01 October 2013

Headphones That Don't Actually Work

I really SHOULD make a list of "things I swore I'd never wear but now love".  Might make for an interesting, or at least laughable, post.  Here's another one:

Nice hair, me.  

I've seen ear cauls like this all over the place, and I really love the way they look.  The inspiration for the pair I've made came from here, here, and here, via Pinterest.


THE FIRST RULE OF EAR CAULS IS:  We will not talk about ear cauls!  That is to say, I am not going to discuss or debate the period-ness of them, either to "SCA period" or any point in actual history, nor am I going to discuss or debate construction techniques, artistic interpretation from extant paintings/statuary, or really, any other facet of these things.    

Why did I make these, and why did I make them the way I did?  Because I like them.  End of story. 

Any comments that break the first rule, or begin with the words "actually" or "technically", will be deleted and the posters summarily executed using rabid weasels.  Luv yoo!  


So.  The fun part.  Here's how I did it:  

Clockwise from top left: 
  1. After roaming the house holding random items to the sides of my head, which I assume would have looked hilarious had anyone been there to see it, I finally settled on the cooking implement in the first picture.  I laid a square of cheesecloth over the tool, then made a papiér maché form over that. They're green because that's what color tissue paper I had.   The papiér maché medium I always use is just water and fabric glue.  Nothing fancy. 
  2. Once they were dry, and trimmed into a neat circle (papiér maché is messy, y'all), I whip-stitched a hoop of 20-gauge jewelry wire around the edges, to stabilize the form and the edge and keep them from bending, or tearing.  
  3. Two squares of red faux-silk (both alike in dignity), with strips of gold metallic flat-woven braid sewn in place on my machine.  No, the grid is not straight.  Because yes, I just kinda winged it.  Wang it. Whatever. 
  4. A second glue enters the arena:  general-purpose spray adhesive, which is how the red fabric was affixed to the papiér maché caul forms.  I just kinda smoothed and smooshed it down as flat as I could get it. 
  5. Once the spray adhesive was dry and set (about thirty minutes?) I trimmed the fabric to about 3/4" away from the edge of the caul forms, and then folded them over and hot glued the edges down to the forms.  
  6. More hot glue! After I sewed all those goddamned beads on, and then they all fell off, I hot glued those little bastards.  They stayed put. 
Not pictured:  Last step was to open out a heavy-duty hook from a hook-and-eye set for skirts to about a 38º angle, and then hot glue them in place at the top edge of each caul.  I seated both hooks in a largedollop of glue until it pushed through the holes in the hook where you normally sew them on; then covered the backing of the hook with  glue as well. This was to keep the hooks from popping off.  

The hooks were used to hang each caul from the silver circlet I already wear.  No, they wouldn't have stayed on their own;  but I braided my hair and wrapped it around the front of each caul, both to frame the caul and disguise the rather odd-looking edge, and also so that the hair, pinned in place on my head, would stabilize the placement of the caul.  

Materials used:  
  • kitchen spider/strainer with bamboo handle
  • cheesecloth
  • papiér maché - water + fabric glue, strips of tissue paper
  • strong wire for edges of caul forms 
  • fabric to cover forms
  • trim
  • beads/pearls
  • hook half of a flat skirt hook-n-eye
  • adhesives: 
    • spray adhesive
    • fabric glue
    • hot glue




  1. Oh no, they definitely "work." I like them, too, but have never worn them, however I do Oh! and Ah! at the appropriate moments when I see them in paintings and movies.

  2. Actually...you're technically a goober. Just sayin'. And having seen the finished product like..you know, up close and personal, they rock and are ingenious. *smooch!*

  3. Actually
    Had to
    I like them!

  4. Okay, I'm not going to debate the period-ness or your way of construction. I do, however, want to share what I'd done, in case you want to try it too.

    For my ear cauls (which I believe are very period, screw the world!) I used the tutorial from Threads Magazine, called "How to Make a Hate Base." It's so simple, and you can choose to double the buckram if you want, for a more solid piece and not use a metal wire rim around it. Basically, this is a tutorial for those vintage fascinators, or hat pods that they add feathers or a bird cage veil to.

    What I did is make a template out of cardboard, tracing a large circle, that way I could trace this onto the fabric. The walk-through calls for 7 lapped darts, but do what you feel is best. You don't need a hat form, just dampen the buckram and put down a smooth fabric to save your ironing board's topper, because you use the iron to seal off the darts.

    After this, it's just pinning the fabric to the buckram, and doing what you did with the strainers. The hat tutorial gives you an option of cutting a liner for the hat, which I like. It hides the work. I find that edging the cauls in ribbon looks cool, too. Instead of hooks, I had bought super cheap hair combs made of plastic. I clipped off a few forks with a wire cutter, holding it in a bag so it wouldn't fly off and hit me in the face, and then sewed the combs in place. I had bought mini bobby pins and sewed 3 in: 2 for the sides, one for the bottom. I had sewn them just inside at the edge. If you make braided buns, those are perfect for tucking in, and the buckram is flexible enough to move with you. I preferred this to gluing, because several snug stitches with sturdy thread keeps comb and bobby pins in place, but you can still move them like they were hinged, if needed.

    The best part is you don't need to depend on the circlet for support, which means you can do what some have done on the site Kat's Hats, and use some kind of wide gimp ribbon, add pearls and other beads, and do whatever you want. Mix and match! For cloth circlets, I love finding woven gimp ribbon, usually for upholstery. They get elaborate, and do the hard work for you. All I do is add beads. Lining it with buckram may help you out if you want it to have a stiff shape.


Hooray, comments! Be nice to each other, and to me. Or I shall boot your ass and then mail you a dead fish. :D