibal (that is, fans of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal TV series), a Flower Crown is essential head wear.  For those not in the know, this relates to both the irony of putting flowers on characters who behave very very badly, and to Shakespeare’s Hamlet where Ophelia gives out flowers to all as she is being driven mad, and ultimately to her own demise; surrounded by flowers.  Also, apparently, we nicked it from the One Direction fans (oh dear, oh dear!)!

Hugh Dancy and Me!
Here’s me looking exceptionally pleased with myself  with my Flower Crown on at Red Dragon Con 3, with a certain Mr Hugh Dancy! (Will Graham in Hannibal).

There are strings of flowers you can buy for hair decoration, but if you want to go BIG, your best bet is to make your own.  There are some examples on craft sites such as etsy, if you feel it’s too difficult…  But I suggest giving it a go, you might surprise yourself!

The Flower Crown in the above photograph is an homage to the “Ravenstag” character in Hannibal.  The Ravenstag is a metaphor for the mental state of Will Graham throughout the series.  It’s a big black stag, with big antlers, and feathers…

Flower Crown 1_small

If you don’t want to add the antlers, then you can still follow this tutorial and skip step 3.  All of the other instructions are the same for creating a “regular” flower crown, use flower and colour combinations of your own choosing.

To make this crown, you will need:

  • Pliers
  • Hot glue gun
  • Eye Protection (for dealing with the wire)
  • Black spray paint (optional, see below)
  • Wire, 2mm diameter.  Enough length to go around your head twice, plus a bit more.  Any colour, as it will be mostly covered.  Or black or green if you want to leave some visible.
  • Wire, of smaller gauge to bind around the antlers.
  • Fake flowers: Roses, white and black (or in my case all white, plus a can of black spray paint!), other smaller white flowers of your preference.  Choose those that have some nice leaves also.
  • Real Deer Antlers… please don’t go poaching for these!  I suggest eBay and other stores where you can obtain these from a legitimate source.  The ones I had are Roe Deer Antlers, 15 cm (about 6 inches) tall.  These were quite large, so I’d actually suggest getting slightly smaller ones that are easier to handle and position on the wire, and they’ll be lighter too.
  • Ribbon, black or green to wrap the band and both colours for optional tassels.

To make the Flower Crown:

1. Prepare the Flowers

If you need to spray paint some of your white roses black, make sure you have a well protected area in which to apply the paint.  Watch your clothing!  Take the heads off a select few of the roses, I painted 4, but only ended up using 3 blacks in the finished crown.  Use sticky tape to secure them to a board or table cover before giving them a few bursts from the spray can.  Take it slow, build up the paint in small bursts from all angles until you are happy, then leave to dry in a well ventilated area.  When dry, put the heads back on the stems.

Cut the fake flowers up: Cut each rose at the base of the wire stem, so that you have long-ish lengths to wrap around the crown.  Select two or three stems with leaves only and cut these with stems also.

For the smaller flowers, either pull off existing detachable stems of small flower clusters (as mine had) or cut them in the same way as the roses, with small stems to allow for wrapping.  Take a few leaves as well if you like the way they look.

Cut Fake Flowers
Cut the fake flowers with enough of a stem to wrap around the band.

2. Shape the Wire Head Band

First, loosely wrap the 2mm wire around your head to get the base size for the crown.  Leave a little room, as the crown will become bulky after you’ve added the flowers.  Do not cut the wire at this point, when you’ve got the right size, twist the ends together and  then begin to wrap a second band of wire around the first, closely to the original circle.  When you get back to the join, cut the wire leaving a little to bend the ends over.  Use the pliers to bend both the ends of the wire over to ensure the pointy ends are covered.

Flower crown wire
Wrap the wire around your head, and around itself, then bend the ends back to blunt the pointy ends.

Always assume that the join in the wire is to be the BACK of the crown.

3. Positioning and Wiring the Antlers.

This is actually the most difficult part, and the antlers will NOT remain stable until you actually start wrapping the flowers around in the following steps.  Don’t worry if they fall over all the time (mine certainly did!).  We just need to get them in the right position on the band.

