I like to frequent Renaissance Festivals, and i’ve always wanted to make a Faun costume. I enjoy the mythological side of costuming, and since I needed something to freshen up my Ren Fest experience, I decided to start constructing something that would resemble the idea that had been prancing around in my head for so long. I looked at images online, watched tutorial videos, and even consulted friends about what they thought would work and what wouldn’t, and then created a ‘core’ set of images that I could look back on to keep the inspiration and costume alive.
The costume is comprised of many parts. Starting from head to toe…
Staff – My staff is a young sapling tree that was growing out by the lake in our neighborhood. I sawed it down and then widdled off the bark with a knife. I wanted to buy a staff instead, but the height I needed was hard to find. So, I made it myself. After I let it dry out for a few days (I didn’t know longer was better and figured it was dry…) I stained it and then decorated it with fall things. There are little trinkets hidden on it as well that you can’t see unless you’re close up. It’s taller than me even in my costume hoof shoes, and helps me keep my balance walking in less than favorable conditions.
Horns – A light resin plastic painted to resemble deer antler coloring.
The horns are mounted onto a headpiece made out of two separate pieces of Wonderflex heated into a curved shape to frame the side of my head. It’s how I keep my ears hidden. To hide the Wonderflex, a sheet of felt was glued on, followed by leaves and other foilage. A string of elastic at the top of my head keeps the headpiece from wobbling, and a string of elastic at the base of my head keeps the headpiece, and ears, from wobbling and exposing my ears. The headband connects in the back and keeps the main piece on, and is attached to the headpiece via alligator clip glued on the inside. The ears are made out of the same fur material that the pants are made out of, and glued to the headpiece.
Necklace – It’s folded cloth that my Ren Fest group made years ago in memory of a cast mate that was shot to death while on a date. We held a memorial and passed various pieces of clothing out in his colors, so I wear it every time I wear the costume.
Shirt – Goodwill.
Belt and Bracers – Both the bracers and belt were made by me. They vary in thickness, with the belt and bracers being the thickest, and the side belt straps being the thinnest. It is hand tooled with a swivel knife (including the belt’s wood-grain pattern) and then dyed to the dark brown. I then painted the leaves on each, and cut the belt leaf out of the leather and painted it before attaching it to the belt.
Pants – The furry pants were a pain in the faun-butt to sew, but I managed. I lost a bit of weight so they’re now reinforced with an elastic string hidden on the inside to keep it snug to my body. I get in and out of it through a hidden zipper in the front. The fur is so long, you can get away with hiding a lot in there.
Tights – These are opaque tights that are dark brown in color. I glued extra bits of fur to keep the silhouette going off the pants down to the back of my knee, and then some on my physical heel (more on the feet later, they’re at the bottom!) They are sewn into the pants with four knots (front, sides, back) and I slip into them when needed.
Hooves – Here’s the kicker. The hooves are what grab everyone’s attention when they see me walking by, and are the most expensive part of the costume.
The hooves are in two parts. The resin hoof on the bottom, which everyone sees, and the heel that I wear that is hidden.
The Heel – It’s a standard 4 inch heel with the back heel cut off. Color doesn’t matter because the tights are opaque, and mine are a grayish-tan if that matters.
The Hoof – A mold was prepared in the shape of the hoof and we poured the resin (my friend and I, she makes these for a living) into the hoof mold. After pouring, we took the shoe and placed it into the mold as well, right on top of the ‘hoof.’ The heated reaction practically ‘melts’ the hoof to the shoe (best way I know how to describe it) and then you have the full one piece.
To hide the shoe, the tights mentioned earlier are brought over the heel and attached to velcro at the bottom of the heel, right at the top of the hoof. Fur hides the proof, and viola! Instant faun.
When working in any sort of costume, the goal is to look like you’re in costume. You’re supposed to look like you’re whatever you’re portraying, and not necessarily just there in silly clothing.
I chose this costume, and this costume style, over the fursuit “foam digitigrade” leggings that create the ‘illusion’ of a warped lower leg because i’ve seen it before. It isn’t convincing, and children can take one look at it and understand it’s a costume.
The hooves I wear aren’t insanely comfortable. You balance on your ‘tiptoes’ and walk around on the hoof base. Your feet are sore in the end, but I wanted to make sure that I created something so realistic, so life-like, that it drove me to making this costume.
Reactions are spectacular.
The first thing children do when they see me is gasp. Not out of fear (there are a few) but out of sheer surprise. Here I am, standing on two hooves and everything that is human about me (flat footed, no silly makeup) is gone. For that split second, and the following seconds while I interact with them, i’m real. And that spark of magic is exactly why I made that costume.
Adult reactions are amusing as well. I get a lot of “How are you walking in those?” “Don’t those hurt your feet?” “I bet you’re gonna hate yourself when you get home and your feet hurt!” “Don’t you know it’s deer season?” (my personal favorite)
Maybe they will hurt, but I made magic real for a kid while you were skeptical. My day is made when I can make that moment real for people.
As a side note, i’ll OCCASIONALLY get the cross look for wearing horns and hooves in the Bible belt, but that just makes me giggle.
When i’m performing, my character name is Nuna Faun.
I sometimes pretend to chew on grass and kids love it.
It takes about an hour and a half to get ready completely for any event or costume party.
I do have to take sit-down breaks with the hooves if I’m walking consistently.
I bled, sweat, and cried on this costume at one point of another. I also swore at the sewing machine a lot, so there’s probably the ghost of a few sewing needles haunting the pants.
These pictures were taken in a dog park in Atlanta. The poor pups didn’t really know what to think of me. One scared dog lunged at me and almost made me fall off of a bridge. Good times!