9 Mar 2010

Simple Hobbit Feet - Hairy Toes Hobbit Style

Told you I was a Hobbit :) After successfully making a Hobbit Pipe it was the time to tackle the wiggling hairy toes. Hobbit's feet are one of Hobbits best known trade marks.

"wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly)..."(J.R.R.Tolkien -The Hobbit)

And so as one does, I spent my Sunday recreating a pair of Hobbit feet for my Hobbit costume. The Hobbit Feet prosthetics used in the making of Peter Jackson's movies were made by the incredibly talented folks from the WETA Workshop in New Zealand. To create feet prosthetic , one would normally make a cast of the feet , then use the cast (negative) to make a cast (positive). Once this is done alteration to the feet cast can be applied by using clay ( in the case of Hobbit feet these were widened and stretched to recreate the 'Hobbit' look) When the 'altered' feet sculpture is dry and ready several layers of latex are brushed on it to create the prosthetic which will be worn by the actor on set. This whole process is extremely time consuming and it requires a high level of skills. In recreating 'my' hobbit feet I simplified the process and instead of using a cast I opted instead for using my feet to apply the latex layers so that my prosthetic would fit perfectly on me. I decided not to go got the 'big and wide' feet structure, instead choosing a more small and normal-sized look. My main objective was to have the 'hairness' without looking 'goofy'.

Before starting I covered the floor with old newspapers (working with latex can be messy). To make my Hobbit Feet I used:

Cling Film
Sheer ankle socks (skin colour)
Latex (Creamy and Concentrated)
One old paintbrush
Real Hair (from some old hair extensions)

Step 1. : It is very important to wrap the feet in cling film to avoid the latex coming in contact with the skin. Once that is done its time to wear the skin-coloured ankle socks which will be the base of the prosthetic, and start applying the first layer of latex. -The latex must be allowed to dry completely before applying the next coat.

Step 2. : Apply at least 5 layers of latex , each time making sure you let the latex dry completely. Make sure you do not move or dance around when the latex is drying. You will need to keep your feet up ( by using a stool or a cushion)- Make sure you have someone that can wash the brush between applications. It is very important to use creamy and concentrate latex for this process. Liquid latex would be very difficult to work with and very messy too.

Step 3. : After the 5 layers of latex have dried completely its time to start applying the hairs to the feet by using latex as an adhesive. Starting close to the toes, apply a strip of latex and put the pre-cut hair in place (this is a delicate process which can get messy -take your time). When the first strip of hair is in place work your way up the foot by applying a second strip of latex and repeat on both feet.

Step 4. : When the strips of latex are dry and the hairs securely in place its time to take the prosthetic off your feet - it will look like a pair of funny hairy socks. Almost done, all that remains is to cut the top of the latex feet off so that your own toes can wiggle freely and there you have it, you are now a Hobbit :)

The whole process takes a few hours and the result will not be as good as the Hobbit feet used in Peter Jacksons's movie, but I think they look good enough for a respectable Hobbit. My costume is coming along well, soon it will be time for the transformation to be complete....although I think I may eat a few more cakes and pies to reach the 'Hobbitish' roundness which is required :)