DIY dipped latex elf ear tips

Mara’ramja, hello all!

It’s Fyaren again, this time with a cheap, fun latex ear tip project you can make at home!  Finally: get the small expensive look of subtle silicone tips for the price (and maintenance) of familiar latex, match the base ear color to your skin tone, craft that perfect upturned ear tip shape, not cover your entire ear-hole in a latex sleeve…and more!

I’ve been purchasing ear tips from Aradani Costumes (https://www.aradanicostumes.com/) for seven years, but decided to try making my own for some of the reasons in the hook above.  This is NOT the end-all way to make ear tips, and I’ll talk about how I’d refine the technique next time, but it doesn’t require any former latex experience and makes many, many sets of ear tips.

MATERIALS:

  1. Oven-bake polymer clay, to make ear tip “molds” for dipping. I used Sculpey Souffle, but any polymer clay should also work.  The flexibility of polymer means a lower chance of cracking your cast when removing the dried latex ear tip.
  2. Latex.  I purchased this bottle of the light flesh color from Amazon.com.
  3. Small quantities of red and white acrylic paint
  4. Talc powder
  5. A soft-bristle brush to dust your latex ears with the talc powder (a makeup brush, not a hair or tooth brush)
  6. A surface you don’t mind cleaning paint and latex from (I used a chipped dinner plate)
  7. Some manner of hanging the ear tip upside-down while the latex dries. I used a POOF-ball on a small stand, with a long pin to hold the ear in place while it dried.
  8. OPTIONAL: RMG makeup or pigment/stain, and a fixative spray, to blend the edges of the ear tip to the blush of your natural ear.

I was originally inspired to create ear tips at home by watching this Youtube video.  However, I didn’t like the thickness of the painted latex layers, nor the tedious method of application.  I have modified the tutorial into a dipping method, which worked well for me.

Here is a picture of my setup.  All of the tools and drying space fits on my standard-sized dinner plate.

And here is the final result, with my full topknot, side braids, and hair/ear jewelry!

STEPS:

  1. Pour your bottle of latex into a sealable container that is large enough to fully dip your ear tip cast (I used a small, deep tupperware, shown above).
  2. Mix small quantities of pink paint as needed to match the dried, talc-powdered latex to your base skin tone (the color on your forehead, not the pink color of your ears). You can dry some latex puddles on your work surface to check the color as you mix.  Don’t add too much—you might reduce the latex-ness of your latex.  I added probably ½ tsp of paint into my bottle of latex and noticed no adverse results.
  3. Create an ear tip cast. This is a wedge-shaped, baked piece of polymer clay that is roughly the thickness and width of your ear where you want to attach the final prosthetic.  I put a hole in the bottom, in an extra area I left on for handling the wedge, so I could hang the ear tip to dry.
  4. Dip your ear tip. I used one dipped coat for each ear tip, starting with the tip and quickly submerging it while “rolling” the tip through the latex to cover the desired area.
  5. Carefully wipe off any excess latex dripping from the veeeery tip of the ear, and hang tip-down to dry.  If you want to monitor your latex ear as it dries, you can put a dab of latex on your plate at the same time that you dip your ears.Three to four hours should be enough time to completely cure, I wouldn’t do any less.
  6. Powder the outside of the ear with talc, then carefully powder the inside as you pull the ear tip off the cast from the outside edge of the ear to the inside edge. Unpowdered latex WILL stick permanently to itself and is very difficult to un-stick.  I recommend making your first few ears extra tall so you can cut off any sticky bottom edges.
  7. Trim the bottom of the ear to the shape shown in the image below: you want a small front flap to attach to the side of your head, and a clean edge to wrap around the outside of your ear. This configuration will create definite “right” and “left” ear tips, but you can choose which way each tip looks best (try not to make too many of the same side ear, if you’re having trouble with rolling as you remove the tip from the cast.  MAKE SURE TO POWDER WITH TALC WHERE YOU HAVE TRIMMED—THIS WILL ALSO STICK.
  8. OPTIONAL: If you have RMG makeup or pigment, you can blend the back edge of the ear tip to match the blush color on your real ear. I don’t recommend making your whole ear tip this pink, as it might look too flush when viewed from the front or a full side view (unless you are very flush of course).  Use a fixative to protect the pigments from wearing off; I use Mehron Barrier Spray.  The ears pictured are NOT blended in any way–only the base latex color is shown (with the added paint from step 2).

PHOTOS

Detail shots of the baked polymer clay ear cast I dipped into the latex.  I etched a light dipping line on both sides (above).

A dipped ear tip, drying from the top edge, which will be the bottom edge of the final ear tip (where the latex is darker).

Shiny, terrifying latex, cured but pre-talc coating.

Finished ear tip pair, talc-powdered and trimmed to fit each ear.

CONCLUSIONS

I really enjoyed learning to make these, and even with one cast (the polymer clay I had was left over from a different project) I could crank out two pairs of ears each day with minimal time invested.  Next time I would make the edge of the ear even thicker on the cast, and I’d make more molds to make two pairs at a time.  I’d also like to try pigment to stain the ear edges permanently—I’ve read online that you can get samples from big box hardware stores.  Depending on how skilled you are at applying prosthetics, you can cut the bottom edge of the ear to closely match the curve of your natural ear (but it restricts your angle of application).

Here are some shots of my v1 and v2 ears, for comparison:

Ear tips v1 and v2.  Version 1 was much shorter, and I attempted to blend it to my actual ear with latex and left a gloppy mess behind.  I’ll just use ear cuffs from now on…

Ear tips v1 (left) and v2 (right), on the ear, for comparison.

Good luck, and ROUND EARS GO HOME!

Fyaren

About the author: Fyaren Windseed Applereach