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A Desert Wookiee WIP
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:41 am    Post subject: A Desert Wookiee WIP Reply with quote

Hi all -

Well, having gotten some Star Wars costuming under my belt (in addition to my SCA costuming experience), I've decided to go for the costume I've always wanted to make -- Chewbacca. I actually tried making this costume when SWG first came out (before joining RL and before I learned to sew). I used hair extensions hot-glued to a pair sweat pants and a sweat shirt. It was terrible. I mean really, really bad. I ended up throwing out all of the rest of the hair I bought, something I regret eight years later.

I do like to experiment with new techniques, and I have a few new ideas -- so I expect I'll be making a lot of mistakes as I figure out what works and what doesn't. I've read every thread in the Chewbacca section here, and the advice that is here is absolutely invaluable. I figure other people may as well learn from my colossal screw-ups. The things I have in mind may not work at all, so I'd be interested in your opinions!

I've gathered all my supplies (the hair arrived yesterday), so I'm ready to go. I figure the feet need to be built before essentially anything else, since the bodysuit will have to be made to fit over them. Since I am 6'-2" and the mask will add 2-3", I decided that I need to add about 9" to my height. I've decided to make myself a pair of lifts similar to those Wookiee Master Duck created for his costume.

Duck recommends using 3" thick foam insulation boards, though he notes that most Lowes, etc. only carry the 2" thick boards. I decided 2" is probably better anyway, since having two wooden supports will help protect against ankle injuries if I fall off the lift. The only kind of 2" foam insulation board Lowes carries, however, is made of the same stuff you'd find in an insulated cooler -- lots of little white balls smashed together. Worth a try, I guess.



So now I need to sand them.

Yeeeeah.

That is so not going to work. The foam just disintegrates instead of sanding smooth. Back to the drawing board (and to Lowes).

Lowes had a different kind of foam board that seemed more solid. It is blue, grooved, and only an inch thick, but it looked like it would work. I bought some Loctite spray adhesive (the 200 level strength) to attach the two 1" boards together to make a 2" foam board. In effect, I cut out 12 of the foam feet instead of 6.

Since I had to start over, I decided to redo the foot template a bit. Instead of having the shoe lie horizontally, I slanted it into more of a "high heel" position. This will help minimize the bump under the pants leg without (hopefully) making it too hard to walk.

I attached the two 1" pieces together with Loctite and was really impressed with the strength of the bond. I did a test on the foam-to-wood bond, and initially it seemed to be equally strong. Outstanding! This is much easier than my crappy hot glue gun! Here's the result:



I attached the shoes to the feet with Plumber's Goop, again following Duck's recommendation.

Now, here's my next big mistake. While the foam-to-foam bond did fine, the foam-to-wood bond does not hold up under shear (side-to-side) stress very well. Squeezing the stack re-applies the bond, but I can see this being a serious problem during a long parade -- disintegrating Wookiee foot is not a pretty sight. Unfortunately, the Goop has set so the shoes are absolutely locked to the boards. I think the soles will rip out before the bond will break. I tried squirting some hot glue into the gaps between foam and board, but it doesn't do all that well. The entire foot will be wrapped in black duct tape, so that will help hold it together, but I'm not sure that will be enough.

Here is my next big mistake/discovery: Plumber's Goop dissolves styrofoam! I had put a layer of Goop between the edge of the shoe and the foam to help lock it down. Here is what happened when I went out to check on it an hour later:



That's a groove into the foam about 1/4" deep. The Goop has hardened, so the shoe is actually still very secure, but word to the wise: Put the Goop on the board and not on the foam!

The next order of business was to sand the basic shape into the feet. I used a drywall knife and a Dremel tool with a sanding wheel. Overall, I think these came out fairly well, but it occurs to me that while I want the foot to be long (for proportion), it may be too long once I add the toes.




