Kimahri Ronso was a long time in the making. I started working on it September of 2016 and finished it in June 2017. I worked on it sporadically for a large chunk of the time, and then stuffed the majority of the work into the last couple of weeks. This is gonna be a long breakdown, so sit tight, buckle up, and get ready for 3,749 words of breakdown.
My wig started as a Suzi in Silver from Arda-Wigs. In order to style it, I cut the lace to about an 1/8th to 1/4 inch from the hairline (I don’t remember exactly the amount of lace I left). Then, I added in about half of a pack of long wefts in pure white in strategic areas. I really only used pure white because I happened to have some left over from another project, but they worked really well for this because the white/silver combination gave the wig a very nice, subtle color variation. I sewed them into the wig at the sides and in the back to build up more wig fiber where I would be adding the braids and ponytail.
For the braids and ponytail, I needed red “hair ties.” To make them, I simply wrapped some craft foam around a PVC pipe and used super glue to glue them together. I started with a thick piece for the base, and then cut a long, thin piece to glue over the top as the wrapping. After that, I coated them in Plastidip and painted them with acrylic paints.
I then braided the sides and strung the “hair ties” onto them.
The ears were made using faux fur and fabric paints! Essentially, I made a paper pattern for them, cut the faux fur out, painted the color gradient with acrylic paints, glued extra fur fluff to the insides of the ears, and sewed them directly into the wig. For a more detailed explanation, check out my Kimahri Cat Ear tutorial!
The skull part of the necklace as originally sculpted using Apoxie Sculpt and then cast with resin. I achieved the dangling spikey bits on the bottom by sculpting and casting them separately, and then attaching them on to the main piece later. I drilled a large hole into the spikes, cut a slit in the back, then heated them with a heat gun slightly to make them bendable, and lastly I slid them onto the holes in the main piece and sealed the slit with super glue. After that, I painted it with a black base coat and dry brushed the color on. The beads are just beads that I found at Hobby Lobby and/or Michaels.
The fabric I used for the bodysuit (as well as all the fabric for they project) was all scrap leftover from previous projects! This is why we hoard all our supplies!
First, I dyed some ribbed spandex blue using IDye Poly. Then I used Yaya Han’s bunnysuit pattern to make the little bodysuit. I modified the pattern to fit me and left all the boning and interfacing out. I also sewed shut the back rather than adding a zipper or lacing. Since the suit was stretchy, I didn’t need to have the opening in the back to get into it. I could just pull it on with no problem! I also used a strip of white spandex as a bias tape to add the white edge to the top.
I wanted the belt pieces to have a leathery look, so I used a vinyl fabric I’ve had laying around forever. It started out red, but that was nothing a little RIT Dyemore couldn’t fix!
I used brown RIT Dyemore to dye the belt pieces brown after they had all been cut.
Then, I used yellow bias tape to cover all the edges. If you’ve never used bias tape before, I recommend looking up a tutorial before you start! I’m not sure that I really use it properly, but I make it work! For the time being, I held each piece in place on my dress form using pins, but I would later sew them together and add velcro for easy in/out.
The apron is actually made from blue fabric which I dyed to have a more greenish tint.
The drew the design onto a piece of paper first, and then used transfer paper to transfer the design onto the fabric.
Then, I painted the design in with fabric paint.
And after that, I stitched all the way around each line with an appliqué stitch. (I’m not 100% sure if its called an appliqué stitch, but its the stitch I use for doing appliqué.)
The apron was made of of two layers. The front with the design and a lining on the back. The trim was just some yellow/gold trim I found at Joann’s on clearance. I sandwiched it between the two layers at the bottom and sewed it in when I attached the front and back.
To attach the apron onto the belt, I simply stitched it on by hand.
I made the bracers using a double layer of Worbla as a base and thin strips of Worbla for the edge details. I primed them with Rustoleum’s filler primer and painted them with acrylic paints and metallic wax. The chainmail was also made from scratch, and was added on last after painting and sealing the bracers. For a detailed write up on the chainmail, check out this tutorial.
In short, I used a combination of chainmail rings and large jump rings. I used pliers to attach everything and attached the chainmail onto the bracers using jewelry wire and extra Worbla on the back for support.
I also used scraps of suede fabric for the arm wrap and used black vinyl for the straps which were held together with paper fasteners.
The Skull Emblem:
I started by sculpting the skull out of an oil based, sulfur free plasteline clay. This clay is great for sculpting originals to mold, especially if you don’t want to keep the original once you’re done. The clay never dries out and is always reusable! Please note: you NEED to use sulfur free clay if you’re going to use it to make a mold. Other clays will react with the silicone and cause it to not cure properly.
I made a mold of the skull using Smooth on products. The speckles of different colors in the mold are actually chunks of silicone from molds I no longer needed. When I no longer need a mold, I cut them up and use the silicone again as a filler in new molds.
I cast the skull with Smooth On 300, primed it with filler primer, and gave it a black base coat with spray paint.
I then used silver metallic wax to give it a silver shine. I use Rub’n’Buff in silver leaf. This stuff is amazing! I literally just rub the stuff on with my fingers and voila! Shiny silvery surface. It also helps a lot if after the silver dries, you buff it with a cloth to bring out more of the shine.
