It’s been four years ago since I built a puppet. That’s just weird… But anyway, back then my puppets were huge and heavy, and hard to operate. The main lesson I learned was basically how NOT to make puppets.
Since then I’ve been collecting patterns and materials for making “professional style” puppets. A couple of weeks ago I noticed in my calendar I had a weekend coming up without anything booked or planned. Extraordinary! It had “puppet building” written all over it, so yesterday I set out to build some puppets.
I wanted to actually build three puppets. The patterns for these are found in the Forma Trio, available at:
The Forma Trio came with some sheets of reticulated foam (scott foam), and I also ordered antron fleece. These are the materials used in certain muppets.
Building professional style puppets is kind of material heavy. You won’t get far with just antron fleece and scott foam. You need lots of other stuff too! Thus Day 1 ended up being quite stressful, as I ran around like a madman in Malmö, trying to find the remaining tools and materials needed to get started. I managed to burn quite a lot of money (= fun!) at these places:
Of all these Clas Ohlson is clearly my favorite, mostly because they have almost everything (even the things you didn’t know you needed), and they’re cheap. And their stores are cosy.
Back home I brought up all the other stuff from the basement. Finally I was ready to start!
My plan was to get as far as to dying the pieces and let them dry over night, so I could start the actual building on Day 2.
However, just mounting the patterns on poster board took most of the evening.
By 4 am I had cut out one of the patterns and I just had to go to bed, or else I wouldn’t do anything the next day.
I finished cutting the pieces, then it was time for the exciting part: dying them! I had no idea if the color I bought would work.
I started with red.
As you can see it worked fine for the foam. Not so great for the fleece.
And that was it, the weekend was over. After approximately 21 hours of work, this was as far as I got, which was not quite half as far as I had planned. I guess there has to be a Puppet Building Weekend #2, soon-ish.
I learned a lot from #1 though. For example:
Building “professional” puppets costs money.
You need LOTS of stuff, and there’s always something you forgot. For example, I lacked thin sheets of upholstery foam for the puppet bodies.
To not mess up your home or kill your back, you really need a house with some kind of hobby room, with proper work benches, a sink, good light and so on. I had none of these which slowed me down considerably.
Foam eats knife blades. Make sure to have a whole bunch of extra blades at hand!
Antron fleece doesn’t take dye well. I expected the fleece (the body, neck and arms) to take on a somewhat darker nuance than the foam (head and hands), but it turned out the opposite.
This type of color doesn’t really do the job. Need to find another way of dying the fleece for next time.