The Costume

Contents

  1. 1 The Costume
    1. 1.1 Bodysuit
      1. 1.1.1 Reference Photos
        1. 1.1.1.1 A New Hope
        2. 1.1.1.2 The Empire Strikes Back
        3. 1.1.1.3 Return of the Jedi
        4. 1.1.1.4 Original Trilogy Under Suit
        5. 1.1.1.5 Magic of Myth
        6. 1.1.1.6 Where Science Meets Imagination
        7. 1.1.1.7 Star Wars In Concert
        8. 1.1.1.8 Revenge of the Sith
        9. 1.1.1.9 Revenge of the Sith Under Suit
      2. 1.1.2 General Information
        1. 1.1.2.1 Suit Construction
        2. 1.1.2.2 The Hair, Original Trilogy
        3. 1.1.2.3 The Hair, Revenge of the Sith
      3. 1.1.3 Materials & Construction
        1. 1.1.3.1 Hair Fabric
          1. 1.1.3.1.1 Tutorials
          2. 1.1.3.1.2 Patterning Your Suit
          3. 1.1.3.1.3 Ordering the Hair
          4. 1.1.3.1.4 Sewing the Suit
          5. 1.1.3.1.5 Grooming the Suit
          6. 1.1.3.1.6 Cleaning the Suit
        2. 1.1.3.2 Synthetic Hair Extensions
          1. 1.1.3.2.1 Tutorials
          2. 1.1.3.2.2 Building the Mesh Suit
          3. 1.1.3.2.3 Getting Your Hair
          4. 1.1.3.2.4 Prepping the Hair
          5. 1.1.3.2.5 Using Hot Glue to attach the hair
          6. 1.1.3.2.6 Latch-Hooking the hair
          7. 1.1.3.2.7 Grooming and Thrimming the Suit
          8. 1.1.3.2.8 Cleaning the Suit
        3. 1.1.3.3 Wefted Hair
        4. 1.1.3.4 Hand-Knitted Yak Hair and Mohair
        5. 1.1.3.5 Rubies Costumes Supreme Edition Chewbacca
        6. 1.1.3.6 The possibility of future licensed Wookiee suits
    2. 1.2 Mask
      1. 1.2.1 Reference Photos
        1. 1.2.1.1 A New Hope
        2. 1.2.1.2 The Empire Strikes Back
        3. 1.2.1.3 Return of the Jedi
        4. 1.2.1.4 Magic of Myth
        5. 1.2.1.5 Where Science Meets Imagination
        6. 1.2.1.6 Star Wars In Concert
        7. 1.2.1.7 Original Trilogy Underskull & Construction
        8. 1.2.1.8 Original Trilogy Skins
        9. 1.2.1.9 Revenge of the Sith
        10. 1.2.1.10 Revenge of the Sith Underskull
        11. 1.2.1.11 Make-Up
      2. 1.2.2 General Information
        1. 1.2.2.1 Anatomy & Structure
        2. 1.2.2.2 Underskull & Mechanics, Original Trilogy
        3. 1.2.2.3 Underskull & Mechanics, Revenge of the Sith
        4. 1.2.2.4 Hair & Skin
      3. 1.2.3 Materials & Construction
        1. 1.2.3.1 Lifecasting
        2. 1.2.3.2 Building a Static Mask
          1. 1.2.3.2.1 Sculpting
          2. 1.2.3.2.2 Molding
          3. 1.2.3.2.3 Casting the Skin
          4. 1.2.3.2.4 Painting
          5. 1.2.3.2.5 Building the Underskull
          6. 1.2.3.2.6 Hair
        3. 1.2.3.3 Building a Moving Mask
          1. 1.2.3.3.1 Sculpting
          2. 1.2.3.3.2 Molding
          3. 1.2.3.3.3 Casting the Skin
          4. 1.2.3.3.4 Painting
          5. 1.2.3.3.5 Building the Underskull
          6. 1.2.3.3.6 Mouth & Teeth
          7. 1.2.3.3.7 Hair
        4. 1.2.3.4 Maintenence
        5. 1.2.3.5 Officially Licensed Masks
    3. 1.3 Hands
      1. 1.3.1 Reference Photos
        1. 1.3.1.1 A New Hope
        2. 1.3.1.2 The Empire Strikes Back
        3. 1.3.1.3 Return of the Jedi
        4. 1.3.1.4 Magic of Myth
        5. 1.3.1.5 Where Science Meets Imagination
        6. 1.3.1.6 Revenge of the Sith
      2. 1.3.2 General Information
        1. 1.3.2.1 Original Trilogy
        2. 1.3.2.2 Revenge of the Sith
      3. 1.3.3 Materials & Construction
        1. 1.3.3.1 Off the Shelf Gloves
        2. 1.3.3.2 Costume Gloves
        3. 1.3.3.3 Arm Extensions
      4. 1.3.4 Build Diaries
    4. 1.4 Feet
      1. 1.4.1 Reference Photos
        1. 1.4.1.1 Magic of Myth (MoM Feet) aka “The Brown Slippers”
        2. 1.4.1.2 Where Science Meets Imagination (WSMI Feet)
        3. 1.4.1.3 Star Wars In Concert (SWIC Feet)
        4. 1.4.1.4 Revenge of the Sith
      2. 1.4.2 General Information
        1. 1.4.2.1 Original Trilogy
        2. 1.4.2.2 MoM Feet
        3. 1.4.2.3 WSMI Feet
        4. 1.4.2.4 SWIC Feet
        5. 1.4.2.5 Revenge of the Sith
      3. 1.4.3 Materials & Construction
        1. 1.4.3.1 Do-It-Yourself Platform Shoes
          1. 1.4.3.1.1 Carving and Building Your Feet
          2. 1.4.3.1.2 Coating
          3. 1.4.3.1.3 Painting
          4. 1.4.3.1.4 Adding the Hair
        2. 1.4.3.2 Commercial Platforms & Lifts
          1. 1.4.3.2.1 Removing the Platforms
        3. 1.4.3.3 Commercial Stilts
        4. 1.4.3.4 Building the Toes
          1. 1.4.3.4.1 Upholstery Foam Carving
          2. 1.4.3.4.2 Cast Rubber/Foam
          3. 1.4.3.4.3 Commercial Costume Feet
    5. 1.5 Bandolier
      1. 1.5.1 Reference Photos
        1. 1.5.1.1 Concho Bandolier
        2. 1.5.1.2 Plain Bandolier
        3. 1.5.1.3 Where Science Meets Imagination Bandolier
        4. 1.5.1.4 Star Wars in Concert Bandolier
        5. 1.5.1.5 Revenge of the Sith Bandolier
      2. 1.5.2 General Information
        1. 1.5.2.1 Ammo Boxes
          1. 1.5.2.1.1 Original Trilogy
          2. 1.5.2.1.2 Revenge of the Sith
        2. 1.5.2.2 Bandolier Strap
          1. 1.5.2.2.1 Original Trilogy
          2. 1.5.2.2.2 Exhibit Bandolier
          3. 1.5.2.2.3 Revenge of the Sith
        3. 1.5.2.3 Pouch
          1. 1.5.2.3.1 Original Trilogy
          2. 1.5.2.3.2 Revenge of the Sith
      3. 1.5.3 Materials & Construction
        1. 1.5.3.1 Ammo Boxes
        2. 1.5.3.2 Bandolier Strap
          1. 1.5.3.2.1 Tools You Will Need
        3. 1.5.3.3 Pouch
    6. 1.6 Wookiee Sound Effects
      1. 1.6.1 General Information
      2. 1.6.2 Materials & Construction
        1. 1.6.2.1 Making the Sounds Yourself
        2. 1.6.2.2 Sound Effects Systems

