Looking for an economical and easy way to add a wow factor to your next performance? Today I'm writing to you about a wonderful product that has been around since the 80's called...Varaform! Below you will see how the material works and how I used it to make a Nutcracker mascot head for a Ballet production.
Varaform is a cotton mesh coated in thermoplastic plastic that can be dyed or painted. Originally used in the medical field for making casts, the performing arts community now uses it to make props such as masks, headpieces and appendages. Because it is a lightweight mesh, dancers have a considerable amount of visibility and are not limited in mobility .With either a blow-dryer or heated water, you can mold the mesh to whatever shape you would like. As an added bonus, the "waste" you create with the mesh can be bonded back together to make another usable sheet. How amazing is that? No waste!
Onto the project! When purchasing items for my studio's first Nutcracker I ran into 2 problems: cost and appearance. I needed a budget friendly option that matched the doll I was using. After several hours of researching, I discovered Varaform and its use for making theatrical props. So, I gave it a whirl and started creating my own head.
Supplies to purchase:
-1/2 inch foam
-2 inch foam
-Fabric for hair and crown
Step 1: Shape your mesh into the form you want.
(I used a bucket and some wooden blocks.)
Step 2: Paint the Varaform (Black internally to reduce glare).
Step 3: Cut out your needed appendages.
Step 4: Glue it all together.
Step 5: Internally line it with foam and attach elastics.
Viola! A mascot head for under $200 in supplies. I have made this style of head for a few companies over the years. It is easy to modify the style/look and has been a great addition to my Nutcracker productions.
Whether you're making a horn headpiece or an entire mask, consider using Varaform for your next project. It is an easy way to add a big impact to your next production.
Varaform supplies can be found at many locations. This is the particular place I use.