Ranitomeya Amazonica



Zack Garner


(click images to to enlarge)

Other Credits

modeling: Photos:

Outline the story …

The Ranitomeya Amazonica — a species of poison dart frog — is a unique and colorful creature. The frog’s bright orange and blue hues and smooth shiny skin are distinctive. I wanted to create an outfit that visually resembled this incomparable frog without being a literal frog costume.

I began by exploring a variety of reflective materials that might emulate the frog’s glossy skin: foiled mesh, metallic netting, sequins, rhinestones, hand painted leather, and latex.

But it isn’t just the frog’s skin that shines. This poison dart frog also has big, orb-like eyes. These needed a special material, and I opted for fiberglass. It fit the technical requirements of the shape and could achieve a literal mirror-like finish. With the fiberglass eyeballs as the centerpiece of the design, I moved on to the silhouette.
The logical place to put eyes seemed to be at the top portion of the design, so they ended up on the shoulders. From there the rest of the design took shape — a color-blocked bodice that displays the pattern of the frog’s body, a cinched waist, and an asymmetrical pencil in a shocking blue like the frog’s legs. The overall look matches that of the frog: sleek shapes, curved lines, and striking colors.

Outline the construction…

I patterned the entire outfit from self-made blocks, and it has multiple structural layers throughout.

The black bodice sections consist of a layer of scuba knit that has darts for additional shaping and plastic boning. I then covered them in sequin fabric and foiled stretch mesh.

I shaded the orange leather pieces with a combination of airbrush and hand painting, and finished them with a glaze containing iridescent pigment. Finally, I flatlined the leather pieces to a layer of muslin stiffened with hide glue.

I handled the structure of the shoulders differently — forming the eyelid shape through a combination of darts, and blocking the leather over a mold in boiling water. The sleeve head is backed with stiffened muslin and bristol paper to support the fiberglass eyeball.

The eyeballs were the biggest learning experience in this project, as this is actually my first effort using fiberglass. I laminated them together from strips of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin in a mold. After unmolding, they had imperfections which I filled in with auto body filler before sanding, priming, and painting them. The insides of the eyeballs were filled with expanding foam before drilling stitching holes and attaching a leather binding. This entire process involved many unfamiliar tools and techniques outside of traditional sewing practices.

My second biggest learning experience was fabricating the latex underskirt. This is only my second project using latex, but I love the way it mimics the skin of the frog that inspired the project.




  1. Avatar Sarah Sarah Coombs on April 26, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    THIS IS FANTASTIC!! What a wonderful expression of the theme! I can’t put emoticons in these comment boxes, so please consider me to have huge hearts in my eyes!

  2. Avatar Spora Spora M. on May 4, 2023 at 9:40 pm

    Really captivating, I find the position of the eyes original. The reference to the frog is easy to understand, you did a wonderful job.

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