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need help with Dragon tail

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  • metholhill
    Hi, I am currently costuming Mulan and I need to make an articulated Dragon Tail for Mushu so that it moves when she does. Does anyone have any ideas how to do
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 20, 2008
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      Hi,
      I am currently costuming Mulan and I need to make an articulated
      Dragon Tail for Mushu so that it moves when she does. Does anyone have
      any ideas how to do this? I have never made a moveable tail before.
      The director would like it to swing in a snakelike way. Any advice
      would be appreciated. Thanks.
      Patricia
      Costume Lady Creations
    • Kate Murphy
      Hi Patricia: I have made a number of very large (up to 60 ) tails for dinosaurs, dragons, and kangaroos. I have developed a technique that uses upholstery
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 23, 2008
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        Hi Patricia:

        I have made a number of very large (up to 60") tails for dinosaurs,
        dragons, and kangaroos. I have developed a technique that uses
        upholstery foam to create tail shapes. The tails are very flexible,
        light weight, and can be made to swing from side to side and to
        bounce up and down. Foam has the additional advantage of being
        virtually indestructible. If you are interested in this technique,
        I've included the process below. It works best on tail shapes that
        begin at the actor's mid-back and arch down to hit the floor no more
        than 2-3 feet behind the heel. This technique provides the same sort
        of movement as articulation but is easier and faster to construct.
        All the materials are available from fabric and hardware stores.

        Kate Murphy: Making a Foam Tail

        Choose a tail shape that is completely "closed." The finished tail
        will be hollow, but it should have no open end or side. This is
        necessary because the structure of the foam gives strength to the
        finished shape. Do not exceed a hollow circumference of 40" or so.
        If you do, you will need to use denser or thicker foam.

        Flat-pattern the basic 3 dimensional tail shape desired using brown
        paper and then cut the pieces out of 1" thick upholstery foam
        (thinner foam will not hold a large shape). Do not include a seam
        allowance on the pattern pieces. Use a marker to trace around them.
        (note: Remember that curves use up width -- when you draft your tail
        shape, make the flat pattern wider that you think it should be.
        Think of a pillow slip -- it distorts around the pillow and appears
        several inches more narrow than when it's laying flat.) Use contact
        cement on the foam's cut edges to assemble the pieces and create a
        finished tail shape. If you pinch the cut foam edges together, the
        contact cement creates a very tight, rounded edge at each seam.
        (note: Make sure to use solvent based contact cement, NOT the latex
        type. Do this OUTSIDE -- the fumes are killer. Be as neat as
        possible along the foam edges, as everywhere you spill the cement it
        will stick. Let the cement dry completely before assembling your
        pieces, otherwise they will pull apart.)

        Then use the same flat pattern to cut fabric pieces to cover the
        foam shape (adding about 1" s/a all around each piece to allow for
        curvature and ease). The fabric covering can become part of a
        bodysuit into which the foam tail shape can be inserted and removed
        for cleaning. Even though it seems to just "hang" there, the actor
        can create lots of movement and bounce.

        If you want the tail to be a completely separate unit, assemble the
        fabric covering as a "bag" and slip the foam tail inside. In this
        case, the finished tail needs to be suspended from a wide belt around
        the actor's waist (I have also used wide strapping over the
        shoulders. Cross the strapping in front and back and secure it
        around the waist.)

        If you wish the tail to extend horizontally out from the actor's back
        for a distance before it drops to the floor, you can insert a length
        of wood one-by stock. Use angle iron to secure the horizontal to a
        short vertical. Rig the vertical to attach to a weight-lifters belt
        (I made two slots in a small plywood piece that the belt could be
        woven through.) The vertical should be centered on the belt in the
        small of the actor's back (pad as needed). This horizontal extension
        gives the tail more bounce.


        One final note: provide a hanging loop on the tail and instruct
        everyone to hang it up when not in use. If a foam tail shape is
        stored in a folded or squashed position it will take on that shape
        and become permanantly distorted.

        Hope this helps,

        Kate


        --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "metholhill"
        <Costumelady@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hi,
        > I am currently costuming Mulan and I need to make an articulated
        > Dragon Tail for Mushu so that it moves when she does. Does anyone
        have
        > any ideas how to do this? I have never made a moveable tail
        before.
        > The director would like it to swing in a snakelike way. Any advice
        > would be appreciated. Thanks.
        > Patricia
        > Costume Lady Creations
        >
      • Donna McKenna
        ... At a CostumeCon some years ago, a genius whose name I regrettably can t remember, made an articulated tail from a series of plastic tubes (I think he used
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 24, 2008
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          --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "metholhill"
          <Costumelady@...> wrote:
          >> I am currently costuming Mulan and I need to make an articulated
          > Dragon Tail

          At a CostumeCon some years ago, a genius whose name I regrettably
          can't remember, made an articulated tail from a series of plastic
          tubes (I think he used a bucket, a large peanut butter tub, several
          different sizes of whipped topping tubs, and whatever else was the
          right size. He cut out the bottom of each vessel, then at the rim
          cut out part of the top to leave two tabs opposite each other. Then
          he placed the tabs at twelve-o'clock and six-o'clock and attached
          them together with brads or the equivalent that would make the joint
          move-able. If you wanted it heavier you could use metal buckets,
          planters, whatever. Then I think he covered the entire structure
          with lycra so that you couldn't see the spaces between the buckets.
          It worked brilliantly.

