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How to start making puppets?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by charlynoa, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    So I have a quick question for anyone willing to answer it. This was the best thread I could find to put it in.

    So, you know when you make a puppet and you glue the fleece "lip" around the mouth, does anyone have a technique to make it less, for lack of a better word, ratty? It seems every time I do that I get that little bit of edge from the scissors and it doesn't look clean. I tried doing what the sock puppet pattern suggests where you sew the mouth in and then glue it to the mouth board. But on other puppets it throws off the balance of the head. Or is it just a manner of practice and gluing it straighter?
  2. Arthur Smith

    Arthur Smith Member

  3. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Don't glue it. It's much better to machine sew the fabric for the mouth to the hole that's cut or patterned for the mouth (the "lips") together and then glue the mouth fabric to the mouth plate afterwards. A little practice is sometimes required, but this will almost always give you the clean, perfect edge that you're looking for.
  4. CaseytheMuppet

    CaseytheMuppet Well-Known Member

    I am a new puppet builder. In fact I have only made one. I cant figure out how to get fabric completely around the head. Is there a pattern that works. I had a big hole in the back of puppet's head, and had to slap on some fur on the back to cover it up. :o
    Can anyone help me?

  5. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    There's a bunch of patterns everywhere. It seems like people like the ones on projectpuppet.com a lot.
    I've also gotten patterns from http://www.sonshinepuppetco.com/
    There's also this great video sequence on ehow.com on making a basic puppet

    Between the three of these or whatever else you can find I bet you'll be able to find something that can help you.

    Thanks for the tip Buck Beaver. I tried doing that and it seemed like the head didn't work right after that. But I'll see if I can get it to work on the next puppet.
  6. CaseytheMuppet

    CaseytheMuppet Well-Known Member

  7. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    You're welcome. One thing I wanted to add that might help. I just got the patterns I ordered from http://www.sonshinepuppetco.com/ Came in yesterday. They're mostly words with some sketches, some have more details than others depending on the patterns. So they might be a little hard to get through. It looks like it's enough to get you through it. But they're also really cheap. This compares to the stuff at project puppet which is a whole lot more comprehensive and easier to understand but are more expensive.

    Not trying to convince anybody of either but I figure those details might be helpful.
  8. CaseytheMuppet

    CaseytheMuppet Well-Known Member

    Thanks, that's great!
  9. MineKBMuppets

    MineKBMuppets New Member

    I have a question. Im planning to make a puppet. But I am struck where to buy some fur. Like a neon green-ish fur or any other color. Help!
  10. NextJim1225

    NextJim1225 Active Member

    Have you tried Mendal's?
  11. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    Okay I have another question pertaining to this. Is there some secret to cutting out the mouth hole or sewing the mouth on. I have lost track of how many times I've done this and it's not coming out straight. I've tried cutting a slit, cutting a bigger slit, cutting a mild hole, cutting a larger hole, changing the shape of the mouth but I cannot get it to look right.
  12. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    You have to pattern the mouth so that it is in an open position so that the mouth can open and close naturally. If it's patterned so that the mouth is closed by default (e.g. you just cut a slit) then fabric has to be displaced every time you try to move the mouth and it doesn't look right.

    Generally speaking, the head of a moving mouth puppet should look something like this:


    Does that help?
    Gonzo's Hobbit likes this.
  13. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    Yea I think it does. I've been cutting it closed by default because cutting a chunk out that way takes out too much fabric and throws the jaw off. But a slit has been tight and the corner is weird. I haven't been thinking about it in the terms you just put it in. I'm using a different head shape that the pattern you have there but it sounds like the mouth principle would be the same in any case. I will definitely try that. Thanks so much for bearing with me on this thing and all your help Buck.
  14. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    No problem! It is really important to design moving mouth puppets with their mouths open if you're dealing with a flexible material (fabric, latex, silicone, etc.) so the mouth can open properly. "Hard" heads sculpted or cast in wood, plastic or something similar are generally the opposite, you usually carve/sculpt them with their mouths closed so that they can close properly.
  15. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    Oh okay. That's a good thing to keep in mind thanks.

    I just realized something, the way I'm doing this, I'm not making the two side pieces and sewing down the middle of the head, I'm doing a front and a back and sewing them down the side. So that makes the mouth thing a little weird.But I'm thinking if I make the front end a little longer vertically that would make the same idea in terms of fabric compensation.
  16. MagicFractal

    MagicFractal Active Member

    I've used Sculpey and Fimo for creature design, but not yet the new "Super Sculpey" or "Green Stuff" and probably others worth trying to creatively prototype original designs.

    Once a design exists, one could use the new affordable 3d printers should be useful in designing and duplicating heads with replaceable, even real-time changeable facial expressions. CAD type tools allow not only great 3-D faces, but elbows and other joints like fingers, and complex jaw structures like a cow, insect, or denizen of the deep sea.

    Some related links on 3d printer capabilities (typically $300 and up range):
  17. MagicFractal

    MagicFractal Active Member

    Buck Beaver, thanks for the link to Puppet Vision Blog at puppetvision.info, one of the best links I've seen yet on the subject. I also noticed that the excellent domain "puppetmaster.info" is available for $12, I can't afford at this time.

    I like the editor on this BBS very much, except that it locks down the post in an hour. I've been admin on several BBS and never saw any advantage to that. In this case I can't change something I posted to something better or more correct.

    Toy stores offer tiny vacuform machines capable of very nice relief for character heads, extremely light weight, possible to make a small crowd of puppets whose minimal movements could be controlled like any hand puppet, but for example, the direction the crowd is gazing could be swept right or left in unison, linking them all together. That would be suitable to a tennis match in the foreground.

    If there were but one puppetmaster, the gaze of the crowd could be varied by foot or knee control with extended cord puppet cable. I'm learning some are using bicycle cables, very durable and available everywhere. Lighter ones with strong fishing line are smaller but good enough for low force actuations like eyelids and eyes and maybe super light vacuformed faces of my example. For fish line weight cable sheaths, there will be sturdy "teflon spaghetti" available at most ham radio stores, capable of great subtlety of movements.
  18. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    I got another question if anyone can answer it. I've looked around and can't seem to find an answer so sorry if it's a repeat. Does anybody know why a mouth will look "frowny" on a puppet? I've made a few and they've all looksed fine, either as if they were smiling or neutral. But for some reason the one I've been working on is tilted down for some reason so it looks like she's frowning all the time. I'm stuck because I'm not sure what I did differently. The top of the mouthpiece is glue to the head foam and it's made out of lightweight material. Are there any other factors that people have noticed?
  19. CaseytheMuppet

    CaseytheMuppet Well-Known Member

    My whatnot is like that. (He's orange) I think they all looked like that. I was wondering that myself.
  20. Adam Kreutinger

    Adam Kreutinger Well-Known Member

    Hey guys,
    I thought it would be appropriate to post my puppet building tutorial here too. Let me know what you think. I hope it helps!


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