How we made the Mutation-X RDA Halloween Costume DIY headpiece…
Please bear in mind that when we made this costume, we wanted a stainless steel-looking RDA. That added quite a few steps to the process, as we used aluminum foil to match the color. If you use plain black or colored poster board, you can follow along but avoid at least 50% of the work. In retrospect, we highly recommend avoiding the aluminum foil if you want to save time and a stainless steel look is not a necessity.
What you’ll need:
All the links provided are not-affiliate links – use them as references if needed
- Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil – $8-$14 per roll (or free – you might have some around the kitchen already!)
- If you decide that using aluminum foil is too much of a hassle, feel free to use black/color poster boards as an easy substitute – these should run you a couple of dollars each at an office/craft supply store. You’ll need about 4 in total depending on the size of your headpiece.
- Original Gorilla Glue – Around $7.00, or just use any strong adhesive glue
- Transparent Tape – $3.00 – $4.00 per roll
- Some cardboard – Free if you have packing boxes laying around the house
- Tape measurer / ruler – Free or $3-4
- A few wire clothing hangers you’re willing to destroy or some skewer sticks – Free or $3-4 for a large pack of skewers
- Aviation snips (if you’ll be using wire hangers) – $8.00 (or free if you already have some on hand)
- Some 8 1/2 x 11 inch printer paper to make your template
- A large, round bowl or plate from your kitchen
- A cup, bottle, or anything round to trace
- Some binder clips to use as “clamps” – $4.00 for a bunch or use anything that can clamp and hold together some cardboard while glue dries
Total cost = a maximum of $30.00 if you purchase all of the materials on Amazon at full retail price…
However we were able to pull this entire project off for free since we had everything lying around the house already – you’ll probably find that you have most of these things as well. 🙂
1. We took printer paper and taped eight pieces together to make a template for the circumference of the RDA.
Measure around your head, make sure to leave some room for movement.
Since everyone’s head is unique to them, there really isn’t a one size fits all option. We used Eric’s head as a template.
Taping the sheets of printer paper together, the total circumference with additional wiggle room was 38.5 inches.
2. Find a long piece of cardboard from a box or use a poster board from Staples or Office Depot (or the discount store).
This will be your RDA headpiece. Use your paper template and cut the cardboard to size.
3. Bend cardboard vertically each quarter-half inch until a circle is formed. Cardboard has a bendability and we had no trouble bending it in segments.
Make light bends along the entire length of the RDA. This will make bending the entire thing into a cylindrical shape much easier.
4. Take the cardboard and wrap it around your head again to get a comfortable fit.
While on your head, mark the inside of the cardboard to note the final circumference size.
5. Take it off your head and fold the cardboard in half.
This makes finding the center easier.
6. Now you’ll need to find the center of the half.
Measure with a ruler and find the center again. In this example, half is 19 inches.
We left an inch from the edge for gluing, therefore half measured in at 18 inches.
7. Draw a vertical line at the half-way point.
The side you are working on will be covered with aluminum foil or hidden away on the inside. Don’t worry about making some marks.
8. Flip the whole thing over, and do the same on the other side.
Now you have the entire thing divided into four quarters. This makes drafting the RDA airflow holes much easier.
9. Find the horizontal center of the entire template.
As you can see, ours was about 16 inches from top to bottom. Divided by half, the center is around 8 inches across.
10. Draw a line across.
Mark the locations where both axes intersect. This will be the location of our first airflow hole.
11. Since we’re making a Mutation-X RDA, the holes are stacked across diagonally.
Make another diagonal line across both half-way points. Do this on both sides as the Mutation-X RDA has airflow holes in the front and back.
12. Grab the template and put it around your head once again to find where your eyes, nose, and mouth are located.
This was done very crudely. We took a pencil and just marked off the locations while the RDA comfortably rested on Eric’s shoulders.
13. Use a sharp pencil to poke tiny holes in the cardboard, one each for eyes, nose and mouth, to reveal the location of marks on the opposite side.
This is where your airflow holes should go. Of course this is all pretty approximate… the idea is to make sure you can see and vape without taking the RDA off of your head. 🙂
14. Figure out how large you’d like the airflow holes to be.
If you’re looking for exact proportion, then you’ll need to find a small circular object to trace for the holes. We figured proportion didn’t matter as much as comfort, so our Mutation-X airflow holes needed to be slightly larger than the original RDA in order to be comfortable.
We used the bottom of a paper cup. Also keep in mind having a perfect ratio is a bit tricky, since you actually have to put your head into the RDA.
You might want to opt for more comfort and less perfection, especially if you plan to keep it on your head for more than ten minutes.
15. Trace the first airflow hole around your center marks.
Since we’ll be cutting these out, leave about a quarter to half an inch of room between your circles.
