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1st puppet progress

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Snark Blarmsten, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Hi there,

    In response to my thread over at


    I was asked to post when I have something, well it isn't much but here's this much. The foam head, foamcore mouth start and foam chin:


    Note the odd colored foam I mentioned. The head came out a little more rectangular than I wanted, but that's okay. You'll note the "flatness" of the chin, even though I glued the darts. I'm not sure if I did it right, we'll have to see how it goes on. The way I see it now, I won't get the 90 degree angle I need to attach the neck, hopefully I can make it work.

    A *very rough* sketch I whipped up in photoshop of what I am after:


    I want a "beeker" type nose, but I'm not sure how to make one.

  2. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    i suggest you do not use foam coare for your mouth , u will not be happy in the long run with it, search the forums for mouth plates it come up in topics quite a lot
  3. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    I'll give that a look, thanks. I know that Sean Johnson of Puppet101 uses the actual foam to do his, and I like his technique too. I haven't put anything together yet so I'm still open to going either way.
  4. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I don't recommend foam either. Gasket rubber or certain types of leather work best in my experience.
  5. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Seems it would be hard to attach the foam to leather - how would you make the lower jaw strong enough if it is just leather? (seems too thin too) - same for the gasket I guess. Is it placed on top of something?

    For the sake of argument, how do the muppets actually do it?
  6. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    Gasket rubber, foam, foam core, wood, cardboard, chipboard, plastic sign material, and anything else you can think of or at least find in your garage - use what suits your needs the best and the material with which you feel most comfortable working . THERE ARE NO RULES! Sean Johnson used foam for his cat puppet tutorial - I'm sure he has used other materials in the past and will again in the future. I have personally used almost all the materials above for mouthplates, depending on the circumstances.

    Consider how you would like the mouth to move, how the mouth will be constructed or attached, and under what conditions your finished puppet will be used. Then decide on mouthplate material to suit your needs.

    Professional puppet builders should not encourage experimentation and creativity and then severely limit first-time puppet builders to the methods or techniques that they personally prefer. If it works - it works. If everyone uses the same methods and techniques - the art dies.
  7. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Thanks Bez, that makes sense. Like I said I wasn't necessarily locked into anything - I really chose the foamboard because this is my first puppet and I am following the foam video method. Since the 3-piece head I made is measured with the mouth I already have (and it's already covered in material) I will probably stick with it. To me too, part of a classic muppet look for a monster muppet is that flat type of stiff mouth. We'll see how it goes!
  8. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    No problem Snark. If there is anything I can do to help out feel free to contact me privately here on MC.
  9. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I agree that there's no rules, but each type of material does have different properties.

    There's no contradiction in encouraging experimentation and still maintaining an opinion on which materials might work best for one thing or another. I think that the important thing to remember in these discussions is that it's a good idea to take under advisement what works for different people, but not be ruled by it.
  10. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    What I personally do is make the mouthplate from leather in two parts (one top, one bottom) then glue them to a single piece of black felt cut to the same size as the entire mouth plate. Leather glues to foam just fine (using contact cement) but if it's finished (smooth) on one side you have to sand the surface with some rough sandpaper before gluing otherwise the glue can just peel off.

    Does that help at all?

    Ravagefrackle is the only person here who I think can accurately speak to "how the Muppets do it" but my understanding is that they don't have any one way of doing anything. It all varies depending on what materials are available and what the puppet needs to do.
  11. Phantom

    Phantom Well-Known Member

    From what I've seen or read, that is the way Jim wanted it. Original thought, original creation.
  12. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone again for the tips and offers of help. I will probably take you up at some point! Tonight I finished the 3-piece head. I had some various troubles but it came together. I think this green foam is low quality. Notice the sheen in the pictures? Not sure what that is.

    In the following pics, you can see the finger and thumb holes a'la foam book method (blurry pic, sorry) which worked out decent. I can see how they are good for opening the mouth - kind of like a cyclist has a pedal clip so he gets power on the upstroke as well.

    Note on the side view of the head - I did not get that 90 degree angle (picture the jaw closed) :( Not sure if this will be an issue or not. I'm excited to move on to the neck.


  13. Jinx

    Jinx Well-Known Member


    Actually the green foam is a higher quality than the white/beige foam that one usually sees. I use it a lot myself. In fact, Garth 2.0 (my avatar) is made of 1" foam for the body and 1/2" for the head. Since I never use exposed foam, I'm not concerned with any "sheen" issues.

