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My first puppet: Janken Fraggle

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Slackbot, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Well, not really my first. I used to make puppets when I was in high school. However, this is the first puppet I've made in over 20 years, and it's by far my most ambitious: Janken Fraggle. He's the guy in my userpic. I've been wanting to build him for a while, but when I found out that Dragon*Con (which is on Labor Day weekend) has added a puppetry track, and that Peter Linz (who I went to high school with) was going to be there, I decided to stop wembling and start sewing. As I was working from scratch, no patterns but the ones I made on scratch paper, it was quite a learning experience. With very few exceptions, I made every part of him twice! Once with a "close but no cigar" result, and again to get it right. (However, I made a number of hands before I got one that didn't suck. If there is an afterlife of eternal torment and suffering for puppet builders, it involves sewing hands.)

    So, here's what he looks like now:

    [​IMG]
    Naked Fraggle


    [​IMG]
    Fashions by Old Navy

    I still have to do a little more work on him. He needs more hair on the left side of his face so he doesn't look like he has bed head. I need to put a little more fluff in his baloobius and connect his head to his body. I've been debugging his neck for a while now, shape versus ease of inserting and removing hand. Arrgh.

    I see a lot of things wrong with him, such as his flat feet and cheap-fleece skin. (Oh, how I wish I'd made him from Antron!) But there's a lot right about him too, so I'm fairly proud. Not so proud I won't welcome constructive criticism from those more experienced than me, though. I want the next one to be better!
    FrackleFan2012 likes this.
  2. CaseytheMuppet

    CaseytheMuppet Well-Known Member

    Constructive Criticism? Are you kidding? He is AMAZING! First puppet in 20 years?! Wow!
  3. davidmartiste

    davidmartiste Member

    I think he's absolutely beautiful and the fur turned out great. I'm always curious the method people use for building something that doesn't look like a typical puppet puppet pattern - especially a great Fraggle nose like that.
  4. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I just made a foam skull by trial and error, then made a pattern for the fabric based on that. Glue foam together, cut to take it in where it's too wide and add where it's too narrow, glue again, repeat. When it finally looks right cut it apart, make a paper pattern, and put together a skull from clean pieces of foam.

    I got a hint on how to construct the skull from one of the Fraggle Rock DVD extras. One of the builders held up a piece of brown paper and said it was the pattern for a character's head--I think it was Gobo's--and I remembered where the "darts" were and used the same principle.

    The hands and feet were the worst parts. I've seen hand patterns, and they all gave me weird skinny fingers. Fraggle fingers are supposed to be chubby! After several tries I made a pattern for the hands which had the fingers as separate pieces, and that gave me the look I wanted, albeit nearly at the expense of my sanity. I did the feet the same way. There's probably an easier way to do it, but heck if I could find how.

    I've added more feathers to frame the face and eyes better, and I think he's almost done now. I'm probably going to make him another right arm, this one without a rod, and make that arm modular, attachable by velcro or something. I'm having a hard time manipulating both hands at once, and I'd rather have him make meaningful gestures with one arm only than lose control or have his hands clashing together.
  5. davidmartiste

    davidmartiste Member

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your process. Very cool and I can see the insanity.
  6. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    There is madness to my method!

    I decided that the lavender streaks in his hair and baloobius just weren't working, and pulled them out. Lots of Fraggles have two-toned hair, but the contrast in both color and texture was so great it was just distracting. Ah well, there is a little bit of variation in color and texture among the purple feathers I used, so his hair doesn't look boringly neat.
  7. Wow what a great job, neat and very accurate. Congrats, you should be really happy with the results.

    Greg
  8. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thank you! Yeah, I'm stinkin' pleased, if I do say so myself. I've also learned some valuable lessons, and I just ordered some Antron fleece from Georgia Stage. The heck with the cheap stuff; go large or go home.

    There are a few things I'm still working on. I made a second right arm, one without a rod, so I can just pin it to him and gesture with the left. The arms are modular, so I can swap 'em. I thought the fur would hide a bit of velcro, but that is not the case, so I'm going to put the velcro under the fur. That'll take a bit of surgery, but the scars won't show. I'm also going to rip off his head and trim the extra neck fabric before sewing it back on, as that fabric bunches and makes putting him on and taking him off again rather fussy.

