Thursday, September 29, 2011

Making Hooves

While working at the renaissance faire, I came upon a conundrum -- the shoes I'd found that were hilarious furry boots were also brutally wrong for wearing anywhere ever and they tore my feet up until I almost couldn't walk. So I thought about it for a while, and wondered "could I make my own furry boots?" First I was just going to go with the boring standby of "wrap fur around shin, boot complete." But then I got more curious about making my own foot-hooves. Turns out there's not a whole lot of tutorials for "making a plain hoove for your foot so you don't have to walk on an expensive metal contraption or the dangerous tip-toe-on-platforms thing." So I'm making my own.

And thus I present:

How to Make Fake Hooves
(Because I'm cheap, most of my props tend to be made on the inexpensive side, which really works well for those who don't have $500 to make a pair of fake hooves.)

  • Duct tape ($3)
  • Floral wire ($2)
  • Plaster wrap ($10)
  • Fiberglassing resin ($10)
  • Fiberglass cloth ($5)
  • Brown acrylic paint ($2)
  • Sneakers ($10) 
  • 1/2yd Faux Fur ($5)
Total Cost: $47

Step One
Bend the floral wire into the rough shape of a hoove. The lengths will depend on the shoe and your personal preference, you want to be sure it fits snugly against the front of the shoe and looks proportional to your size. Play with the sizes until you like it. Once you're confident, clip another set and match the length and bend. You're going to want to immediately repeat anything you do on the first hoof with the second to keep them as similar as possible.

Step Two
Duct tape the wire. Leave roughly an inch in between each wire so that the hoove goes up over the top of your shoe and then goes down the front. Again this is mostly personal preference. Be sure you duct tape the whole thing, this will give you the shape you'll see in the end.

Step Three
Plaster wrap over the duct tape. Use your fingers to smooth the lines out and the little divets in the plaster wrap, you want it to be as smooth as possible. Allow to dry completely (if you put it in front of a fan it will only take maybe 20-30min), and then do it again. Repeat a third time if you want, but I didn't.

Step Four
This part is going to be best to do outside, with a pair of disposable gloves and maybe some safety glasses. The gloves for sure. Cut strips of fiberglass long enough that you can wrap each strip around the front and they touch in the back. Then mix the resin and apply LIBERALLY all over each strip while attaching it. That's the key to not strangling yourself with frustration, the resin must be used liberally -- it isn't too expensive, don't skimp. Once you've slathered each piece set them out to dry. I tend to rest them on a paper plate with the bottom side down, if the plate tears and leaves bits they won't be seen.

Step Five
Once you've given your fiberglass a few hours to cure -- preferably overnight -- you are ready to paint. This part is simple. Take a paint brush, load it with brown paint (adjusted as you will, I think I added a bit of black to mine because it was too light), and then paint in rough, quick, downward strokes to acquire that strange mottled pattern. You can adjust that as much as you want, weather it with some black, or add some white lines, it's all up to your creativity.

Step Six
Seal those suckers with a couple of layers of whatever sealing type thing you have laying around.

Step Seven
Glue the white fur to the shoes, leaving the toes unglued. Once it's attached to the shoes you can put a thread of glue along the top of the hooves and glue the white fur to that so it gives the illusion of a full Clydesdale-esque hoove. Be sure no part of the shoe is showing. I tend to use black shoes, it hides the fact that it's a shoe better if anyone does see anything.

Step Eight
Glue the hoof itself to the shoe. I tried about six different glues when I did this and I found the best for me was e6000, you can try whatever you want just make sure you use a significant amount. The shoe moves as you walk and it can break the bond. Avoid hot glue. It's worthless. Also be sure you put the hoof high enough on the shoe that it doesn't touch the ground. That will just destroy it. These things are strong, not invincible.

Step Nine
Go be awesome. I'd love to see photos of your completed hooves! For the record mine were meant for a unicorn costume, and when I realized I had forgotten to make them cloven I decided I simply didn't care that much. They were a big hit and once I got them right they lasted about 4 or 5 weeks of 16 hour weekends of wear being beaten to hell in the 100 degree Colorado Renaissance temperatures. If you find yourself left with questions, or you need more photos (I tend to be a photo person and didn't take as many as I should have, I can easily make a "spare" hoof and show you the entire process) let me know.