making pith helmet cat ears - advice?
July 13, 2012 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Please help me: a) procure 2-5 pith helmets (natural straw type), inexpensively; b) procure material to make matching cat ears; c) add cat ears to pith helmets, in "airplane ears" or "listening behind" position, because cat safari is serious business. Found $15/helmet source for (a), but wonder if there's a less expensive way. For (b), I have no real clue - what should I even buy? Very thin chair caning supplies? Tiny willow branches from a nearby tree? Any ideas?

My neighbor and friend has been active in feral cat trapping/neutering/releasing, and has accomplished a lot. She's been very devoted, going out many evenings after work to retrieve cats, bringing a lot of kittens into the local animal rescue organization, etc. She's moving away soon, and her mentor is throwing a little party.

The whole idea of going out to strange places to find and trap hidden wild cats is probably not as romantic as I'm making it out to be, and it's not like she gets to use a tranquilizer gun or march for days under the sweltering sun with native porters, but there's no reason not to add a bit of celebratory panache.

I'd love to make her a "cat safari" hat, along with one or two more to her mentor, who will feel her loss and will need to look hard to find more volunteers.

My efforts to find ways to make cat ears yielded mainly textiles. I want this to look like part of the hat (made of a straw-like material), to be a little understated so that it won't be too embarrassing to wear in public, and to be less cute than is the norm for kitty cat ears on the head.

Ear shape should, I think, be like "airplane ears" -- ears extended to the sides, not laid flat back. Maybe a little back, as though listening to something behind.
posted by amtho to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oriental Trading has straw pith helmets.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:19 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not clear to me what you mean by matching ears. If mean the ear material should be similar to the helmet material, then buy an extra pith helmet and use the material from that helmet to build ears that are an exact materials match. If it's flexible, with the aid of a glue gun you should be able to use pieces to fold and reinforce into ears.

Are the ears meant to look like ears, or is it meant to be a helmet for someone with cat ears, and so the helmet has cat-ear-protectors, rather than cat ears?
posted by -harlequin- at 12:23 PM on July 13, 2012

Your best bet on the ears might be to buy a standard widebrim straw beach hat (example) and cut the ears out of that. Refer to cloth patterns that you've seen so far to get an idea of a good shape to cut. Cut a test ear out of paper, and curl it around, trim it, etc, until you get a nice shape, then use that as a pattern for the straw material. You'll need to bind the edges; either a machine zigzag stitch, or a ribbon tape binding to cover the raw edge, or maybe you can figure out a nice way to fold it that presents the ear edges as creases, and all the cut edges point down toward the helmet. Depending on what the helmet's like, you may be able to cut a slit in the outer cover to tuck the ear base down into and glue it all with hot glue, or you may have to glue on the outside. Feral cats probably have gunk inside their ears anyway.
posted by aimedwander at 12:28 PM on July 13, 2012

Response by poster: I mean similar material, and they should look like ears.

This is the least expensive seller I've found, at $15.99 per hat. I know I said straw, but this is the kind of thing I'm envisioning -- I don't know what the constituent material is called, though.
posted by amtho at 1:58 PM on July 13, 2012

Best answer: Window screen mesh spray painted to match the straw colour might work for ears. And as a bonus it wouldn't fray at all. You can buy the stuff by the yard at hardware stores (or at least you can according to this random design*sponge DIY).

I'd spraypaint both sides of the mesh to match the hat, then cut out squares, and oragami fold them into cat ears by:
-Fold square in half into a triangle (so it looks like a mountain)
-Fold both the sides of the triangle up towards top of the big triangle, so it becomes a smaller square.
-Fold the tip-flaps and the top of the mountain in half inwards. It'll end up looking like the triangle you had after the first step but with all the edges inside and just a fold down the centre which would become the inside of the ear when you attach them to the hat (probably with colour-matched embroidery floss or hot glue)
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 11:03 PM on July 13, 2012

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