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Quick question on the mouth plates......

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Animal31, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    Hi all,

    Been a fan since day one, and I want to thank you all for some really great hints and advice that I've found thus far. A recent purchase I made on a replica puppet really has inpired me to make my own original, but my question is about materials for the mouth, what would you recommend for say a Kermit type muppet compared to something larger like an Oscar or Cookie?

    Thank you all in advance! :halo:
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    For a puppet like Kermit, gasket rubber is always recommended for that flexibility... as for puppets like Oscar or Cookie, I honestly have no clue, I was always under the impression that they simply have cloth mouths.
  3. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that! Gasket rubber, where would I find that? I would totally agree with you on Cookie, but Oscar or even Ernie seem too padded in the head not to have something for support, no?
  4. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    Gasket rubber is a good choice, especially for a kermit-like mouth. I tend to use cereal boxes for the palette. Its cheap, light, plentiful, and usually lasts just fine as long as you're not using it for the actual mouth hinge. I let the fabric do that job.

  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Seriously? As great as your puppets are, I would've assumed you used something sturdier/stronger/better quality than that.

    But then again, we all know that even the best of puppets are made from the simplest of materials...

    For expressionless mouths I tend to use cardboard myself, but usually from the kind of cardboard used to keep calendars flat in their packaging, or if you get a device from the store and the cardboard from the boxes. All my new puppets had mouths from a box I had gotten my computer table in years ago and they've worked great.
  6. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    Well, the cereal box palettes don't stand up to a ton of abuse, but then again, I don't do live shows and we treat the puppets as gently as possible in performance.

    I like how light the material is. It takes contact cement really well. And when its sandwiched between two pieces of fabric, it holds up just fine. It also has a really thin profile, so the puppeteer's hand is that much closer to the surface. And like I said earlier, its just the palette. I don't use it for the hinge. If it was in the hinge, it'd be pulverized in a day.

    You're right in that it doesn't express like a soft palette would, but that hasn't been too much of a concern so far. I've never been very comfortable with soft palette puppets. Either building or performing. I should really try to get past that.

  7. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I'm just the opposite, I'd like to try and experiment with soft palattes, because I really would like to add some expression to my puppets' faces, especially since when I write my shows, I tend to write actions that require flexibility, like if a puppet were to expression annoyance with a smirk, or a scrunched up face similar to Kermit, etc. I haven't tried gasket rubber, but I would like too... I've found that craft foam doesn't help shape very well; I experimented with it with a puppet once, and after several smirks and such, the puppet's mouth began to lose shape, and looked like it was in a permanent sneer. Of course it probably wouldn't hurt to use thinner foam rubber for the head construction either.
  8. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    Gasket rubber, where would I find that? With Cookie Monster you're probably right, I would agree that the mouth is simply cloth. But with something like Oscar or even Ernie, where the head is foam or whatnot, I would think there would have to be some sort of reinforcement. No?
  9. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I've used cardboard in a pinch. I don't really build many puppets now, but at work I usually suggest making soft, flexible mouthplates out of high-quality felt. Larger mouth plates can be made from 1/2 inch foam (flexible), styrene (hard) or corrugated plastic for really large mouths.

    Ice cream containers are a good substitute for styrene I've heard, but I don't eat much ice cream.
  10. practicecactus

    practicecactus Well-Known Member

    I've used foam backed vinyl and it works great. Some bin scavenged offcuts I had that was used for marine roof lining. It was already together, but it'd be as simple as gluing a thin sheet of foam to some vinyl or leather and bob's your monkey's uncle.
    I made a simple sock puppet style test puppet once, with the kermit plushie head pattern, and glued it down on the inside of the black material I used for the mouth and it's rigid enough but still flexable to do the kermit face scrunch, and I used it on a cat puppet with a foam head. It keeps it's rigidty really well on that one cause I made a leather lip around the bottom edge of the mouth. For a large mouth puppet like Oscar, you could even glue a wire into the edge of the mouth, between the foam of the vinyl and the foam of the skull-head ...if that makes sense.
    It's nice and cushiony on the fingers and I lined the inside with leather [because of the sweaty hand problem], but you could just as easily use the same vinyl used to make the outside mouth palet.
  11. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    Sorry for repeating myself, I'll get used to these forums yet...... :)
  12. TheCreatureWork

    TheCreatureWork Well-Known Member

  13. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    With soft palattes, or even in a larger puppet, do you recommend stitching the mouth to the edges of the fleece (if that's even possible) or are they glued? Did that make sense?
  14. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I'm not really a pro at puppet building, I'm much better at performing.

    Personally, I use hot glue as much as I can (most recommend contact cement, but hot glue is easier to come by) when it comes to overall construction, leaving sewing to the fabrication; when it comes to the fabric for the edges of the mouth, I usually trim it, then roll it up slightly to give it that rounded look, then glue it to the mouth - a little trick I picked up from a Frenchman who shared how he built replicas of the Avenue Q puppets on YouTube.

    That's what I do, but again, I'm not quite that good at the building aspect of puppets myself... let's see what others, like Gordon, have to say about it...
  15. Melonpool

    Melonpool Well-Known Member

    That's about the only part of the construction that I still do with hot glue -- though I have used contact cement a couple of times, and it is a lot better (especially if you ever have to remove the fleece for repairs). I just find it's easier to get a thin line of hot glue than to get the contact cement exactly where I want it.
  16. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    After your suggestion (thanks for that) I check with my cousin who owns a garage, and I struck out, they now make the gaskets with corkboard and paper. But I did look online since then and found something called "Red Rubber" packing sheets at Lowes online which sound VERY similar. They come in two sizes, 1/16 and 1/8........

    I will also say that day one of conscruction leaves a little to be desired, I am having no luck at all in making a good head pattern for a Kermit style muppet........
  17. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well that really screws us over. :smirk:
  18. CoOKiE

    CoOKiE Well-Known Member

    i too have heard of gasket rubber... but... are we talking about the sheets or what? Because we could be just talking about the rings... which in the past i thought the puppet builder was reffering too.

    I use cereal boxes myself. I use 2 pieces of felt for the mouth and hand grip. I find that my hand can grip better with this then say fleece. ALOT BETTER.
  19. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    HaHa, I know, everything is going "green"! I'm going to check Lowes tonight I think, I was also thinking of trying to use the vinyl edging that you can get for the yard. I was fixing the one I have around a tree and noticed how thin and bendible it was, plus it didn't seem to pinch or crease when I folded it........

    Just a thought
  20. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    The last time I bought rubber toilet gasket was at a small hardware store (ACE Hardware). That may not be too helpful for folks outside of the US as I do not know if ACE is international... doubt it.

    The smaller hardware stores tend to be independently owned and so might carry things outside of the norm from the "big box" hardware/lumber chains.

    When I bought mine, it was dispensed from a roll. It was "classic" rubber... kinda reddish pink in color and about 3/32 of an inch thick. The sheet was 12 inches wide and X feet long. I bought 2 feet since I didn't really know much about using it and was simply going for experimentation.

    I don't know if I can even get it at the same place any more. They moved and changed stuff around in their store to "update". Which, in my experience, means you won't be able to get what you want anymore.

    Terrence Burke likes this.

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