A Tail of Two Lekku

A Lekku tutorial

Oh...I know, but i just couldnt resist. Lekku is plural. Singular is Lek. Gee they even named the right and left ones tchun-tchin. But whatever you call them, lekku, head tails, or those things that Twi'leks have, they are all mean the same thing. But making them....well, THATS a diffrent subject.

When I went into this project, All I knew is that I wanted a pair of lekku. I knew that they had to be very sturdy. At a convention, you tend to be bumped and jostled around alot. I didnt need anything 'delicate'. I didnt want anything too heavy, that would give me a headache. I have heard an idea from someone who was making a clay mold, and going to cast the entire thing. For me this was not possible. I dont have the space to deal with a lifesize clay mold. Pouring a plaster cast would be huge...and I felt that it would be too flimsy if I left the lekku hollow...but way too heavy if I tried to fill them. Expensive too. Thats alot of latex. Maybe another time.

I also read of people using stocking. Make a form for them, slather on latex, and their you go. I started in this direction, but quickly dropped the idea. This was for various reasons.

For one, you must sew points to the bottom of the stockings. I would also "re-arange" the top as well..as I wouldnt want the leeku coming out near my ears. Also the elastic around the head can get pretty tight.

Two, you must create some kind of form to put the stocking on. You want to streach the stockings out some...but not too much.

Three, it takes ALOT..and I mean ALOT of latex to cover the stockings, they absorb quite a bit. Dont try to stuff them, then put the latex on. The latex tends to try and pull the fibers thru...then you end up with hairy lekku. Also, that sucks up even MORE latex.

And four, if you are lucky to get them to work, you must be careful not to rip them when getting them off the form. Also, when you stuff them, they tend to be very lumpy and wrinkled looking. But they are good in a pinch, or if you want to be able to wrap them around your neck.

I experimented, instead with something else. I first went and looked at many images of Twi'leks, before deciding on the look I wanted. I decided to try something else.


Foam.

I used a very thin sheet of yellow foam. I wanted to find something that I could use to lay the latex on, without sucking up so much latex. I chose this foam by its looks...small holes, and very light and flexable, 1/2 inch thickness. I bought 2 pieces, 4 feet in length. Look around to see what you can find. I bought mine from Jo Ann's Fabrics.

      

Okay. I now had a base material on which to build on. Next was the latex. There are several types of latex. Since this was NOT going on my face, I did not need to spend the extra money for the cosmetic type of latex to cover the foam. Instead, I grabbed a gallon of the railroad model latex. The stuff I brought was dark blue.

Now came the fun parts.
Building the headpiece.

First, decided how you will be wearing your hair underneath. Pulled back, pilled on top, or braided. Dont have to worry about being too tight, as the foam will give you a little leeway. I first built the 'hat' that the lekku would be attached to. I took the foam, and wrapped it around my head, setting the edge of the foam near my eyebrows. I cut enough foam to make a tube around by head. Once I was satisfied that it was not too large or too tight, I cut the foam. I left about 6 inches of foam above by head. A bit much perhaps, but it worked for me.

So, here I am, wearing a crown of foam on my head. What next? Well, mark the spot where ends of your foam meet. You have two ways of securing it. You can either glue it. Or if you are feeling brave, use a glue gun. I recomend the cooler types of glueguns. But even with these, you must move your gun quickly along the seam or you will melt the foam. Fortunately, this stuff is somewhat forgiving. I used the gluegun, as I didnt want to wait for glue to set. A few quick trials, and I figured out how fast I needed to keep my gluegun moving to keep from melting stuff, and keeping my fingers happy. Even the cooler guns are HOT. It is also nice for making a very neat seam on the foam. This will be the back of your lekku.

Now...you have your crown. Breathe. Make sure it still fits fine. Now, pull the ring down low, and press the center part of the extra foam down, till it just touches your head. Mark it. You can now hot glue the top down. This will leave you with a seam in the back, a seam up top, and two corner 'ears' that stick out. Leave them open. You will need this later.

      
Isnt my silent partner cute!

Now comes the part, that Im sorry I can only tell you what I did. You will have to experiment to get the look that you want. No pretty math notations, or patterns.

I put the crown down on a foam head block. I then took the next sheet of foam and experiment rolling a cone of foam. I knew how big I wanted the base of the cones to be. I played around with the foam, till I found a size I liked. Used my stubby pencil to mark it. I cut out the foam. Before you cut the second cone out, use the first cone, and hold it up to your headpiece. Check and see if it works for you. Use your own eye. Once you are satisfied, use the first cone to cut out a second. This will give you two HOLLOW cones. Use the hot glue gun to form the cones. Once the cones are formed, you can now glue them to the hat you made. Again, experiment, moving them around before you glue them, but they should cover up those little 'ears' you left open on your hat. We'll be back to those. Make sure to completely CLOSE the points of the lekku. I made mine a tad rounded, as I didnt think the lekku would look right with points.


Once your leeku are glued on to the main hat, stand back and look. Pat yourself on the back, you are more than halfway there. But the next part, will take careful attention to details.

