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Duck's tips for new wookiee builders (EDITED 8/9/09)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:01 am    Post subject: Duck's tips for new wookiee builders (EDITED 8/9/09) Reply with quote

EDITED 08/08/09--- new info

OK, since I've been asked a few of the same questions in different build threads, I thought I'd consolidate a few bits of common info in one thread in case you decide to go the route I did (foam lift shoes, latch-hooked mesh suit, etc). This is by no means comprehensive or the only way to do these things, but for the folks wanting to know the way I did it (and 95% of this was blind trail and error or directly lifted from Matt Pfingsten's comprehensive Wookiee tutorials), here's a few tidbits.

Mesh suit measurements and stuff
I'm 6'2" and 190 lbs (kinda thin build except for a bit of a beer belly!), so adjust your measurements accordingly. Keep in mind, there's several ways to design your suit, but I went with a 2 piece top and pants version. The pants are held up with suspenders:

One thing I forgot to mention was that I ended up inserting a diamond shaped gusset into the crotch, to give the pants more room when I sat down. It is 8"x5":

Here are pics of my top and pants, to show you the color patterns I did... I think it's pretty close to Chewie's colors and pattern:





Again, there are all sorts of ways, both high tech and low tech to go about this, but this works fine for me. It's cheap, it's light, it's pretty easy to fix if you need to make tweaks, it holds up surprisingly well (6 months straight of TOUGH trooping before my first minor tune-ups, including 4 long parades) and it adds 8-9 inches to my height (with the mask, I top out at around 7'2"-7'3"). These are actually not my exact shoes but some new ones I'm making for a secret client (seriously, you know him, but I'm under strict gag orders until he debuts it. I swore I'd never make a wookiee again for any amount of money, but this was an offer I couldn't refuse). The design is lighter and more durable than my current shoes, and when I have time, I'm making a new pair for myself.

That's 3 inch thick foam, kinda hard to come by if you're not a contractor, but you can sandwich up some 2" stuff.

The center of the sandwich has a piece of 1/8th inch hardboard, just as a stabilizing fin to keep the foot from collapsing over time. My original shoe, which was stacked foam horizontally instead of a vertical sandwich, started to kind squish down and lost about a half inch to 3/4" over many troops, so this was a new design solution.

The sneaker is then just slapped on with a bit of Plumber's Goop supplemented with gobs of hot glue. Then the outside edges are gobbed in with hot glue and a bit of black exercise pad foam cut to bridge the gaps for shaping.

The sole is just 2 layers of that same exercise foam pad... not really needed, but nice.

This is a latex cast of the toes I made for my Chewie, just stuffed with a bit of polyfil and hot glued on.

Then, believe it or not, just wrap the hell out of it with black duct tape, even under the sole. The tape stays on under the whole shoe pretty amazingly and has never been slippery for me in the least.

Then I just spray paint the whole thing flat black and cover it in 4-5 rows of hair, starting about 5 inches from the bottom up to about the lace area (maybe an inch over the sneaker's height). You can see my beat up old shoe a bit in the right side of the pic, in comparison.

As you can see, they can be quite nimble:

Hope this helps a few of you.

Last edited by duck on Sat Aug 08, 2009 4:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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SoloYT1300 (Robert Kohn)
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Requesting a sticky for this in the tutorials section of the fringe so it doesnt get lost please...

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Freaking awesome Duck! Thanks for the great mini tute, I should easily be able to get some progress pics up soon thanks to this.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Moved to Fringe Tutorial Forum and sticky per request of Bob.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Questions and comment.

The comment is just a friendly FYI for people who haven't made shirts before. Your neck is actually 2/3rds in front and 1/3rd in back. A lot of people center the neck hole and that can cause the neck hole to be too large.

Now the questions. I saw one person who latch-hooked and they said they left about an inch gap between each row of hair. Is that how you did it? Also, about how much hair would you recomend per knot?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2009 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hope you guys don't mind but I'd thought I'd add some stuff that came up in the various Chewie builds.

duck wrote:
Gosh, thanks for the compliment, Steve!