16. Draw a straight line across the top and bottom of the airflow hole.
This serves as an alignment guide for where the other airflow holes will go.
17. Trace the next circle directly below the first.
Remember to leave a little bit of room between them.
18. Draw the third circle below the first two.
The tiny holes you’ve poked should fall somewhere inside your three circles. If they do, you can be sure that you’ll be able to see and have access to your face when this is all over.
19. Start working on the next row of circles.
We messed it up the first time around. As you can see, the center row has all three stacked, but the adjacent rows must follow the diagonal. Don’t worry if you mess this up… just shade the correct ones in and move onto the next step.
20. Cut the shaded holes out.
Be careful not to be too messy. They will be covered with foil, but you still want to make sure the airflow holes don’t begin to look like a brofist through sheetrock.
21. Once you have one side all cut out, make your life easier and just trace the circles for the opposite side.
With the cardboard still folded in half, you don’t need to redraw the entire diagram on both sides.
22. Cut the other side out as well.
23. Grab a nice size piece of aluminum foil and lay the entire template down flat on it.
Leave some room on the sides, top, and bottom. You’ll just fold those over after gluing.
24. Grab some glue and apply it on the inside of the cardboard.
We used gorilla glue for this step, but any strong adhesive should work. Just make sure not to overdo it. It turns to soup. We learned the hard way… 🙁
25. Put something heavy on top of the drying, foiled cardboard until the glue fully adheres to both parts.
Give the glue some time to dry. Gorilla glue takes about 1-2 hrs to fully dry, so we left it alone and went to work on the other parts of the RDA.
Making the cooling fins..
1. Find a large bowl, plate, or circular object that’s similar to the circumference of your “top cap.”
This will serve as the template of your four cooling fins.
2. Trace and cut out 4 equal circles from another piece of cardboard.
3. Wrap them all in aluminum foil on one side.
Don’t make a mess, keep the edges smooth. You’ll be gluing another neat piece of aluminum foil on top to cover both sides.
4. Take the object you’ve used to make your cooling fin template and trace it on aluminum foil.
Cut the foil pieces out neatly. These will be glued to the underside of the cooling fins.
5. Grab your glue again.
Get under the edges of the foil along the circle. Then spread the glue thinly around the exposed cardboard.
6. Paste the aluminum foil circle cutouts on all 4 of your cooling fins.
As with the top cap, put something heavy on top and leave them to dry.
The top cap should be dry by now, so let’s go back and finish it…
1. Cut out the foil covered airflow holes once again.
This time, we need to get the foil folded into the airflow holes. Find a small circular object to trace. We used a top cap from a bottle.
Note: Because we were overzealous with the glue, it spilled out from the edges under the weights during drying and made a mess around our airflow holes. Not a very big deal, but it did make things a bit difficult to work with. Hopefully you’ve heard the warning and didn’t make the same mistake we did…
2. Cut out the small circles carefully.
Make sure not to tear the foil. It’s a bit fragile, so take your time on this step.
3. Take scissors or a box cutter knife and slice little wedges out of the foil around the circumference of the airflow holes.
4. Carefully bend the wedges back along the holes.
It doesn’t matter how messy the inner side is, as long as the outer side looks neat.
5. Use some clear tape to secure the foil wedges to the internal side of your RDA.
Don’t skimp out on this part, otherwise the little foil wedges will start to unravel and show through the airflow holes.
6. Put the top cap on and find a comfortable height for your head.
Leave some room, make sure you can bend your head upward. Give your hair some breathing room. 🙂 Make a small mark on the inside where it is a comfortable place for your top cap to end.
7. Use your mark as a starting point to draw a horizontal line across the inside.
In our example, it was about 3 inches from the edge.
8. Make a soft fold across the entire horizontal line.
9. Make vertical cuts along the entire circumference of the top section.
Cut right up to the horizontal line you drew in step 7, every inch or so. Be careful not to cut past the line.
10. Fold along the horizontal edge.
Fold all of the pieces downward (foil side up) to form the top base of your top cap.
11. Cut out another cardboard circle using the template of your cooling fins.
You won’t be wrapping this one in foil, this circle will be glued from the inside of the RDA top cap for stability, hold everything together on top.
12. Now it’s time to glue the left and right edges together forming a circle.
Spread a thin line of glue along the inner edge.
13. Press firmly, make sure everything lines up well and clamp the edges in place.
Leave the top cap clamped to dry.
While the top cap is drying, it’s time to prepare the chimney and cooling fins……
1. Grab another piece of cardboard.
Decide how tall you’d like your chimney base to be. We didn’t want to make it too high, so we settled on something around 7 inches.
2. While you’re here, go ahead and cut another piece of cardboard to be later used as the drip tip.
We decided our drip tip will be about 6 inches tall. Put it aside for now, we’ll come back to it in a bit
3. Time to cover the chimney cardboard in some foil…
Spread some glue along the outer edges
4. Fold the foil inward to secure it to the cardboard.
Let it dry for a bit.
