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Sculpt or Coated Foam OR Exposed Scott Foam?

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Dagger Claws, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. Dagger Claws

    Dagger Claws New Member

    Hello everyone,

    This winter/spring/summer I'm going to be undertaking a large building project. I'll be totally revamping an already existing show (building new versions of already existing puppets) and creating new puppets for a second show. Both shows will be using hand and glove puppets. A number of the puppets I want to make out of foam and develop patterns for. My BIG question is, which is going to be more durable and withstand the wear and tear of many shows: Exposed Scott Foam which has been painted with acrylics or floral spray paint such as Design Masters OR Regular Sheet Foam coated with Sculpt or Coat. I can NOT use JUST regular foam painted with Design Masters and or Acrylics anymore, because previous puppets have developed intense cracking and deterioration over only a year's use. I do not want to give them fabric skins either, and want painted foam.

    I have never used Sculpt or Coat or Scott Foam, but have heard good things about both being very durable. Is there anyone out there who has used BOTH materials and can tell me the life span of a puppet made from these materials? Keep in mind, they will not have cloth skins, they will be exposed foam.

    Thank you all,
    Marc
  2. FISH'N'WOLFE

    FISH'N'WOLFE New Member

    If you do a search here, there is I believe life span information on Scoam (what I call Scott Foam, lol). There are also old threads on Sculpt Or Coat. As for painting foam, I can say that airbrushing works perfectly. I only paint my characters, and they haven't ever deteriorated. The foam never dries, cracks, deteriorates etc. Anyone can pick up a cheap airbrush starter kit at almost any craft/hobby shop. Also as Buck has mentioned, keeping your puppets in a dry, dark, cool place helps preserve them as well.
  3. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    no matter what foam will eventully deteriorate.

    sculpt or coat, works well, on regular foam, i havenot used it on scott foam, my only concern is thatscott foam has larger pores, but you can experiment.

    as for painting, if you have a basic color you can dye scott foam with rit dyes and then cotit, and then paint it.
  4. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    If you're regularly using the puppets (e.g. several shows per week), they won't last very long unless they are very carefully looked after. My experience has been that the bigger the show/company the shorter the life of the puppets.

    When properly cared for exposed foam puppets made from Scottfoam can last a year or two, maybe more if they are well made. Probably a good way to go would be to build them from regular polyfoam and then coat it with Sculpt or Coat. A cheaper alternative to Sculpt or Coat is regular old liquid latex, although it's very smelly and has to be used outdoors.

    Lots of discussion about this in the archives. As always, the search function is your friend. :)
  5. Dagger Claws

    Dagger Claws New Member

    Thank you everyone.

    Alright, the votes are in and it looks like the best way will be Sculpt or Coat with regular foam. My birthday is on the 20th, and I think I'll treat myself to a little self birthday present of a quart or gallon of SoC and experiment. The show that I'm revamping is a Halloween show which would only be used seasonally, and the new show is my own version of Punch and Judy which I'm building for a new walk around stage for festivals, block parties, ect, SO those puppets will probably get used more than the Halloween characters. I'm intending to sculpt the heads of the main characters (like Punch, Judy, the Devil, etc) out of clay and then cast them in neoprene and use foam to make the bigger hand puppets like the Crocodile and any other large hand puppets.

    And I know that any foam would deteriorate, just as ANYTHING would (people, houses, cars, etc, over time everything reaches a state of disrepair and decay). My issue was is I had built a really nice wolf hand puppet for my Halloween show out of regular foam and painted with acrylic paint. His name is Wolfie and is probably one of the best puppets I've built; comfortable to use and with a distinct look and character to him. After only a year the poor guy was cracking and crumbling into pieces . . . and he had only done ONE show, a few rehearsals, and had spent the rest of the time in storage. So I wanted to find a way to still use sheet foam with my hand puppets BUT being able to make them last longer than my poor wolf, even if that life span is only a year or two more.

    What will probably happen to Wolfie is he'll go onto the autopsy room in my workshop and be disected so I can figure out the pattern I used to build him. Remember kids, ALWAYS make PAPER copies of your patterns so you don't have to slice up your old puppets when you need to rebuild them. Once he's patterned, I'm going to rebuild him AND try my hand at adapting him into a Big Bad Wolf version.

    Thank you Buck, Ravage, and Fish and Wolfie for replying,
    Marc
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    If you're doing Punch you should seriously consider paper mache. If it's done properly that will last much longer than foam, coated or not.
  7. Dagger Claws

    Dagger Claws New Member

    Using Neoprene

    For the Punch characters, the humans, I'll be using Neoprene. For the Crocodile or any other big hand puppets I'll use coated foam.

    Marc
  8. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    well here are my thoughts on the wolf cracking problem,

    when using paint on foam, with no coating it is best to have a light touch, acrilyics will eventually harden and that sort of defaets the purpose of making a flexible foam puppet,

    dye your foam a base color, then you can go in and paint the foam lightly , but it will still crack, (even on gonzo this is a porblem, his nose is dyed yellow , then it is painted on , but he also develops cracks in the painted skin becuae that is the nature of the beast.)

    you might also try backing the interior of your puppet with some spandex or ace badages in the main hinged points this will help the foam from stretching out to much, us some contact cement and lay in the strechy fabric .

    you might also want to try the flex-glue , if they still make it, that is very similar to the Flock glue used on some foam henson puppets , it is flexible and you can brush it on, its also not as gloopy as Sculpt or coat.
  9. intozlight

    intozlight New Member

    I have used SOC and found it is very good in limited circumstances. It is flexible, but not to the point that it would be good at a joint on a puppet. It will help your foam to last longer but you will sacrifice suppleness and performance under certain circumstances.
    We all struggle with wanting our puppets to last "forever" My first (see icon) Ripley is son overbuilt that I cannot perform him - my hand cramps after about ten minutes. So I have to build a replacement now. Performance and durability are a tricky balance.
    One final thought MAKE PATTERNS (lol) this will hasten the time needed to remake him when he goes to the big puppet stage in the sky. (Live and learn)

    Hope this helps.

    ___________________
    Director Davies
    Ripplesministry.org


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