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1st puppet progress

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

  1. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    looks like u rushed ahead a little to quickly, im not sure what hes supposed to look like, but i think u should go thru the tutorial on Sean's page
    there is some great information on making a pattern for your material so that you dont waste the good stuff . sometimes in the learning process you need to take a few steps backwards for everyone step forward

    post a drawing of your picture, so we know what you are trying to do, that would help alot.
  2. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Hmm, not sure what you mean by rushed ... I posted a rough sketch in the first post of this thread:


    It's a rough one, but the general idea. I have been through the foam book and video two times, then began construction, following his directions exactly. In fact I have been being careful not to rush, since that is when mistakes are made. I do have patterns of all my pieces that I made.

    I have followed Sean's tutorial all the way through to his latest post, but it seems they are two separate ways to build a puppet. I believe I will try his method next. (In fact, I may do arms his way instead of using foam). In fact, I'm thinking I like Seans methods better.

    When I cut the neck, I made the measurements just as the video suggests. I really think my only problem was the choice of the long fur and not really knowing how to deal with its special qualities. Being new to this, well - it's trial and error I guess unless someone has any suggestions.

    The big issue now is how do I attach the front of the neck that is hidden by the jaw TO the jaw - since it's all 2-3 inch fur. Again, I can cut it down but that does not give me a glueing surface.

    What about this - glue a strip of material to the jaw on the front and the back, at the bottom - say a 1/4" thick. Then I could sew the fur to the foam using the material as an anchor. I can't think of any other way to do it, particularly with glue.

    I took a look at the puppet this morning, and he's pretty solid. The neck is on good. Aside from the two issues of the mouth not opening as wide as I'd like and the jaw gluing issue, I think I'm okay. I'm sure the fur is going to present more challenges as I go along though...

  3. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    well here is my suggestionsince it looks like the head is covered in the same fur,

    the neck should be stitched to the base of the fur skin you make for the head, not glued to the foam , if u want a sleeve that is attahced to the foam(not a necesity but some folks like them) then sew one on a machine that fits the inside shape of your head, and glue it about 1/2" up around the inside, the material u use should have a good one way stretch.the stretch should go around and not up and down. then when u have covered you head with the fur attched the fur nech to the head, (its also much easier than trying to glue long fur like that around the inside, ir looks like u have a pretty decent sized fur neck and i think u could simply remove it from the head, trim away the excess with the glue on it , and then reattach it to the head, if the neck then simply sew it to your fur body.or if u are making it so the head is removeable u can sew it to your neck sleeve that will allow it to spin in space inside the body , just a thought but i think that will solve you issue

    and by rushed i didnt mean any offense, i remeber when i was firts staring out and getting excited about the results i was haveing and then comming to a spot were i thought i had it all worked out and hitting a wall. seems to me you have a great start going ,

    hope that info helps
  4. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    No offense taken Ravage :) Now, that's a good idea - sewing the neck to the head fur. I bet that would alleviate a bit of the impingement problem too. So that would solve the jaw issue too - I would just sew the front of the neck fur to the fur on the jaw?

    The head was not intended to be removeable, I'm not really concerned about that. I'll have to see if I can get the fur off without destroying it!

  5. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    it should, u may have to adjust your jaw pattern to get the most movement , its all going to be trial and error to see what works, i normally build one or two mock ups before i jump into a final, helps find and solve all those issues a head of time
  6. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Interesting - how much work do you put into a mockup? Is it just paper or what kind of material?
  7. Jinx

    Jinx Well-Known Member

    Here's how I mock up a puppet

    When I built Garth 2.0 I experimented with paper patterns first, glueing (or stapling if I was out of patience) them up to make sure that size and basic contours were correct. From there I glued up a foam skull using the same thickness, but lower grade of foam. Once I get to this point I stop using glue and go almost exclusively to sewing. I sewed the fur pieces together using a fur with a similar nap (fur length). Then I place the skull into the fur, making sure that I've left enough seam allowance for any edges that need to wrap around a foam edge or whatever protrusions might be present.
    I have found that with my puppets I have not had to use any glue to join the skull to the skin, except at the mouthplate. The friction fit holds just fine.

    For this particular project I made 2 practice skulls and 1 practice fur-skin. Then when I built the actual puppet I was able to do so much more confidently, as I had already built the puppet "twice" before. This is a great way to anticipate the inevitable unexpected problems you encounter when building a new design.

    Of course I've saved and carefully labeled all of my pattern pieces in case I need to make a Garth 3.0!
  8. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    You mean it's not just me? :crazy: Eventually, one learns to WALK AWAY - GO TAKE A NAP! You can sometimes see the solutions more clearly after leaving the problem rest for a while.

    Looking good Snark! Ravages advice should get you over the hump.
  9. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I think prototyping and building mock-ups is something that a lot of builders just starting out don't do, I know it was five or six years before I started doing that. It's an extremely valuable thing to do. I'm in the process of making a small bear and I've gone through five or six heads this week trying to get it just right.

