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Mouth Plates: Paper or plastic or what?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Yahnke, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. Yahnke

    Yahnke Member

    Howdy' yalls....
    I have been making puppets for over a year or so now, and i just recently got my little fingers onto the ALP videos ;) Thanks.

    In the past i have been using foam core or gator board for mouth plates. I want to make a firm mouth plate, but i don't like foam core because i breaks down too easily. If i am going to put that much time and effort into a puppet i want it to last a while.

    Here is the reason for this post.
    I would like to assemble a list of easy to find and easy to use products to make firm mouth plates.


    sintra is hard to find unless you live in town with a sign shop...
    does anyone have a meterial they use that you can get from lowes or home depot or wal mart? HOw do you cut it, how do you use it.
    Thanks.
  2. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

    Hey D!

    There are several things that you can use for mouthplates.... Here are just a few that I or someone I know have used:

    Plywood: comes in many different sizes, it's cheap, you can get TONS of mouth boards out of it, and its sturdy.

    gasket rubber: also comes in different sizes, hmmmm, I think around the same price as plywood but you might not get as many, however.... the up side is that it's much easier to cut. You can get gasket rubber from any shop that specializes in plumbing.

    plastic sheeting: I don't remember what this stuff is actually used for, but you can get plastic very similar to the stuff that comes with davids kit. Look in your yellow pages for any plastic manufacturers or check out lowes/home depot. Not sure on price, but the cutting would be about same difficulty as plywood.

    Foam Board: I use this stuff pretty often. I've got puppets over 5 years old that have foam board mouths and they are holding up just fine... no softening, crumbling, or anything. Easy to cut, light weight, and cheap. Now, I do cover both sides of my mouth boards with fabric and that probably helps because sweat isn't getting to it. I get my foam board in scrap pieces from local print shops who often just give tons of it away, I get so much in one trip that I haven't had to go out scavenging for any in about 7 or 8 months. :excited:


    -Michele
  3. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    the ply wood you want to use is called"aircraft ply"

    it can be found in art supply store s and hoppy shops , it is used to make wings and stuff for radio controlled airplanes. it is light wieght and easy to cut with a copping saw or a table top jig saw.

    use 1/8 inch or 1/16 inch, depends on how strog it needs to be,

    gasket rubber is great for flexible mouths but the puppet needs to have alot of give in the face and not be to rigid otherwise it wont work as well.
  4. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    Also worth noting that gasket rubber (the good stuff anyway) is actually more expensive than plywood but definitely worth it.

    For rigid mouths I recommend corrugated plastic (Corroplast) which is used to make signs and looks like corrugated cardboard, except it's plastic. It is usually sold through art supply stores and Home Depot has been known to carry it, albeit not consistently.
  5. Yahnke

    Yahnke Member

    thanks for the posts! After i posted that new thread i went to lowe's last night determined to find stuff that would work. I did find some "home for sale" signs of corrogated plastic, i also found some sintra signs that were sturdy....but very $$$$ so i was determined not to raise the cost on this puppet. I didn't see any gasket rubber, although i did look. I probably just don't know what i am looking for.

    This next question then, i guess, goes out to all of you who have built from ALP's patterns or videos. If i were to use foam core for the mouth plates will i have to trim back the foam at the mouth or adjust the fleece pattern so that i will have enough "slack" in the fleece to pull it inside the mouth with his design. I ask this because two mouth plates of foam core are close to four mouth plates of sintra. That's a mouth full :)

    also, what in the world is with the "rings" that david used in the body. What are they and what purpose did they serve again? I am debating just leaving those out on this puppet- any recommendations.

    Thanks for all the help.
    D "I'd rather be making puppets than working" Yahnke
  6. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    I've begun using corrugated plastic boards because it's free. It's those "Tax Refunds" signs I find on the side of the road. Pull it up, wash it off, and cut it down!
  7. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    If you go to a decent plumbing supply store and ask them for gasket rubber they'll know what you are talking about. The larger chains like Home Depot just seem to carry little six inch squares that come in plastic packages. That's not really what you should be looking for.
  8. Gasket rubber comes in 12" X 12" sheets and you can find it in the plumbing section at Lowes (if you look REALLY hard -- it seems to enjoy hiding from its seekers...). Oh, and it's dark red.
  9. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    One of my first puppet mouths was made with a styrofoam plate.

    He didn't last too long...
  10. They generally don't last long after they have foam at the mouth!

    :halo: Bottah-bing! :o
  11. officermom

    officermom New Member

    In regards to the "ring" question...

    If you are referring to the hoops made of plastic tubing which are placed at neck, base, and at the bottom of the head sleeve, these tubes give a really nice shape and structure to the puppet. They give the foam and fleece something firm to wrap around. They make the sleeve easy to find for puppet changes and keep the sleeve from riding way up on (often) sweaty arms.

    I have built puppets without the hoops...but only as toys for my pre-school aged nieces.

    Reconsider using them. Check the plumbing (and refrigerator ice-maker) section at your local Lowe's or Home Depot. It's lightweight and inexpensive.


    Puppetually,

    Melissa
  12. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    Yeah, we had to put him down, rip out his insides, pull it apart, and replace it with paper plates. Well, so when that got soggy and didn't work anymore I used the cardboard from the back of an artist's sketch pad because it was thick and that lasts. Or has been lasting. I mean, when I'm 100 years old I doubt the cardboard will be good any more. Like this guy--> :sleep:
  13. thatonekid

    thatonekid New Member

    lol, i've just been using some cardboard i found in my basement :D
    no idea what kind of cardboard it is but it works pretty well.
  14. Yahnke

    Yahnke Member

    well, i decided to "man up" and go find the meterials i needed. I mean, hey, if i really want to build a puppet i'll try ever avenue right? so i called a sign company about 20 mins from here and they said they had scraps of sintra i could get, so i drove up there and i got about 5 or six sheets. I have enough sintra for probably 10-15 puppets. The best part is--- it was free! The funny thing is, when i called and asked for scraps they asked me what size. I told them. They said "we don't have any thing like that" I said, "too big?" They guy said no, they don't keep anything that small.

    I used the ALP pattern and made a few changes of my own, and this is the best puppet i have ever made. I am very excited to continue.

    So to make a long story short...i found sintra...and it is as awesome as everyone says it is.
  15. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    Do you have any pictures of your puppet?

    I'm supposed to help a friend of mine make an Elton John puppet soon. This will be interesting.
  16. There's something I've been hiding from you guys for a long time, and I feel it needs to come out here...

    I found a WONDERFUL method for hand grips! I'm getting very comfortable using the 1/2 inch plastic binding that comes on shipment boxes and news papers as a holster for my hand on the mouth plate -- just attach a band of it! It's pliable, but the material itself doesn't stretch. You can get this stuff free at any store that gets shipments in boxes. Just grab some while they're re-stocking shelves and undoing packages. And if you already have a comfortable way of makeing fingertubes or whatever, at least try some for ribbing/re-enforcing foam shapes that are vulnerable to getting squished in (such as a big hollow head or body). It's a light-weight substitute to anything else. I hope you get a chance to work with this stuff! :crazy:


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