Put on eye protection!  Place the wire band on your head, and look in a mirror whilst holding the antlers up to find the right position for you – note which is the proper left and right of the antlers, they naturally curve inwards with the points facing outwards.  When you’re happy, mark the points on the band with the pliers – make a scratch or dent for each position.  Take the wire off your head, and begin to make a cage for the bottom of the antlers with the smaller gauge wire as follows:

The base of the antlers usually have large “knobbly” bits from where it grew out of the deer’s skull.  This area is what we surround with the small gauge wire to create a base to attach to the main wire band.  Make sure you wear your eye protection – as this gets fiddly and I was very glad to have some goggles to wear myself.  Use the pliers to help you pull the wire tight, when wrapping over and under.  The image under the descriptions of the steps should help clarify what I mean.

  1. Begin by leaving a 5 cm (2 in) end and then wrap the wire around the base of the antler, just above the “knobbles” 3 or 4 times.
  2. With the end at the side of the antler, wind the wire around the first 4 wraps to hold it’s position, and then holding the antler at the correct mark on the wire head band continue wrapping the wire under the antler, under the headband, and up to the other side of the antler, wind the wire around the first 4 strands again on this side, and go back under the headband to the other side.  Do this 2 or 3 times.
  3. Wrap the wire once more around the antler as you did at the beginning, and then again wrap around and under the wire, this time 90 degrees from the wraps made in step 2 AND between the two strands of the main headband.  You’ll need to cut the wire before threading through the two strands and leave enough length to wrap 2 or 3 more times.
  4. Bring both ends together, twist together and hide the end underneath the antler.
  5. To tighten the structure a little make sure it is in the correct position on the head band and with a new piece of small gauge wire, underneath the antler wind it over and under each of the wire strands and the headband around in a circle.  Use the pliers to pull this as tight as possible, creating tension between our wire “cage” and the headband.  It still won’t be very stable, but this will change once we add more bulk to the rest of the crown.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 for the other antler.

Attach Antlers Diagram

4. Add the Flowers to the Crown

Starting from the front centre, choose your first rose, and thread it in between the two strands of the headband, bend the wire to position the bloom in the right place.  Wrap the stem of the rose around the head band (not between the strands) and then when you get to the end of the stem, poke it between the strands to lock it in place.  You can choose either direction to wrap the FIRST flower, but from then on, always wrap the flower stems on the right to the right, and left to the left.  Continue to add a few large flowers at the front and on either side of the antlers, then swap to the smaller flowers.  You can wrap flowers all the way around if you like, my crown here has no flowers at the very back.

Always insert the flower between the strands of the headband first, then wrap the stem around the outside of the headband, over/around any previous stems already added, and around the underneath of the antlers, and then insert the very end between the strands of the headband.

Bend the flowers to get them to all point in the correct directions, and adjust as necessary.  After adding the flower blooms, do the same with any leaves strands that you prepared earlier.  Fill in any obvious gaps, and if the antlers are still a little loose fill in space around them with the leaves.

Check for any stems which are too long and may leave pointy ends which will be uncomfortable, trim these off if required.  Finish off by using the hot glue gun around all of the ends of the stems, along the inside of the headband, and where any parts of the flowers look like they may fall apart.  Leave until the glue is set.

5. Ribbon Wrap of Head Band and Optional Tassels

With a long length of ribbon, if possible use a single piece, begin at the back of the head band, begin to wrap around the wire and stems, leaving the blooms and leaves visible.  Wrap the ribbon over itself leaving no gaps if possible and wrap tightly around all the ends of the stems, pulling them closer together and making the head band more comfortable to wear.  As you reach the base of each antler, go around it once or twice in a figure eight, to ensure it is completely covered and blends in with the rest of the head band, continue to wrap tightly all the way around until you reach the start (at the back).  Cut the ribbon and fix the ends in place with hot glue.

Optional Tassels:  Simply cut lengths of ribbon and tie them at the very back of the headband.  I like to add a couple of tassels to ensure the ends of the ribbon wrapped around the head band stay in place.

Flower Crown Rear View
View from the back, with the ribbon wrapped around the band and tassels attached.