Chewbacca is one of the more challenging Star Wars costumes. Unlike Darth Vader or a Stormtrooper, the nature of the costume requires that most of it be hand made; there is no fast or easy way to reproduce the majority of the suit. As a result, kits are limited to bandolier boxes and toes, with the occasional unfinished mask kit.

Fortunately, thanks to the countless Wookiee builders who have contributed to this guide over the years, there is more information on building a Chewie suit than probably any other Star Wars costume. On this page you will find an extensive collection of reference photos of the screen-used costumes and props, as well as facts and information about how the original suits were built. You will also find extensive tutorials for all major components, often with diagrams, schematics, and patterns. Links to all known tutorials and build diaries are also available.

When you begin building your suit, I recommend you connect with other Wookiee builders and regularly post pictures of your progress. As helpful as this page is, it doesn’t compare to the advice of experienced costumers. While there have been a number of Wookiee related costuming forums and groups in the past, the most active is Docking Bay 94, the Rebel Legion’s smuggler costuming detachment. Virtually all Wookiee costumers past and present are active participants of that forum.

The Costume

This section of the guide is focused on building the costume itself, and only covers the suit, hands, feet, mask, and the bandolier.

Bodysuit | Mask | Hands | Feet | Bandolier | Wookiee Sound Effects |

Bodysuit

Reference Photos

A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Original Trilogy Under Suit
Magic of Myth
Where Science Meets Imagination
Star Wars In Concert
Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith Under Suit

General Information

Suit Construction
  1. According to his personal website, Peter Mayhew is 7‘3” (221cm) tall.
  2. According to an interview with Stuart Freeborn in Star Wars Insider Issue #70 (pages 40 through 44), the Chewie costume included 4 inch (10.16cm) lifts and the mask's forehead added another 4 inches (10.16cm) in height, making Chewbacca roughly 8 feet (244cm) tall.
  3. I have trooped the “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination” exhibit three times and have examined the suit on all three occasions. The layer of hair does not appear to be very thick, and the under suit that it is knitted into appears to be the same color as the hair. This is readily apparent in the gray sections of the hair suit; you can see brown underneath the hair.
  4. According to the Chewbacca Behind the Scenes entry on the Official Site's DataBank, "Numerous versions of the suit were made to handle the wear and tear of film making.
  5. At DragonCon 2007, Peter Mayhew told me that the original suits opened up along the back and that baby powder was sprinkled inside the suit to clean it by absorbing sweat.
  6. According to the Behind the Scenes page at Wookiee Net, two suits were made for the Trilogy. One was made for A New Hope and was maintained and repaired for that film and The Empire Strikes Back. An entirely new suit was made for Return of the Jedi.
  7. According to a TheForce.Net Interview with Peter Mayhew, Mayhew used his stunt double for the first and only time in Return of the Jedi when the skiff he is on gets hit and tilts violently. It is likely that a stunt suit was created for this purpose.
  8. According to the Behind the Scenes page at Wookiee Net, there was an under suit that had foam padding on the shoulders. Several set photos from Return of the Jedi confirm this.
The Hair, Original Trilogy
  1. Most of Chewie's hair is a medium to light brown color with dark gray sections at the knees, thighs, shoulders and upper chest, and on the back of his head.
  2. The dark gray hair goes all the way across his back, but only covers the shoulders on the front.
  3. The dark hair on his knees only covers the outside half of his legs, not the insides.
  4. According to the Chewbacca Behind the Scenes entry on the Official Site's DataBank, the suit was "made of knitted mohair and yak hair."
  5. According to an interview with Fred Fehrmann of National Fiber Technology, the original suit "was hand tied, meaning someone took tiny lace fibers and hand-threaded them into thousands of holes."
  6. According to an interview with Fred Fehrmann of National Fiber Technology, "the original Chewbacca from Lucas' first ‘Star Wars’ film was not made by National Fiber."
The Hair, Revenge of the Sith
  1. Fred Fehrmann at National Fiber Technology said that they had supplied hair for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and the Chewbacca costume made for Disney Star Wars Weekends. According to Mr. Fehrmann, the correct color for Chewie is Medium Brown and the hair is 10" to 12" (25.4cm to 30.5cm) in length. However, the Medium Brown appears to be too red.
  2. According to an interview with Fred Fehrmann of National Fiber Technology, for Revenge of the Sith his company provided Lucasfilm with 6 different types of Wookiee hair at an average of 70 to 80 square feet (6.5m2 to 7.4m2) of hair fabric to make each suit. They supplied a total of 1,000 square feet (92.9m2) of Wookiee hair. It took them 5 months to make all of that hair.
  3. At DragonCon 2003, Peter Mayhew, having just returned from filming Episode 3, explained that they had made 4 suits for him in Revenge of the Sith.
  4. According to Bob Kohn, the correct NFTech loom code for the Revenge of the Sith hair is AJ 2872 Brown, 15" sliver Chewbacca for the brown and AJ 2873 Grey 15", sliver Chewbacca for the grey.