Here you have several options available to you. Some I did, some are suggestions that came after the fact. Okay. So, you now have a hat of foam, with two hollow lekku attached. You have a general idea how you want the lekku to lay. Make sure all your connections are good, and that anything that needs repairs, or smoothed down from eariler mistakes, now is the time to fix them. Any holes..fix them now.

Now, you can start with the fun part.


The LATEX!

**Warning** Hopefully, you already KNOW if you have an allergy to Latex or not. But if you start getting ANY reactions, drop the stuff. Aint worth getting sick, or worse. But for now, we are going to assume that you have no problems with the stuff. ***

Oh, the joys of smelling so much latex. Make sure you are in a WELL ventilated room. Get a big brush you wont need again, and LOTS of newspaper, just in case. I suggest you do the hat first, and GENTLY brush the latex on the foam. You dont want to push the brush into the foam, or else the foam will soak up the latex. You just want to cover the top of the foam. It will take you several layers of latex, and once finished, you should not see ANY of the white/yellow foam underneath. If you are careful, the foam will make the latex look like it has skin and small pores. Some foam might take five to 6 coats. Let each coat DRY FULLY before putting on the next coat. A small fan can do alot here.

When you are ready to move to the lekku, you might want to put them in the position they will be in the most...ie..if you are going to wear them behind your back, pull the lekku down to that position. Anchor it down, and THEN coat the foam lekku with latex. The reason that I say that, is that once the latex dries, it determines how the lekku will lay. It will be much harder to move them, if you let them dry, and the lekku are spread wide like airplane wings. It will take much work to bring them back down. You will have to go thru doorways, why make more work on yourself.

      

Now. Let the lekku dry. Dont let the latex TOUCH each other while drying. Once dry, you should have a nice base. Any other spots can be touched up now. Latex can be used to smooth out certain spots in the base. Some folks use their fingers to smooth out any rough spots in the latex, with a touch of extra latex. You will have some creases in the latex, this is fine. Just like your hands, areas that bend will have some. Work with it until you are satisfied with the base.


Painting.

One it comes to painting, you have two things you can do. You can just whip out some acrylic paint, and start painting. I did this, and I have not had any problems. Only a few spots did I have to repaint, and that was because the leeku were flexed ALOT .. IE SAT ON...and a few small bits of paint flaked out from a crease or two. Or, you can get some of the other latex, that is used on the face, mix paint into that, and then paint on top. A fixative spray helps to protect it. You want to paint tattooes...have fun. They say twi'lek come in ALL colors. There is a purple one in the movies. There is also a two-toned one. Let your imagination soar.


Headpiece.

ALL Twi'leks wear a headpiece or head coverings. And so will you. Why? cause the weight of the lekku will pull. You NEED a counterbalance. A chinstrap, that attaches to your headpiece, will save you ALOT of trouble. You probably CAN figure out a way to wear it without a headpiece...but you would one, need to trim down the foam around your face. Two, I rather have the chinstrap, because as I learned this Dragon*Con, folks LOVE to reach out and touch your costume...and your lekku. The first time I wore them, I had so many folks touching, yanking, and pulling on them, my shoulders got sore. To get rid of the chinstap, the headpiece would have to be TIGHT. Like wearing a swimcap. Thats okay for the movies, but very impractical for a convention or parade. Look at the pictures, and games, and design something that you like. I found the center piece from a belt, to use in my headdress. Play with your headdress. I suggest making the headdress, so that you can change it, if you want. Also, making it so that you can tighten it around your head and lekku with a bit of velcro also helps. You can also decided at this point weither to have ears or not.


Filling.

You noticed I left this for last. There is a reason. You might look at your work of art, and decide that you dont need to fill it. The foam gives it a wonderful look alone. I didnt like the way my own lekku folded over, so I decided to fill mine. I also suggest, that if you dont fill it, you at least put rice or other small weights into the tips of the lekku, so that you get a more lifelike bounce when you walk. Also, this is the point where you can decided weither you not you wish to add wire inside, so that you can move them around abit. I did not do this. Remember those two open ears you left in your hat? You can use those spots to gently fill the ears with whatever lighweight material you wish. Just dont try to pack them too hard. You just want them firm, and remember the extra weight will be on your head...literally. If you dont fill them, the ears help with circulating more air underneath your hood.

      


UPDATES:

I wore my Lekku successfully at Dragon*con. I suggest before you wear them for any lenght of time, you PRACTICE wearing yours. Going thru doors and such. The Lekku make you sit up a bit straighter also, as you tend to bring your head back just a bit. Also, since this IS foam, you will sweat, but not too bad. I wore my comfortably, for two days no problems, cept for when folks tugged on them, without warning. :D

I might try the wire bit later on. Since I did not close the holes in my cap, i can still get to my lekku. I also have to adjust my chin strap to be a bit bigger. If I make another pair, I will experiment with even thinner foam for the cap, and then the other foam for the lekku. But I have not had any rips or tears on mine. It has been packed, sat on, tugged on, and bumped into by a few folks. So far, no significant damage. Drink water. LOTS of it. Anything that covers you head, stores heat, even if you dont notice it.

Congratuations. You have Lekku. Show them off, and enjoy!

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Latex and you. A very basic guide
Why You NEED A Makeup kit


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Ris'sa
2004