    I wish to heck I could find suitable eye spheres for him. If I wanted to make a bugeye character like Red or Wembley, I have no idea what I'd do. Ping-pong balls are too small, and have a seam.
  9. muppetfan24/7

    muppetfan24/7 Well-Known Member

    Oh my gosh! You are doing a great job with Janken. I have made some mistakes on my stories too in the very beginning. The trial and errors were: spelling, characterization, and paragraphs. I am a slow typist. If I went fast, I would make mistakes including spelling. Ugh! Ahem! I love Janken Fraggle and the jacket you got from Old Navy. You are doing really great.
  10. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I visited my sister's family. She has a 12-year-old boy and a 8-year-old girl. I brought Janken over so I could get a little practice in, me being a little rusty after 25 or so years. It was fun, just sitting with him and chatting with the family. My niece couldn't take her eyes off him for a while, and claimed that he creeped her out, but she said it with a huge grin. My nephew was all amused for a few minutes (and I had to tell him please not to touch his face; puppets are very hard to wash) but then he started playing a video game and that was that. Hey, I'm surprised I held his attention that long.

    Anyway, I spent about an hour with Janken on my arm, and had some interesting conversations about how puppets work, eye focus and convex eyes, arm rods, and so on. After talking with my brother-in-law (who is an artist) I may tweak Jan's eye focus, move his pupils just a hair closer to the center, so he doesn't look like he's staring into your soul.

    Heh, when I transported Jan I had him wrapped in a clear plastic bag. I kept humming Laura Palmer's theme, but nobody got it.
    dwmckim and AlittleMayhem like this.
  11. Muppetboy09

    Muppetboy09 Well-Known Member

    That puppet is amazing, Slackbot!!! And I see you are a fellow "Weird Al" Yankovic fan from your signature?:)
  12. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thank you! And, yes, I am a longtime Weird Al fan, though I don't know how that comes across in my signature.
  13. Gonzo's Hobbit

    Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    Wow that's a great puppet Slackbot. You did a great job on him. I applaud your skill.

    PS, that's super cool you went to high school with Peter Linz.
  14. VIPuppets95

    VIPuppets95 New Member

    Nice in a big way, well done.
  15. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks, guys!

    I just came back from Dragon*Con. I normally spend a good bit of time going around the con in my Dr. Frank N. Furter costume, but because my heels broke right after the parade I couldn't do that. I made up for it by walking around every say with a wiggly doll on my arm. It was amazing how many people went out of their heads with delight at seeing a Fraggle face-to-face, even after I explained that he was just a puppet I made of my own character. It didn't matter; he was a Fraggle and they had to hug him and pose with him. I must have posed for hundreds of photos. And many held conversations with him and ignored me completely. There's a lot of love out there for Muppets and Fraggles!

    Amazingly, Janken held up almost perfectly. Not a popped seam or stain anywhere. Someone sat on his tail and he lost a few feathers out of his baloobius, but that's easily repaired.

    Jan (and his little sister Poncle, built and puppeteered by my good friend Kathy Moats) met some very cool people at the con, including...

    [​IMG]

    Hey, wait, I didn't perform in Fraggle Rock! What am I doing in this photo?

    I posted a bunch of photos, mostly of people posing with Janken, plus some other costumes (including several Muppets) in my Dragon*Con 2012 album on Facebook. I've made it public, so I think that those who aren't Facebook members can still see it. (Let me know if it works or doesn't work, 'kay?)

    I'll try to work up a Dragon*Con 2012 report up, seeing as how I spent a lot of time on the puppetry track and totally embarrassed myself (and Janken) the first time I tried to work on a non-mirroring monitor. Hee hee.
    FrackleFan2012 likes this.
  16. Collgoff

    Collgoff Well-Known Member

    Wow those are great!
  17. dreadnok

    dreadnok Member

    wow i really love your janken fraggle its amazing
  18. Collgoff

    Collgoff Well-Known Member

    Yeah I think it's neat!
  19. antsamthompson9

    antsamthompson9 Well-Known Member

    Hi, Kim. It's me, Anthony. That kid you met last night. I got to fist-pump Janken and take a picture with him: mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/?ui=2&ik=a4600f2bbd&view=att&th=13b7e3ca634e4b96&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_hahreydx0&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-TXMHKs1qzks7eohfdpebD&sadet=1355077851990&sads=ktH5PLy2JEcHNBqAhiYAxz-RiH4. It was awesome to meet you. I hope to see you at the next CPA thing I'm going to which is the Elmo in Grouchland showing.
  20. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Hi, Anthony. Good to met you. Unfortunately, I can't see the picture because it's an E-mail attachment, and only those logged into your account can see it.

    I don't go to many events at the CPA because I have to travel by MARTA, which can be rather unnerving late at night. If only their screenings started earlier in the day!


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