Materials & Construction

Hair Fabric

Traditional faux fur that you can buy at a fabric store is not made in lengths longer than 3⅝” (9.2cm), which is far too short for a Wookiee. National Fiber Technology in Massachusetts is the only company on the planet that makes a long hair fabric fur. They supplied the hair for the Wookiees in Revenge of the Sith, as well as the Chewie suit used at Disney Star Wars Weekends. The hair is excellent but very expensive. Costs can vary anywhere from $2500 to $3500 depending on how much you need.

Tutorials
    Bob Kohn's National Fiber Technology Hair/Fur Tutorial covers everything from patterning, to costs, to the correct loom numbers, and more.
  1. About.Com's How to Cut & Sew Fake Fur is also a good guide
Patterning Your Suit

Bob Kohn used a body suit pattern, similar to the ones used by stormtroopers. Plan out your patterns on the suit, then cut the suit based on patterns and fur colors. Bob’s pattern used something like 40-50 pieces to sew back together when finished. Remember to add seam allowance.

Fabric furs have a certain direction that they must hang or lay. This is the fabric’s “nap.” The idea is that the hair will all hang down when the finished costume is worn. You will not simply be able to place your pattern pieces wherever there is room; the pattern pieces must have the correct orientation with respect to the nap. This will increase the amount of hair you will need, so plan for this in your patterns and don’t forget about it when you cut.

  1. Keep the suit as snug as possible while still being easy to get in and out of. Chewie is thinly built and the hair will add bulk.
  2. Pay special attention to the neck. Make sure most of the neck opening (about ⅔) is on the front.
  3. Be sure that you have extra hair for your gloves, feet, and especially your mask.
  4. National Fiber Hair is a 60” (152.4cm) wide fabric.
  5. NFTech hair is a direction or nap that must be respected when drafting your pattern and cutting your fabric; all hair needs to hang down on the finished suit.
  6. When determining where the seam between the grey and brown areas will occur, remember that the hair will hang 8” - 10” (20.3cm - 25.4cm) down from that seam. However, seams that run vertically will not have this problem.
Ordering the Hair

Most Wookiees choose “medium brown” and “dark grey” and end up with colors that are too red and too light. Bob Kohn made his suit using National Fiber hair and has obtained the correct colors to use. For brown, you want to order AJ 2872 Brown, 15" sliver Chewbacca, for the grey you want AJ 2873 Grey, 15" sliver Chewbacca. Bob Kohn estimates that you will need approximately 17 square feet of the grey hair, and 27 square feet of the brown hair. Bob says you will also want to get 1lb. (0.45kg) of loose hair of each color for use on your mask.

It’s important to remember that the above numbers are just a loose figure; you need to pattern your suit before you order your hair and order based on that.

Sewing the Suit

Read Kitfox’s discussion of Shawn’s suit

Also be sure to check out Bob Kohn’s tutorial

There is no need to trim fur for seam allowance for sewing the suit. When cutting the fabric you want to avoid cutting off large strands of hair, so comb back the fur before you cut it from the bolt and make small cuts. As noted earlier, it is critical that you cut your hair fabric with the correct direction or “nap” in mind; the hair should all hang down on the finished suit.

Bob Kohn learned the hard way that you should NOT use a serger with NFTech fabrics. The heat created by the serger needles melts and breaks down some of the chemicals in the hair; which then attach themselves to the needles and form razor sharp debris that shreds the base fabric. Instead, use a traditional sewing machine and use a wide zigzag stitch. Bob and his wife spent a year repairing the suit after the fact.

Grooming the Suit

Bob Kohn says that the National Fiber Hair is beautiful right off of the bolt, and almost no grooming is required to achieve the distinctive wavy Chewie look. He recommends doing nothing but rolling the suit up and storing it a bag after every troop and cleaning. After 1-2 troops, you will start to see the distinctive wavy look that are you looking for.

Cleaning the Suit

The mesh fabric will absorb sweat and begin to stink if not cleaned. The key to keeping the suit clean is to allow the suit to air out immediately after every event, not 12 hours later. Consider hanging it in your car like your dry cleaning or build a collapsible coat rack in your bin. Febreeze is also very helpful. However, these techniques have their limits, and eventually you will need to wash it by hand.

Use a large tub (like a bath tub) and use either NFTech’s hair soap or a mild baby’s shampoo. Bring the water to a light sudsy bubble, then lay the suit in the water, gently agitating it using only your hands; no tools should be used. When the color of the water changes, remove the suit with both hands, bearing in mind that it will be quite heavy due to all the water it has absorbed. Replace the water and soap, and put the suit back in and continue to wash it gently with your hands. Repeat this process until the water no longer changes color. The color is the combined grime of sweat, rain, febreeze, hair spray, and who knows what else coming off of the hair.

Once the suit is clean you will need to rinse the soap. Fill the tub with water as before but do not add any shampoo or detergent. Put the suit and gently agitate it with your hands. Empty the tub and repeat this process until there is no more soap left in the suit.

To dry, gently lay the suit down on a bunch of towels and pat dry the suit with another towel. Do not be aggressive; this is not your dog that are drying. Flip the suit and repeat, replacing towels as you go. Once the suit has been sufficiently hand-dried and itis no longer heavy with the weight of all that water, hang the suit and allow it to air dry. It’s important to towel dry first; hanging the heavy, water-logged suit could damage it. Bob Kohn uses a clothesline on a sunny/light breezy day. If you live in a humid or wet climate, consider using a large fan. Avoid blow drying as you could damage the suit.

