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Well, Here I Go...

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by D'Snowth, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I finally purchased some gasket material, such as traditional gasket rubber, as well as a corkboard rubber material as well so I can experiment with flexible mouthplates to give puppets more facial expressions, much like Kermit, and early incarnations of the AMs and such...

    I hope this stuff works as well as everyone here who builds puppets says it is, I'm hoping for good results.
  2. Puckrox

    Puckrox Well-Known Member

    Good luck! :)
  3. Melonpool

    Melonpool Well-Known Member

    I've been using the plastic from those Garage Sale/Rent signs they sell at Home Depot (not the Gator Board -- the white plastic) for the upper palette and gasket rubber for the lower. It seems to have the flexibility for the bottom jaw and keep the upper jaw from being too floppy. I also leave about 1/2 inch of space in the seam for the hinge, allowing for a little more expression.

    This works especially well with large-mouthed characters (like all of my guys)
  4. Goochman

    Goochman Well-Known Member

    I use gasket rubber for all of my mouth plates, I absolutely love it!!

    it's firm enough to hold it's shape with no problem and pliable enough to get some great expressions
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Out of this "variety" pack I purchased,I wouldn't think of using like these two different almost like pressboard material, I know stuff liek that used to be used for like hat brims, andwhen those things bend, you've got a permanent fold.

    I decided to salvage my gasket rubber for a more "important" puppet, so I experimented with this corkboard rubber... it does a passable job... certainly a lot better than trying to use foamies like I attempted years ago, but it too doesn't exactly hold shape very well.
  6. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Okay folks, I'm having a recurring problem with the gasket rubber mouthplates, and need some advice...

    Anyway, I'm liking the gasket rubber for mouthplates, it is really flexible, which is what like, however, I'm having issues when attaching the mouth to the foam rubber: the roof of the mouth attaches beautifully to the foam skull, however, it's the jaw where I keep having problems, the foam jaw seems to like to keep pulling down on the sides of the mouth, making the puppet look it has a permanent double-sided sneer. Irregardless of the thickness of the foam, I've built a puppet with half-inch-thick foam for the head, and I'm in the process of building another puppet with inch-thick foam for the head, yet with both puppets, I have that "sneer" problem.

    I took Steve's advice about the half-inch seam allowance for the bend in the mouthplates, and before I've even tried having no foam in the jaw at all like the earlier AMs, as even Jarrod said the fabric would provide enough shape for the jaw (however I didnt have the desired results in that department).

    What do you guys think? What can I do different to stop coming out with this double-sided sneer?
  7. KermieBaby47

    KermieBaby47 Well-Known Member

    Let's see some pics man! ;) I could use as much reference as possible for when I start building again, and you always ask great questions!
  8. Animal31

    Animal31 Well-Known Member

    Without any pictures, it almost sounds like the mouthplate may be too big for the head, the fleece/fur may be stretched too much over it.

    Try trimming down the sides a little and see what happens...
  9. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Alright then, here are some pics for your judgement... and remember folks, like I've always said, I've never claimed to be a great puppet builder, I don't even claim to be a pretty good puppet builder; this is Ella the Elf (I'm sure some of you have seen her concept sketch on my site/blog):


    I built her for a Steve D'Monster Christmas project I was doing for YouTube this past December, but I had to cancel because of the virus issue I'm currently having with my old computer... plus, I can't even get a performer for her (I had someone in mind, but she always falls off the face of the earth whenever I need her). Her head was constructed with half-inch foam, which as you can, does give her mouth incredible flexibility; the puppet I'm currently working on has inch-thick foam for the head, which apparently doesn't allow for a lot of flexibility, which is odd, considering I was watching Don Sahlin from The Muppets on Puppets as I was building, and he clearly was using inch-thick foam on the puppet he was building. s for her size, she's a bit smaller compared to most of my puppets, I'd say she's maybe about the size of Kermit.
  10. Melonpool

    Melonpool Well-Known Member

    Try adding about another half-inch to the lower jaw. I had a similar problem when I was stretching out the fabric in the lower jaw too much when attaching it to the gasket rubber -- that was causing the sneer.

    Don't add too much fabric, though -- just make sure it's not stretching too much as you glue it down and that should fix it. You also may be able to fix it by making the lower rubber palette a little smaller. if you don;t want to add more fabric.
  11. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well again, really, the sneer wasn't occurring as I was fabricating the mouth, it was happening as I was attaching the plates to the foam.

    But you are right, I do usually tend to make the bottom plate slightly smaller than the top, always have, it really makes the puppet's head look better that way... but I think I will try adding an additional half-inch of space next time.
  12. Melonpool

    Melonpool Well-Known Member

    The same thing will happen if the mouth plate is too large for the foam. You may have to add a little more foam to take the tension off a bit.
  13. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Before I attempt this again, I'm wondering, does having any kind of lining on the back of the mouthplate have any affect on the process? That was one mistake I learned from when using cardboard mouthplates and having no protection on the back of them from sweaty hands, thus causing the cardboard to deteriorate, so I started lining the back of the mouthplates to prevent that from happening. I always use felt for the mouth itself (mouth, throat, tongue), and as such, just simply used felt to line the back of the mouthplates as well... so I'm wondering if it's necessary to do that with gasket rubber (like, would it deteriorate similar to cardboard with no protection, or maybe try using a different type of material or what)?
  14. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    One more question: based on what I have seen of some people's WIPs and tutorials, would it help eliminating the sneer if there was some kind of a slight curvature to the edges of the foam that would be glued to the mouthplates? And if so, should those edges being glued to the mouthplate be concave or convex?
  15. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    So... could somebody offer some insight to my previous two questions before I actually continue with the construction process?
  16. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well, since nobody helped me out, I went ahead and tried adding a slight curve to the edge of the foam that would be attached to the mouthplate (a convex curve to be exact), and that did seem to work quite well, I haven't fabricated the head yet, but so far, I haven't had any of the sneering problems I've had before.

    But MAN, that red rubber does NOT like glue of ANY kind... I mean seriously, I had a time trying to fabricate the mouth AND attach the foam to the head, it wouldn't take hot glue, and it barely is taking fabri-tac... didn't have these problems with the black/gray rubber, but then again, its surface wasn't quite as smooth and slick, which probably explains it, but the red was all that was available.
  17. kumakami

    kumakami Well-Known Member

    contact cement?
  18. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I'll keep that in mind.

    That or try to avoid the red rubber altogether.
  19. NextJim1225

    NextJim1225 Active Member

    If that doesn't work, I'd recommend bathing the red rubber in alcohol. It shouldn't affect it texture and it makes the glue actually stick to it.
  20. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Interesting note, thanks.

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