inDevelopment – Tutorial: TOS-Style Andorian Antennae

Welcome to our first tutorial! Today we are going to show you how to make yourself some antennae for your Andorian costume. This tutorial could also be adapted to make horns if you are so inclined. This will make you a nice pair of TOS-style antennae; they are a bit fragile, but if you take care of them they will last for years to come!

To wear these, you will need a wig. Check out Epic Cosplay or Arda Wigs to find one that suits your character!

You Will Need:

• Crayola Model Magic air-dry clay in white

• Paintbrushes: one large, and one for detail.
• Acrylic paint that matches the makeup you plan on using. Take your makeup to a craft store like Michael’s or A.C. Moore and match it to acrylic paint for crafts. This type of paint is very inexpensive and is meant for painting woodcrafts and stencils.

White glue, like Elmer’s.

Paper plates
Push pins or thumbtacks
Newspaper or other scrap paper

Optional, But Nice:

• Paper or plastic paint pallette
Clay tools to help sculpt your antennae
• Not pictured: Sharp scissors, X-Acto knife

You Don’t Need:

• A cat all up in your business

• Well, OK.

Let’s get to work!

Work on a glass plate or your paper pallette so the clay (Model Magic isn’t actually clay, but I’m going to call it that) won’t stick. Divide your clay into quarters. You can cut it with scissors and they won’t get gunked up with it. Store half in a plastic bag for later—but use it soon, or give it to a friend who will, because it will dry out and become unusable. Roll your two remaining quarters into balls. This is what you have to work with for your antennae.

Start by rolling the clay into a cylinder with your hands. You may realize at this point that Model Magic is very soft before it dries, so you definitely don’t want it to be too narrow. Hold the cylinder on top of your plate and start flaring it out at the base. This is how your antennae will stay in your wig. We’re just getting the basic shape here; you can work out the details as you go. Keep some width at the top too.

Press your finger into the end of the cylinder to begin making the “cup” shape at the end of the antennae.

Ambassador Shras, in "Journey to Babel"

Ambassador Shras, in “Journey to Babel”

Gently mold the clay with your fingers if you want the antennae to look “knobby”, like the few we saw in TOS. Work out the detail on the ends of the antennae. Do you want an indentation at the end? Use your clay tools or the end of a chopstick. Your imagination and, er, sculpting skills are the limit here.

Model Magic can be very frustrating to work with. If you end up rolling your antennae into a ball again out of anger, so be it! Or keep going, and remember—you still have half a package of clay left.

Thirishar ch'Thane, from the DS9 Relaunch novels. Cover art by Cliff Nielsen.

Thirishar ch’Thane. Art by Cliff Nielsen.

If you want to make the more insect-like, segmented antennae we see on Shar here, roll your antennae a little thinner and use a flattened-out piece of clay to wrap around the base. Work it into one piece with your wooden clay tools, if you have them.

For a more uniform look, or if your proto-antennae are just too bulky, cut any extra material off the base with a sharp knife.

Small imperfections like fingerprints won’t be visible after you paint your antennae. Keep in mind that once the clay is completely dry, you will be able to gently sand it. If you have large indentations or cracks you’ll want to smooth them over before leaving your antennae out to dry.

Gently lay your antennae out on a plate with a piece of wax paper, parchment paper, or paper palette on top of it. Tear off tiny bits of newspaper to support the antennae. This is really important! Most of our antennae have a bit of a “twist” to them from the position they dried in. You can either go with this, and figure out which one’s left and which one’s right after the fact, or try and support the antennae as well as possible using the newspaper bits. Be careful not to let any sharp creases in the newspaper make indentations in your antennae.

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Antennae.

Infinite Diversity in Infinite Antennae.

Keep your antennae somewhere out of the way to dry! This might be an issue if you have cats, kids, or nosy friends around. They will need at least two nights to dry; this really isn’t a night-before-con project. They will be dry when they are no longer tacky or squishy to touch. You might see a few cracks in your antennae after they’ve dried, especially if they are on the thick side.

Grab your paper plate and stand your antennae straight up. Stick a push pin through the bottom of the plate to anchor each antennae. Sand your antennae lightly, if desired, and apply a layer of white glue. This will help reinforce them, prime them for paint application, and fill in any minor cracks or imperfections. You may apply another layer once it dries for more coverage.

