Our Mission

Welcome to my blog where I chronicle my efforts in designing and building puppets and their worlds. My hope is that I will contribute to the art of puppetry as I use it to lift up the name of Jesus.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Taylor Termite - Completed

Today I completed Taylor Termite by adding the two pair of legs. This completes the third of the Lilac Hollow gang. The legs are made of simple fleece tubs that are tapered to a blunt point and stuffed with fiber fill. Below is a picture of the completed puppet.

The next project will be one of the two main backgrounds for Joshua Junebug stories, the School room. Right now I fine tuning the plans but I hope to be able to post drawings of the proposed background soon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Taylor Termite - Arms, Hands, Bow

It's been a busy week. The kids were on spring break and my father-in-law has been visiting. We've had a great time doing family things. Somehow in the middle of everything I was able to get a little done on Taylor.

I made a bow out of some of the fleece I had used for the construction of the head and body. I simply glued a bunch of dots onto some fabric. Then I took the fabric and folded it in thirds. Next I pinched it in the middle and sew a small band around the middle of the bow. And there I had a polka dotted bow.

Just tonight I made the hands and arms and attached them to the puppet. The hands are made of polyurethane foam with 18 gauge florist wire inserted to make them posable. This I covered with fleece by tracing the hands onto the fleece and extending the arms from the wrist. I then folded the fabric onto it self and sewed around the lines leaving space to insert the foam hand into the fabric. Once I had sewed the gap shut, I stuffed the arm with poly fill and sewed it to the body.

I'm very pleased with the look so far. What I have left to complete this project is to add the legs. I'm still trying to decide whether or not I need four legs of only two. Below is a picture of Taylor so far. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taylor Termite - Fabrication

Over the last several days I've been able to get quite a bit done in fabricating Taylor Termite. The technique I use for fabricating a puppet is called "draping". In doing this you place a piece of fabric over the puppet and pull and pin the fabric to the puppet. Gathering any excess fabric together and trimming it so that when it is sewn it will lie smoothly over the foam structure of the puppet. The idea is to get the fabric to lie flat and at the same time have as few seams as possible. When learning this technique I recommend that you use it to make a pattern which you will use to cut out your skin fabric. This will minimize the chance of making costly mistakes.

Well, after researching the coloration of termites, I chose to cover Taylor with two colors of pink fabric. The darker color for the head and the lighter color for the body. When I first started covering with the fabric with the colors I started to have second thoughts about them. I wasn't sure I liked the way they were coming together. But I kept on and as the eyes, antenna, and the inside of the mouth were added I decided that I liked the way they worked together. This reinforces something I read some where. If you've planned ahead, don't panic and make adjustments mid-project. Trust your plans to produce a good looking puppet. Some elements might not seem to fit until after other features are added.
Below are pictures of the progress so far. ENJOY!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Taylor Termite - Body

Yesterday I was able to build the foam body for Taylor Termite. It's really a simple part of the build. All I did was cut a piece of 1/2 inch foam 12 inches in width. This is glued into a tube.

For the thorax of the body I cut off a 6 or seven inch piece of the tube and removed four darts from each end. Then I glued the darts closed thus creating a taper at the top and bottom of the thorax.

The abodomen was a little trickier to make. I wanted the abdomen to extend at an angle from the thorax. To do this I took the remaining foam tube and cut an angle in one end. then I removed four darts from the angled end of the tube so that when they were glued shut the abdomen would match up with the thorax. I made sure to make the front dart long enough to allow the rod mechanism to exit the body of the puppet. Then I attached the abdomen to the thorax. Finally I removed eight darts from the tail end of the abdomen so that when I glued them together they would completely close the tail.

And wahlah. It was done.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Taylor Termite - Foam Head

Over the weekend I made a little more progress on Taylor Termite as I continued construction on the head. The head is a pivotal piece in the puppet build because, for me at least, the size of the head determines how big the body, and the rest of the puppet, needs to be.

The first part I made was the mouth. The way I build a mouth is to cut out the palate of the mouth from 1/2 foam. I then reinforce what becomes the top and the bottom of the mouth by gluing on 6mm craft foam. To this I add tubes made of 1/2 foam. Usually these are finger tubes but in this case they will recieve the top and bottom mouth bars on the rod mechanism. These tubes are then reinforce with fabric. The last thing you want is the tubes coming unglued in the middle of a performance.

Once the mouth was made I was then able to trim and shape the top and bottom bars on the rod mechanism.

Next came the construction of the head. I used 1/2 foam and a pattern of my own design. I've made a few puppets with other people's patterns before so I had a fairly good idea how to get the shape I wanted. I just had to do a bit of fussing to achieve a product I was happy with. If you're just starting out building puppets I recommend using someone else's pattern as a starting point. I've put a list of some links to free patterns which are currently available on the web. These are great for getting you started. Once you feel like you understand how foam works you can get creative and make your own.

As you can see with this head I made the top and bottom separate. I did this to make it easier to insert the rod. It turns out that this was unnecessary as the rod comes in and out with the head completely assembled.

Below are pictures of the head with the rod inserted. The first is with the mouth fully open and the second is with the mouth closed.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taylor Termite - Rod Mechanism Redo

I had some problems with the rod mechanism I posted yesterday. I was so tickled with the way it work that I spent a lot of time playing with it. After a few hundred squeezes of the trigger one of the wires broke. This had happen before with a lighter guage wire but I thought that a heavier wire would fix the problem. When the heavier wire broke I figured that guitar wire just couldn't handle the action of puppet opperation.

Well, I thought about the problem and came up with a different way of getting the action. First, I left the mouth bar exactly as I had originally made it. Second, I repositioned the trigger underneath the handle. Third, using a wire coat hanger, I made a rod that ran between the trigger and the back end of the mouth bar. I ran this wire rod through some refrigerator tube to keep it from flexing when the trigger is actuated. Fourth, I moved the spring so that one end hooked directly to the back end of the mouth bar. The other end of the spring was attached to the rod with a screw.

Below are some picture of the finished product. I am fairly confident that this rod mechanism will be able to stand up to use. This rod also doesn't have any wires that would have to be worked around when installing the rod into the mouth of the puppet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Taylor Termite - Rod Mechanism

I've begun the construction of my next puppet, Taylor Termite. I've included a sketch of the character to give you an idea of where I'm going with the build. The character of this puppet is a kindergarten age "child" termite. I want the puppet to be much smaller than either Joshua Junebug or Prof. Inch were. As a result, the puppets head is going to be too small for a persons hand. The solution is a rod mechanism to opperate the mouth.

Below is a picture of the rod mechanism I built for Taylor. I made the rod using a 24" - 1" maple dowel. I cut a slot into one end of the dowel long enough to accomodate the action of the mouth bar. The mouth bar is held into the rod using a wood screw which also serves as a pivot point. I used steel guitar strings for the wire. There is an 11 lb spring for tension on the wire that closes the mouth. I am using some refrigerator tube to contain the wire along the rod. The trigger control for the mouth is a dowel secure with a hinge. (In the future I plan to attach the trigger the same way I attached the mouth bar.)

This was my first attempt at constructing a rod mechanism and I learned a lot. Over all I am satisfied with the result.