6. Put the Flower Crown on and practice not knocking things over or scraping the walls with your antlers around the house!

The wire headband should be nice and malleable, so that when you put it on, you can adjust its’ shape to comfortably fit your head.  The bigger the antlers, the heavier the crown, so you’ll need to practice wearing it!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and trying this tutorial.  I’d love to see what you come up with, please leave comments and send me pictures!  If I get a few responses, I’ll put them up on a subsequent post for you all to see!

Go forth and be creative! X

rdc3-flower-crown

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Red Dragon 3: The Shattered Teacup Comes Together


Fannibals.  We are literally the fragments of a shattered teacup.  Once a year, that teacup comes together and reality as we know it stops as we form into a whole being once again.

The first year was “Red Dragon“, the second was “Behold the Red Dragon“, and this third convention was “Red Dragon 3” – on all  social media it’s #HannibalCon.  For other random pics from the con, see my Instagram feed (and search all sites using the #tag).

The guests this year were phenomenal (they are always great, of course!), we were graced with the presence of Will Graham himself, Hugh Dancy; Writer, Creator, (and Our Lord and Master!) Bryan Fuller; Demore Barnes (Tobias Budge); the amazing comedy duo that is Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller) and Scott Thompson (Jimmy Price); and the very sweet Ellen Muth (Georgia Madchen).

Our new home for these events is the Radisson Edwardian Hotel in Heathrow, their conference rooms become the guest halls for Q&A sessions, parties, and the autograph and photograph sessions with the guests.  It’s a weekend of standing in lines and swapping homemade gifts with other fans (something no other fandom does.. we Fannibals are a unique and creative bunch!).  I took a batch of my Visitor Badges from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and I loved giving them away to random people.. gives me an excuse to start a conversation anyway!

Although it says not to give the guests gifts during the signings, they still end up with a pile of stuff next to them!  So I couldn’t resist offering Bryan one of my IDs.. and he grabbed it with such glee, and put it on his collar… and it was still on his person when he came on stage (finally… he’s a slow signer!).  It made me so happy to be appreciated for my silly bits of art.

My loot, photo ops and Flower Crown selfies from the con:

I took my useful big Canon camera with me, plus a decent zoom lens, so that I  could get some good photos of the stars during the Q&As.  I also have to use a monopod, as I have a bad hand tremor.. so I hope it didn’t get in anybody’s view too much.  But the zoom and the steadying is required to get any half-decent photos from a viewpoint behind the Gold ticket holders and the Stewards!  My photos can be found on Flickr here:

Red Dragon 3 Album on Flickr

Some of the best photos:

Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Bryan Fuller at the Opening Ceremony
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Demore Barnes
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
A recreation of the human cello!
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Hugh Dancy by himself, before Bryan finished signing
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Smiley Hugh Dancy
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Hugh & Bryan mid-conversation, but LOOK, Bryan is wearing the BSHCI Visitor badge made by ME! *squee*!
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Demore and Ellen
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Demore asking the Fannibals what this show and the Fandom means to them. So many feels!
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
I love this pose! Scott & Aaron pay attention when you say something dirty…
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
…and then they have to investigate!
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Aaron is all of us, when these guys are talking!
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Hugh Dancy & Bryan Fuller. Look at those cuties!
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
I don’t remember what Hugh said, but Bryan is clearly amused..
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
Hugh taking the Q&A very seriously, for a moment…
Red Dragon 2017. Q&A Sessions.
…and then it all goes to pot!

Towards the end of Demore’s second Q&A session, he asked the Fannibals why we are all so fervent in our devotion to this particular show.  He went around the room and a few people spoke up about what Hannibal means to them.  The general consensus was (with my own opinion added here) that Hannibal is basically a show about two loner characters, they’re the odd ones out, they don’t fit into “regular” society, one is a criminal (but that’s incidental) he’s on his own and although has particular “tastes”(!) he is basically looking for a human connection.  The other character has social anxiety and is slightly on the autism/aspergers’ spectrum.  Both are incredibly smart, and yet have difficulty integrating.  But they find each other, and they understand each other, and they accept each other (for all their many faults!).  Ultimately, it’s a story about survival and friendship, against all the odds.  THAT is something that resonates with a lot of us.  I can definitely say for myself, that I have trouble sometimes making those connections with people.  Yet this show has given me hope that there are others out there who can understand where I’m coming from.  And now, that’s what I live for.  Our Fannibal Family!  Fannibals are totally inclusive.  I have found us to be a safe and supportive group comprising every type of person.  Together, we make sense.  And as an additional bonus, I’ve re-connected with an old school friend, who I hadn’t seen for years, and now we’re really close again.  How lovely is that?!