My first big questions for the group:

What do you recommend I do about the foam-to-wood bond? I can dribble hot glue and call it done, but I'm really worried that it won't hold in the long run. Any suggestions?

Also, are the feet too long? I'm just planning on sculpting the toes themselves instead of the toes and a bit of the foot as Duck did. I'm thinking it may still be too long...

Thanks a bunch,
Rorr


Last edited by Rorrlancca () on Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:26 am; edited 1 time in total
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just an update:

After letting the feet sit overnight, I tried putting them on this morning. As expected, the foam separated from the boards almost instantly. On the plus side, I can now pry the foam far enough from the boards to put hot glue in, so hopefully that will solve that problem.

The feet are much too wide. I wanted a wide base for stability, but it's just going to look too funny. I'll have to slice the sides down basically even with the edge of the shoe. You could almost get by with just an inch of foam on the outside of the boards instead of two for a pretty skinny Wookiee foot.

The bottom of the feet also are not perfectly flat. I'll try taking a belt sander to it and see if that helps. The rubber mats on the bottom should help, too. Note to future Wookiee makers: Make sure you add an 1/4" or so to to the pattern when cutting the foam. You want to be standing on the foam, not two thin blades of wood (like I'm doing now).

Any suggestions are appreciated!

Rorr
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Much better!

I tested the version 2 of the feet (shown above), and they just aren't going to work for me. The wood is attached at the shoe, forming a perfect hinge. The wood can't both support the foam slabs and be supported by the foam slabs in turn at the same time. The end result is that the boards sway slightly when you stand in the shoes. It makes me feel extremely unstable -- in fact, I fell once and nearly twisted my ankle.

I decided that the answer is to go back to Duck's original design, in which the foam slabs are laid horizontally. Duck says the only disadvantage to this design is that the foam compresses 1/2" - 3/4" over time. But there's no denying the stability, and stryofoam (and the adhesive spray) will always have a greater compression strength than shear stength.

I went to Home Depot and found what has to be the foam insulation board that Duck was using. It's Owens Corning Foamular 250 Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) -- the fact that Duck's feet were pink should have given me a clue that it was Owens Corning (the Pink Panther is their mascot). Unfortunately, it only came in 1" thickness, but since I am stacking the foam instead of lining them up vertically, that's really not a problem. In order to account for compression, I decided to add an extra inch -- 10" overall. I therefore cut the 4' x 8' board into 7" x 16" rectangles and stacked 10 pieces, spraying both sides with 3M 77 spray adhesive (let it dry for 30 seconds before pressing the pieces together). This gives one solid block of foam - perfect for shaping!

The next step was to rough cut the basic shape into the block. Basically, I put the shoe on top and cut away anything that wasn't a Wookiee foot. Incidentally, I found a hacksaw works much better than a drywall saw with this type of foam.

Here's the rough-cut foot:



As you can see, the foot is quite a bit shorter. I realized that I had sculpted a full foot -- toes and all -- in the previous version, so when I actually added the toes it would be too long. This will give me room to build up the front of the foot with clay and give a better base for the toes.

I'll let you know how it goes once I goop the shoe to the foam, but I can already see that this is orders of magnitude more stable.

Regards,
Rorr
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Zaxmon (Ryan Ricks)
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Experimenting with different techniques is good, even if it doesn't go as planned!

Looking forward to more.
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Following Matt's advice, I increased the slope of the shoe rest so that it is in a "high heel" position. I was also able to get the shoe to bond using silicone adhesive. The silicone takes several hours to cure, so I had to put some weight on the shoe to hold it into place. It seems to be in fairly solidly, and Chris B assures me that once the duct tape is on, the shoe doesn't move much anyway. Here's the pic:



Any opinions or advice on these?

Next steps are to cut and attach the exercise mats to the base of the foot, wrap the whole thing in duct tape, then sculpt and cast the toes. I've decided to do the toes in DragonSkin, using the same techniques I'll use for the mask. I'm definitely going to need the practice, so best to start small, I think. My father and nephew will be in town all next week, so I'm not likely to get much done until they leave.

