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DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat

As I was walking up to the register at Michaels the other day, I passed a display of paper mâché witch hats and pumpkins and was immediately struck with inspiration! One of those witch hats was looking right at me, saying “Don’t I remind you of something?” Of course it reminded me of something; that hat was just waiting to be transformed into a Harry Potter sorting hat!

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat

It’s easy enough to turn a regular paper mâché hat into a sorting hat. Here’s what you need:

  • a plain paper mâché witch hat
  • newspaper
  • hot glue
  • modeling paste (I used DecoArt’s modeling paste)
  • paint (I used Americana Multi-Surface Satin paint)
  • paint brush

I started with a paper mâché hat I found at Michaels. All it’s missing is a face!

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

The first step is to add the basic features using newspaper and hot glue. This part does not have to be perfect or even pretty looking; the newspaper just makes the face 3D and gives you some depth to work with. You will go over the newspaper later with modeling paste, which will smooth everything out, so don’t worry if there are weird folds or seams or sharp corners in your newspaper.

As long as your hat starts to look like a sorting hat once the newspaper is glued on, you’re good to go!

For the eyebrows I started with a rectangular piece of newspaper, about 8″ x 6″, and folded it up into a long skinny line. I bent the newspaper into two arches (kinda like an upside down W) and then used my hot glue gun to attach the newspaper to the hat in a few strategic places.

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

Remember, you’ll smooth out the weird folds and creases later, so just focus on getting the basic shape the way you want it.

For the nose and mouth I made a flat ball of newspaper and glued it on where his nose should be. Then I glued on two smaller, flatter balls on either side of the nose to make “cheekbones” to make the upper lip look beaky. Cover the beak with a few long strips of newspaper to give it a flat, smooth surface. Make sure to cover the underside of the beak as well.

I made a bottom lip by gluing another long folded strip of newspaper underneath the beak. This part doesn’t need to be nearly as three dimensional as the upper beak, so you can get away with just a single strip of folded newspaper here.

When I was done, this is what my hat looked like. You’ll notice that there are still gaps and seams in the newspaper, and that some of the newspaper doesn’t lay perfectly flat or smooth. Again, this is fine! You’re just giving yourself a basic 3D shape to work with.

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

Once your newspaper is in place, add modeling paste to cover the newspaper and smooth out the seams. I just used my fingers to apply the modeling paste and smooth it out, but if you have ceramic or pottery tools you can use those if you want to keep your hands clean.

Cover all the pieces of the newspaper with a thin layer of modeling paste, and start smoothing out the seams between strips of newspaper. Fill in the gaps between the newspaper and the hat with modeling paste and smooth those out as well so there’s a seamless transition between the paper mâché of the original hat and the extra newspaper features you added.

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

Don’t worry too much if the modeling paste isn’t perfectly smooth at this point; you’re going to apply a thin second coat later to smooth out any imperfections. Also, this is a sorting hat; it’s old and wrinkled anyway, so it’s not going to hurt it to have a few extra lumps or bumps!

Once the gaps are filled and mostly smoothed out, set the hat aside to let it dry for at least 4-6 hours (I let it dry overnight).

The modeling paste shrinks a bit as it dries, so if you had any areas where your paste was pretty thick, you may see some cracks.

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

This is why you need to do a thin second coat of paste. Apply a second coat over any cracks to fill them in, and over any bumpy or rough sections from the first coat. This time, take care to smooth the paste as you apply it. Let the second coat of modeling paste dry for about 2 hours, and then give your hat a coat of paint.

I used Americana multi-surface acrylic paint and it stuck really well to both the paper mâché and the modeling paste, but you will probably need more than one coat. You can see in the photo below that my first coat didn’t quite cover the modeling paste everywhere and some of the white still showed through.

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

But the second coat of paint did the trick and after it dried, the hat was finished!

Now I have my very own paper mâché sorting hat!

DIY Harry Potter Sorting Hat: Turn a plain paper mâché hat into a sorting hat with newspaper, modeling paste, and paint!

And a sorting hat is the perfect Halloween decoration too! If you’re looking for more Halloween ideas, a bunch of awesome bloggers are sharing Halloween-themed decor, recipes, crafts, and more throughout this entire week! Click on any of the pictures in the image gallery below to see the full tutorial for that fun Halloween project!

The creepers are coming - Halloween crafts week

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Hi, I'm Jessi! Welcome to Practically Functional, a blog about simple, practical projects and ideas to help you love your home, no matter where you live! We just bought our first house, and I'm busy turning it into a home. I want to make sure we love every single square foot of our new home, so I decorate, I craft, I DIY, I build, I organize, I cook… I even garden! Practically Functional is about loving your home and turning it into the perfect place for you, your family, your pets, your hobbies, your work, and everything else you love! Make sure you follow along by RSS or subscribe by email so you don't miss anything!

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Comments

  1. Erika Rose says:

    Ran across this on pinterest…I work for michaels and ever since those came in this year I’ve thought the same as you, I couldn’t pass them without thinking of the sorting hat. Nice to see the idea realized, great job!

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