rdc3-musical-programme
Some of the beautiful artwork from the Hannibal Musical Programme.

One of the absolute highlights of the weekend, was the performance by a group of Fannibals of “Hannibal a Fannibal Musical”.  A parody/homage of all three seasons of Hannibal.  It was an absolute triumph of a show, brilliantly funny, and very cleverly put together.  AND performed by a group of people who had only fully met that day!  Well done indeed.  AND all of the celebrity guests came in to watch it too, and they showed their appreciation with huge laughs, applause, and running up to them after the show to congratulate them all.  Bravo!  Find out more about the musical by following them on twitter @FannibalMusical.

Until fate and circumstance bring us back to this moment, and the teacup shatters once more…

Red Dragon 4 will take place on 23rd to 25th February 2018 at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow.  Grab a ticket while you can from Starfury Conventions.

The Guild by Felicia Day


The Guild (The Guild, #1)The Guild by Felicia Day

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A prequel to the Webseries of the same name by Felicia Day. Reading a graphic novel requires a different technique of appreciation by the reader, which I’m not so used to! It forces you to slow down and really look at each page and panel to absorb the story and recognise the emotions conveyed by the characters drawn on the page.

Here we are introduced to the character of Cyd (Felicia Day) who is struggling with depression and the stresses of the real world. Her boyfriend is a musician, and takes her for granted. Meanwhile, her therapist suggests that she tries to make some new friends. Cyd finds out that there is a computer game where you can literally create yourself from scratch and live a different and fantastical life. Within the game are other players, and these “virtual” friends begin to save Cyd’s life not just in The Game, but in reality. With a Guild of players who are excellent examples of real world personalities, you care about what goes on in their world, both inside and outside The Game.

As a gamer myself (although one who shies away from multiplayer RPGs!), this hits right at home with the reasons why we play. The game world, even though it is full of conflicts and often violence, your achievement are not (always) measured in wealth, but experience points (XP), and when you get knocked down (or even killed) there’s a health potion to make you right again. You can lose yourself in these other worlds for hours and hours.

Within a “massively multiplayer online role playing game” (MMORPG… keep up with the acronyms!) you can truly work on your communication and teamwork when coordinating the efforts of your Guild, to complete the high-level quests. Honestly, there should be real life recognition for online achievements!

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Talon by Julie Kagawa


TalonTalon by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As YA fiction, this was an OK book. Very teen oriented. Less Fantasy, more Angsty!
Ember and Dante are twins, they’re Dragons, but they’re disguised as humans (and can transform back to their true forms). They’re still young, and are training to assimilate and infiltrate the human world undetected. The rules of the Dragon species and government – Talon – are so strict that their training and ultimate placement within the system is unknown to them until they are ready to fulfil their purpose. The structure is supposedly for self-preservation, and the survival of their species. If a dragon disobeys, or leaves Talon, they are the “Rogues”.

The Dragons are mercilessly hunted by the soldiers of the Order of St George (of course), who are as rigidly set to their purpose as those high up in the Talon order. A member of this militia is Garret, also only a teenager, sent to find the dragon hiding out.

In typical “two worlds collide” metaphor (with the rest of the human race there just as the landscape) Ember and Garret enter into a relationship, which heads to its inevitable conclusion when they eventually realise that they are on opposite sides.