Once the top cap seam is fully dried…
1. Grab the piece of unfoiled cardboard you’ve cut out earlier.
Spread some glue along the inside of the top cap slits.
2. Place the cardboard circle firmly on the glue from inside the top cap, making sure to bond to the slits.
3. Secure it in place by putting something heavy inside while the glue dries.
Let the glue dry well… you don’t want the reinforced top section to unravel. You will need this at 100% to hold the weight that will be on top of it.
Wait for the newly-reinforced top cap to fully dry. Once that’s done…
There’s one last step left – to make a hole for the chimney in the reinforced top section.
1. Use a box cutter or scissors and make teeth-like incisions along the entire circle.
Bend them inward. These will help hold the chimney tube in place from the inside of the top cap.
Once the chimney is covered in foil and fully dry…
1. Roll the chimney into a tube and figure out the diameter that it needs to be by inserting it into the newly-cut reinforced top cap.
Use a pin or clamp on the seam to secure the chimney’s circumference.
2. Grab your 4 cooling fin rings.
Find the center of each and crudely trace the chimney circumference in the center of each cooling fin.
3. Use a box cutter or scissors to cut out the chimney holes in each cooling fin.
Don’t be afraid of making the center cut-outs messy. We’re going to cover these in foil anyway..
4. Once all 4 cooling fin centers are cut, grab some aluminum foil…
Cut out small triangles from the foil. You’ll need quite a bit of them to neatly cover the edges of the circle in the cooling fin center.
5. Use transparent tape to secure the triangles to the cooling fins on both sides.
Now the edges are somewhat neat. This also prevents the foil from ripping and exposing the cardboard underneath.
Here’s the fun part:
We still need a way for the cooling fins to stay securely in place along the chimney…
We figured it would have been easier to use some wooden BBQ skewer sticks for this part, but unfortunately we didn’t have any laying around so we opted to go for plan B: snipping off 4 pieces of wire from clothing wire hangers.
1. If you’re using skewers, then skip the wire snipping part and just break 4 sticks to be a little smaller than the diameter of the cooling fins.
If you’re using wire hangers, grab some aviation snips and snip 4 similarly sized pieces a bit smaller than the cooling fin diameter.
2. Poke two small, parallel holes through the chimney tube.
We figured the cooling fins will look relatively proportionate if they’re about 1 inch apart from one another vertically along the tube.
3. Insert your skewer or wire through the chimney tube.
4. Slide on a cooling fin…
Secure the wire/skewer in place by taping the fin to it from the underside.
5. Repeat the process 3 more times..
Now all 4 cooling fins are secured to the chimney barrel! If they’re flopping around a bit, straighten them out and dab a tiny amount of glue on the inner edge for additional security. Let them dry.
Time to make our drip tip…
1. Grab the piece of cardboard we’ve prepared earlier.
2. If you’re using carbon fiber wrap like we did, then cut it to wrap around the outside of your drip tip.
If you don’t have any carbon fiber wrap on hand, feel free to use some construction paper, foil, or printer paper as a substitute.
3. Wrap the cardboard with the paper of your choice.
Glue the edges if necessary… we didn’t have to since the carbon fiber wrap had adhesive on the back side of it.
4. Roll the drip tip into a tube
5. Tape it to the exposed part of your chimney from the inside to hold it in place.
Finally… it’s time to insert the chimney & fins into the top cap and secure the whole thing in place.
1. Insert the chimney tube into the top cap through the reinforced top cap opening you’ve made earlier.
The teeth should flow inward into the top cap.
2. Flip the cap over and use some tape to secure the chimney to the exposed teeth on the underside.
We’re missing a photo for this step… but use your imagination. If you’re looking at the top cap with the chimney tube inserted from the top, you can see that the teeth are grabbing onto the chimney causing some friction. Take some tape and just wrap it around the whole thing from the inside to make sure the chimney doesn’t wobble around.
The last step is to cover the ugly edges along the edge of your top cap right under the cooling fins.
1. Grab some aluminum foil.
2. Cut a rectangular piece the size of your top cap circumference.
Ours was about 38 inches. The entire piece of foil for this part measured about 30 inches horizontally, 8 or so inches vertically…
3. Fold the foil lengthwise twice.
This makes the whole piece about 2 inches tall and 38 inches wide.
4. Wrap the entire thing along the upper edge of your top cap.
Leave about an inch exposed on top. Tape the other inch neatly to the top of the RDA using some clear tape.
…and you’re all done!!
Congrats, you’ve now finished the Mutation-X RDA part of your costume!
Put it on, grab a mod and atty, take a vape, blow the vapor through the chimney top, and most of all… have fun!! 🙂