Chris, what I used to glue the board and foam "sandwich" was actually just hot glue. Since hot glue melts foam pretty good, I usually put the glue on the board first, give it 20-30 seconds to cool a bit, then slap the foam on. Then I repeat on the other side. To glue foam to foam, I am extremely lazy and have no patience for 24 hour dry times, so unless the object doesn't need a seam that must be sanded perfectly, I use hot glue with a quick overcoat of 3M 77 brand spray adhesive. If you need to sand a seam really perfect, you don't want hot glue near the edge, because it doesn't sand.

If you want to glue foam to foam the "right" way, you can buy foam adhesive in a caulking tube at any Home Depot. I forget the name and specific number (because I never use it even though I have 3 tubes sitting in my workshop), but it's like $3 a tube and you use it with a caulking gun. It's designed to not eat away the foam, but it takes 24 hours to dry.

To cut and sculpt the foam, buy a $4 drywall saw and some 60-80 grit sand paper. It's really all you need. You can try all sorts of other saws, knives and sanding tools, but that's all I've really used for years when working with this junk.

Tip on the shoes, though: make sure you over cut the size of your foam a teeny bit, maybe 1/16th inch. That way, when you glue it to the board, you can sand down the foam to be flush to the board if needed, rather than try to sand down the board to the foam. Lot easier that way.

duck wrote:
Here's what I'd suggest: there is no set way to go about it, but try and get fairly complete coverage. Like, in a one square inch area, try and get knots on all four corners. I'd be liar if I said I had coverage all over that thick (some places I flat out cheated like a mother and skipped around like 1.5 to 2 inches between knots in some areas), but I'm paying for it now by having to go back in and cover up bald spots, and it sucks big time trying to go in and latch-hook after the suit is done.

Here is a new suit my friend Syagria is helping me with that has WAY better coverage than mine, and I think this is the way to go:

Keep in mind, if you HAVE to start speeding up, the areas that are a bit more forgiving in terms of coverage are the crotch and inner legs, the ribs under the arms and the collar bone area. If you need to cut corners to make a deadline (or you just can't take another hour of mind-numbing latch-hooking), use more hair in those ares and skip around more. As long as the hair is hanging flat, you can sorta cheat a bit. Places where you do NOT want to cheat at all is the arms (forearms in particular) and the thighs and knees, because you bend there and the hair will flop around and expose bald patches bad. Take care in those areas.

Another important trick that I only figured out AFTER my suit was done (the first time) is to blow dry the Kanekalon hair on low before you use it. that straightens it right out and gives you a more accurate idea of coverage. When it's all frizzy, you think 5 knots will cover a square foot!

And always err on more knots with less hair per knot if you can. But don't worry about everything looking too thick and like a poodle, because you will need to groom the crap out of it when it's done, anyway. Thinning shears can remove TONS of hair. When I groomed my suit, I had an entire trash bag of clumped up hair I swept up. It's always easier to remove hair than add it. And it doesn't take forever, I groomed mine in about 90 minutes. Just have a shop vac handy.

Diagram of what Duck means:

duck wrote:
2 quick suggestions.

- go narrower and a bit straighter on the legs. It will be closer to Chewie's look plus cut down on a lot of latch-hooking.

- blow dry your hair on low before you latch hook it. It cuts down on the volume by 50% easy by straightening it out and gives you a much better idea of what the suit will end up looking like when it's finished and straightened. Blow dry what you've already done, too. Makes it easier to work with.

Oh, and toss in a few gray knots here and there to break it up. Just be random.

duck wrote:
I used at most 10-12 stands per knot and that was when I was being very wasteful. Once we got a system down, it was more like 5-8 strands per knot. It looks like you're using huge clumps.

Syagria wrote:
Hi there, just dropping by while taking a break on latchhooking Duck's Wookie Mach 2. Smile

I'd definitely echo Duck's advice, plus reiterate that using a hairdryer to straighten the hair before hooking it into the suit helps a lot - with straight hair, it tangles less and gives a better idea of what the final outcome will look like, so you can see bald spots sooner. When you open the package of hair, pin one end under your foot or leg or have someone hold it, hold out the other end so the shank is completely straight, and run the hairdryer over it, and it all straightens in like 5 minutes.

