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Stuffing the arms

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Sidebottom, Nov 28, 2003.

  1. Sidebottom

    Sidebottom Member

    Hey everybody. I've got a bit of a problem; maybe someone out there can help me.

    I'm working on a puppet right now for a film I want to make. Its head is one of those styrofoam heads they use in displays in stores. Its body is a kid-sized long-sleeved t-shirt with holes cut in the elbows.

    The idea is that I wear this thing over my head, with the styrofoam head sitting on top of my head, and then my arms stretch up over my head, and go through the holes in the elbows so my hands come out the ends of the sleeves -- giving the puppet "live hands".

    Can you picture it? :)

    Okay, so here's my problem. Right now, when I wear it, the puppet's chest and upper arms are empty, so they just sag and flop around. I need to find some way to stuff them. But if I just stuff them, that will just fill out the shape of the shirt -- it won't make it look like it's a real person. Because the illusion I want to create (if possible) is for it to look like a real person with real hands and a styrofoam head -- and I want people to say "How did he do that?" :)

    So. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can go about filling in the chest, shoulders, and upper arms in a way that doesn't make it just look like a stuffed shirt? What materials should I use? etc.

    Many, many thanks in advance to anyone who can help me with this.

    Puppetry forever,
    -Sidebottom

    "Armwires? Arm...wires? That's ridiculous! Do you see any armwi-- ah... Never mind." --Gonzo
  2. Jinx

    Jinx Member

    I used a somewhat similar technique to make a "Ghost of Christmas Future" for a production of "A Christmas Carol".

    A lot will have to do with the draping characteristics of the fabric. I imagine that your T-shirt is fairly form-fitting, which will actually make your job harder. The cloak of the ghost was much more forgiving. We made a wire form shoulder and head piece that was fastened to a bike helmet which was worn on the head of the performer. It was made of a thin but stiff wire, and if you can imagine it, it looked rather like a warped bird cage. The fabric was stitched to the frame in a few key places to keep it from slipping off, but still allowed it to move rather freely.

    The advantage of this over a stuffed form, is that stuffing tends to have a rather "bulgy" look to it, whereas the wire form can be controled a bit more and is also fairly easy to reshape and fine-tune on set. Its also much lighter weight.

    Hope this helps!
  3. Sidebottom

    Sidebottom Member

    That's fantastic!!! Thank you so much!!!

    (Of course, if anyone else has suggestions too, I'd be happy to hear those as well.)

    Awesome!
    -Sidebottom
  4. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Another option would be to make a body shape from sheets of foam, much like you would make a puppet head.


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