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Getting back into puppet building, looking for some advice

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by mupcollector1, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I've experimented with it before ever since I seen Muppets on Puppets (1968) on how Don Salhin showed that you make 2 side profiles of the character that are the same, glue them together and it creates the foam skeleton right? I've always had difficulty with this because the heads would be flat and unsupported with my hand on the mouthplate so I would take a sock and attach the mouth plate to that and then glue the mouth plate with the flat foam skull I made. I'm not sure how to ask this, perhaps help with better knowledge on puppet making. I want to get back into it, I haven't done it for years due to the cost of materials mainly. Also how to I attach fleese to the foam? What kind of glue and or sewing machine should I use? I never used a sewing machine before but mostly used a glue gun, and totally burned myself all the time. lol Hurt like heck but it was well worth it. lol
    Anyway I like to get back into it and perhaps ask and look for knowledge to help advance my puppet making abilities. I've always told people and myself that I draw better then I make puppets, but I have the vision in my mind of what I want to come out so perhaps instead of just giving up, perhaps I just need a bit of practice. Even though it's kind of expensive building puppets, I love puppets so much that it's been a part of me all my life. I get dreams at night wanting to build, I was practicing foam patterns a few days ago using a bed foam which I was almost going to throw out, etc. So something is telling me in my heart that I got to get back into doing this. :)
  2. TheCreatureWork Active Member

    Purchase a simple series puppet pattern and learn that way- $20 isn't that much and you get it instantly. You don't sew fabric onto the foam base- you would hot glue or sew the mouth to the mouth plate. I have a step by step series that could help you understand all that I'm talking about. The simple series is a great place to start and learn from.

    Here is the link to my tutorials:

    I suggest scrolling to the bottom of the page I just linked you too. Start from the bottom and work your way up. Hope this helps.
    mupcollector1 and Animal31 like this.
  3. mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    In terms of foam what do you all usually get? And what's your material sources? I used to go to AC Moore and Michael all the time. And I would get that flat white foam, is that polyurethane? I know there's two ways to build, the flat foam patterns and then the carving block foam. But they are used for two different types of building right. One is more for a simple head outline and the block foam is more for complex details? And where do I find Arron fleese? Is it like typical fleece or is there some unique texture to it? Also anyone know anything about foam latex modling that you can do safely at home. I remember hearing that even though it can make human realistic puppets, it's quite dangerous and a gas mask is required as well as a big kilm or oven to let the mold bake for several hours. No way would my landlord allow me to do that. lol I'd love to own a workshop building :)
  4. TheCreatureWork Active Member

    mupcollector1 likes this.
  5. mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Some of the links are very interesting, thank you very much. Though when I was on project puppet (which I've seen a couple times before), it seems like the puppets are kind of small and there's only 3 basic heads and I guess what I want to do is make life size hand puppets both live hand and rod, also make very detailed faces. What I like to do more is experiment with characturing human faces with puppet building. Kind of like Spitting Image, Les Guignols De L'info and Mad Magazine like but with Polyurathane sort of material or foam molding that I won't need a giant kilm oven and masks and stuff like that.
  6. TheCreatureWork Active Member

    Than carving foam from blocks is what you need to get into :)
  7. TheCreatureWork Active Member

    With latex puppets you don't need a Kiln- just make a clay sculpture of your head and basically do a split mold from the sculpture. Liquid latex can be used after.
  8. mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I still need to figure out how to make molds. What I used to do was buy self hardening clay and make mini puppet head and take a small can of liquid latex and an old paint brush and just cover the whole thing with it and wait for several hours then I take the rubber off like a mask. The trouble is that there might be some minor holes and I didn't know what paint would work. Acrylics just crack off the latex if I painted it with that. It was really expensive for small amounts of self Hardening clay and the latex. But I guess what I would like to experiment more is liquid latex foam where it's more flexible to perform with and not as wobbly as the regular latex can be.
  9. TheCreatureWork Active Member

    There are Youtube videos on the split mold method- you don't want to go with self hardening clay- plain water based clay works fine. If you get holes in latex you can always mend it with latex. I use to mix a small amount of latex paint into the latex and get close to a good base colour I wanted than airbrush the paint onto the puppet. With a mold I do about 4-6 layers of liquid latex based on the puppet
  10. TheCreatureWork Active Member

    Sorry I was wrong- Self harding clay yes LOL I'm at work and multi tasking LOL So YES use self harding. Sorry guys.
  11. mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    No problem at all. ;) I'm pretty busy with stuff myself. lol Quarry Letters galore basically. lol Anyway, there's ways to buy clay and latex cheaper then stores like AC Moore right? I remember years ago before buying stuff online, I would go to AC Moore or Michaels or some kind of craft store and the self harding clay and latex were the same brand and it was the only place I knew where to get it. They were both sold in small abouts. The self hardning clay was in a small box as big as a hand and it was like between $11 and $15 each and the small can of latex was even worse lol $30 per small can. And when I mean small can, I'm talking about a small jar of Peanut Butter size type container. But thank goodness for the internet and all it's available possibilities of purchase. In fact in general, I rarely go to the store to buy anything anymore. lol It's so much cheaper. But that's mostly Amazon for me.

    One of the things that I've noticed was I've had difficulties building with flat foam a lot but it slowly imporved though in terms of clay and sculpting, it just came nature I suppose. Plus I learned some skills in my high school years as a freshman as well working with clay. I really want to learn digital sculpting because now there's computer software where you can make CGI clay sculptures and turn them into CGI models for animation and mocap and such like Autodesk Mudbox (which I really really really etc WANT BADLY) but that's another story. lol

    I still remember the tools I used, the needle was my favorite because it's kind of like a pen. Anyone know of some online stores that have cheap prices on huge amounds of clay and latex foam? I would like to work with liquid latex foam and not so much that latex that would turn yellowish after mainly because I discovered liquid latex foam is way more flexable to make a puppet while regular latex is more harder and wobbly like I previously mentioned. But in a way where I won't need any kind of dangerous equipment and to tick off the landlords and such. lol Well until I get a place of my own that's not rent of course. lol

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