In this second suit, I'm spacing knots of ~6-10 strands (doubled over when the knot is tied) at about anywhere from 1/4" to 3/4" apart. I don't work in a set pattern, by rows, or by columns, because it's too easy to get lost and it wastes time to sit there counting holes. I just eyeball everything - tie a series of knots scattered over 1-3 rows of the mesh, and then just keep scooching upwards with each next row of knots. It sounds haphazard, and it totally is - but this is, after all, a walking carpet who pals around with a scruffy-looking nerf-herder, so it's not like he'd be coiffed and brushed! ;-)

I guess the big question most people have when they're doing this is, "How do I know if I'm doing this right?"

If you've hooked over 25 hours on a pair of pants, have at least 10 to go to finish them, your shoulders ache, your neck hurts, your back is going into spasms, and your domicile is COVERED in synthetic hair that follows you from room to room (Seriously: I went into the ladies room at WORK and I found wookie fur in there!)... then yep, you're probably doing it right. ;-)

Good luck, all you wookie-hookers!!

Closeuo of CBlacks spacing:

Wookiewannabe wrote:

Im finished latch hooking my suit and now am thinning it out. It always easier to remove and scupture the hair afterwards. I Latch hook almost every loop. I skipped a very little bit. Maybe 2 holes around each one. I know the hair piles up and it looks really thick if you do it this way but when it is blow dryed and the hair straightens you do want to be able to see your net suit. When the wind blows or when you walk you dont want to see through the hair. My thinning out process is going great with a combination of thinning scissors and brushing works very well. If you get in to a grove with the latching it goes pretty fast. A little extra time hooking a little more of each hole will pay off in the end. Especially in the arms and knee areas. By covering most of the netting now with latches of hair the net is covered and can not be seen through. Thinning it out later is easy and actually fun. Youre scupting the hair angles and you can control the thickness and size of your body by keeping or subtracting more or less hair.

SoloYT1300 wrote:

Looking good, you can really see the difference with using the advice from duck on treating the hair first. By doing this you can get a better idea on how much hair is needed to latch hook. The crimped hair really gives a more puffy look.

Don't be afraid to draw out the patter on the suit. remember you will need to stagger the pattern image on the suit, for there will be a few inches off to overlay in the hair. Far to often I will see wookiees with the pattern to low because the latch hooked where they wanted the image to start, but ended up loosing a few inches due to hair blending. STart a few inches higher on horizontal areas that change colors. Lessen up the staggering on vertical blend. Eye ball it, or use a French curve tool ( sewing tool ) to help the areas that go from horizontal to a vertical blend, try to avoid sharp turns.

Any suggestion from you on this would be nice to know. I am curious as to how you handled the blending. Did you eyeball it, or did you draft it out on suit? Knowing what you know now... would you do it any different now?


cblack wrote:
I'm getting close to this point so I'll ask now.........

How should I handle the coverage issue when I get up onto the shoulders and there are not as many layers to lay on top of each other?? Is it as simple as just hooking more hair closer together so there are less empty spaces or is there another secret??

duck wrote:
Just kinda did the same spacing, really.

forestmoonstudio wrote:
I got the Kanekalon from Texas beauty supply. I sent away for some mesh samples from I was looking at the aquatic mesh. It has 1/4'' holes, or should I go with a smaller holed mesh?

duck wrote:
I'd say that would be fine. Just make sure that your latch hook tool can fit through the holes OK. The mesh I used was just a bit too small and the tool had to sort of "pop" through each hole, so it took several hours to get into the groove and not have that slow me down.

BleuKnight wrote:
Apparently the Kanekalon comes in two styles. Be sure you get the Black and Gold Braid brand which is used for braiding. It gives the nice texture hair look for the costume.

SoloYT1300 wrote:
BleuKnight wrote:
Just be sure you test the stilts before you use them.

