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Can you dye foam?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by GuySmiley, May 18, 2002.

  1. GuySmiley

    GuySmiley Well-Known Member

    Hi Guys!

    I will be using sheet foam (1/2") for my puppets and my question is - can you dye it? I read on another post that some of the older Dr. Teeth puppets were dyed foam. For example, there are some dyes that you can use in Washing Machines - could you put foam in a washing machine and dye it?

    Any help or info would be greatly appreciated!


  2. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    The answer is yes...and no. We have done it at our shop but the success seems to depend on the type of foam you are using. Certain varieties of polyurethane foam (that's the stuff you get in sheets at upholstry stores and fabric places) seem to dye very nicely using regular dyes just like natural fibre materials. To the best of my knowledge, scott foam (the kind the Muppets use) doesn't dye at all using conventional dyes.

    Personally, I'd recommend using 3/4" foam rather than 1/2" if you can find it. It is generally a much nicer thickness to work with when making a head. I'd also suggest trying to use antron (or "Muppet") fleece if you can afford to order a yard or two. You can dye it to almost any colour and your puppet will last much longer.

    Another approach might be to not dye and then coat your foam puppet in several coats of latex (often sold in art stores as "mold builder") and then paint the latex once it is dry. You can also pre-tint the latex before it is applied to the foam puppet.

    In the end though, the best way to learn is experiment, experiment, experiment! Good luck & let me know if I can be of help.
  3. GuySmiley

    GuySmiley Well-Known Member

    Cheers Buck-Beaver - I'll have a go and let you know how I get on! I think you are quite right when you say 'experiment' - there dont seem to be any hard and fast rules in the world of puppetry - in fact it would be quite boring if there were!!

  4. matleo

    matleo Well-Known Member

    Yeah, it dpends on the foam. I've never acatully worjed with the reticulated foam the Muppets use. It does take the dye but doesn't take it well. I think you have to treat it (with salt I believe) and that should help. The commercialy available stuff that you get at like a joaAnn's or a rag Shoptake dye real well and I work with that usually. When I build I doa lot of workj for either myself, or company's that don't have the time/budget to use reticulated (scott) foam. And Ive also been told there are some antron fleeces that don't take dye well either. it depends on who the manufacturere is and some other things. But Buck is right, the only real way to learn is pupetry is to experiment. If you check out our photos section at www.lionheartpupperts.com, some of the masks from "Life and Daventures of Santa Clause" as well as the dragon form that show and the puppets form Little Shop are all done with dyed foam.


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