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Beaker Mouth Mechanics

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by BryanS, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. BryanS

    BryanS Active Member


    Does any one have a diagram, or could explain in detail how the mechanics of beakers mouth and head operates? I have heard his head was made of cardboard shipping tubes. I have found what is called telescoping shipping tubes on the net for real cheap. I was wondering if someone here could tell me how his mouth works and how it would be mounted inside the tube. I am assuming beaker is a Rod puppet with live hands? The whole idea of this type of mouth and head movement has me stumped. I have done a search here on beaker, but not too many people have talked about that aspect of him.

    Thanks Bryan
  2. muppetperson

    muppetperson Well-Known Member

    I would assume that there arent any mechanics and his mouth would be worked using a thumb, like an oven mit.It rings a bell about his head being made from a tube, but looking at him, it must have been a very wide tube!Probably something more like a PVC plumbing pipe with a hole so the thumb can go through, and it would have to be separate from the body so you could pull it down.Yes, he has live hands, so two people would have to operate him.Not sure how his head would retract because his body would have to be held.Maybe there was a third person or maybe the body was attached to the puppeteer so the operator could pull the head down.:eek:
  3. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    It was indeeda Card Board Tube, Whoever as i recall, when i was working on him for "A VERY MERRY MUPPET CHRISTMAS SPECIAL" 2002 , we discoverd that the exact size used for beaker was no longer commercially availible, i belive Custum ones where ordered and kept in stock, PVC would be way to heavy, but he is not a ROD puppet , just aHand puppet with the hand bieng held Vertical, and not horizontal.the hean is held in place with straps, the retractable nature is achied by simply pulling the heand thur the neck hole while holding onto the body with a puppeteers free hand.(he is a Two to man operation what with the Live hands.)
  4. Princeton

    Princeton Well-Known Member

    It sems like you wouldn't even need to move the rest of your hand, just your thumb.
  5. practicecactus

    practicecactus Well-Known Member

    Is the mouth operated with the fingers and not the thumb? Because I dunno about you guys, but I can't hold my hand up straight and have my thumb push out forward, away from my palm, to mimic beaker's mouth, and especially with the speed Beaker's mouth "Meemee"s. I take it, it's all four fingers doing the mouth operation and the thumb doesn't.
  6. BryanS

    BryanS Active Member

    Thanks for the replies....
    Man I have thought all these years that he was a complicated rod puppet. Ravage would you say those custom tubes would be bigger or smaller than 5" in diameter? I couldn't see a person getting their hand inside anything smaller than 4" unless they had really small hands. Also those straps you talked about that hold his head in place, would they happen to be some kind of elastic or elastic straps? How is the inside of the mouth constructed? Does he have some sort of glove or finger tubes for your 4 fingers to comfortably rest in, behind the back of the throat while operating the mouth with the thumb? So many questions Sorry. LOL LOL I’M learning you all are great.
  7. CoOKiE

    CoOKiE Well-Known Member

    Practicecactus :p and anything is possible. Sitting here reading this, i'm doing this myself and find that it is possible.

    But i can also do lots of things others cant, beause of practice.

    For instance... rotating my finger in a circle, forwards... as the oppsite hand's finger will rotate in the opposite. Try it and have fun :insatiable:
  8. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    he is done with the Thumb, thier is a Grip, i do not remember how the grip was oriented in the head .but yes i do believ the straps were elastic.
  9. yetiman

    yetiman Well-Known Member

    I'm sure this isn't how he really works, but it would probably achieve the same effect if you got a rigid v-shaped piece and put half of it outside Beaker's head (for the mouth) and half of it inside the head. Then, all you would have to do is push on it with your palm, and his mouth would open. You would just have to make sure that it was set up in such a way to make the mouth close when you let go.

    I hope that makes sense. It would probably help keep your thumb from getting all cramped up.
  10. drmolarmagic

    drmolarmagic Member

    beeker's mouth

    My son and I gave this a try and came up with a pretty good working mechanism. Yes we used a mailing tube for the head (and neck) cut a semicircular mouth out and hinged it back to the tube along the cut.
    I used a plastic strip attached to that hinged piece and attached that to a center rod that allowed the strip to rotate. We put a ring on the bottom and every time your thumb in the ring pushes up the strip in the mouth pushes down and the mouth is pushed open like a drawbridge.
    I know I just confused anyone who reads this, I will try to get pictures or a link to some to show what I'm trying to say.
    Good luck.:)
  11. rtgentry

    rtgentry Well-Known Member

    I am messing around with a very raw prototype beaker puppet that I have made from scratch. From what I can see in developing my own is that once you cut the mouth out of the tube you would need to build a thumb cup "INSIDE THE tube/mouth. Which I think would go inside the tube and then covered with the mouth/tounge lining, creating the thumb pocket.

    The first time I did it I put the thumb cup outside the tube. BUT once you develop the neck sliding thingy your tube needs to be flat and that doesnt allow you to have your thumb cup on the outside.

    I put a cross bar inside the head (cut dowl or pencil) that allows my fingers to grip and hold the puppet head in place.
  12. rtgentry

    rtgentry Well-Known Member

    The tube I am using is about 4" in diameter. Its actuall just two swiss miss hot chocolate can rigged together and covered in duct tape.:eek:
  13. rtgentry

    rtgentry Well-Known Member

    stephen murrell likes this.
  14. MuppetMazz

    MuppetMazz Well-Known Member

    The Six Hundred Penny Lab Assistant....

    Dr. Bob: He's dead
    Bunsen: No. We can rebuild him.
  15. MuppetBud

    MuppetBud Member

    I've been working on a Beaker replica as of late... The head design is very simple as is the mouth mechanics. A 5" cardboard tube is used and the mouth is cute and hinged. I used a metal rod which I bent into a circle/ring in one end. This rod is attached to the hinged mouth with the ring at the bottom. A wooden dowel is attached inside for your fingers to grip and your thumb goes into the ring to work the mouth.
  16. Muppetlab

    Muppetlab Well-Known Member

    I to am in the process of building a beaker replica at the moment. I have done some experimentation around the mouth mech and agree that keeping it simple works best.
    The mouthplate is the same as a regular mouthplate.. Only vertical instead of horizontal.
    stephen murrell likes this.
  17. Muppetlab

    Muppetlab Well-Known Member

    My beaker mouthplate-
    FoxWorthy and stephen murrell like this.
  18. Face Ache

    Face Ache Member

    I made a quick and not-overly-accurate Beaker a few years ago, and this was my mouth mechanism - the grey bit being coat hanger. No need to put your hand inside the head.

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