Synthetic Hair Extensions

The most popular method is to use synthetic “Kanekalon” hair extensions which can be purchased inexpensively from beauty supply shops. This method is far less expensive than using hair from National Fiber, but the trade off is that it is extremely time consuming and labor intensive.

Tutorials
  1. Duck's Tips for New Wookiee Builders
Building the Mesh Suit

The hair is tied into a suit made of a mesh fabric. It is not that different from building a giant wig. For all of my Wookiee suits I have purchased the mesh at army surplus stores. It is a medium mesh that is camouflaged and comes in unmarked plastic bags and sells for $8 - $10 per bag. I think I needed two or three bags for the full suit.

The mesh fabric can also be purchased at Collins Cottage. The great thing about the aquatic mesh is that it won’t mold or mildew from moisture, making maintenance and cleaning much easier. Many fabric stores also carry a mesh fabric but it is very weak and easily torn. Make sure you buy it in a dark color; you don’t want neon green mesh visible through your suit!

The original Chewie costume was a one-piece suit that opened in the back. However, most fan costumers opt to build a shirt and a pair of pants, as it is easier to get in and out of.

Duck’s tutorial offers some excellent design tips and drawings on the creation of the mesh suit. Many others have also offered advice on the design of the mesh suit, so here is a list of tips.
  1. ⅔ of your neck sits directly over your chest in the front, while only ⅓ sits over the back behind the shoulders. For this reason, avoid centering your neck hole between the front and back pieces or you’ll end up with exposed skin on your back as the hole shifts backwards.
  2. Also make the back of the neck hole fairly straight, and keep the neck hole fairly tight, as the mesh does stretch.
  3. The bottom of the shirt should overlap the pants down to about the crotch and middle of the buttocks in order to facilitate sitting and bending.
  4. The mesh suit should fit fairly snug in order to keep with Chewie’s lanky and thin build. The hair will add bulk.
  5. The hair adds a lot of weight, so use suspenders to hold the pants up.

Here are Duck’s excellent drawings. Click to enlarge.

TO DO: Scan and add my patterns.

Once you have finished sewing your mesh suit, you will want to mark off where the gray areas will be. Because of the length of the hair, your gray areas will start 8” - 10” (20.3cm - 25.4cm) down from where you start tying in gray hair. This means your horizontal marks need to be offset to compensate for this. Your vertical marks do not.

Getting Your Hair

The hair to use is Kanekalon synthetic hair, specifically Kanekalon Jumbo Braids. You want the regular Kanekalon Jumbo braids, as these have a matte or “Yaky” finish to them. Avoid hair marked “Silky” as these have a shiny finish. These can be found in beauty supply shops in almost any city. They typically sell for $2.00 to $3.00 per bag in the U.S. The hair comes in a folded braid that, when unfolded, is 48” long.

Kanekalon is a particular material that is sold under many different brands. There are also cheaper types of hair sold at most beauty supply stores. Avoid this hair as it may not match from brand to brand, while the Kanekalon stuff will be the same regardless of who’s logo is on the bag. Kanekalon is also heat resistant, which is important as you blow dry the hair to prepare it.

For the brown sections of the suit you will need to mix colors #6 and #27 in a 30/70 mix. #8 can also be used for highlights. For the grey sections of the suit, you’ll want to do a 30/70 mix of colors #44 and #4. #44 has become increasingly difficult to find, so some have used M51 instead. There are also a variety of other colors listed as gray mixes, so you might try them out.

Here is a table of suppliers, their prices, and which colors and textures they carry.

Supplier Price #4 #6 #8 #27 #44 #M51 or #51 Matte/Silky
Texas Beauty Supplies $1.89 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Silky
Doctored Locks $2.55 Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes (M51) Both
IKickShins $2.75 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (51) Matte
BNG Hair $2.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (51) Both
AfroCare £ 1.99 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Matte
Buy Hair £ 2.64 Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Both

So how many bags do you need? None of us seem to take detailed notes and just stop counting, but generally most estimates are somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 - 60 for the brown areas and maybe another 20 of the gray areas.

Prepping the Hair

Before you tie the hair into your mesh suit you will need to do a few things to prepare it first.

You will need to blow dry your hair. When first removed from the package the Kanekalon hair is frizzy and poofy. Chris Blackstock’s technique is to remove the hair from the card backing but leave the rubber bands in place. Place the hair on the floor and use one of your feet to hold the end of the hair in place. Grab the other end with your hand and pull it tight. Use a blow dryer to go up and down the length of the hair until it is smooth. Make sure you flip it around so you can blow dry the end of the hair that your foot was covering. After that you can remove the rubber band and cut the hair to size.

As noted earlier you will need to mix colors. To do this effectively you will need a hackle, a common wig-makers tool that looks like a brush made of nails. Once you have mixed the hair you will want to store the hair in hair drawing cards for future use. This helps keep them from getting tangled and messy, and helps reduce waste.

You can purchase a hackle for about $70 from Mane Depot and Wig & Hairpiece Supply or any place that sells wig making supplies. Hair drawing cards are also available for about $40 at Mane Depot and $50 at Wig Maker's World. Both HairWeftingTape and Amazing Hair Store sell hair drawing cards for $30 each.

However, both items are easy to make yourself, and several Wookiee costumers have explained how to do it. Check out Limey’s excellent hackle construction tutorial or Ryan’s tutorial/build diary, which also covers how to build hair drawing cards.

Finally, this excellent Discovery Channel video shows how to use a hackle and drawing cards.

How It's Made: Wigs

The hair comes in a 48” (121.9cm) length that is folded in half. Generally, you will be using 24” (61cm) strands of hair when you tie hair into the suit. You tie the hair at the midpoint of each strand, so one 24” (61cm) long hair becomes two 12” (30.5cm) strands. For the wrists and forearms, 28” (71.1cm) hair should be used. In the upper thighs and crotch, use 18” (45.7cm) strands.

