We have good friends who invite us to a crayfish party every year. I would almost say that this is the definition of good friends. Someone who invites you to a crayfish party every year.

Every year there is a contest to see who has the finest hat. For obvious reasons, this race has gotten worse over the years and if the hat does not move in a few dimensions, flashes or plays a sound, it is not worth showing.

Whoever wins the hat competition will as sole judge chose the winner the next year. Not only that, he or she will also determine next year’s theme. The invitation to this year’s crayfish party showed up in the mailbox back in February. There was plenty of time to think about how to construct the hat. That did not prevent me from procrastinating the creation of the hat until the very last day before the party.

This year’s theme was “Ernst Kirchsteiger”, a creative Swedish TV personality, adored by women and hated by men, in general.

So.

What kind of hat should I wear? At first, I thought about creating a foot, since Ernst is often barefoot, but then I run out of time. I had to think again and thought that I would use whatever the nature brought to my disposal.

The first thing I did was to create a foundation for my hat. In previous years I have made this of papier-mâché with varying success. This year, I chose to use plaster bandage, which reportedly can be bought at well-stocked pharmacies. In Borås, my hometown, it seems that only the main hospital’s pharmacy is well stocked (this fact is not confirmed, but all the central pharmacies referred to them when I asked for plaster bandages), so instead I went to Panduro Hobby.

First I put some layers of plastic foil on my head so that I would not get the plaster in my hair. Then I asked my kids to add a few layers of plaster bandages. We cut a proper length of plaster bandage – about 20-30 cm, and dipped it in water. Then we put it on the head. When the entire head was covered we rubbed it a bit with the palms of our hand to make the surface smooth and nice.

After 10-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the layers, the foundation is dry.

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When the foundation was dry, I walked out into the woods and brought some sticks that were angled at approximately 90 degrees. I also found some eaten cones that a squirrel had left under a pine tree.

From the flower shop I bought two red roses and from the basement I dug up some gold spray, LEDs and a battery.

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With these raw materials in place, it was time to pick up some scissors and a knife to clean up the sticks so they all were of the same size. I also plugged in the glue gun so that it would be ready to use.

I cut out a base in the box where I inserted the battery. I have a battery holder that makes it easy to insert and remove the batteries, which I have ordered from Ali Express. These holders are also available at Kjell & Co, the local gadget store. at $3.50. At Ali Express I get 100 holders at $6. On the other hand, they need 6-8 weeks to deliver them to me. That option requiers a bit of patience.

Here I have glued the battery pack and the roses

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The next step in the process was to glue on the rest of the stuff. Eight pins that were bent at 90 degrees served as legs. The two cones from the squirrel served as antennae.

Then I sprayed the entire creation with gold spray, and I soldered the LEDs. I chose blue LEDs and used two per eye so that the light would spread out a bit.

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When this was finished and an the LEDs were tested, I took a table tennis ball and split it in half with a sharp knife. I glued the ball as eyes in front of the LEDs, and then the hat was done.

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Let’s go to the Crayfish party!

Edit: You might wonder if I won this year’s competition? This year, one of the kids won after making a Jumping Jack hat where you pulled a string to make Ernst wave his arms and legs.

One of the other party participants had made a hat that looked like a brain of white crumpled fabric that you could connect your mobile phone to using wifi. When you did, you entered a web site with the text “Welcome to Ernst’s brain, activate the thinking process” and there were various buttons to press. When you did, the brain started to pulse – different LEDs blinked in different ways depending on which button you pressed.

That will be hard to outperform next year.