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  1. #1
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    Question String puppets anyone? (Help!)

    Hello all, you probably don't know me but I've been lurking in this forum for awhile now. I love clay and sculpting but I haven't ever worked on it for myself, I've done it for a class project once and for a show I designed (as the base for masks).

    Today, a friend called me asking for my help on a show she's volunteering at. The guy who said he would make the puppets for it is no longer willing, and someone else has to do it! Mel, my friend, could not take on this project alone.

    Neither of us has made MOVEABLE clay guys before. Has any of you? I'm about to look it up, but any advice or knowledge to share would be hugely appreciated!!

    The show is Yoman of the Guard (Gilbert & Sullivan). The puppets will be Point the Jester and Elsie the milk maid.

    Hopefully this will turn out successful, so I will post piccies of how things are coming along

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    Last edited by Wykin; December 7th, 2008 at 01:28 AM. Reason: added piccy
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  3. #2
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    I have very limited experience with making puppets. As far as I know, usually the hands, heads, and feet are the only parts of the puppet that are hard...the rest of the body is stuffed farbic. If the whole puppet is hard, the body is divided up at the joints and connected by string (like beads).
    To make the puppets move, strings are attached to head, hands, and feet.

    Does this make any sense?

    -Mike Cross


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  4. #3
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    String puppets? Are you referring to marionettes? If so, the Web is filled with resources for marionette construction, rigging, maneuvering, etc. You just need to do a little more homework. Try a search for "marionette" or "marionette construction" and you'll find more than you need.

    Even dropping by YouTube produced this result:



    You might also want to consider clay alternatives, such as papier-mâché or foam construction (dependent entirely upon the rigors of the performance, time constraints, aesthetic approach, etc.).

    Good luck!

    ~KU

    ... a cry went up into the shuddering air, and faded to a shrill wailing, passing with the wind, a voice bodiless and thin that died, and was swallowed up, and was never heard again in that age of this world.

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    Thanks for the replies

    KU, I did come across those vids. I think that particular marionette is stunning and I want it. Though none of the youtube vids that I found really showed how to plan it. At this point I'm more concerned how the controls should work depending on the desired movement etc. I did do some research, but I decided to ask here first to see if there might be some puppet master among us ^^

    I've decided to do a paper/tinfoil/clay combo for the structure. Wood is too loud, foam is too light. I'm going to go ahead and assume that it's still ok to post here even though it's not clay or a 3d program...

    I'm starting with a mini version, basically a sketch, just to see if I can get it to work. Once that's done I'll show some piccies

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    Took me long enough to update this

    Here's the sketch-man.. he actually took forever longer than it looks. Damn small things...

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    Here he is being completely useless..

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    Real one should be 2 1/2' feet tall.

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    He's growing a head!

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    Dancing with glee of near structure completion (for the day anyway)

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    Posing. The head is off because it along with the hands and maybe feet will be clayed therefore baked. Though this is just the practice Jester I'm still gunna clay him up a bit just to give the actors an accurate weight. He's kinda heavy And yes the real ones will have much better string lol

    Next update should be this weekend when I've got both the guy and chick ready to hand to the actors. After that.. well, it'll be a long while before I finish the real ones!

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    Cool Wykin, it's coming along nicely! Good luck with the rest of the project

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    Learning things...

    Turns out I had to decapitate the happy string baby the other day. Showing the pics to my friend, and mentioning my concern about weight, she said it was definitely too heavy. Add the sculpey and costume, holding that thing up for an entire song was a bit too much.

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    Ripping the sculpey off of the tinfoil head (to destroy it) I noticed it made this really kool fleshy look. Thought I'd share ^^

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    I've always read in here that a solid structure was the way to go, but in my puppet case that meant a heavy one as well. For the body I substituted the tightly rolled paper for lightly crumpled paper, madly taped.

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    Supplies purchased, I started with the hands. Also decided to start with them cuz I was lost as to how to go about the head cuz of my then string/structure/material questions. Where the loops are is where the string will go. And then it hit me; wire of the head too! ..duh?

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    Lightness for the head is a bit of a problem here... Solid means minimal air and therefore compact heaviness. I risked it anyway, and clumsily layed down the thin pieces (I'm cheap) of sculpey on the soft head. I'm hoping air inside sculpey and oven heat wont do anything traumatizing like... explode/ tear apart... If you know it will, please tell me. I'm waiting for my friend's approval to bake it. It really shouldn't matter but I'm like a student needing approval >< ...still.

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    I swear the 4 loops on still sticking out of his head, just can't see them. The side ones are behind his ears. So after making the head as smooth as possible (it was very airy-lumpy) I realized... where are his eye sockets?! ><

    ...Any suggestions on how to easily stick those in for the real ones? I figured I'd just have to.. somehow.. dig through the paper.. before the one layer of tinfoil (sculpey wouldnt stick to smooth paper) goes on. And hope they look like holes! I'm going to assume that's the only way to go really. Oh well...

    He'll soon be a real boy
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