Instructables

Elf Ears, custom-made in silicone rubber

Featured
Picture of Elf Ears, custom-made in silicone rubber
Puck's ears.JPG
  While costume shops have been selling foam latex pointed ears for some time, their generic one-size-fits-all shape means a standard and relatively bulky set of points which can never completely blend with a human’s natural earlobes.   The extra-soft and porous nature of foam latex also means the ears are limited to a few applications before giving in to the stresses of repeated use.
  In this Instructable you will learn how to make your own custom-fit set of pointed elf ear appliances from two-part silicone rubber, a non-porous material which can be glued, applied, removed, cleaned, and reused many, many times.  I have been using the same pair for a few years now, so if you are attentive and careful, your ears could last indefinitely.

Edit:  The silicone rubber I am using here is Douglas & Sturgess brand SR-1610.  Smooth-on makes rubbers with comparable properties for their Dragon Skin line.  Use the softest mixture available, with the least amount of color.  One of the advantages of silicone is it's ability to scatter light and create a realistic flesh-like glow and be transparent enough to blend into real flesh.  

I make my ears at TechShop.

Also works for: faeries, fairies, pixies, pillywiggins, goblins, hobgoblins, demons, leprechauns, gnomes, hobbits, nymphs, naiads, sylphs, satyrs, imps, demons, orks, vulcans, romulans, werewolves, na’vi
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Aquire:

Picture of Aquire:
Most of these materials are available through smooth-on.com

  -Alginate/Dermagel
  -Plaster (I recommend Ultracal or another thin and extra-hard-setting mixture)
  -Silicone rubber (soft and translucent)
  -Petroleum Jelly
  -Ear plugs
  -Clay (non-drying and sulfur-free)
  -Silicone pigment or acrylic paint to match your human’s skin tone
  -Spirit gum or medical adhesive
  -A silicone-friendly release agent (here I am using Ease Release 200)
  -Foundation makeup 
  -Mixing cups and stir sticks
  -2 large clamps
  -Water

Wonderful tutorial! I've made two-part molds before and I was wondering if you could clarify a part of your molding/casting process; did you make the ultracal ear cast part of the mold, or did you keep it separate and place it in between the molds when you casted the silicone?

amartin7329 days ago

so in the list for what will work for each race... i don't see the name Elf in the list o-o

Scotttland (author)  amartin7325 days ago

"Elf" is in the title, the list is "Also works for:"

What about using polyester resin instead of plaster? Would that be less likely to crack when removed from the mold?

LastielRusc9 months ago
I want to try to make this but I've got a question about how long should the silicone sit in the mold? I just need an estimate so I won't be messing with it while its curing.
Scotttland (author)  LastielRusc9 months ago
Whatever silicone you buy should give you a cure time on the packaging, the ones I've used have all been around eight hours. There are some that only require forty minutes and some that set in ten minutes.
Thanks! You helped me figure out exactly what I did wrong...I did not add enough of "part b" to the RTV. Just made a pair and they look Lovely! Thanks!
cspangler10 months ago
So I've read through all the steps and read through all the comments, including the one from rdisley where you say that you use the ear cast inside the final silicone cast, but I'm still a bit confused. How do you get the original ear cast out of the second mold (the two part one), I know you said that you cleaned the clay off the point, was that what the other clay you added in step 7 was for? So the mold wouldn't stick to the ear cast? Should that also be removed or left on? Can you reuse the original ear cast or is it a one time deal? I kind wish you had included a pic of the empty mold after cleaning out the clay and prior to pouring in the silicone, otherwise this is such an EXCELLENT tutorial!! I'm SO excited to try it out! Thank you so much!!
TechnoDrop1 year ago
I'm sorry. I know you've been very nice to include what you used but I can't understand the terminology and there are so many silicone rubbers and brands to choose from with the same names I can't tell them apart. Could you maybe include en exact link?
Scotttland (author)  TechnoDrop1 year ago
http://www.smooth-on.com/Silicone-Rubber-an/c2_1115/index.html
TechnoDrop1 year ago
So when you say, non drying sulfur free clay, what is that exactly? Cernit? Polymer? Play.doh?
Scotttland (author)  TechnoDrop1 year ago
I wouldn't recommend Play doh, as it does have a tendency to dry. The ideal clay would be oil-based, like Plasticine. I often use Roma Plastalina/Plastaline, though the sulfur content can react with silicone. A urethane coating over the clay will prevent this.
Incredible work, really. There are lots of quality, creative instructibles around, but this has gotta be in the all-time top ten. Your work here certainly makes a lot of very well paid Hollywood-types look like amateurs. Very well done.