    I have been very happy with puppets I've built from "The Foam Book" videos, and Gabe, (who can be seen at http://home.mcn.net/~fantom/pages/puppets.html) has a mouthplate of 3/16" foamcore. Since it is all encased in other foam and fabric, it is well-protected against moisture, and has proved to be very satisfactory. But I too have used everything from plain old felt (see the original Garth at the above address) to gasket rubber to coroplast to sintra to neoprene.

    The company I work for manufactures straps and pouches out of neoprene and they are kind enough to throw a few scraps my way from time to time. It's really great because it holds its form well, but is completely malleable when I need to "make a face". If you can find an old wetsuit at the second-hand store you can use that as a source for neoprene.

    As has been stated amply here before, whatever works best for you is the best material to use.

    P.S. I wouldn't worry too much about missing the 90 degrees on the jaw. You should be able to correct that with the neck covering. (When I am making patterns I glue up a paper pattern first to make sure I have enough material to make the 90 degrees.)
  14. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    i agree with most of your post , i use card board my self sometimes for simple pupet work,
    but i suggested that foam core is not perhaps the best material, i am a huge supporter of experimentation but i am often critised for not giving out specific examples of what i use, and i feel that simply pointing someone in a better direction is more helpful to someone who is learning to use different materials and building thier problem solving abilities,
    so i stand by my belief that foam core is not a great material for mouth plates, but do try and find the material that works best for what ever you are doing , as i have often said and you have repeated THERE ARE NO RULES!!!!
    (i am pretty sure this was not an attack , i just wanted to voice my thoughts on your post):)
  15. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    exactly , thier are standard techiniques that they use(and no i will not post tutorials), whats works for them and what works for you are different , also the different puppets and different syles of design dictate different ways of working so anyone way that they work is not nessarilly going to work for you, Seans Puppet building blog is a great resource for all of you Newbies and Beginers and Hobbists he gives some great examples of one way to work, and with that Knowledge you can begin to develop your own styles of working
  16. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys. Nice puppets Jinx :) I really appreciate all the help! I guess I'm good with my green foam. Maybe it will end up being a good resource (got it at Joann fabrics.) I was hoping the neck would hide the non-90 degree angle, so that's good to hear. I'll post some more pics when I make some more progress. And James, your stuff is amazing too!

  17. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    It was not an attack, Ravage. Your work and experience speak for themselves, and because of that, many, who are learning, look to you for advice. I think everyone on the board greatly appreciates your contributions, insight, and guidance.

    My biggest fear is that someone may get discouraged before they even start. My hope is that a first time puppet builder will find the building process fun, seeing the character come to life before their eyes, be pleased with the final result of their work, and then continue building, making improvement with each puppet. I know you feel the same, Ravage, simply because all of us who build puppets and stick with it experience much the same thing.
  18. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    i knew it wasnt , i was a little tired after a long day when i replied , sometimes when u read something it doesnt seem quite right in your head , but i kn ew it was simply you stating a aopinion, i just wanted to preface my response to make sure you new i wasnt jumping on your reply ,

    i do know that many people come here looking for tips and adive on thier work, and im normally quite happy to reply , , hopefully nobody got discouraged from my post , ,

    keep up the good work kids, ;)
  19. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Well I certainly wasn't offended by anything you said :) I am trying right now to make the neck using the wonderful fur I bought - and holy cow what a nightmare! Maybe a bad choice for a first puppet. The glue is setting up right now so we will see how it goes.

    My big problem was I realized I was not going to be able to glue the front of the neck to the back of the mouth palette because - it's fur! You can't glue fur... darn I didn't think of that. I tried snipping the fur down but no dice. What I ended up doing was snipping the fur down as much as possible and sewing on a piece of fabric, hoping I can glue that strip to the back of the mouth. I don't think contact glue will do the trick, I'm going to try and hot glue it. Keeping fingers crossed!
  20. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member


    Okay, well - that didn't go so good! See pix:



    Had to hot glue because the contact cement would not hold anything really. I imagine the fur is too heavy for one. Secondly, I have the same problem in attaching the chin to the fur as I had attaching it to the mouthback. No idea how to do that except let it hang loose. Again, attaching the bottom of the neck to the bottom of the body...I suppose maybe I can flip it upside down?

    The fur is so thick it impinges in the back, so I can't open his mouth as much now either.. :cry:

    It was such cool fur too. I can imagine the other troubles in store for me with this fur...

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