As noted earlier, use a 30/70 mix of #27 and #6 for the brown sections with some #8 for highlights, and a mix of #4 and #44 (or #51) for the gray sections. To achieve a 30/70 mix, mix one bag of the first color (#6 for the brown areas, #44 for the grey areas) with two bags of the second color (#27 for the brown areas, #4 for the grey areas).

Using Hot Glue to attach the hair

Alexander from Germany opted to use hot glue to attach his Wookiee hair to a cotton suit. Years ago when I was first researching my own Wookiee suit I attempted to use this method and found several disadvantages:

  1. It tends to be slower, because you have to wait for the glue to cool.
  2. The glue adds a lot of weight.
  3. Glue is messy; you end up with a lot of “glue strings.”
  4. I also found it very hard to get a high density of hair, which I imagine would be a problem on the arms, shoulders, and knees.

However, one cannot argue with Alexander’s results, so it’s an option you might consider.

Latch-Hooking the hair

Once your mesh suit and hair are are ready to go, you can begin the process of latch-hooking hair into the suit. This is a time-consuming and tedious process, and you can expect to spend 100 or more hours on this part of the costume. However, once you have the basic technique mastered, hooking hair into the suit is not especially difficult, and many costumers simply pass the time by watching a movie while they work

As for the technique itself, there are several ways to go about it. The most common way is to buy an actual latch-hook used in rug making and build the suit as you would a shag carpet. There are a number of excellent videos demonstrating the basic technique. Here is one of the better ones:

Latch Hooking - Fun & Easy Crafting

On my first suit, I opted to use a pair of hemostats, which are locking medical tweezers with a curved nose. However, by the time I made my second suit I had learned how to use the latch-hook properly and found it to be much faster and easier.

  1. It’s best to use more knots with fewer strands per knot than the opposite, especially areas like the arms, shoulders, and knees.
  2. On average you should use 7-9 strands of hair per knot, with the knots spaced about ¼” to ½” (.6cm to 1.3cm) apart.
  3. The knots should be arranged in overlapping rows so that the knots on a given row cover the space between the knots on the row below it.
  4. For the pants, start at the ankle and work your way to the hips or waist. For the shirt, start at the waist and work your way to the armpits, then start the arms at the wrist and work your way to the shoulders, then work the entire hairline to the neck.
  5. The spacing of your knots should be lower on areas that will bend and move, like the arms, knees, and shoulders. These areas will show bald spots more easily. Areas like the torso will be more forgiving.
  6. Consider tying hair into your seams in order to cover them and reinforce them.
  7. As previously mentioned you should use 24” (61cm) strands of hair for most of the suit. Since you tie the knot in the middle of the strands each 24” (61cm) strand will become two 12” (30.5cm) strands.
  8. On the forearms, wrists, and hands, use 28” (71.1cm) strands.
  9. On the crotch and upper thighs, 18” (45.7cm) strands will suffice.

Once you have finished tying your suit, turn the shirt and pants inside out and apply a small bead of superglue to every knot. This will prevent the knots from slipping open. Make sure you buy a huge pack of superglue tubes and use adequate ventilation. Once you have finished gluing, allow the suit to remain inside-out overnight so the glue fully cures.

Grooming and Thrimming the Suit

Once you try your suit on for the first time you will notice how bushy it is. This is because there is way too much hair. This is a much better problem to have than not enough hair.

The first thing you need to do is put the suit on and have someone vigorously brush the entire suit with a good hair brush. This will remove any loose hair and remove any tangles. Be careful not to brush too hard, or else you could rip the mesh suit or tear out knots entirely.

Once that is done, it is time to trim the suit with a pair of thinning sheers and your trusty hair brush. Thinning sheers are scissors with teeth in them. When the blades come together, some hair is cut and some is not. They can be purchased at beauty supply shops for $30 or so. Not all thinning sheers are the same. Some will cut more hair than others. Be sure to test yours first before you start on your costume.

To trim, start from the top and work your way down, holding the sheers at an angle. Use a hair brush to remove the clippings. Doing it over a large tarp will help with cleanup.

Once again, Duck has provided us with some excellent instructions on this stage of the costume. First, be sure to check out his illustration below and the Trimming Notes that go along with it.

There is also a lot of good info in his Wookiee Tutorial. Finally, Duck has a quick YouTube video on Wookiee trimming you should watch:

Duck's Hair Trimming Video


DAX Pomade Hair Wax http://www.daxhaircare.com/store/dax-styling-waxes/

Cleaning the Suit

How to Wash Kanekalon

Wefted Hair

Wefts are hair extensions that come pre-sewn to a strip of cloth. Steve Bornhoeft used human hair wefts to build his suit.

Hand-Knitted Yak Hair and Mohair
Rubies Costumes Supreme Edition Chewbacca
The possibility of future licensed Wookiee suits

Mask

Reference Photos

A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
Magic of Myth
Where Science Meets Imagination
Star Wars In Concert
Original Trilogy Underskull & Construction
Original Trilogy Skins
Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith Underskull
Make-Up