Once the glue is dried, it’s time to paint! Squeeze some of your base color out (the one that matches your makeup) on another paper plate or your pallette. Paint away! You may want to leave the base white so it blends in with your wig. Once the base layer is dry, you can use a darker shade, or mix your own, to add detail.

When you’re satisfied with your paint job and it’s dry, it’s time to try them out in your wig! Cosplay-grade wigs have nets that can have large holes. Simply take your antennae and pop them through each side. Experiment with different positions until it looks right. TOS-style antennae sit a bit further back on the head, but, as we have seen, Andorians are a diverse bunch.

It’s helpful to use a styrofoam wig head to style your wig. You can pick one up at a costume or beauty supply store. You will need to adjust the hair around the antennae. If you are using a longer style, you can use white bobby pins (also available at a beauty supply store) to help secure the hair around the antennae and hide the wig net.

If you’ve never worn a wig before, here is a video on how to do just that.

It’s time to wear your antennae! As we’ve said, they will last a while but can still be fragile. Be careful not to bump your head or let someone snap one in half with their flailing arm at a dance party in Ten Forward. If you are going to a convention, pack some super glue and extra paint just in case.

Be careful when storing your antennae. Wrap them individually in some paper towels—even when dry, they may stick to plastic or each other and remove some of the paint. Store them in a hard container so they don’t get crushed.

Thanks for reading our first tutorial!

Have you made Andorian antennae before? Klingon forehead ridges? Benzite moustache tendrils? Tell us your ideas!

14 Comments ON " inDevelopment – Tutorial: TOS-Style Andorian... "
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  • alt_example

    seannewboy June 6, 2013 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Very nice, i feel as if i could do it, if i were not a Romulan at heart that is.

    Instead of crumpled newspapers, have you considered, using more of the model magic to make some custom beds? It would not work too well if you always tried various antenna styles. “These insectile ones just dont match my bag, get me the long straight ones would you?”

    • alt_example

      Ell June 6, 2013 at 8:00 am - Reply

      Never thought of that! I’ll have to do that next time.

      What I’d REALLY like to do is cast them in rubber with wire or something inside so they are bendable.

      • alt_example

        seannewboy June 6, 2013 at 8:45 am - Reply

        Have you tried this?
        Tabletop miniature game players use it to sculpt things for their games. The down side would probably be the weight. But perhaps that could be alleviated by one of those deelybobber(sp?) rigs under the wigs.

        • alt_example

          Ell June 7, 2013 at 7:05 am - Reply

          No, I haven’t seen that! I would definitely be concerned about the weight though. We’ve tried Sculpey too and it was wayyy too heavy.

  • alt_example

    Nick October 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Wow these are great. I tried it myself but they got a little top heavy and started to tear. Any suggestions?

    • alt_example

      Ell October 27, 2013 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      The thinner you make them–even though it’s more difficult for them to dry the way you want them to–the less they are prone to cracking. Another thing you could try is making the core out of armature wire and tinfoil and covering it with Model Magic. I made a bunch of pairs before finally arriving to one that I really liked!

  • alt_example

    Nick October 30, 2013 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Hey thanks!

  • alt_example

    Squeakist November 16, 2013 at 10:16 am - Reply

    So glad I found your site, been trying for ages to find something like this. I’ve made my own but not happy with them so will try with your method. Thanks

    • alt_example

      Ell November 16, 2013 at 10:18 am - Reply

      Glad to help! Let us know how they come out!

  • alt_example

    Kris June 8, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

    I used this tutorial to sculpt an oil based clay antenna, coated it in clear acrylic spray paint, coated that in non stick cooking spray, made a 2 part plaster mold, and cast two latex antenna. They’re stuffed with polyfil and picture hanging wire(which is glued to the hole in the middle at the top). Will post pictured of the event I’m working next weekend. 🙂

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  • alt_example

    Eileen October 22, 2016 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    I’m planning on using my own hair, not a wig, as I’ve got platinum hair. Any suggestions on how to attach the antennae to real hair and not a wig?


  • alt_example

    marian July 28, 2017 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Crayola makes blue modeling clay so it couldn’t be easier. Not sure if I’ll use hairband or cut holes in my nice white wig.

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