The straps are all made from black vinyl fabric and carefully fitted to my body. It was a lot of trying thing on, adjusting them, trying them on again, etc. until everything fit like it should.
I’ll also note here that the red rope around the belt is just a red rope I bought from Joann’s. I tie it around my hips like a bow. The rings on my shoulders are simply some wooden rings I bought off Amazon and painted silver.
For the rivets, I used paper fasteners! I could only find gold, so I painted them silver using spray paint.
The Legs and Hands:
I didn’t want to have to paint my legs or hands with body paint, so instead I used leggings and gloves! The leggings are from We Love Colors and started as Medium Blue. I got the closest possible color to match the makeup I bought, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite a perfect match.
Luckily, We Love Colors leggings are super easy to dye! My makeup had a slight purplish tint to it, so it make my leggings match, I tinted them slightly by mixing a tiny bit of red RIT Dyemore with A LOT of blue RIT Dyemore.
I heated the dye water slightly to be lukewarm, and then dipped the leggings (which were already soaking wet) into the dye water for only a few seconds. I then washed them out with dish soap and let them air dry. This was enough to give the leggings a very slight purple tint and it matched the makeup perfectly!
For the gloves, I used a second pair of leggings for material, and dyed them in exactly the same way!
To start, I made of pattern of my hand and cut it out of cardboard. You need cardboard so it keeps its shape.
Then I shoved the cardboard pattern inside the leggings and sewed all the way around them, minus the opening at the wrist.
When that was done, I took the cardboard out, tried on the glove, and made any necessary modifications.
Once I was happy with how they looked, I cut the extra fabric off, turned them right side out, and glued some big claws on.
The claws were actually a really fun part to do. I made them using fake nails and Worbla.
I heated up a double layer of black Worbla, pressed it onto the nail, trimmed it, and then painted them dark blue with nail polish. Once dry, I super glued them onto the fingertips of the gloves. To make sure I was gluing them on right, I first put on a latex glove (to keep myself from gluing the gloves to my fingers) then put on the real glove, and glued the claws right over the top of my fingernails. When they were dry, I just pulled my hand out and took out the latex glove.
To make the tail, I cut a long strip of white faux fur, glued some quilting batting to the inside, stitched it by hand into a tube, and added a wire inside it for support. To make so that the fur was longer at the tip, I used an hair clippers to shave the fur down. I then painted the color gradient on with fabric paints just like I did for the ears. It made the tail look kind of ratty, but that didn’t bother me at all since Ronso aren’t exactly known for looking pristine.
You wouldn’t really be able to tell by looking at it, but the tail is held onto my body with a few different contraptions. First, it has a “bone” structure at the base of the tail made of Worbla that gives it support. This bone structure is poked through the vinyl you see above and glued in place with hot glue. The Worbla extends along the vinyl on either side as well to provide more support. Then, there is a ribbon that is wrapped around the Worbla piece, strung through the bodysuit, and tied very tightly around my waist to pull the tail as close to the body as I can get it. There’s also a piece of Velcro that attached the Worbla piece to the bodysuit, so I don’t have a gap between tail and suit. Next, there is a hidden belt underneath the larger belt that wraps around my hips. It attaches in the front with a snap. Finally, the larger, outer belt is attached to the vinyl piece in the back with more Velcro. Its a bit complicated of a system, but it holds the tail onto my body very well.
The feathers on my back are large ostrich feathers which I dyed using Jacquard acid dyes to have the yellow gradient. You can find a detailed tutorial on the feather dying process I used here!
In short, I used hot water and dipped each already soaking wet feather into the dye water from lightest color to darkest. I then set them out flat to dry but you can speed up the process with a hair dryer (just make sure you don’t splatter dye everywhere if you do this.)
Once I had all my feathers dyed and they were all dry, I trimmed them into the shape I desired.
Then I made a small plate out of Worbla that formed to my back and hot glued all the feathers on into the desired fluffy shape I wanted. The feathers are so light, all it takes to attach them onto my back are a couple strips of Velcro. The back plate attaches right onto the vinyl straps in the back.
The spear started by making a pattern for it in Adobe Illustrator. Once I had the file made, I cut the foam pieces out using a laser cutter. If you don’t have a laser cutter, you can still cut everything by hand.
I used regular old floor mat EVA Foam and glued layers together using contact cement.
I then used a Dremel to sand down the edges and give it a nice bevel.
Ater that, I glued the layers onto a PVC pipe using contact cement once again. I also cut a slit in the middle layers of the spear to slide to pipe embed the pipe.
The round parts were just simple styrofoam balls. I Dremeled a hold in the center, slid it onto the pipe, and glued it in place with super glue. I also added rivets for details later.
I Plastidipped the foam pieces and then painted the spear end with silver spray paint and the pipe with dark and light brown spray paint. No acrylics used at all this time!
The spear also breaks down into three separate pieces for easy travel. I used male and female adapters that fit the pipe, and I cover them with a fabric wrapping when I put it together. When I want to take it apart, I just unwrap the pipe and unscrew the adapters.
