The purpose of this instructable is to give you an insight into how to sculpt and cast a a set of wearable rubber latex ears to your own design.
There are many different techniques to make ear prosthetics, however this Instructable gives you an insight into a simple,cheap and effective lightweight ears that can be re-used.
This ears are a very low cost application as you can re-use most of the materials.
The entire cost was approximately 2 Euros (when you have your initial resources already).
As you are using latex you must check that you are not allergic to rubber latex as you will be using it extensively around the edges of the mask and around the eyes, mouth and cheeks still do all the usual tests with the materials to check for allergies prior to application as you can see in the next step.
The whole process takes about 3 hours not including the initial set-up and clear up processes, as you have to design, sculpt, refine the sculpt, cast the clay and then make the latex ears.
Hope you find it useful and enjoy yourselves trying it out.
Step 1: Preparation and Allergy Testing
With all the products used in these instructables there is potential for allergic reactions. Certain common things may be unlikely, but paints, latex and other fx supplies have the potential to cause reactions. Large numbers of people are allergic to latex, and you do not want to find this out after you have just painted it all over your face.
The most common way to test products for allergies is to place a small amount (a few mm across) on the inside of your arm. This skin is very sensitive, and is also not visible normally, so not so much a concern if you do get a rash or staining.
You can do multiple 'dots' for your different products, and it is sensible to do this a day in advance so you can be sure there is no problem.
To ensure a smooth makeup application, it is sensible to exfoliate your skin first to remove the layer of dead skin on top, which will ensure that any prosthetics you apply will stay in place as long as you want them.
After exfoliating it is a good idea to moisturise. This is not only good for your skin, but should also help the smooth application of the makeup, and provide a slight barrier to prevent any staining that you might get from, e.g. fake blood.
When applying prosthetics to skin, or anywhere you will be putting liquid latex, you will most likely want to shave any hair (certainly on arms and legs) as it is extremely painful to pull these off when they are attached to hair.
Step 2: Materials Required
Materials that you will require for this homemade prosthetic ears are as follows:
Pre-prepared gelatine blocks. Check out my infected gelatine zombie bite instructable for details on how to make gelatine blocks: https://www.instructables.com/id/Infected-gelatine-zombie-bite/
Kryolan liquid latex (I get most of my make-up from Kryolan, have a look at the site for inspiration http://global.kryolan.com
Mixing jugs (to melt your gelatine blocks)
Setting powder (or Talc this can be a little too course sometimes but good for practising it will stop your latex sticking to itself if dusted on)
Paint brush/make-up brush with soft bristles
Scissors (for triming prosthetic)
Hairdryer (for drying latex)
Plasteline clay (or equivalent)
Mixing sticks (to mix the gelatine during the melting process)
Sculpting and refining tools
Takeaway foil containers
Ink or acrylic paint
Step 3: Your Clay Proportions
I use Le Beau Touche (Hot Melt) as that is my preference which is a little sticky but doesn't stick to the Plaster of Paris as it is oil based.
For basic prosthetic sculpting even plasticine is acceptable it depends on the level of detail or 'refinement' that you require but as plasticine is very soft it will 'break' easier than the clay I use when removing your mould.
Take you time at this stage to get the sizes correct or it will make the proportions really hard to match and get the ears symmetrical.
- You can always weigh the clay to get an exact size prior to sculpting
Step 4: Sculpting the Basic Shapes and Keeping Proportions
Sculpt the main bulk of the shape with the tools then smooth out the clay with your fingers a little but don't worry about the detail at this stage.
You can see from the first picture that the left ear is far too thick therefore I removed some clay from the bottom of the ear then flattened the clay out between my palms to thin it.
Step 5: Adding Detail and Refining Your Clay
In the picture with the small lump of clay and some simple thin wire you can make your own refinement tool to scrape over the clay in many directions to create skin texture if required.
Build up the rough ear shape working on both ears simultaneously to make sure you get the proportions correct then move onto defining the ear smaller features such as the inside.
Once you are happy with the shape and symmetry then move onto texturising the clay ears.
Play around with the texture at this stage, if you make a mistake just smooth it out wit your fingers and start again.
Make sure you lightly brush off any excess clay with a soft bristle brush. It shouldn't effect the detail too much as long as you do it light enough.
Have a look at my Gelatine Zombie Bite instruct able for all the refinement techniques and video...https://www.instructables.com/id/Infected-gelatine...
Most of the refinement to add texture is done by scraping, poking or scoring the clay with a piece of plastic like a transparent bag on top to prevent the tool marks being too obvious. I have made most of my own refining tools to suit my own techniques.
Step 6: Setting Your Clay Ears in Place
Place your ears on a smooth flat surface, I used a simple clipboard.
Make sure your ears are thoroughly stuck to the surface and 'blended' into the surface using your fingertips and flat tools if required.
This stage can be a little tricky.
Cut out the bottom an old takeaway box and place it over your ears to create a wall then seal the edges with clay. You can also just use clay as a wall but you will need to purchase lots.
