A disco snake is a perky, funky little friend, suitable as either a children's toy or as an office decoration. A disco snake looks much like a regular snake, except for his enormous hair and tendency to be made of psychedelic fabrics. In fact, maybe he doesn't look all too much like a regular snake after all.
The body of a disco snake allows him to be coiled around various fixtures, or to sit upright. For example, a disco snake might be found coiled around some office supplies.
If you're extremely lucky, you might be able to buy a disco snake ready made - sometimes they can be found at specialty toy or gift stores. However, they're difficult enough to find that it's often easier to make your own.
One of the toughest steps in making a disco snake is pulling all the materials together.
Either a pair of infant tights1 or a 3" by 12" strip of strip of stretchy material. Making a disco snake is easier if you start from the tights, but starting from material can be less expensive, and also gives you many more options for colour schemes2.
If you're starting with material rather than tights, you will also need access to a sewing machine, preferably an overlocker. A regular sewing machine often has a difficult time with stretchy material, which is why people use overlockers, also known as sergers in some parts of the world.
Several pipe cleaners, at least 9" in length. The more pipe cleaners you use, the easier it will be to get your disco snake to stand up straight and tall. Three is generally a good number to start with, but feel free to experiment with different numbers, widths, and types of pipe cleaners.
Something fuzzy to serve as hair, and preferably something that will be able to stick up. Pompoms, furry pipe cleaners, and yarn that has been sprayed with starch are all workable options. Some people have even used doll hair, which can be purchased at craft shops that sell supplies for making dolls.
Small buttons or beads for eyes. Alternatively, eyes can also be painted or drawn on.
Stuffing - the kind used for crafts and pillows, not the kind you eat.
Clearly, there aren't a lot of absolutes here - always feel free to experiment, and make the disco snake really your own!
Twist or braid the pipe cleaners of the snake's body together - the idea here is to create something that's like a pipe cleaner, but is somewhat thicker and therefore stiffer. The more pipe cleaners you use, and the tighter you twist or braid them together, the stiffer your disco snake will be. The ends of pipe cleaners can be sharp and you certainly wouldn't want one to poke out of your disco snake! Twisting the ends under at each end can help prevent this, as can applying small rubber caps3 at each end.
If you're using cloth rather than tights for the snake's body, now is the time to do the sewing. You essentially want to sew the fabric into a long skinny tube that has been sewn closed on one end (leave the other end open for now). Even though you're not using a pair of infant tights, keeping in mind what the leg of one looks like can give you a good idea of what you're shooting for.
If you are using infant tights, all you need to do is some cutting. Cut off each leg up near the inseam. Put one leg aside, as you will only need one for your first disco snake. And surely anyone cool enough to make a disco snake to begin with can find something creative to do with the bit of stocking you have left.
Now fill the tube (whether it be from tights or sewn fabric) about 1/3 of the way up with stuffing, although not too tightly.
Insert the braided or twisted piece of pipe cleaner into the tub, pushing it through the stuffing. The pipe cleaners should reach down to about 1/2 an inch from the end of the tube.
Continue to fill the tube with stuffing, pushing it down around the pipe cleaners. Now that you have the pipe cleaner in, you can fill the tube with stuffing more tightly. Continue until you are about 2 inches from the top. The stuffing should now cover the top of the pipe cleaners, ideally by about 1/2 an inch.
Now stitch tightly and firmly across at the place where the stuffing stops - this gives your disco snake a kind of neck, separating the body from the head. You should have about 2 inches of tube sticking out of the unstuffed side of the stitching, with the opening at the top.
What's left to do now is the head. There are two main things to do here: stuff the head and sew the remainder of the tube closed, and sew (or otherwise affix) on the eyes and hair. Some people prefer to stuff the head first, others find it easier to do the eyes and hair first. When you stuff the head, make sure you leave at least 1/2 an inch of tube unstuffed so that you will have enough room to sew it closed. The hair can be placed over the place where the 'neck' has been stitched, and the eyes just past the hair, on the face.
At this point, you have a disco snake - congratulations! However, you may still want to decorate your disco snake some more. Some people will use fabric paint or sew on sequins, for example.
What Are You Going to Do With It?
There are many potential uses for a good disco snake. For example...
You can coil one around your office doorknob. If you're in a cubicle without a door, even better - nothing looks cooler to the passer-by than a disco snake peering over the top of your cubicle.
They also make excellent cat toys, although if you go this route, it can be kind of fun to stuff some catnip in with the stuffing during creation.
It has also been suggested that an extra large disco snake (perhaps made from a children's large or adult small sized tights) could also serve as an entertaining draught stopper. In order to do this, you might want to use a heavier stuffing material than the less expensive cotton/polyester blend used for craft projects, and would probably want to include some kind of weights throughout the body as well.