    That's one of the things that drives up the cost of custom-built puppets for film and TV. The actual building is relatively easy, it's the designing process that I find takes the most time.
  10. Melonpool

    Melonpool Well-Known Member

    I usually make a little Sculpey model of the head... actually, i made them about 8 years ago and just use them as a reference now. That helps me tremendously when making the full-size foam version.

    Then, I take 1/2 inch foam and make the basic shapes, using wedges and darts to make a full-size head. I even glue in a makeshift mouthplate out of neoprene. Then, I look at the "finished" mock up, with all it's sloppiness, and cut it down the middle into two mirror halves. I take the better of the two halves, cut apart all the darts where I can and trace the flattened foam piece onto a piece of sturdy paper. I can usually get the flattened half into 1 or two pieces for the final pattern. I do the same with the half mouthplate.

    Then, all I have to do is trace the pattern twice onto foam, and trace the mouthplate twice onto whatever the final material is (gasket rubber, plastic, etc.), flipping it on the cut to make it symmetrical, and voila! A symmetrical puppet. I can even use the discarded "intact" half as a guide in putting it back together.

    Now, the beauty of doing it this way is that it's now a symmetrical puppet -- and more or less repeatable since you have a pattern. So, when you do the "skin," you can pin a similar fabric directly to the final skull, only to where the two halves join, putting in all the darts, etc. Then you can cut away the darts and the outside edge of the low-grade fabric, and use that as a pattern twice on the final fabric.

    It's a little disheartening to do so much work initially with the prototype head, but I like that I only have to do it once. I've made several puppets off the same pattern, changing features and whatnot, but never having to adjust the patterns one bit. For instance, all three of these puppets use the same exact head pattern:


    In the long run, I think it saves a lot of time.

  11. Phantom

    Phantom Well-Known Member

    I've done this build and cut method also to get the patterns I routinely use. I started doing mockups this past year. It definitely saves fleece in the end. I can't tell you how many foam heads have made it to the dust bin in order to get what I want.
  12. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    i think everyone else has answered that for u ,
    on a recent job i have done up to 10 mock ups, (client is very particular ), sometimes its one or two, sometimes its fifteen , all depends on what you or your client find works best , , i suggest you pic up some of the "junk" foam at a fabric shop, 1/2 " works for me, its easy to glue togother with contact cement and thin enough to cut and pinch quickly to find the right shape
  13. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Thanks everyone, lots to think about! I'll post again when I have some kind of update.
  14. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member


    Hi everyone,

    As suggested, I tore off the neck :o - it wasn't going to work. I took my patterns and made fur pieces from them, slightly larger and made the cap for the head. This took some trial and error of course. In the end I did make a small mistake but I was able to adjust for it with the back part.

    I made the jaw fur piece. Then I took measurements and got the circumference of the back of the end, front of the jaw area to make the sleeve. Out of this sleeve I cut a spot for the jaw and sewed it in. (This took about 3 tries with scraps to get it right).

    That piece got sewn to the sides and back of the 'hood'. I did some of it while it was on the foam and some off, leaving the back unstitched in the center so I could shove the head back in, this I did and pinned it all up (nothing is glued yet).

    I made a nose and pinned that on, it's some funky material glued on to a foam golf ball. Here's the pics as he stands now:




    You can see where the back is still open, that's going to be a tricky sew. All the sewing was done by hand. I couldn't use a sewing machine because it left way too much of a thick edge around the stitch.

    I'm going to do more finishing on the mouth probably, maybe like Dr. Teeth's bottom lip. I want to use ping pong balls for the eyes but I'm scared to cut into the head after getting the fur right! I'll make a practice piece first.

    Comments are welcome. When I get some energy, I'll glue up the fur in some strategic places and move on to the body and arms.

  15. Melonpool

    Melonpool Well-Known Member

    Wow! I'd never guess this was your first puppet! It looks great! I did a little digging, and found a picture of my first puppets (from 12 years ago). As you can see, your's is head and shoulders above my first attempts!


  16. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Thanks Steve :) Actually, those first puppets of yours look pretty good, I think.
  17. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    seems like you are getting the hang of things good luck
  18. Snark Blarmsten

    Snark Blarmsten Well-Known Member

    Thank you ravage - I got a looong way to go though!
  19. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    Looking good, Snark.
  20. Jinx

    Jinx Well-Known Member

    When I sew fur I do it by machine. I brush the fur away from the edge, use LOTS of pins and watch how it feeds through the machine very carefully. After sewing I trim the seam allowance as close to the seam as I can to reduce bulk. Then I use the head of a pin to pick the fur out of the seam, which helps to disguise it.

    Instead of Ping-Pong balls cut in half you might consider using "dome eyes". The place I got mine from has gone out of business, but if you do a search here in the forum I'm sure you can find a source. These are great because you only need to punch a small hole for the post to go through. then it locks with a ring from the inside, and they're extremely secure. If you revisit my site and look at Walter there are step-by-step pictures of his construction showing this type of eye.

    Your puppet is really looking good! You should feel encouraged!

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