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56: Hooves

April 16, 2011

My brother and I have been planning something big for a while, now. We’re actually doing it right now as this entry is being auto-posted, so it no longer needs to remain a secret. More on that next week (probably), but for now, I can show you one of my contributions to the project.

He called me and said he needed some hooves  like a satyr would wear, for a stage production. I told him I’d be happy to help.

So here’s how I did it.

I went down to Home Depot and wandered the aisles looking for things that looked like the picture I had in my head.

I got a 2×3, some black PVC endcaps, some gate hinges, and some springs. I had the racquetballs at home. In the bottom picture above, you can see my method for attaching the shoes to the wood. I just screwed them directly to it. My idea was to make the hooves articulate with the raquetball as a compression spring. I assumed they would be easier to walk in if they flexed like real feet do.

Then I screwed and epoxied everything in place, and gave it test drive. It was a little shaky, but manageable. Not pictured here is the bungee cord that went from the back of the heel to a belt around my thigh. I hoped it would keep my foot pointed downwards and balance me better.

I decided to film myself walking around, and send my brother a progress report. That was where everything went wrong. While walking towards the camera to turn it on, I lost my footing. The cheap belt around one thigh ripped in half; the wood slammed into the ground; the racquetball shot out. Something slapped me in the leg; the other shoe bent forward, and I grabbed onto the nearest thing, which just happened to be a glass coffee table. I almost broke through that, and I twisted my ankle pretty good.

The shoes had self-destructed. Time for plan B (although if I’m honest, it was really plan E. I had already tried and failed a few other designs).

This time, I was going to make them rigid. I cut the wood to the contour of the PVC caps, and screwed it down.

Then some supports got added.

Second test-run time:

That was awesome. They worked. I took those shoes off and put on the real ones (sized for the person who was actually wearing the prop). As you can see in that video, I don’t need the bungee cords or the eyelets anymore, but I left them in, just in case. It might make it easier to walk.

I molded some hoof shapes out of modeling plastic. It was kind of hard to work with that much at a time, so it got a little wrinkly.

I mixed up some epoxy putty and filled in some of the cracks and holes. Not all of them, because I like the organic look they had.

Then they got sanded and spray painted.

The fur I bought to cover them was pretty long, so I had to give the hooves a haircut. You can see the before and after above.

At this point, I thought I was 90% done, but it was like the 90% that you see in a Windows status bar, where the other 10% takes just as long.

I thought covering existing pants in fur would be easier than sewing new pants made of fur. I don’t think it was easier. It was messy and frustrating.

I also added some pads to the knees and ankles to fill out the form and make it seem more animal-like. Also, I’m pretty proud of my estimation skills. I had less than a square foot of fur fabric left after it was all done.


When It came time to pack, the pants alone weighed 10 pounds, and together with the shoes, fit into a large suitcase with almost no room to spare.

I realize I haven’t posted any pictures of the completed project, yet. I forgot to get a shot of them before I packed, but the top video is pretty close. It just needs some more fur on top. After this performance is over, I’ll post a short video or a picture of the completed project on its model.

…and next week I’ll talk more about the actual performance. Be sure to tune in.



I got a few shots of Tom wearing the hooves. He looks magnificent.

He walked with a reckless abandon that was terrifying. I was seriously worried for his well-being, but he seemed pretty confident.

And a video I took backstage, before the curtains opened up:

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Annie permalink
    April 16, 2011 6:58 pm

    Those are amazing. I hope you can get a bit of video of them onstage… so cool.

    I love how you document the thought process and walk us through several trials. I’m a K-5 science teacher and I look forward to incorporating some of your somethings into my lessons next year.

  2. April 16, 2011 8:31 pm

    You so krazy Kyle.

  3. April 17, 2011 9:55 am

    I LOVE those! Excellent job – as always. My question is; is that costume going through air port security? I would love to see the persons face when they searched the bag!

    • April 17, 2011 11:15 am

      I pretty sure the TSA opened the bag, because the fur was all caught in the zipper when I opened it back up. I imagine they’ve seen weirder.

  4. April 17, 2011 7:33 pm


  5. Deborah Hepworth permalink
    April 18, 2011 4:40 am

    Unprecedented!! So very cool!

  6. Mark Hepworth permalink
    April 19, 2011 7:56 am

    You have asked me to lay off the hyperbole but really I cannot with this latest production. You are incredible.

  7. April 19, 2011 8:08 pm

    I’m not even sure what to expect for next week anymore 😦

  8. November 18, 2011 10:17 pm

    That is so freaking cool! Well done! 😀

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