If you apply you ears to a mannequin head or round surface it will make it easier to smooth them out when working under the top of the ear.
Step 7: Making Your Negative Mould Using a Thick Pre-paired Gelatine Mix
This is a very cheap alternative to using an expensive alginate. (Only apply to clay NOT the bare skin)
Note: The hot gelatine doesn't melt the clay that I have used and comes off easy but do a test patch on you clay material incase it melts it if different to my clay choice.
When using alginate, especially a seaweed based one it can often be very brittle and flaccid and requires a couple of layers of plaster bandages over the top prior to removing.
This gelatine mix, if made strong enough is flexible enough to create an effective mould.
It will feel like an incredibly messy stage in the make but it all peels of most surfaces in one piece.
If you get it on material it melts easy with arm water.
Follow these simple steps:
- Position your sculpt in place that it is stable on a clean smooth surface (kitchen worktop or equivalent)
- Melt your gelatine not allowing it to bubble
- Pour the mix into you pre-prepaired ears and barrier slowly making sure it fills all the holes, use a metal spoon to spread it around all over the clay.
- Let it set for around 4 hours
- Peel it off the clay slowly from the bottom of the ear then to the top or you may 'break' the top of the ear off accidentally
Step 8: Your Ready Use Gelatine Moulds
Carefully remove the clay from the takeaway boxes then cut away the takeaway box and carefully peel your mould from the clay ears.
Step 9: Applying Liquid Latex to Your 'negative' Mould
At this stage pour a good amount of latex into the mould making sure to rotate the mould in your hands to get the liquid latex into all the recesses and work out air bubbles.
After you are finished, turn the mould to the bottom of the earlobe to allow the excess latex to drain from the mold.
Catch this latex in a clean bucket and save it for the additional coats.
Rotate the mould around, so that the latex is evenly distributed to the back, front, and sides of the mould applying thin coats and dry with a hairdryer on a cold setting or it will melt and soften your gelatine mould.
This will help prevent the latex from pooling up, and becoming too thick in one spot.
With a hair dryer, it should only take around 5 minutes or so for the layer to dry. Repeat this process until you have built up at least 4 layers.
Leave overnight to allow the latex to fully cure.
- As you apply each coat of latex make sure that you do not keep covering the top of your mould or your edges of latex will be too thick and hard to conceal when applying to your face. Each layer of latex should leave about half a centimetre free from the last coat to allow a gradual thin towards the edge of the ears.
- When pouring the latex out of the mould each time do it from a different area or you will get a thick latex layer at that specific point.
- Use you finger to run around the outer latex layers to create a thin edge and to remove deep pockets of latex.
Step 10: Peel Out You 'new' Latex Ears
Slowly peel out your latex prosthetic and apply talcum or setting powder as you go with a soft bristle make-up brush to stop it sticking to itself.
Take care at this stage especially when removing the tops of the ears as they will stick a little, just pull the latex from a couple of different sides and 'take your time'.
Step 11: Apply and Colour You Latex Ears
Applying your 'new' ears
When applying you latex ears, if using Pros Aide adhesive glue apply a little to the area that you are applying the ear to AND the ear prosthetic and let it dry for a couple of minutes then attach it taking care that the edges don't flip over and stick to themselves.
If you are using spirit gum then stick it straight onto the desired area.
Note: You will be able to remove the prosthetic if applied wrong but each time you remove it you will degrade the edges which will affect your seam
You can make up a 'thicker' mix to cover any seals using expensive products such as Pros Aide prosthetic adhesive but, I made my own using the liquid latex I already had and applied some cheap liquid latex thickener that i purchase from a hobby shop.
Important Safety Consideration
If you use the latex thickener as described in the top tip above make sure it don't come into contact with your skin, eyes or mouth. If you are unsure use the Pros Aide technique, it can be found on YouTube.
Colouring your ears
I spent a long time perfecting a flexible paint with various tests and as you can see in the attached picture and without doubt the best mix is normal liquid latex and Drawing ink such as this one http://www.winsornewton.com/products/inks/drawing-inks/http://www.winsornewton.com/products/inks/drawing-inks/ although normal acrylic paint works reasonably well but the latex will lighten the paint effect.
There are also many proper flexible paints on the market but if you can make your own at a very low cost then I would recommend that. If you are airbrushing your prosthetic then purchase the proper flexible paint recommended for airbrushing or it will clog up you airbrush needle and is very hard to remove.
When colouring your latex ears simply stipple on you flexible paint mixture with a sponge and use an old paint brush to apply the mixture around the eyes and mouth to prevent overspill.
Step 12: Cut Up and Re-use Gelatine Mould
Cut up you gelatine mould into small pieces and stick in the freezer for future use or re-melt it and pour into ice cube trays then the freezer for more man gable blocks for later use
I have used this one batch of gelatine over 20 times already and it still works fine, it will last for months if you make sure you keep freezing it as soon as you are finished using it.
So it is cheaper than alginate but as it is incredibly hot and it CANNOT be applied directly to the skin, just onto clay.