General Information

Anatomy & Structure
  1. Chewie's facial structure has more in common with an ape than a dog or bear.
  2. Chewie's teeth are human except for his upper and lower canines, which are sharp, animal-like fangs.
  3. There is a large gap between his upper front teeth and his upper canines, probably to create room for the lower canines when the mouth closes.
  4. The pattern of Chewie's hair radiates from his eyes. He has a mustache-like feature as well.
  5. There are two holes in the back of his mouth, probably for ventilation and/or drinking. A mask with such a feature could allow the wearer to drink through a long straw.
  6. There is a vertical line in his nose and it runs down to his upper lip.
  7. Chewie's eyes are blue.
  8. According to an interview with Stuart Freeborn in Star Wars Insider Issue #70 (pages 40 through 44), the Chewie mask added about 4” (10.16 centimeters) to Peter’s height. Chewie has a large forehead for this reason.
Underskull & Mechanics, Original Trilogy
  1. According to an interview with Stuart Freeborn in Star Wars Insider Issue #70 (pages 40 through 44), the original mask had a polyurethane mechanical under skull. When Peter Mayhew opened his mouth, his jaw would force the mechanical jaws open.
  2. The movement of the mechanical mouth pulled the lips back to reveal the teeth whenever the mouth was opened. In one of the photos of the under skull, you can see a channel cut into the skull that goes from the lip down to the lower jaw in order to facilitate a cable to control the lip motion.
  3. Alternately, Peter Mayhew states that the lip snarl was caused by magnets that repelled each other.
Underskull & Mechanics, Revenge of the Sith
  1. At DragonCon 2007, Peter Mayhew told me that the Revenge of the Sith mask was very heavy due to the animatronics. However, the puppeteer did not use the animatronics much and instead relied on Peter's own movements.
Hair & Skin
  1. Based on behind the scenes photos, Tom Twohy has determined that the original mask was cast in foam latex, also called hot foam. This should not be confused with ordinary latex rubber.
  2. The photos of the unfinished Chewbacca skins (from the collection of Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz) show that the skins did not cover the entire head, but stopped in the middle of the forehead ad in front of the ears.
  3. Darren Blum spoke with Lou Elsey at Celebration III, and she explained that most of the hair on the Episode 3 masks had been glued on using a product called Prosaide. The inner areas of the face had the hair punched in.
  4. The Elsey's also explained that they punched in several hairs going cross-wise to help tame the hair and keep it down against the mask. Darren guessed that they would have punched in a single long hair running ear to ear over the top of the head with it being punched in every inch and a half or so. This hair would be concealed by hair from the face and would give something for the top most layer of hair to bond to using hairspray.
  5. I spoke to Peter Mayhew at DragonCon 2007, and he claimed that the tongue had a small metal rod cast into it that allowed him to make the tongue wiggle. You can see the tongue move slightly at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when he is in the cockpit of the Falcon with Lando.
  6. Peter Mayhew has stated that he had perfect visibility in the masks.

Materials & Construction

Lifecasting
  1. Bob Kohn’s Life-Casting Tutorial
  2. Amount of BodyDouble Silicone needed
Building a Static Mask
Sculpting
  1. Sculpting detail in oil clay tutorial
  2. Sculpting Neck Detail
Molding
  • Mold Making for Latex Masks Tutorial
  • How to make a two part plaster mold for latex masks


    Casting the Skin
    1. Evan Campbell’s Tutorial
    2. How to Seam a Mask
    Painting
    1. Latex Mask Painting Demo by Nomad
    2. Nomad's Airbrushing Tutorial
    3. DH2's Latex Mask Painting Tutorial
    4. Vince Hartwell talks about Latex Mask Painting
    Building the Underskull
    Hair
    1. Julie’s Hair Punching Tutorial
    2. Make Up FX Hair Punching Video
    3. Evan Campbell’s Hair Punching Tutorial
    4. Dan Kurz' Hair Punching Tutorial
    5. HunnyBuns Reborn Supply Hair Rooting Needles
    6. HunnyBuns Reborn Supply Hair Rooting Needles Variety Pack - $14

    Tarfful Wookiee building Hair Punching

    An introduction to hair punching by Makeup-FX.com



    Building a Moving Mask
    Sculpting
    1. Sculpting detail in oil clay tutorial
    Molding
    1. Evan Campbell’s mask making tutorial
    2. Mold Making Video
    Casting the Skin
    1. Bob Kohn’s Mask Making with DragonSkin & Slacker Tutorial
    Painting
    1. Fuse FX Tutorials

    FuseFX and Psycho Paints work. You can’t use other pants (even latex mask paints) because they will flake off.

    Building the Underskull
    1. Duck’s assembly tutorial
    Mouth & Teeth
    Hair
    1. Julie’s Hair Punching Tutorial
    2. Make Up FX Hair Punching Video
    3. Evan Campbell’s Hair Punching Tutorial
    4. Dan Kurz' Hair Punching Tutorial
    5. Duck’s instructions for styling the hair
    Maintenence
    1. Bob Kohn’s “How to Wash Your Wookiee” tutorial
    Officially Licensed Masks

    Hands

    Reference Photos

    A New Hope
    The Empire Strikes Back
    Return of the Jedi
    Magic of Myth
    Where Science Meets Imagination
    Revenge of the Sith

    General Information

    Original Trilogy
    1. The gloves have visible seams along the sides of the fingers. They appear to be made of leather or vinyl.
    2. The backs of the hands are covered in hair right up to the knuckles; only the fingers are exposed.
    3. The inside of the plams have brown fabric (possibly felt) but don’t appear to have long hair.
    Revenge of the Sith
    1. All the Wookiees have sculpted and cast rubber hands with fingers nails and a rough, wrinkly surface texture. They have a grey skin tone with just a hint of brown.
    2. Some of the rubber skin on the backs and sides of the hands are not covered by hair.

    Materials & Construction

    Off the Shelf Gloves
    Costume Gloves
    1. Gorilla Gloves from Zagone Studios - $24.99
    Arm Extensions

    Build Diaries

    Feet

    Reference Photos

    Magic of Myth (MoM Feet) aka “The Brown Slippers”
    Where Science Meets Imagination (WSMI Feet)
    Star Wars In Concert (SWIC Feet)
    Revenge of the Sith