          If you need further clarification, let me know.

          Donna
          The Gal from Kalamazoo
        • metholhill
          -Thanks so much for this information. It really helps, I have made lots of tails before but not one that the director wants a lot of movement. I do
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 8, 2008
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            -Thanks so much for this information. It really helps, I have made
            lots of tails before but not one that the director wants a lot of
            movement. I do appreciate your advise. I will let you know how it
            goes. Patricia - Costume Lady Creations.


            -- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "Kate Murphy"
            <costumerkate@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hi Patricia:
            >
            > I have made a number of very large (up to 60") tails for dinosaurs,
            > dragons, and kangaroos. I have developed a technique that uses
            > upholstery foam to create tail shapes. The tails are very flexible,
            > light weight, and can be made to swing from side to side and to
            > bounce up and down. Foam has the additional advantage of being
            > virtually indestructible. If you are interested in this technique,
            > I've included the process below. It works best on tail shapes that
            > begin at the actor's mid-back and arch down to hit the floor no more
            > than 2-3 feet behind the heel. This technique provides the same sort
            > of movement as articulation but is easier and faster to construct.
            > All the materials are available from fabric and hardware stores.
            >
            > Kate Murphy: Making a Foam Tail
            >
            > Choose a tail shape that is completely "closed." The finished tail
            > will be hollow, but it should have no open end or side. This is
            > necessary because the structure of the foam gives strength to the
            > finished shape. Do not exceed a hollow circumference of 40" or so.
            > If you do, you will need to use denser or thicker foam.
            >
            > Flat-pattern the basic 3 dimensional tail shape desired using brown
            > paper and then cut the pieces out of 1" thick upholstery foam
            > (thinner foam will not hold a large shape). Do not include a seam
            > allowance on the pattern pieces. Use a marker to trace around them.
            > (note: Remember that curves use up width -- when you draft your tail
            > shape, make the flat pattern wider that you think it should be.
            > Think of a pillow slip -- it distorts around the pillow and appears
            > several inches more narrow than when it's laying flat.) Use contact
            > cement on the foam's cut edges to assemble the pieces and create a
            > finished tail shape. If you pinch the cut foam edges together, the
            > contact cement creates a very tight, rounded edge at each seam.
            > (note: Make sure to use solvent based contact cement, NOT the latex
            > type. Do this OUTSIDE -- the fumes are killer. Be as neat as
            > possible along the foam edges, as everywhere you spill the cement it
            > will stick. Let the cement dry completely before assembling your
            > pieces, otherwise they will pull apart.)
            >
            > Then use the same flat pattern to cut fabric pieces to cover the
            > foam shape (adding about 1" s/a all around each piece to allow for
            > curvature and ease). The fabric covering can become part of a
            > bodysuit into which the foam tail shape can be inserted and removed
            > for cleaning. Even though it seems to just "hang" there, the actor
            > can create lots of movement and bounce.
            >
            > If you want the tail to be a completely separate unit, assemble the
            > fabric covering as a "bag" and slip the foam tail inside. In this
            > case, the finished tail needs to be suspended from a wide belt around
            > the actor's waist (I have also used wide strapping over the
            > shoulders. Cross the strapping in front and back and secure it
            > around the waist.)
            >
            > If you wish the tail to extend horizontally out from the actor's back
            > for a distance before it drops to the floor, you can insert a length
            > of wood one-by stock. Use angle iron to secure the horizontal to a
            > short vertical. Rig the vertical to attach to a weight-lifters belt
            > (I made two slots in a small plywood piece that the belt could be
            > woven through.) The vertical should be centered on the belt in the
            > small of the actor's back (pad as needed). This horizontal extension
            > gives the tail more bounce.
            >
            >
            > One final note: provide a hanging loop on the tail and instruct
            > everyone to hang it up when not in use. If a foam tail shape is
            > stored in a folded or squashed position it will take on that shape
            > and become permanantly distorted.
            >
            > Hope this helps,
            >
            > Kate
            >
            >
            > --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "metholhill"
            > <Costumelady@> wrote:
            > >
            > > Hi,
            > > I am currently costuming Mulan and I need to make an articulated
            > > Dragon Tail for Mushu so that it moves when she does. Does anyone
            > have
            > > any ideas how to do this? I have never made a moveable tail
            > before.
            > > The director would like it to swing in a snakelike way. Any advice
            > > would be appreciated. Thanks.
            > > Patricia
            > > Costume Lady Creations
            > >
            >
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