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Puppet help needed

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Randy, May 17, 2002.

  1. Randy

    Randy Active Member

    hi, I'm new to the board but I've been a long time muppet fan. Anyway, I am making a small film for a media class I'm doing. I would really like to make some puppets for the script I have written. I have also done some character sketches for the different puppets I would like to make. Now I'm by no means a professional since the only background in puppets I've had was making a sock puppet when I was 7. I need some advice as to how I should go about making them? First of all the main character is a cat, who, in the character sketches ended up having a head about the same shape as Fozzie's. Since the cat is the main character I thought that I would try him first. So what I am asking is can anyone please help me out with the process? Not physically that is...:p
  2. matleo

    matleo Well-Known Member

    I would suggest getting a copy of "The Foam Book" It's available at www.puppeteers.org and a few other places in the net. It's one of the best books on making soft-sculpture puppets. You can get commercailly avaliable scotch foam at just about any Jo-Ann's or Rag Shop. It's best to work with half-inch. When I make puppets I usually make the mtwice. I'll put one together real quick, thwn cut it aart so I have a pattern. Then I'll use the patter to make the acatual head as well as my covering. You'll want to actually photocopy your pattern to be a little larger for the covering. And again, I usually do the covering twice: once in muslin to make sure it gits and looks right and then I cut it for real.

    This is probably a lot to process but I think once you get started it wll make sense and it will help the puppets look better. But definit;y get a copy of the foam book! Hope this helps.

  3. Randy

    Randy Active Member

    I was actually thinking of buying the book, but since I live in Australia I am a bit worried about buying online. I'm a bit confused, I feel like a total nong for asking, but does that mean that the foam puppets are not just made from a big foam block and sculpted? then hollowed out? Because that's what the better foam puppets look like...as I said, I feel like a nong.:(

    by the way, what do you use to cut the foam? and do you have a picture of what the foam looks like before its used???
  4. GuySmiley

    GuySmiley Well-Known Member

    Hi There!

    Now, I'm no expert myself - but I bought the foam book which I think is really great. It is really clear and has inspired me to make some puppets myself.

    The head would be made from a half inch sheet of foam. Basically you would have two panels to make the head (hard to describe without a picture - the book explains it really well!) and then you glue these together to form the head. You could carve from foam but it would be a lot heavier and more expensive to do. I would highly recommend the foam book - you can order it from Amazon.com - you'll have to pay international shipping, but it would be worth it (and Amazon is very secure, payment wise).

    Anyway, there's my two pence worth - hope it was of some use (and good luck with the puppet making!)

  5. matleo

    matleo Well-Known Member

    Yeah, you can carve it too and some puppets are made that way, but I like using a sheet of foam and 'sculpting' it. and it's just thatt...it's a sheet of foam, if you like, send me an e-mail and I 'll see if I can send you some photos or something. Talk to you later.

  6. Randy

    Randy Active Member

    So for example, would a puppet such as Dr. Teeth be made from two sheets of foam together (I still don't get that) or would he be sculpted from a big slab?
  7. matleo

    matleo Well-Known Member

    Dr. Teeth is sculpted from a sheet foam. I saw him up close in an exhibit once and he is beautiful!! I think I have a good close up shot of him somewhere around that may make it easier to explain. Oj and seomthing else about Dr. Teeth, and this is true for a few other muppets too, he's no covered in fabric. His foam has been dyed green and then assembled. So not all the Muppets are covered in fleece. Some go au' natural! I know Zoot and I think Jnice and Floyd are like that and I think Sam's head. Anyway I'll see if I can find that Dr. teeth photo I have. I'll also see if I can toss together a drawing/design/pattern that might help a bit. I have your e-mail address and as soon as I get a chance I'll send you all this stuff. talk to you later.

  8. puppetguy

    puppetguy Well-Known Member

    Mr. Matleo, it has been awhile...

    For the bare foam electric mayhem, you have to see those puppets from a certain time. Up until the late 80's they were bare foam (with the exception of Zoot in season 2 of the TMS). Currently, they are all fleece covered. So, don't look at recent photos of them if you're seeking the fabric-less band.

    FYI: Grey Seal will be releasing 2 videos based on the "Foam Book" hopefully sometime this year. This will further benefit folks trying to build their own foam puppets! If we're lucky, they won't charge an arm-and-a-leg like Arms Length Productions...

    Hope all's well.
  9. matleo

    matleo Well-Known Member

    Oh neat, Thanks for the info. those will be great videos to have. Hace they switched thew band to covered guys? I hadn't noticed. The photos I have is a recent one of the old Teeth's or a diplsay one. Anyway, he was definitly not covered. you could see pores of the foam and just make out the glue seam if yo looked close enough at his chin. Thanks for the info though.

  10. matleo

    matleo Well-Known Member

    .....Wait a second, hold the phone!.....Dave? Is that you???.... Dave Stephens!! my goodness!!! Criminy junior, it has been a while!!!! Got your last e-mail. Glad to know you're doing well and glad to see you here on the new board. What do you think? Let me type this and then I'll drop you an e-mail.....

    Anyways, back to the subject at hand... Randy, cehck out www.lionheartpuppets.com and their photos section. There are some masks from "Life and adventures of Santa Clause" as well as a dragon fomr that show, some Jitterbugs from "Wizard of oz" and some plant puppets from Little Shop of Horrors that should give you an idea of what can be done with sheets of foam. All of thse are shaed with sheets of polyfoam and all (except the Jitterbugs (are dyedn, not covered. The Jitterburgs were painted directly casue we needed them to be flourescent.

    Dave, you should check out our web site too. Siobhan built it for me last X-mmas and we're going to be updating it soon. You should recognize a few things there (if not the projects/classes they were built for) and some of the processes too(like the infamous paper sculpture technique. Anyhoo, I'll drop you an e-mail as soon as I'm done here which would be...now!

  11. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Actually David, Grey Seal has the videos available now. Ordering info is on their website at www.greysealpuppets.com

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