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Boiling "Punky Muppet" fur

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Slackbot, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I'm building my first puppet in decades. It's gonna be a Fraggle, and I want him to have more or less authentic fur. "Punky Muppet" seems to be recommended, and they have the color I want (which is not common) but I haven't found any info on how it reacts to boiling. Has anyone here worked with the fabric, and if so can you offer this noob tips or countersuggestions?
    Pop Tarts likes this.
  2. davidmartiste

    davidmartiste Well-Known Member

    I have treated Punky Muppet and it works just fine. I actually soaked it in scalding hot water because I didn't want to wait for a full boil. Still, it's obvious the fur would take to boiling water as well. Though I haven't ordered from Distinctive Fabric, they have some interesting looking long-pile furs as well. http://www.distinctivefabric.com/category.php?cat=LONGFUR

    Good luck Slackbot!
  3. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Cool, I guess that's the way to go then. Thanks. Another newb question: should I boil it before cutting it out or after? I have no idea if fur shrinks or otherwise distorts or not.
  4. davidmartiste

    davidmartiste Well-Known Member

    People generally treat the fur before making the cuts. I did as well due to the questionable shrinkage issue. The Punky Muppet has a pretty sturdy backing anyway where I didn't notice any shrinking. It's nice to have the scrap fur with the same treatment 'just in case'. If your pattern requires a yard of fabric though, don't worry about treating 3 yards worth.
  5. JacobsBest

    JacobsBest Well-Known Member

    I am definitely going with Punky Muppet for an upcoming project, but I can not find a clear method of boiling it. How long? Water to fabric ratio? Stir? Carrots, celery or onions?
  6. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks for your help. I've placed an order for fur, and while I've been waiting I've been sewing the non-furry parts. I've been using cheap fleece rather than Antron, and now I see what the difference is--I can camouflage the seams, but you can still see where they are by the rumple. Ah well, for a first puppet it's still coming along very nicely! Hopefully the fur will look more professional than the fleece. [​IMG]
  7. davidmartiste

    davidmartiste Well-Known Member

    Hmmmm - though the carrots may aid in any additional coloring you may wish to accomplish, I'd avoid the onions unless the desired effect is for a smelly creature. :)

    In this recent thread over at Puppets and Stuff it's recommended to leave the fur submerged for maybe a minute or two in the boiling water and then 'wring it out' and leave it to dry. I might add, have some tongs on hand to remove the fur and use some gloves when wringing out. Avoid getting burned, please. There is no real science on water to fabric ratio. I like to make sure it's well covered and wet. Leaving it out to dry is the key. If you try to spin or machine dry, you will get a nice uniform or fluffy fur back which is not what you want. They also discuss matting the fur yourself after it's boiled. You can do this when it's wet by pushing and waving your hand in places to make sure the fur isn't going to lay in one direction or the other. 'Scruffing' the fur so-to-speak.

    @Slackbot - I have the Antron issue as well which you can solve by purchasing a set of small metal brushes [toothbrush size]. I found mine at the dollar store. I rough up the area and surrounding area and it can blend it in nicely. This is the lazy man's seam-picking. Hope it helps and good luck!
    JacobsBest likes this.
  8. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks once again for the advice! I just got a box o' fur today, and am itching to boil it, but I'm also wiped out from a nasty day at work and will save this task for when I can focus. In the meantime, I'm sewing split ostrich feathers to my puppet's head. (I have no idea what the proper way to attach feather hair is, so I'm going with what, so far, looks pretty good.) I'm working from the back forward, and I've done a little tuft right behind the eyes, so right now it looks like my Fraggle has a classic case of male pattern baldness. Heh.

    I never thought of using a brush on the seams. Picking the seams isn't a problem for me, but I'll buy a firm toothbrush and see of the results are any better. Although I finally finished sewing the "skin", even making legs when I'd originally planned to end him in a sleeve. What the heck, I want him to "walkaround" at a con, and legs are more photogenic than a chopped-off bod.
  9. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I boiled the Punky Muppet fur last night, and WOW! From smooth and silky to rumpled and wooly in a minute! It looks lovely and Fragglish. While it was wet I rumpled it further to make it look shaggier.

    Have you ever dyed Punky Muppet fur? I'm looking for a dull blue-green, and they don't have fur that's a suitable color. If it will take dye, I'll do that.
  10. davidmartiste

    davidmartiste Well-Known Member

    I don't have any experience with dyeing the Punky Muppet. You may want to ask Mendels. I'm sure others would want to know too so, be sure to post the answer to that one.
  11. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I E-mailed Mendel's, and they said that, being acrylic, it didn't take dye. However, the rep who answered was surprised to hear that you can get a neat texture by boiling the fur, so maybe that person doesn't know all there is to know. (I sent her a before-and-after photo to show what happens to the texture.)
  12. JacobsBest

    JacobsBest Well-Known Member

    I just got my swatches from Mendel's and so far I am digging the "Olive" punky muppet which, if one boiled, would look decidedly "grouch-ish" ;)
  13. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I've done some experimenting with a swatch of white Punky Muppet fur, and it actually will take Rit dye. Only grudgingly, and it'll clearly require several rounds to get a decent depth of color, but it is possible. Heh, cool.
  14. BuckyBits

    BuckyBits Active Member

    I'm guessing dyeing the fur would be like dyeing polar fleece. You'd want to try a disperse dye. As I understand it, the rit will rub off. http://www.pburch.net/dyeing/how_to_dye_acrylic.shtml

    Any photos of the boiled fur? Here or on Puppets and Stuff?
    Never mind found the other articles here on boiling fur. I need to try this. Thanks.
  15. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I just used plain Rit dye, same as I use on Antron fleece, and it worked. So, I'll forego the chemistry lab. As for it rubbing off, that happens if you don't rinse the material you've dyed really well. I dyed some foam, and it left "shadows" until I worked all the excess dye out.

    My Janken Fraggle puppet has boiled fur. When it started out it was very smooth; now it looks woolly.

    BTW, I found that I can also dye ostrich feathers with Rit dye. However, they look thin and pitiful afterward because the barbules stick to the barbs, eliminating the fluffiness. I rub them between a pair of towels to fluff 'em back up.
  16. scandell

    scandell Well-Known Member

    Geesh. Those prices are at least 25% higher than what i pay in the fabric district in Downtown LA... maybe I should start a puppet fur business...and I can just be the middle man... :)

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