Regards,
Rorr
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Zaxmon (Ryan Ricks)
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It looks ok so far.

I don't think DragonSkin would be a good decision for the toes. I've used silicone, Flexible urethane, foam, and latex. Honestly you can have the exact same effect with a less expensive material. I would use latex and stuff it like Duck did.

I may have used Flex Foam-It 17 on mine, but in hindsight it was way too expensive for the effect. Very rarely does the foot get enough attention to warrant something elaborate. Stick to something simple and cost effective.
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Torment (Jason Rucci)
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

id stay away from dragon skin unless you know what you are doing with it or you have a degasser handy. Dragon skin if you havent used it before catches a ton of air in it and does not pour well unless you do a major gravity pour. It works ok as a brush on though. Id go with latex or something similar. You will get much better results with it and you wont have to have better skills to work with it. Plus as Ryan said. Its wholely more expensive for more of the hassel.
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All good advice, thanks!

I have some liquid latex that I've used for facial appliances, would that work brushing into the mold, or should I look into something else? I got this stuff from Ben Nye, but I can browse Hobby Lobby and see what else they might have.

I need to find something to practice with the DragonSkin on before I waste a ton of it trying to make the mask, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, I guess!

Thanks again,
Rorr
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SoloYT1300 (Robert Kohn)
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dragon skin pours fine... and is 10 times stronger than any latex materials out there.

However not only is it a bit more expensive... its heavier then the silicone foams.

Mine are made out of Dragon skin, and they are fine... just heavier than they could have been. Knowing now I would highly recomend a Silicone foam that will be lighter than Dragon skin, yet have the strength of a Dragonskin.

just my 2 cents...

Bob
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Dougie Fett ()



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been experimenting with just normal black silicone sealant in my toe mould, it's very cheap and dries in very thick layers, will post results soon.
It stinks of acetic acid though! But that will not last forever.
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dougie -

Back when I was trying to make lead starship models for a game I was playing, I experimented with using that black silicone sealant as a mold material. It actually worked pretty well, but the smell! I can definitely relate to what you're experiencing!


Well, I now have some lifts I can practice walking around in. Last night I cut the exercise mats for the bottoms of the feet. In retrospect, I should not have rounded the corners on the underside of the toes. My thoughts were that would make it easier to walk, but the duct tape rounds those corners out naturally. As it turned out, the corners were too rounded, so there was a tendency to pitch forward and to the left when wearing the shoes. I added a vertical piece of mat on the sides, which seems to have mostly solved that problem. It still gives some flexibility when walking, but adds to the stability. I should probably have added it to the back as well, but maybe next time. Here's what it looked like:



I then wrapped everything up with duct tape. Advice to future Wookiee makers: Put on the shoe before you wrap the top, or it might be so tight you can't get the shoe on after wrapping! Here are the final shoes ready for toes and hair:



A not-very-accurate measurement puts me at around 6'-10" or 6'-11" wearing the shoes, so with the mask, I'll hopefully be okay on height.

I'm glad to finally be able to move into the house to work for a while, since it's (no kidding) 125 degrees in my garage right now. My father and nephew will be here all next week, so I probably won't do any more work until next weekend.

Saturday I'm making the lifecast for the mask, so that should be an interesting experience!

Regards,
Rorr
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TK-6162 (Mark Williams)



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RC?
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TK-6162 wrote:
RC?


Hi Mark -

Hmm... I guess I'm going to have to show my ignorance here. What is RC?

Rorr
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TK-6162 (Mark Williams)



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My apologies, thought you were someone from Mos Eisley out of Indiana that is currently working on a Wookie.
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Rorrlancca ()
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, no problem. No, I'm originally from Tennessee, though I haven't lived there in decades. I'm in the Phoenix, AZ area now.

TTYL..
Rorr
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