Prosthetic Ears
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Since a lot of webpages describe how to do casting quite thoroughly, this page is not an attempt to do so.  It's simply a quick tour through the process.  Also, a heartfelt thank-you is in order: I would have had no clue how to begin making Hobbit ears without the help and expertise of Ed Martinez, who also worked extensively on O.R.C.'s orc costume and makeup and assisted with our Gimli's facial prosthetic. Thank you, Ed! He can be emailed here.)

In the Lord of the Rings movies, Hobbits, like elves, have pointed ears.  (Actually, contrary to the popular image, Elves in Tolkien are never mentioned as having pointed ears, but Hobbits are!)  However, Hobbits are a sturdier, earthier people, and their anatomy reflects this, from their big hairy feet to their stocky frames.  Their ears, too, are less refined than those of the Fair Folk.  While an Elf's ears sweep upward to graceful, recurved points, a Hobbit's ears are wider, flatter, and the point angles backward.

Originally,  I used a brand called Woochie's small "alien ears."  They worked pretty well, and show up in all the earlier photos, but are very "Elfy."  I painted them with stage make-up by hand and that was that. However, these darned people I'm doing the Baycon skit with had higher ambitions, and so the group of us took casts of our ears (and in the Dwarf's case, nose and cheekbones) in order to sculpt our own.
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In this picture, Kel (who is our Merry in another life) has fitted a margarine tub with a hole cut in the bottom over my ear.  Before this, I put my hair into a swim cap, stuffed a silicon ear plug in my ear canal, and commended my soul to the Valar.  She and Judy poured alginate into the margarine tub, and Kel is busily tapping out air bubbles so we get a clean cast.  When the alginate hardens (which it does quickly), the tub is carefully worked off and there is a negative impression of my (teeny weeny) ear.

After that, plaster, or (in our case) cement, is poured into the negative and allowed to harden.  When it is removed, it becomes a "positive" of my ear.  That's part one.

As it happens, the human ear is whorly and curvy and hard to get a handle on, design-wise.  I have a devil of a time drawing it.  Fortunately, with the positive of my ear, I at least could see how a human ear normally worked.  A Hobbit ear is nearly the same, only the helix, or back part, is greatly expanded and sweeps back to a point.

Leah sent me this great guide on drawing ears that reassured me that the modeling I did was on the right track!
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Here is my version of Frodo's ears in clay.  Although they look a bit asymmetrical, they're actually pretty closely matched to each other.  The photos of the right one is at a slight angle, which makes it look narrower.  I'm very happy with how they've come out so far!

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One good thing to remember while sculpting is to really take care smoothing the clay to get a smooth texture.  Little bumps and imperfections that I didn't notice made a big difference later.


The next step
was to make big clay dams around the outside of the ears so that we could eventually pour cement over the sculpted ears to make a new negative.  Now, what we tried originally after that was to pour cold foam latex into the negative, fitting the human ear positive inside, so that the latex set only in the shape of the Hobbit ear sculpt.  It would have worked, except the texture of the foam was way too rough.  I've been told it may be that the casts were still a bit too damp, even after days of drying.

So, I tried slush-casting with liquid latex.  What that means is taking liquid latex and painting it on the inside of the Hobbit ear negative in layers, letting those layers dry, then pulling the resulting Hobbit ear out of the negative.  This sort of worked, except that I continually poured the latex too thick, making it hard to fit the ear on MY ear.

Then Ed Martinez, a backstage O.R.C. member and professional makeup and effects artist, suggested I sculpt a new set of clay ears, then paint liquid latex in layers directly over the sculpt, bypassing several steps in the process I'd tried earlier.  So far, this method has had by far the best success.
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Here are my second set of ears, midway through the application of latex layers.  It was hard at first to judge how many layers were necessary, and the first ear I pulled was too thin and floppy.
And here is my first completed (and more or less successful) pull of a latex ear created directly over clay.  There was a quick makeup job done on the latex, although not with the care I'd use in a masquerade.
 

It is still a learning process
.  I'd like to make the ears slightly smaller next time, and to refine the rim of the ear.  Also, I'm learning that the latex really needs to extend all the way to where the ear joins the skull, otherwise it's very hard to figure out exactly where to position the prosthetic on the ear to glue it down.  There's a lot more to this than I suspected!
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The latest edition of the ears is done.  They look much better than the last, mainly because I layered latex on the casts all the way to where the ear joins the skull.  This makes it much easier to position the prosthetics exactly on my real ear.  Also, they are smaller, more vertically oriented, and the relief in the sculpting is much higher, making for a more realistic looking ear extension.