Thursday, 2 April 2009

master of puppets

So begins my attempt at model making. Having never made a puppet I have no idea if what I'm doing is right or wrong, but I'm learning and that's what's important. The armatures are kits bought from, which come with helpful instructions. I've drawn up the armature to scale as a guide. On the drawing the head and pelvis are too small and the legs a little too long so I rectified this when cutting the threaded rod.
I spent a good few hours hacksawing at the rod before deciding that the junior hacksaw I had was managing to hack but not saw. With an aching arm and sore fingers I ventured out to my nearest hardware store to buy some sort of power tool so save me from the pain, cursing myself for being a weedy girl. However, when I got to the sawing aisle I decided to be a man about it and replace my clearly faulty tool with something big and shiny... a more expensive hacksaw. My new saw cut through the 2mm rod like a hot knife through butter, well, if the knife was blunt and the butter already on a particularly stale crumpet. Anyway, it worked much better and I finished cutting the rods without much arm ache.
The rods needed filing so that the threaded balls and fixing components could be glued in place. I left them to dry overnight to make sure they were as solid as possible.
Success! After screwing the plates together I found that it stands and supports it's own weight. I was worried that the feet were too small to balance the frame, especially with the size of the head. I glued a peice of K&S to the neck section to attach the head. I also bent a picture hook and glued it to the chest peice (not shown in picture above) ready to hook the string on to during filming.
Using upholstery foam I snipped a body shape, leaving access to the joints for tightening. The hands are made from a sheet of pewter which is strong but gives a fluid movement. They look a bit like shovels but hopefully they'll work.
The next step was the skin. I bought a cardigan in a sale that still stinks of someone's sickly perfume. Maybe I should''ve bothered to wash it first. It is a close match to the square I made but is thicker and so has larger holes, which are easier to get a screwdriver through for joint tightening. I used wadding to fill it out a bit and snipped some more foam for the feet. I have to admit that this part is mostly the work of my mum. I had used a sewing machine before, but I was 11 and making a baby's picture book in Home Econmics. I'm not sure why, I didn't really know any babies to give it to. So my mum stepped in as chief sewing machinist. I stuck to the hand stitching to finish it off, which I have done since I was 11.
The heads are made from hollow polystyrene eggs. Righty's head just needed the top sanding off but Lefty's needed a bit more sculpting to make it oval.
Above is Lefty's head after being sanded and covered. Even though it's big it's very light so shouldn't cause any problems to the armature's balance.