File puptcrit/puptcrit.0801, message 334

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Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2008 00:30:02 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] Making Foam mouth puppets

I'm back from a self-imposed almost total absence from the net, for the last 10 days.
Within that time I had to build about 20 polyfoam skulls with some fabric necks for some of them, for the PuppeTree, (Vermont).
They are to be used in a puppetmaking workshop, the children will start from these and make specific animals.
 Ann and I communicated over the internet and phone for the visual and technical decisions. 
I love teamwork, we came up with unexpected results. Deadline was respected, shipping went well, so now I can breath a bit and share some of the fun!

This contract was timed just right to be able to apply my newly found fun methods to make more detailed sock puppets. Some of the puppets were smaller animals, so I made their necks and head with a stretchy sock over the polyfoam skull. It was very fast for these.

The other puppets were bigger, so I had to create fabric sleeves, most of them out of synthetic fur. 
The Foam book DVD which I saw recently was a great help for one problem: attaching the neck.
I could not always make it exactly as Drew Allison does on the video, because of the shape of the back of my skulls (often not complete skulls), but his way of making the necks go straight down really was the start of my multy possiblity solution.
Sometimes I could glue the neck from within the head hole, sometimes on its side, sometimes over part of the head.
Some puppets required a u-shape cut on the front of the neck tube to accomodate the chin. It releaved a lot of tension there.
These options also changed the look of the puppet, bringing good surprises.

I was alreay using craft felt for a few things (tongues inside mouth puppets, inner ears, pupils), but only from this project did I finally adopt it as a new favorite texture and color material. Ann fiercely defended this material against all my skeptical paranoid arguments, and I thank her for it. It works marveslously well next to synthetic fur, expecially for making exposed skin, and for eyelids.

I'm never cutting synthetic fur or polyfoam without a proper dust mask, full covering of the floor in plastic, and Shop Vac close by.  
I've gotten by without much trouble except a bit of an annoyance in the past, because the quantities were small.
But I did so much of the stuff in ten days that I was sneezing all the time and it invaded the whole appartment. I might even run the shop vac close to the cissors while I cut, despite the annoying noise. Since the synthetic hair seem to be influenced by static electricity, I wonder if an electical device could be devised to attract the loose hair to it. It could be the table itself. Oooh, or a grid-surfaced table that would vaccum the hair as they are released!

I'm, very grateful to the PuppeTree for the opportunity to build these puppet skulls and necks.
I love a challenge, and this one was a great learing experience.
I can now build my advanced sock puppets and the full-featured mouth puppets very quickly, with clean and defined results.  

Which happens to be perfect timing, since I need to make some for myself, I'm already heartbroken from having to send them all away so soon. Especially the ocelot and the goliath bird-eater spider.

Sorry I don't have pics to show just yet. My definitely dead digital camera is not yet replaced, so I'll wait for Ann to send me some pics or post them on her site. 

Stay tuned for another post, about making eyelids...
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