I do have one question: elf/hobbit/Tolkien-realm ears are always pointed and somewhat flared out, which you illustrated perfectly here, but if I were to use this process for a more alien-type or blunted tip ear, do you have any ideas on how to shape the prosthetic so that it curves more inward, as if to follow the shape of the back of the skull, remaining more flush with the hairline? I don't think it will be difficult to mold in clay, but I'm concerned that ill have problems with glue adherence since the prosthetic will be directing away from the natural structure of the ear, rather than extending it like elf ears.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/advice. My question seemed simple enough in my head, but it suddenly got complicated during the translation to text. I hope it makes sense. :-)
rdisley1 year ago
These turned out lovely, but I don't exactly understand how you keep the prosthetic hollow so it will fit over the ear...
Scotttland (author)  rdisley1 year ago
In steps 5 and 6 you can see the replica ear, this is used inside the mold in step 8 to creat an ear-shaped interior.
shallnot2 years ago
There is no mention in Tolkien's books of Hobbits having pointy ears; nor his elves for that matter. Blame 1970s illustrators for that error. Do you hear me Peter Jackson?
Give him some slack man, he had the whole world of tolkien fans riding on him, he needed to do somthin extra cool
Scotttland (author)  shallnot2 years ago
In a letter to his illustrator, Tolkien describes "leaf-shaped" ears, which I interpret as meaning 'pointed', as they have been depicted on fair folk since antiquity.
"Leaf shaped" is a wee vague as there are tens of leaf shapes. One could just as easily interpret them as being shaped like oak leaves or pine needles. Many leaf shapes are only slightly more exaggerated versions of our own ear shapes. Ones more akin to his descriptions of elves ears as being "up tilted".

And elfs as opposed to Tolkien's elves have not always been regarded as "fair folk".

And Hobbits still don't have pointy ears...
Scotttland (author)  shallnot2 years ago
Tolkien's letter actually specifically uses the work 'pointed' in reference to Hobbit ears as compared to human ears, and again in his 'Etymologies' in reference to Elves. As for elves being 'fair', being called once 'fairer than the sun' is pretty fair.
marshon2 years ago
Could I ask which silicone you used for this? Great 'ible and nice ears by the way.
marshon marshon2 years ago
My BAD, just seen the brand name in the intro - sorry.
Ezra Fike2 years ago
Even the folks making Lord of the Rings couldn't match this! They had to use gelatin, which would quickly dissolve when placed in contact with water. this is priceless!
thebluebulk2 years ago
u r hot !
Scotttland (author)  thebluebulk2 years ago
Thank you, though I am not pictured in this article.
oh... well the girls in your instructable are hot :-)
How do I mold my ears?
Scotttland (author)  ThatKnottyguy2 years ago
This is covered in the first few steps of the instructable :)
DustySeven72 years ago
what type of silicone rubber do you use. there are many types
Scotttland (author)  DustySeven72 years ago
I have edited my intro to address that.
Gothtec2 years ago
Great piece, good when you can't find them and need ears for your larp character.... But the cost of materials is massive for a one off, so recommend that its done in bulk and the ears can fit other people too...
kenbob2 years ago
Love these!

You could do these as a "service", I could make a mold of my ears, send them to you, along with photo for skin tone, and you make a set of points and send them back - all for mere money.

( I am really good at mechanical, less so at sculpting and painting :) )

I am sure folks would sign up - you could even make an ear-molding-kit for those without alginate and plaster.



Scotttland (author)  kenbob2 years ago
I can start taking orders on July 14th. Feel free to contact me about sending me your ears before then.
Now there's something you don't hear every day... "Send me your ears!"

I mean, even Mark Anthony just wanted people to LEND their ears...

;)
Cyclone17642 years ago
Live long and prosper!
squiggy22 years ago
Wow those are ridiculously realistic! I've never yet seen elf ears outside the cinema that look like they're supposed to be there. Very impressed!
That is a fantastic technique for making them. They look perfect!