I have a pair of the Skywalker stilts by Marshalltown. As soon as I can figure out how to cover them up as part of the leg, and add some toes at the base, I'll give it a try. Then I'll definitely be over 7'....

forestmoonstudio wrote:
Sorry that I haven't posted anything yet. I am still getting supplies in. I am waiting on my mesh and stilts.

I use Skywalker stilts for my chewie. What I did is sew a bunch of snaps to some growgrain ribbon ( any fabric store for both ) then I placed the male set of snaps on the feet via Silicone glue to my silicone feet. The female snaps I sewed to the same type of growgrain ribbon to the inside of the foot of my legs/ fur.
Make sure you have enough slack in the fur/ leg when you walk so that there is enough play so you do not pop snaps all the time. I went with snaps instead of Velcro ( almost went that route ) thinking that if someone stands next to me ( on my hairy feet ) velcro may not give, causing posible tearing of the suit, or causing me to fall. The snap system I have will simply pop away keeping me from tripping. This has saved me a few times allready.
You will be suprised how kids magically appear next to you when you want to move!

Hope that helps a bit.

forestmoonstudio wrote:
With the added width and length of the feet, did they make the stilts more stable?

SoloYT1300 wrote:
Yeah, I would say they did help a little bit, but I think scuffing up the rubber by walking on cement... helped more.


duck wrote:
That looks similar to the mesh I used. And the pant looks good. Remember to make the legs and arms as narrow as you can while still allowing to get it on and off OK and making the transition from leg to stilt as smooth as possible. The reason I say this is twofold.

One, Chewie is actually pretty damn skinny and the hair adds up quick anyway, causing a lot of puffiness, even after using thinning shears (I just used the shears for a 3rd time on my suit and I still think it's a bit puffy).

Two, every extra square inch of mesh you didn't need adds 4-6 extra knots to tie at least. That adds up. You narrow a pant leg by a one inch wide strip, for example, eliminating a strip out of the inseam that is 1"x30", that might not seem like much, but to put hair on that strip is maybe 2 to 3 extra hours depending on your speed. The baggier you go on your arms and legs, the more time and work you'll have putting hair on it.

Weigh your options: 10 minutes of simple sewing and looking it over while you decide if it looks right or 2 extra hours of tiring knot tying and maybe wishing you didn't go thinner? It's a tough balance, but one you have to grapple with. You might not even have the option to go narrower on the legs because you went the stilt route. You will probably need the width of the leg to hide the stilt, anyway, so it doesn't look like you have a foot in the middle of your shin. But still, try to slim it down as much as makes sense.

On the arms, the puffier the hair, the shorter the arms look, and with stilts they will already look short by comparison. You want to avoid as much "furry flipper arm" as possible. That's my 2 cents, anyway.

duck wrote:
Sparkus, the braids are 48" in length and you can divide the braids in half for some parts (keep in mind, a 24" strand ends up as two 12" strands when it is latch hooked into the mess) and in thirds for other parts that you are sure won't need any longer than 8" (48" divided in thirds is 16" each, and after latch hooking, that's 8" strands). I'm very much in favor of going longer than you need and using thing shears to cut excess off, so I went 12" lengths everywhere and trimmed and cut like crazy. It allows much more flexibility when doing the final grooming.

forestmoonstudio wrote:

I did a test last night with a pack of #27 kanekalon. In another post Duck said to blow dry the hair first to get rid of the kinks. It worked like a charm and didn't take much to straighten it. Thanks for the heads up Duck. I just wanted to share this pic for all the other people that are looking to do a Chewie. I latched hooked a few strands of hair on some scrap mesh to see how it worked and it worked great! It will make grooming the costume a whole lot easier when the time comes. So a big THANK YOU to Duck again.

forestmoonstudio wrote:
I started on the feet. I put tire tread like rubber on the bottoms of my stilts and built up pink foam to make the foot out of. Now I will start to carve and shape the feet.

SoloYT1300 wrote:
Being a user of these stilts... remember to oil them.. or you will squueek a


forestmoonstudio wrote:

I would be extreamly concerned if you plan of "Traping" these stilts in a closed posistion like you have here. These stilts are designed to "Move". That spring there is for an ankle like movement. Not allowing the toe of the stilt to touch the ground is going to cause issues in the way your movement is viewed... not to mention possible dangers in falling. I hope you have tested this fairly well!

