How to Make Reindeer Hooves for a Costume

Written by mark keller
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How to Make Reindeer Hooves for a Costume
The reindeer is an even-toed ungulate with a cloven hoof. (Two Spitsbergen's Reindeer image by Bartez from

No reindeer costume is complete without a good pair of hooves. While you can cheat and make something quick and shoddy out of foam, going the extra mile for top-notch footwear will give you better results. Making realistic-looking costume hooves can be a difficult process, but one well worth the effort. By casting hooves in polyester resin, you can make extremely realistic hooves that are very durable. Add some appropriate padding and a little faux fur, and your legs will be indistinguishable from those of an actual ungulate!

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plastic pipe
  • Heat source
  • Thick-soled shoes
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Clay
  • Plaster
  • Polyester resin
  • Protective gear
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Padding material
  • Faux fur

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  1. 1

    Cut a plastic pipe, with a diameter approximate to your foot's width, diagonally a few inches from the end. Make a straight cut the same distance further down the pipe to give yourself two vaguely hoof-shaped pieces of plastic. Cut the pipe lengthwise down the narrower side, and heat it until it is soft enough to bend open. Straighten the ends until the pipe forms a U-shape, taller and angled in the middle, just like a real hoof. Repeat all steps with the second piece to construct both hooves simultaneously.

  2. 2

    Place the plastic proto-hoof over your shoe, and mark where the lower corner on both sides of the hoof meets the sole of the shoe. Drill holes horizontally into the sole at this point, as well as through the plastic, so the two can be connected with screws.

  3. 3

    Model the hoof in clay over the plastic. Use a high-quality photograph of an actual hoof for reference. Add an indentation in the middle, where the hoof is cloven, and texture the entire surface as realistically as possible.

  4. 4

    Make a plaster mould of the hoof. Mix the plaster powder according to the package directions, and apply it to the front of the clay hoof, making sure it is at least an inch thick in all places. Peel the clay away once the plaster is dry, and remove it from the plastic base.

  5. 5

    Cast the final hoof in polyester resin, sandwiching it between the plaster mould and the plastic base. Follow the directions on the polyester resin packaging. Work in a place with very good ventilation, preferably with a fan blowing, or use a respirator mask.

  6. 6

    Break away the plaster mould once the resin has set, and chip off any bits of plaster stuck in the hoof's indentations. Sand the surface of the hoof to smooth it for painting. Fill in any air bubbles between the plastic base and the resin hoof with more polyester resin. Re-drill the holes in the corners so they pass all the way through the resin.

  7. 7

    Paint the finished hooves with acrylic paint. Give them a solid coat of black paint, and follow this with several coats of increasingly lighter paint, using less paint with each coat. The final coat should be applied with an almost dry brush. This technique helps give the hooves a more realistic look.

  8. 8

    Screw the hooves to the shoes. Pad the top of your foot to create a smooth incline up to your shins, and cover your foot with faux fur to complete the look.

Tips and warnings

  • Wet polyester resin can be hazardous, so wear gloves and eye protection.

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