24 March, 2013

Puppet Building 101

1 & 2. I printed out patterns provided for the class and mounted them to board stock so they'd be durable for future puppet making projects.


3. I selected a 1/4" foam for the under-structure - since I knew my puppet would have a light skin-colored fabric, it was best to keep the foam pretty neutral so it wouldn't show through the fabric later.
4. I then drew out the patterns on the foam sheets and cut them out.

5. here I matched the same-numbered seam lines together and glued them together by dabbing rubber cement onto both sides, letting it dry slightly, then carefully squeezing the paired sides together.
6. I found it helpful to start on one end of a seam and slowly kneed my fingers up on both sides to keep my seams as straight as possible.
7. After all the seams were glued together, I had a basic head shape!

8. From here I used hot-glue to fix the 1/2 circle mouth boards 1/4" above and below the lips.
9. leaving this spacing was super important (and hard to do!) because the fabric for the skin in a later step will wrap over the lips and any excess will be glued to the insides of the lips. - (I burned my finger during this step when a glob of molten hot-melt dripped between the foam and the board and landed on my board-supporting pinky. It blistered immediately and I still have a scar. lesson learned.)
10. I cut out an oval from black fabric and glued that to the top and bottom mouth boards, leaving slack where the boards came together so the mouth would be able to open and close easily.
11. I then glued on the foam strip for the neck-hole.
12. From here I finished off the foam body patterns and moved on to skin patterns!

13. Here I cut out the skin patterns on fabric, making VERY sure that my fabric grain matched the pattern grain lines. If you don't do this, your seam lines will look unprofessional, lopsided, and people will call you names and point at you.
14. Cutting out the bits was probably the only part of this whole process I could have done without. I hear if you have a laser cutter you can basically zap your patterns out of fabric - you just have to build them in Adobe Illustrator (or similar program) first. Mmm efficiency thru lasers!

15. A quick shot of the skin pattern for the body.
16. I was "in the zone" pretty heavily now that all of my patterns were cut out, so I sorta forgot to take photos here. But just imagine me sewing together all of this stuff like a boss and you'll get the picture.
17. here's a shot of the head skinned, felt tongue and foam tooth added.

18. I cut two ping pong balls in half and glued them onto the head. I basically put glue on either side of a small square of foam and glued it to the inside of the cut ping pong ball and to the skin, that way the foam will want to retract on itself ('cause foam likes being in it's normal state) and basically pull the ping pong ball's edges towards the skin. 
19. this was also my first big blunder. The rubber cement I used was clearly visible through the ping pong ball, so I painted the surfaces of the eyes with white acrylic paint to hide this.
20. from here I cut out various hair pieces and glued them all onto the head in the appropriate places.

21. head (mostly) complete! the eye-balls were drawn on with a sharpie marker.
22. from here, class was starting to wrap up, so I quickly finished the skin for the body, arms, hands and connected all of it using whip stitches. I recommend using nylon string for this part, as my thread connections for the arms have snapped a few times.

23. The final touch was to dig up one of my son's old shirts and put it on the puppet - and so "Pop Pop Puppet" was born.
24. My family didn't know I had made the puppet, so I skyped everyone and had the puppet of my dad answer the skype calls while I hid out of frame. It was freakin' funny. Like, everyone was red-in-the-face-and-couldn't-breathe-because-they-were-laughing-so-hard kinda funny -- well worth the 12 hours it took to make the puppet.

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