GRAPPLING HOOK! A DIY Tutorial
As I say every year, I need Dragon*Con in my life. The guests, the panels, the excitement, and, of course, the many fabulous cosplayers and costumes! This year, my husband and I were Dipper and Mabel Pines from one of our favorite TV shows, Gravity Falls. We love it so much, we did a podcast episode on it!
Unlike most of our cosplay excursions, these were some of the easier costumes we've created. Dipper's hat and journal were from Etsy, and I already had a purple skirt, knee highs, and ballet flats lying around. Even the sweater went easier than expected, with a few eBay searches for neon pink turtleneck sweaters and a great DIY video guide (and free patterns!) for Mabel's shooting star sweater here. But, no matter how long I searched, I couldn't find any guide for making Mabel's signature grappling hook.
So, I set about to make my own, and after so many excited people wanted my picture with the grappling hook (because no other Mabel there had one), I wanted to share with you how I did it so your Mabel Pines costume can be complete too!
To Make Your Very Own Grappling Hook, You'll Need:
- A gun! (fake, obviously, but realistic)
- At least two plastic coat hangers, preferably black
- Stiff paper packaging (ex. a cereal box)
- Foam packing material (jewelry box insert
- Scissors, tape, and a hot glue gun
- Wire cutters (heavy duty, enough to break cleanly through your hangers)
- Paintbrushes and black paint (acrylic or latex will work- I used a latex semi-gloss to mirror the dull sheen of a gun)
*Note: the more components that are already black, the less work and painting you have to do.
1) Cut a rectangle out of your cereal box to roll into a tube to place around the gun's muzzle. You'll want the uncoated side on the inside, as paint will have a hard time sticking to that. Use the tape to secure it on the inside.
*Note: Depending on the thickness and length of your gun's muzzle, you may be able to use a toilet paper or paper towel roll for this step.
2) Now that you have a tube, trace the end of the tube onto another piece of the cereal box, and cut it out so you now have a circle that will completely cover one end of the tube where the grappling hook will be inserted. Use that circle shape to cut the same sized piece out of your foam insert.
3) For the grappling hook, use your wire cutters to cut out three equal pieces of curved plastic. Cut each hanger in half along the bottom rung, and then again right before the indentation for clothing straps.
4) Arrange and glue the three hanger pieces together along the long end, with the shorter curved ends fanning out into the hooks. Use as much glue as you like along the seams too - you can paint it later.
5) Poke a hole through the center of the paper and foam circle pieces from step two, through which the grappling hook will fit.
*Note: You'll want the paper tube around the muzzle to be long enough to cover the muzzle and at least a fourth of the grappling hook gun, so that your prop is stable and holds up to constant waving. Put it together without glue to make sure it looks right, and use another circle of foam inside if you're concerned about the grappling hook jiggling within the tube.
6) Place the tube around the muzzle and secure in place at the trigger by overlapping the corners and hot gluing them together.
*Note: You do not need to put glue on the gun at all, just on the pieces surrounding it. This attachment will be completely removable and remain intact, and thus able to go onto any prop gun you may need.
7) Place the foam circle inside the tube at the other end - glue to the inside of the tube as desired - and glue the paper circle on top of that. Again - use as much glue as you need to secure it at the seams.
8) Insert your three-hanger grappling hook through the holes in the paper and foam as far as you'd like. On mine, the ends are resting against the end of the barrel where the bullet would exit, for added stability. Trim down this portion of the hangers as needed for correct length, and once you're happy with it, hot glue it up.
9) Finally, the sharp points on the grappling hook are nothing more than cut out and folded bits of cereal box, hot glued into place around the ends of the hooks.
10) Give everything that needs it at least two coats of black paint, and you are now all set to take on Bill!
Happy DIYing, and feel free to comment below with questions, clarifications, or to show us how your grappling hooks turned out!
I'm Elizabeth Kidder, freelance illustrator currently located in Knoxville, TN. Please enjoy the site and Contact Me with any job inquiries or questions.