Making a British Napoleonic style shako is actually quite easy, although adding detail to it is quite fiddly. This design is also good for a French Foreign Legion style cap! I’ve actually had a hard time convincing people my guy is British… Anyway, when making the shakos, you may wish to do several at a time, allowing you do make a batch at once.
I'll add pictures as soon as I can!
You will need:
Xmm plastic/styrene tube
Thin styrene sheet (less than 1mm thick)
1mm or less styrene dowel
Miniature head (one without hat – the plainer the better)
Green-stuff, well mixed
Step 1a, prepare the materials – the tube; Cut the tube to the desired length (roughly 5-8mm). It should be about the same height as the face that will fall beneath the hat, so make sure it is no taller than the head you are going to attach it to. Cut the plastic dowel to twice the height of the cut tube.
Step 1b, prepare the materials – the head; carefully cut off the top of the head, starting just above the eyes. Try to give a very slight slope down towards the back of the head. Check that your cut is smooth and even. File it or slice it until you are happy with the level.
Step 1c, prepare the materials – shaping the tube; gently press on the tube until it is slightly ovular in shape, so that it will rest on the head properly without the sides sticking out and the back of the head having an unwanted lip to it! Match it up with the cut point on the head, and alter the shape of the tube by pressing it onto a hard surface until you are happy.
Step 1d, prepare the materials – peak strip; once you are happy with the shape of the ‘hat tube’, we need to cut a strip of styrene that will act as a peak for the shako. Place the tube onto the styrene sheet so that the flattened edge of the tube is on one edge, and mark where the other side is. Repeat at another point on the same edge of the styrene sheet, and draw a line between the two points and reaching to the ends of the sheet. Slice this off with a modelling knife. Check that it is the same width as the ovular tube, and adjust as necessary.
Step 2, adding the peak; place the shako tube onto the thin strip you cut of the peaks, so that it touches the end of the strip. Cut the strip at a point so there will be a 1-2mm peak sticking out the front. Glue the tube in place. Once it has dried, trim off the corners of the strip at the back of the shako so they are flush with the tube, and trim the peak so that is has an even curve around the front. I did it using several gentle straight slices rather than doing one long curved slice.
Step 3, adding the plume support; glue the plastic dowel you cut to the inside front of the tube so that it touches the styrene sheet that makes up the peak. Make sure it is in the centre of the front of the shako.
Step 4, filling the cap; mix up a small amount of green-stuff and stuff it into the top of the cap, filling the top of the tube. This needs to be smoothed flat so that it makes up the top surface of the shako. I can be slightly concave or convex if you wish.
Step 5, the plume; take a small blob of green-stuff and wrap it around the plume until it is an even, upright sausage. Using a sculpting tool, very gently poke shallow holes all over the surface of the green-stuff sausage until it has a texture you are happy with. Leave to dry fully before continuing.
Step 6, the rosette; you may wish to practice this a few times to get a size and effect you are happy with before trying it out on a shako. Take a very small blob of green-stuff and press it onto the front on the shako just below the plume, so that it forms a small circle. Using the knife-edge of your sculpting tool, make a number of small grooves radiating out from the centre of the circle. There are a couple of different ways of achieving this. Either just press the tool into the green-stuff, drag the point from the centre to the edge, press the tool in at an angle. Try different ways out until you get an effect you like. You can also use the tip of your sculpting tool to press in the points where your grooves meet the edge of the rosette, giving it a slightly rounded effect to each individual segment.
Step 7, the button; take a tiny blob of green-stuff, or a small disc of styrene dowel, and press it into the centre of the rosette to form the button. Leave now to dry fully.
Step 8, the head; place the shako onto the head, with the peak to the front. Check you are happy with the angle. If not, trim or file the flat cut to the head until you are satisfied. When ready, glue the shako in place.
Extras, the badge; now, I’m not good enough yet to do this. Under the rosette, you could sculpt a regimental badge. This could be an Imperial Eagle (a bit French!), or the light infantry bugle horn. You could try gently slicing off an appropriate bit of deco from a suitable bit and gluing it in place.