Faux Tripe tutorial
The Tokíra wear tanned tripe as part of their uniforms. Iím guessing the studio thought it was an unusual, alien-looking texture, and it is my personal theory that it is meant to be leather like the other parts of their uniform, from the skin of some animal that isnít found on Earth. But speculation aside, this is the hardest part of the costume to come up with. Iím not sure how the costume department on the show managed to get the tripe tanned. I tried a couple of times to get tripe tanned, but without success. So I tried a different approach, and cast my own.
This project is not for someone with a weak stomach. Tripe does have a smell. Though the smell isnít terribly strong, you will be working with it for several hours. Also keep in mind that this is food, and will spoil. So once you start the project, you really have to finish it as quickly as possible. This isnít a project you can put down for a few days and come back to when you have time.
I made the mold in one of those plastic boxes designed for under bed storage. I took a piece of cardboard and cut it so it just fit inside the box. I wrapped the cardboard with packaging tape in attempt to make it water resistant. Contact paper would probably also work.
I bought two cases of tripe (25 lbs each) at the food store. I should have gotten more. When bought by the case, less than half of the tripe actually has the correct honeycomb type texture that is needed. Parts have a honeycomb texture that is too small, and parts donít have any real texture at all. You only want to use the parts with a large honeycomb texture. Donít try to use the sections where itís smaller. Donít cheat on this part. It wonít cast correctly. I lost almost half my mold because I tried to use the smaller sections, and if I hadnít put most of the pieces with the larger sections together, I would have lost it entirely.
Wash the tripe, dry it off with a towel. Find a good pair of scissors that you donít mind getting messy, and start trimming off the excess that doesnít have the right texture. As I said, youíll loose over half of it in the process.
Once you have the pieces trimmed so you only have sections with the large honeycomb texture, start arranging them on the cardboard like pieces of a puzzle. Itís best to leave some room around the edges for the mold, but if your box is already too small, itís not essential. Fortunately the pieces are flexible so you can move them slightly to make them fit. Donít leave any holes. If you have to use a small piece to fill in a hole, tack it to the cardboard. A straight pin will, just keep in mind that the pinhead will end up getting cast, so be careful with the placement and make sure as little as possible is showing. Anything larger than a couple inches will stay in place on its own, at least it did for me.
Then you are ready for the plaster. Get the type that is designed for craft work. It takes a more detailed impression and is easier to work with than the Dap brand kind you get at the hardware store. Just be aware that itís not quite as strong.
The plaster is a two person job. I mixed the plaster in plastic cleaning buckets. It took two bucketfulls to make enough plaster. You need to pour both buckets in at the same time. If you mix, pour, mix again, by the time the second batch is mixed the first will be mostly dry. I know the instructions on the plaster tell you to do it in layers. Ignore it. The border between the two layers will be a weak spot that will cause problems later when you try to pull the latex out of the mold. It takes longer to dry this way, but youíll end up with a stronger mold. You can also make the mold a little stronger by putting a piece of cheesecloth in the plaster. Pour one bucketful in, lay down the cheesecloth, pour the other bucketful in.
Pour the plaster in slowly, so it doesnít move the tripe pieces. Normally you would tap a mold to get rid of the air bubbles. But since this is a large mold, I found kicking it works better. It looks really goofy, and is likely to get you some strange stares if there is anyone there to see you, but spend a minute or two kicking the plastic box on all sides to dislodge the air bubbles.
Then itís a waiting game until the plaster dries. If you put a nice thick layer in, it will take a while.
Taking the mold out of the box is tricky. Itís best done over the carpet so it has a softer surface to land on. Make sure you have a good vacuum cleaner handy. Try to loosen the plaster from the walls of the box by bending the plastic. Flip the box over. It may take a bit of work to get it loose. Peel the cardboard off. Carefully peel the tripe off. I found that for the most part it didnít stick in the mold, but there may still be a few pieces left if you arenít careful. Congratulations, you have a finished mold. The plastic box can be re-used to store the mold.
Now you get to make the actual piece. It takes a lot of liquid latex to make one costume. Premium Non-Amonia latex from fxsupply
fxsupply - liquid latex
not only avoids the awful smell of liquid latex, it also dries a lighter color, and is a better quality latex than the stuff you buy at your local craft store. This type of latex dries in almost exactly the right color for the tan uniforms.
Use baby powder as a mold release. Use quite a bit of it. It is a bit of a balancing act. If you donít put enough in, pieces of the mold will come off with the latex when you pull it out. If you put too much in, it will take away the texture. You want a solid layer of baby powder, but a thin one.
Donít pour the latex into the mold the way you would if you were making a resin cast. Get a good paintbrush, one that will not loose bristles as you paint, and paint the latex into the mold. It wonít get into all the small cracks and crevices of the tripe texture if you just pour it. Let it dry, and then do a second layer of latex. Once that dries, put a piece of cheesecloth down over the piece, and paint a third layer on top. This will give added strength to the finished piece, and you will be trimming it anyway to get the right size, and the pieces sticking out of the edges won't show once you trim the excess off. If you are using the fxsupply latex, you wonít be able to see the line between the layers. Cheaper latex will have visible border between the layers. Once all three layers are dry, very carefully peel the latex out of the mold. Let it cure for at least a week.
For the tan uniform
The latex is already a good color for the tan uniform. You just have to make the texture stand out a bit more. I found the best way to do that was with theatre makeup. It has to be theatre makeup designed to be used on latex. Normal makeup will break down the latex and shorten the life of your costume. I used Cinema Secrets white makeup. Cinema Secrets makeup is half way down the page I used nothing more complicated than my fingertip to apply it. Just rub the makeup over the top, so it sticks to the higher parts of the texture only. The hardest part is getting the makeup to stick to rubber. I used actual setting powder designed for theatre use. I donít know how well normal baby powder will work, but it might work also. Powder it several times, and then do it one more time.
setting powder and sealing spray
Then you have to seal it, or it will still rub off. I used
Ben Nye Final Seal.
The Ultra Setting Spray at fxsupply looks like a similar product. Spray it and let it dry. Give it at least six coats. Remember, you are trying to get makeup to stick to rubber. It takes quite a bit of coaxing. Once youíve sealed it to within an inch of its life, youíre ready to go. If done properly, it will not rub off and stain chairs or other costumes at a con. It will eventually flake off and may eventually need to be redone, but at least the flakes are dry and harmless, and shouldnít stain anything.
For the brown uniform
Latex will take normal Rit dye. Make sure you follow the instructions on the box, and use HOT water, and use three times as much dye as you would for dying fabric. I found the best combination for the right color was one part Cocoa Brown, one part Dark Brown and one part Black. I was dying the latex for two uniforms at the same time, and I used four boxes of each color, twelve boxes of dye, do dye the four shoulder pieces and four wrist pieces needed for the two costumes. Make sure you cut the latex into the shape you want it for the shoulders and/or wrist pieces before you dye it. If you trim it later, you will expose undyed latex underneath. I used the plastic underbed box for the dye bath, but any large container will do. I wouldnít recommend using the standard washing machine method for the latex though. Leave the latex in the dye for 15 minutes, stirring or otherwise moving the pieces around constantly if at all possible. Once the pieces dry, you can glue it to the leather jacket using Barge leather cement, which is designed to stay flexible.