As I’d mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I like to make my Tolkien cosplay dwarf wigs from scratch for several reasons. Beyond fit, style, etc.. I like to have matching loose hair available for making beards.
The first time I went out as Thorin, I did the beard right on my face with liquid latex, layer by layer. Looks good, but took TWO HOURS. After doing this twice, I knew I’d need to come up with a better way, something reusable.
Another issue is that I find the liquid latex application doesn’t last very long, and starts peeling off my face early in the evening. Want to eat or drink anything? It’ll peel that much faster.
So, I used a heavier liquid latex to make a more reusable Thorin beard, and it took about 2 minutes to put on. I was able to use Pros-aide adhesive, which holds MUCH better than liquid latex. I’ve since used this method to create the beard for my Beast costume, for the mustache and around the bald spot of Mini Bombur, and now my Dis costume. Here is how I did it:
First off, I prepared my work space with medical exam table paper – this will make a big mess, and it’s nice to be able to just bunch up the paper and toss it when I’m done.
I cut some strips of plaster casting tape into thinnish strips, and set a container of water out. I also set out a pair of gloves, because handling plaster really grosses me out. (Too close to chalk. click here if you’re curious to read about some Aspie issues :0 )
Then I pulled all my hair off my face, greased it up with Vaseline, and built up 3 layers of plaster casting into the beard mould you see here. About 15 minutes later, I made a few faces to loosen up the mould and pulled it off.
While it can be tempting to get started right away, I recommend letting the mould air dry for at least an hour.
As a design note: You don’t need to make the beard mould as big / full as this for the style of beard I’m doing here. I purposely made it very full because the mould is reusable – who knows what kind of beard needs I may have in the near future? 😉
Once the mould has dried, I dusted it with baby powder (because of the vaseline residue) and gave the whole inside a nice coat of a thick, casting latex. I use the #269 flexible casting compound sold at a local supplier. You don’t want to use the makeup style of liquid latex for this, but flexibility is KEY. You want it to move with your face.
Once the first coat of latex has started to get a bit gummy, I set a piece of beige stretch mesh in it, smoothing so there are no folds. This gives a bit of extra strength, while still being flexible. Let it cure with the mesh in it, then add one more coat of casting latex.
Once the latex seems to be dry, gently pull it from the mould. If it sticks or you can see wet latex underneath it, let it dry a bit longer. Set it on the outside of the mould and let the outside of your new beards prosthetic cure for a bit, before trimming rough edges and using sharp craft scissors to trim until the piece is symmmetrical (I just fold it in half and cut through both layers)
Then I held the piece in place and used a marker to draw some rough lines of where I wanted to trim the beard into shape. After trimming, I tried it on again and adjusted until I was happy with the shape and size. Note: This is just the base of the beard – hair will extend down below the actual edge.
When I was happy with it, I used a couple small clamps to hold it on place on the outside of the mould.
I coated what would be the underside of the chin with some Liquid latex (Ben Nye), and started laying the hair. While the makeup stuff isn’t good for the base, it’s perfect for the glue, especially as it sets up MUCH faster than casting latex does.
I start at the front corner/edge of the chin, gluing loose lines of hair down, with the loose, cut edge of the hair facing the front of the chin. I work my way backwards towards the neck, bit by bit.
Once I’m happy with the chin hair, I trim the front edge so it lines up with the chin/jawline of the mould.
Then I continue applying hair in loose, layered rows, working up to the top edge of the beard. I used hair cut to lengths MUCH longer than I figured I wanted, because it gives me more flexibility for trimming/styling. Much easier to remove hair, than to add it!
Take note of direction when you’re placing your rows – I started out aiming them straight down, but ended up adjusting so the pointed slightly towards the center. For my Beast costume, I had the hair aiming outward. It all depends on what look you’re going for.
Take a look at your beard and make sure everything is symmetrical enough. While the latex is setting, you have a little bit of time to gently nudge hair in a different direction.
Once I was satisfied with the sides of the beard, I attached layers of much longer hair to the center front, working my way up front the chin. This is the part that I had plans to braid. If you’re not doing a long center braid, you can just cover this part while you’re doing the sides.
I used double sided tape to try the beard on.. as planned, it was WAY too long. I trimmed it a bit before trying it on with the wig, for a better idea of what it would look like. Decided it was still too full, so trimmed a bit more.
Here is a photo of where it’s at right now. That bead is a placeholder, until my Fili bead arrives from Dwarvendom on Etsy.
So, it’s ALMOST done! Still need to trim it a bit more, but I want to wait until the gown is done so I can see the whole thing together before deciding how much more to take off.
To wear it, I stick it on with Pros-aide, let that dry a bit, and then tidy up the edge with makeup and/or gluing on a small amoutn of hair to hide the edge… depending on my mood 🙂 As pictured, this is just held on with a couple strips of double sided tape for an idea of what it will look like.
Be sure to “like” my costuming page on Facebook for more progress pics, tips, and other fun stuff: Marie Porter, Cosplay Costumer.
Note: If you’re looking for a quote on custom costuming, please contact me through my costuming page, www.evilcostumeoverlord.com.