Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Classic and Simple Sock Puppets

Hello puppet people!  Lets now take a big step backwards in complexity.  A group I am with wnts to do a sock puppet army. So I thought, why not do a tutorial as I go?  So here it is!

On a piece of cardboard, draw around your fingers for the top of the mouth

Estimate a slightly smaller area to fit your thumb and draw it in.  This doesn't have to be precise as this is just to keep a basic shape while you work.

Cut out the shape.  score in a line where the piece will bend and fold it over.  You may want to put a piece of tape across the joint to prevent it from breaking.

Fold the cardboard piece in half and insert it into the sock.

Slide it all the way down and use your fingers to 'tuck in' the mouth.

To better show the shape I am working on, I now slide in a piece of fun noodle.

NOTE: ALL of the above can be skipped by you just putting the sock on your hand to work.  This method just gives you two free hands without having to take the puppet off and put it back on constantly.

Now to decorate.

Eyes can be made of countless items: googly eyes, spoons, ping pong balls buttons, felt, egg cartons, the plastic containers from the gumball machines, used glasses with the eyes painted on the inside of the glass or even just drawn on with marker.

The pupils for the eyes can be just as varied   Here re two examples.  One using doll eye inserts and one with plain marker.

You can glue the eyes on with a hot glue gun.  However keep in mind, these can burn you and in this instance, these are going to be packed in a box, shipped in a car and left in a tent.  They will get hot which would re-melt the hot glue on its own.  

A good alternative would be a contact cement.  The trick to contact cement is to put a little bit on the piece and a little on the surface you are gluing it to.  Wait a few minutes until the glue on both becomes tacky.  Then attach the two.  This should make for a nice, tight and permanent seal. 

Now give the eye some character.  Add eyelids which can be cut from felt, fabric, fur, or just drawn on with marker.  But at least go around the eye so it stands out.

Then add eyelashes.  You can buy the lashes, or just take some foam, felt or fleece, cut it slightly larger than the eye around the top then carefully cut them like fringe and glue above the eye.

Oh, a nose can be added the same way with anything you can find.  A tongue can simply be a piece of fabric or felt, cut to size and glued in the mouth.

Yarn works good for the hair. Cut a strand just a little longer than you want the hair to be, as a guide.

Make loops the length of the guide piece

Fold in half and trim the loops off of the bottom, making a smooth hairline.

Tie a longer piece of yarn across the middle to keep the hair together

Take one end of the tie piece and thread it into a yarn needle.

Stitch it into the sock where you want the hair to be and tie it to the other end of the longer piece used to tie the hair together.

For an easy piece of clothing, fold a piece of fleece in half and cut out a neck hole.  Remember the hole has to fit the puppeteer's hand, not just the sock!  And glue the piece onto the sock.

Now, go play!

Of course, this is a very, very simple version.  You can decorate it up as much as you want.  Some people will glue the mouth board in place (some inside the sock, others will cut a hole for the mouth and glue the edges to the mouth plate).  You can add arms, ears, beards, hats, horns or anything you can dream up.  So have fun!

Next to come, I am sculpting a puppet head to cast entirely from latex!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New, Monster Character Suit

Greetings again!  I am starting on a new character suit.  No, I didn't finish the dragon.  The head of the dragon was great, but I couldn't get the body to cooperate.  So instead of starting it's body over, I'm just going to tackle one that will have more potential use any how.  So...

Instead of basicaly making a big puppet head as the two previous attempts, this time I went to Walmart and in their hunting section I got a medium weight camo mask.  this is very light, breathable and draws the moisture away from you, unlike a standard ski mask which is made for warmth - the last thing you need inside a foam suit!

I then sewed in some 1" wide elastic, stretched to a snug fit as shown.  I sort of made a chin strap where the two pieces cross.

Then I started adding foam until I got a shape I was happy with.

Note, If you want an articulated mouth. when attaching the lower jaw, only attach it to the mask.  Do not attach it to the rest of the foam.

To help this more, I also took some 14gague wire and ran it around the lower lip to keep its shape, then down so it fits over my jaw. 

These two steps make it so when I move my jaw, the character's jaw moves. Not great, but well enough.  Had I made bigger gaps, or used a smaller, more couture jaw, the movement would have been even more pronounced.

I found some yarn that was curly and easily frayed.  I cut a board about 10" wide and wrapped it around and around the board.  Then I cut one end and sewed a line down the middle to keep it together. 

I covered the foam with fur for a better background and covered the fur with spray glue.  then I just layed the yarn strips on it.

The foam that is still exposed is going to be covered in latex.  Then I am going to add the eyes and vents over the nostrils that I can see through.  And he will get some horns as well.  Then comes the body!  But I have 2-3 more rod-arm puppets that need my attention too.  So, more later!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Etsy page and an update

Not much to add.  But we finally started an Etsy page. So our puppets can now be found for sale at http://www.etsy.com/shop/PuppetSmithArts.  Remember, we also do custom orders!

Speaking of custom orders, PuppetSmith Arts was hired to build three puppets for Smartieland Learning Centre - Elf Help Books in Hong Kong.  We are extatic to hear they like the puppets and the kids are enjoying learning from them.  Here are a couple pictures:

Friday, November 9, 2012

PVC Puppet Stage / Theater

Okay, the puppet team I have been thinking I am joining, keeps leaving me out of the loop.  So I am thinking they are not wanting a new member right now.  That's fine, but I have a couple ideas on my mind that I want to attempt to film.  I even have one script!  So, I need a stage.  hmmmm....

Tada!  Here's my plans

This can either be assembled 5' wide or about 10 1/2' wide depending on the need.

Here is what it looks like at 10 1/2':

And at 5' wide:

Here is a little closer detail of some of the joints, especially looking at whee I had to use 2 connected by a 2" long piece of pipe between them:

And it packs up nicely.  One bag for the 5' setup.  A second if I need the full 10 1/2'.

Arthur Smith

Friday, November 2, 2012

Puppet Patterns

This is just a bunch of patterns that I have made.  I re-took pictures of them with grids on top of them to make it easier to reproduce.  Enjoy!

 claw and horn