There was only a little introduction into the politics and mechanics of the Talon and St George systems, this could benefit from greater world building and context. As the first in a series, it’s possible this is expanded upon later. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a particular character, so the story mostly unfolds through first-person narrative. As the characters are of similar age, and have similar motivations, their voices are not distinct enough to carry the reader through, without constantly checking the chapter heading to remind yourself who the current narrator is.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two: The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production (Harry Potter Officl Playscript)Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two: The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production by John Tiffany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Through his first few school years placed in Slytherin house at Hogwarts, we follow young Albus Severus Potter, son of Harry and Ginny. Harry Potter is now a Minster of Magic, and has trouble connecting to his son on a personal level. Albus, being the son of such a famous Wizard is unhappy; discontent with who he is and his family’s history. He befriends Scorpius Malfoy, and together they go about (indirectly) proving that a name and school house don’t necessarily dictate who you really are.
Along with the help (and hindrance) from a few other characters, Albus tries to right a wrong in the past which he thinks will help make the future better – the ramifications of which, of course, go way beyond anything he could have imagined.

Ultimately a stand-alone story, which gives some new perspectives on previously seen and read situations, but don’t ultimately affect or interfere with the overall narrative of the Harry Potter books, or movies.

Written, as explained on the cover, as a play script, the action is primarily delivered through dialogue and set directions. The world building in a play script is always bare-bones, in order for the director to utilise their own vision for the production itself.

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Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross


Mr. PeanutMr. Peanut by Adam Ross

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An odd one. I think I liked it, but it was so hard to read in places. By which I mean the subject matter was both infuriating and reflective of reality. Making me feel, I suppose, helpless.
That was probably the point..! Minor SPOILERS in the review below:

Mr Peanut is actually three different, but tangentially related, mysteries. The first is David Pepin, who is accused of killing his wife. He pleads innocent, despite spending a lot of time actually plotting her demise. The two investigators have their own strange and sordid histories, each relating to their marital strife. Hastroll’s wife refuses to leave her bed, possibly due to a form of depression, but refuses to explain her actions. Sheppard’s wife was herself murdered, and there remains a grey area of what actually happened that night.

Told in a non-linear fashion, this narrative is tricky to keep track of. The characters, both victims and perpetrators seem pretty unlike-able! If only people would actually talk straight with one another, the situations might have been easier – or avoided all together. The characters seem to get in a state because their respective other-halves can’t read their minds. Obviously. That old trope of “if you haven’t figured it out already, then I’m not going to tell you” attitude is useless in reality because it just gets you nowhere.

COMMUNICATION! Is very important in a relationship.. that includes friends, and marriage, and well most walks of life. Books do tend to teach you important lessons.  So maybe that was the point!

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Odd Man Out by James Newman


Odd Man OutOdd Man Out by James Newman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quite a disturbing novella. Not a fantastical horror story, but bullying and a hate crime.
SPOILER WARNING…

A group of young boys are sent to a new holiday camp as a test group before the camp itself properly opens to the public. The supervision is relatively lax, and the main owners are drawn away from the camp when one of the boys has a medical emergency, leaving the less experienced teenager in charge. Being left primarily to themselves, the group therefore begin to bicker and argue. Two of the boys knew each other from earlier in their childhood, and one of those is at first clingy, and soon revealed to be gay. What then follows is bullying and taunts, psychological segregation between the “us” and “them”, and inevitably ends with the boys goading each other into performing terrible acts.

The story is book-ended with the grown-up main protagonist, Dennis, being involved with a vote in their local church on whether or not to continue to allow the Boy Scouts to use their facilities after a change in rules that no longer allows exclusion of individuals based on their sexual orientation. Again here, fear leads the way.

It is an extreme example of how group mentality can rapidly descend into hate, far easier than to accept people simply for being different. Fear of the unknown, and all that leads to, seems to win out more often than understanding and acceptance. Before some people have even thought about the big picture, and how our differences enrich our culture more than uniformity, they’ve already made up their minds that “If you’re different from me, I don’t like you”.

As much as recent news items have brought these extreme views into the public eye. It’s worth remembering that more often than not, these are usually smaller groups who shout loudly to get attention. Some of the individuals involved are, like the characters in this story, likely goaded into these actions through peer pressure and may not feel these things for themselves. I’m a firm believer that the majority of people are good at heart, and the views actions of these others do not represent the whole. Take care of one another.

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