I only say this because I use the same style.


SoloYT1300 wrote:
This was before I did a bit more painting on the silicone feet. With this pic you can see how I have the whole foot gutted out for the stilt… the stilt is actually still touching the ground including the toe section. I did it this way so the stilt would still have full movement like it is designed for.. and the silicone foot is more decorative on the outside… bending and moving with the stilt.. like silicone does! The silicone foot is attached around the stilt from the heal all the way around up to the toes, but not including the toes.

The toes are held in place by the Webbing and steel shovel I built under the front of the toes.

I attached nylon webbing to the top part of the stilt near the toe area ( via revits) on one side of the webbing. The other side of the webbing is attached to a steel L-bracket that goes under the silicone toes… acting as a shovel. When I pick up my feet… the webbing and L-bracket shovel lift up the toes of my silicone feet, preventing them from dragging.

I also added a small section of leather under the toe section to allow the feet to slide better and not hang up on carpets and or flooring.

I placed snaps around the top of the foot to attach the body suit to the wookiee foot. I did this by sewing snaps to a ribbon then I glued the ribbon using silicone glues to the foot.

I havnt taken good photoes of my feet in a while, and have made chages since these pics where taken. I hope they help though.

There are many ways to do these feet I imagine. Keep posting pics, love to see how you do yours in the end.


SoloYT1300 wrote:
WookieeGunner wrote:
Just thought I would mention. If you look in the Curtain section of Hancocks, they sell snaps attached to ribbon by the yard. Might be easier than doing it yourself.

Yeah, but do the sell it in a brown? Don't want people to se those kind of things.

WookieeGunner wrote:
Depends on your definition of the color brown:

It's technically more of a khaki (the call it natural), but even then it's probably easier to hit it with some brown spray paint than to do it by hand.

forestmoonstudio wrote:
It's [mp3 shirt frm] ok if you can get MP3 sounds. I would like it to be a little louder. Here are a couple of other options. I am thinking of.

SoloYT1300 wrote:
I would also try the Wookiee yahoo group Wookiee Yahoo group .... which I hope you are have allready... should be the second thing you guys do really... just for the info, if anything. Go take a look at all the sound files that have been put together by Matt Pfingsten.. over 40 sound files to choose from. I do think you may wanna talk to some of the other guys about using them though... allot of times those sound system will sound way to fake or tiny.. if you know what I mean. Some of those guys have dropped allot of cash on a system that they ditched anyways, because it just never sounded right... too mechanical.

I would recomend practicing using your own voice if you can. Its allot of fun, and dun to hear people say "Is that his real voice?" Wookiee sounds files

Bob Kohn

GotWookiee wrote:
I have to agree with Bob on the sound effects system. They sound fake and they aren't nearly loud enough. I had Hyperdyne Labs build me a custom Wookiee FX module years back and it sounded great when connected to a proper stereo. But I never found a speaker small enough to hide in the suit that ever sounded good or had a decent volume. I ended up selling the unit to a guy in in California a few years back.

I would try and learn to roar with your own voice. It's kind of like gargling water and then projecting with your lung power. Not everyone can do it but it sounds way better if you can. Don't worry about wearing out your voice. I can do the Wookiee yell at maximum volume for hours and not hurt my voice at all. Look up "theatrical projection techniques" to see what I'm talking about.

Also be sure you do a lot of cardio exercise. It will ensure that you have the lung power and energy to keep roaring while walking in things like parades.

WookieeGunner wrote:
Here are the mp3 files (for those who want them):

The ones ForestMoonStudio sent me:
The ones from the Yahoo Group:
The ones from the Soundboard:

Hope these help.

I'll try to go through later and split them up.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:51 am    Post subject: Cleaning & Grooming Reply with quote

I just bought a used Wookie suit. Was wondering if there was any advice to getting the hair to lay nice and remove some of the BO from the previous owner?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey there, head over to the Wookiee forums and we will get you sorted out Smile Start a thread and post up some photos so we know how best to advise!
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