The feet are digitigrade stilts. You can buy kits to make them online, which would probably make them a lot easier, but mine were not made with a kit.
My dad, who has helped me a lot over the years with my costumes, had the most to do with making the inside structure of these stilts. Essentially, the stilts are made using a wooden platform with a pair of shoes mounted on an incline. There is a small piece of wood jutting out from the incline for the toes of the shoe to sit on, and a platform under the incline to stand on. The “foot” of the stilt is on hinges so that they move as you walk. There is one hinge attached on the back of the platform and one at the toes of the platform. It helps the stilt move like a real foot would. At the ankle, there are metal supports that attach to a PVC piece that wraps around the front of my leg. Going from the PVC to the heel of my foot, there is rubber tarp strapping that acts as a spring to support my leg and allow me to balance on the platform. Its attached on tightly so that it provides support to my legs when I stand.
In the photos, you can see a thin piece of wood at the back by my heel, but that part was eventually cut off because it didn’t fit the design of the feet I needed. It doesn’t serve any purpose, so it doesn’t matter if its there or not.
There is also some nylon strapping holding the foot bed to the platform on the bottom of the stilt, so that they don’t flop around too much. Since they’re on hinges, if there was no strap holding them on, they would just fall all the way down with gravity and walking would be impossible. We also added a rubber pad to the bottom of the stilts, to prevent slipping.
And with the inner structure of the stilts made, I take over the build again! The outside of the feet is made with EVA foam. I started by drawing the shape of the stilt to size on a piece of paper and drawing out the shape I wanted the feet to take around it. Then, I used that pattern to cut out foam pieces to match.
I continued to build up the foot with pieces of foam until it started to resemble the shape I wanted. The foot has 4 toes in the front, each of which was made with 3 layers of EVA foam. Be prepared to cut a ridiculous amount of foam.
Before committing to anything I tested it out by taping the pieces together and trying the stilts on. I needed to make sure that they would still be able to to function like they did before I added the foam.
Once I was happy, I continued on by building up the sides of the foot a little with more foam and adding the claws on. I also attached the foam foot directly to the stilt with contact cement, but I made sure to only attach it to the main foot bed. I didn’t attach it to the toe section or the upper sections. This was to make sure that the stilt would still be able to bend at the hinges.
Next I had to cover the leg portion of the stilts. I wanted to make sure this part of the stilt would remain super flexible, so instead of just using more eva foam, I used craft foam and vinyl to make a leg wrap that would attach on with Velcro under the foot and lace up in the back. I used spray adhesive to glue the vinyl to the foam. I also added eyelets to the back where it would lace up. I originally was going to use zippers, but I bought the wrong kind of zippers, and when you’re in a time crunch, sometimes you just have to make do with what you have. So laces it was!
I also ended up adding some white fabric “sock” like things to the feet as well to hide the inner structure better. Some of it was still poking out with just the vinyl covering.
Once that was done, I covered t he inside structure of the stilts with plastic bags and Plastidipped the feet.
Later on, I realized that I need to add some extra support to the legs to make them work properly with my body, so I added some elastic and more foam pieces for support.
There is a long strip of EVA foam that runs up the back of my leg from the heel. This attaches onto a ring of foam that wraps around my leg and the PVC pipe with elastic. The elastic allows the pieces to stretch and move freely from each other, allowing me to walk and bend comfortable without putting any strain on the stilts at all.
Last, I painted the feet to match my leggings and makeup using acrylic paints. The claws are painted with the same nail polish I used on the claws for the gloves. The small armor pieces that go on the front of the legs are made with EVA foam as well. They are also Plastidipped and painted with spray and acrylic paints before sealing with a matte clear coat, just like the feet are. Originally, I had planned on attaching these armor pieces on with Velcro, but the Velcro unfortunately didn’t stick very will, even with super glue (there was a weird coating on the back of the EVA foam that prevented it from sticking). I solved the problem by simply tying some string around the legs and armor to hold it while I was wearing the costume, but I will be finding a better solution before I wear it again.
The makeup was done with Kryolan Aquacolor in two different shades of blue for the skin, black for the nose, Ben Nye’s Final Seal, translucent powder, Got 2B Freeze Spray for extra sealing power, some dark blue eyeshadow for the contouring, and L’Oreal Paris Infallible Paint in the dark blue shade for the lips.
I started by applying the base blue color to my skin with a beauty blender, powdering it and sealing it with the Final Seal every now and again. I then used a smaller beauty blender to apply the lighter blue as a highlight, and painted the black on my nose with a small brush. I also used a dark blue eyeshadow for contouring. I did a dramatic cat eye, added false lashes, and used the infallible lip paint for my lips (which was excellent at staying on btw.)
In the end, I sprayed my whole self with Got 2B Freeze Spray for extra makeup hold and powdered once more with the translucent powder to set it. I also wear yellow circle lenses and fangs.
The Final Product:
After all the blood, sweat, and tears (quite literally), we have Kimahri! A huge thanks to Vordigon Photography taking these amazing images while we were in Canada for Yeticon at the beautiful Blue Mountain Resort!