    General Information

    Original Trilogy
    1. According to an interview with Stuart Freeborn in Star Wars Insider Issue #70 (pages 40 through 44), the Chewie costume included 4” (10.16 centimeters) lifts on the feet.
    MoM Feet
    1. These appear to have no distinct toes; just a pair of brown slippers with some black or dark brown toe nails on the front.
    2. There are five black/dark grey toe nails/claws. They are curved against the shape of the foot, and do not stick out like most monster feet.
    3. The shoes appear to be pull on shoes that have a set of shoe laces on both sides of the ankles.
    4. The hair starts at the base of the ankles.
    5. There are several tufts of dark grey hair that are not mixed in.
    6. The toe area of the shoes appear to curve up and do not make contact with the ground.
    WSMI Feet
    1. The flesh color appears to be dark gray. The toe nails are a light cream color.
    2. There are five toes on each foot that are all roughly human shaped. The big toe is the largest, with each toe progressively smaller and shorter.
    3. There are five black/dark grey claws. They are curved against the shape of the foot, and do not stick out like most monster feet.
    SWIC Feet
    1. The flesh color is a medium brown. The toe nails are dark gray or brown.
    2. These appear to be five long distinctive toes on each foot, but each toe is roughly the same shape as size as the others. There is only a slight curve towards the outside of the feet.
    3. These clearly use hair from National Fiber Technology, leading some to believe they were built for Revenge of the Sith. However, Chewie wears the same Wookiee feet as all of the other Wookiees in all photos of the ROTS suit.
    4. They appear to be in great shape, and have only appeared in photos of the suit used in the Star Wars In Concert tour, leading many to believe they are newly constructed for the various archive tours and are not a screen used piece.
    5. If they are from the original trilogy, then they would have to be from Return of the Jedi, since NFT did not exist until 1979.
    6. The shoes are laced up the front like tennis shoes. The hair snaps around them and continues all the way up to the tops of the ankles.
    7. There are five black/dark grey claws. They are curved against the shape of the foot, and do not stick out like most monster feet.
    Revenge of the Sith
    1. The flesh color is medium gray with dark gray/black claws.
    2. The shoes appear to be pull on shoes with no laces and no hair on them.
    3. There are rows of buttons or snaps on the top and sides of the feet. These are probably used to attach the bottom of the costume to the shoes. Most likely the suit has enough hair fabric to cover the entire foot.
    4. The front of the foot is covered with a sculpted and cast rubber set of toes. The flesh is grey and the five toes are ambidextrous (the left and right feet are identical, not mirror images of each other). This means they only had to sculpt one foot and cast two for each pair of shoes, rather than sculpt a separate set of toes for each foot.
    5. The toes are very distinct and have claws that protrude pretty far out from the toes.

    Materials & Construction

    Do-It-Yourself Platform Shoes

    For shoes use a pair of sandals. Get sandals with three straps; one over the toes, one over the top of the ankle, and one behind the back of the ankle. When packed away, these take up less space than shoes. They are also more comfortable during warm weather. Thick socks can be worn during cold weather.

    Get high-density EPS (extruded polystyrene) foam insulation. This can be found at Home Depot, Lowe's, and other home improvement stores. It comes in 2” wide boards that are either pink or blue. Contractor supply houses may have it even wider.

    SAFETY NOTE: Be sure to wear a respirator mask and work in a well-ventilated area when working with EPS foam. The fumes are not good for you and the powder you will create when carving and sanding foam should not be inhaled.

    Carving and Building Your Feet

    TO DO: Scan and upload foot pattern.

    Use the above pattern to carve your feet, but modify the top surface so that it conforms to the contours of your shoes or sandals. If using 2” foam you will want to use three pieces for each foot. Most platform shoes have a “Frankenstein Foot” problem when used for costumes. To avoid this, make sure your shoes or sandals are mounted at an angle that follows the natural slop of the foot, i.e. the heel should be higher up than the toes are, similar to women’s high heel shoes.

    For my platforms I used Foam Fusion to glue the three layers of foam together. This can be purchased from Hot Wire Foam Factory.  Duck and a number of others have used hot glue. Bear in mind that hot glue will melt the foam to some extent. Whatever adhesive you decide to use be wary of any solvents they may be present and do a test. Many glues often contain slow acting solvents that will dissolve EPS foam over the course of several hours, days, or even months. Avoid glues that require exposure to air in order to dry, as they will not cure.

    I used high-temp hot glue to attach my sandals to the platforms. Be sure to fill in any and all gaps between your shoes/sandals and the foam feet.

    Once all of the glue has cured, you will need to carve them into proper feet. I carved the basic shapes with my hotwire foam cutter and 4” Drywall Saw, but most of the rounding and fine shaping was done with a Rasp/File combo. For final detail work  and smoothing, use sand paper and an electric mouse sander. To remove excess powder, I used duct tape.

    If you are going to sculpt and cast your own rubber toes, I recommend you do that now before you coat your foam feet.

    Coating

    Once you are finished carving your feet and you have cleaned up your mess, you will need to coat the foam in something durable. Duck and many others have simply used black duct tape. Others have used a variety of paints. I used a substance called “Foam Coat” which creates a durable shell when used on EPS foam. Foam Coat has several additives available that make it stronger and give it different surface properties. I used Bounce to give it a rubbery texture. Bounce is a rubberizer that is best for things like feet and props that will see a lot of wear and tear.

    Normally Foam Coat is mixed with water, but for a flexible surface we are mixing it with Bounce instead. Although you can add water to thin the mixture this will dilute the bounce and result in a less flexible surface. You should get at least 16 onces (473.2mL) of Bounce. I initially ordered their sample kit which included an 8 ounce (236.6mL) bottle of bounce and a 3 lbs. (1.36kg).

    I worked in batches of 1 cup (236.6mL) at a time, mixing ½ cup of Bounce (118.3mL) with ½ cup of Foam Coat (118.3mL), and mixing with a paint trowel. Pour the Bounce in first, then mix the Foam Coat powder in after it. Then brush it on with a medium sized paint brush, making sure to keep a thick coating. To dry them I slid some long broom handles through the straps of the sandals and then suspended them between a pair of sawhorses. Full cure time is about 12 hours. You will probably have a few thin spots in the first coat, so go back and touch them up with a second coat. Once the foam coat has cured, sand away any bumps or rough spots so that the foot is as smooth as possible.

    Painting
    Adding the Hair
    Commercial Platforms & Lifts
    1. 4 Inch Shoe Lifts
    2. Adult Monster Boots
    Removing the Platforms

    Comfortable Burning Man Shoes Experiement

    Commercial Stilts
    Building the Toes
    Upholstery Foam Carving
    Cast Rubber/Foam
    Commercial Costume Feet

    Bandolier

    Reference Photos

    Concho Bandolier
    Plain Bandolier
    Where Science Meets Imagination Bandolier
    Star Wars in Concert Bandolier
    Revenge of the Sith Bandolier

    General Information

    Ammo Boxes
    1. There are 10 large boxes on the bandolier, and 9 small boxes.
    Original Trilogy
    1. The boxes are aluminium project enclosures for electronics projects.
    2. According to GuntahKela, the small boxes are the Hammond Manufacturing 1590A Die-Cast Aluminium Project Box. It’s dimensions are 3.64” x 1.52” x 1.06” (92mm x 38mm x 26mm). It is still available from Mouser Electronics.
    3. From the photos, it appears that the small boxes do not have the lid attached, and are mounted with the opening attached to the leather strap.
    4. The larger boxes have not been identified. They appear to be thicker and taller than the small boxes but not as wide. They also have a lid that is larger than the box. The lid has a pop rivet in the center on each side. It is mounted with the face of the lid against the leather bandolier.
    5. According to scaling work done by kurtyboy of the RPF, the large box, including the lid is 3.24” x 2.24” x 31mm ().
    6. The gap between the boxes is .75” ().
    7. The ammo boxes on the Star Wars In Concert bandolier are not accurate.
    Revenge of the Sith
    1. Both small and large boxes in the Ep3 bandolier appear to be as wide as the strap. They look like they are assembled from cut panels designed to fit together like a puzzle.
    2. WookieeGunner and Dougie Fett did some scaling work on the Ep3 blocks.
      1. Large Box
        1. Face: 98mm x 52mm
        2. Top Edge: 98mm x 6.5mm
        3. Cutout: 12.5mm x 10mm x .5mm
        4. L Shape: 12mm x 12mm x 2mm
        5. Gap Between Edge and L: 2mm
        6. Front Edge Cutout: 10mm x 3mm x. 5mm
        7. Lip Width: 2mm
        8. Lip Depth: 3mm
        9. Depth: 17mm
      2. Small Box
        1. Face: 108mm x 34.75mm
        2. Top Edge: 108mm x 5mm
        3. Top Cutout: 10.5mm x 6mm
        4. Side Cutout: 3mm x 3mm
        5. Gap Between Edge and Cutout: 2mm
        6. Front Edge Cutout: 6mm x 3mm x .5mm
        7. Depth: 17mm
      3. Spacing between Boxes: 60.5mm
    Bandolier Strap
    1. The bandolier is always worn on the left shoulder, with the pouch resting on the upper right thigh.
    Original Trilogy
    1. The bandolier is exactly the same width as the small ammo box, which is 3.64” (92mm).
    2. It is a dark brown color; darker than the pouch.
    3. There are straight lined borders .5” from the edge.
    4. The ends are capped by a short, straight taper.
    5. On the front end of the bandolier there is a 1” leather concho coin attached just after the last block. It looks like it may have a coat of arms on it.
    6. A simple 2” metal ring attaches the pouch to the bandolier at each end.
    7. The center strap is 1” wide. It is held in place with a ⅓” rivet inserted at the midpoint of each gap in between the ammo boxes.
    8. There is a leather strap that secures the top of the bandolier to Peter’s neck to prevent it from slipping.
    9. While viewing the costume on display at “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination,” I noticed the bandolier was also secured to black waste strap hidden under the hair. It is not clear if was present during filming or was added after it was archived.
    10. The ends of the bandolier are fastened with visible metal snaps or silver buttons.
    Exhibit Bandolier
    1. The bandolier is exactly the same width as the small ammo box, which is 3.64” (92mm).
    2. It is a dark brown color; darker than the pouch.
    3. The ends are capped with long, concave tapers.
    4. There is no leather concho, and no edge marks.
    5. A simple 2” metal ring attaches the pouch to the bandolier at each end.
    6. The center strap is 1” wide. It is held in place with a ⅓” rivet inserted at the midpoint of each gap in between the ammo boxes.
    7. There is a leather strap that secures the top of the bandolier to Peter’s neck to prevent it from slipping.
    8. While viewing the costume on display at “Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination,” I noticed the bandolier was also secured to black waste strap hidden under the hair. It is not clear if was present during filming or was added after it was archived.
    9. The ends of the bandolier are fastened with visible metal snaps or silver buttons.
    Revenge of the Sith
    1. The bandolier is exactly the same width as the small ammo box, which is not yet known.
    2. It is a dark brown color; darker than the pouch.
    3. There are straight lined borders .5” from the edge.
    4. The center strap also straight lined borders that divide the center strap evenly into thirds.
    5. The ends are capped by a short, concave taper.
    6. The ends of the bandolier are fastened with visible brown snaps or buttons.
    7. There is no leather concho.
    8. A simple 2” metal ring attaches the pouch to the bandolier at each end.
    9. The center strap is held in place with leather loops, not rivets. These loops are placed at the base of every box, so there are two for each gap.
    10. There is a strap that secures the top of the bandolier to Peter’s neck to prevent it from slipping.
    Pouch
    1. The pouch is large, approximately 1’ wide by perhaps 8’ long. The flap covers almost the entire front of the pouch.
    2. The flap is secured with a pair of belt-like fasteners.
    Original Trilogy
    1. The original trilogy pouch is made of heavily worn leather. There are several visible dark spot on the lower right hand corner.
    Revenge of the Sith
    1. The Episode III pouch looks brand new and appears to be made of suede.

    Materials & Construction

    1. You want 4 - 6 oz. leather for the strap, and 3 - 5 oz. for the pouch.
    Ammo Boxes
    Bandolier Strap

    Leatherwork. How to make a leather belt. Part 1

    Leatherwork. How to make a leather belt Part 2

    Tools You Will Need
    1. Scratch All
    2. Head Knife
    3. Straight Knife
    4. Strap Cutter
    Pouch

    Wookiee Sound Effects

    General Information

    Materials & Construction

    Making the Sounds Yourself
    Sound Effects Systems