A failed puppet

Well, I tried to make a new puppet and failed. The challenge was to sculpt something in clay, then make a plaster mold of it the clay, then cast it in brush on latex to make a skin for the puppet.

Everything started out great. I found some professional plastilina oil based clay and some softer water based clay and completed my sculpt. Here is the side of the clay sculpt. It stands about 5″ tall.

Now you can see the head and arm and leg sculpted in plastilina clay.

white clay is soft water based clay, grey is plastilina

The plaster mold process went great and all the molds were completed. I used two part molds for the body, arms, and legs, and a one part mold for the head. Once the plaster was dry, and the clay removed, I brushed in vaseline for a mold release.

I pulled the skins out and tried to attach them to my wire armature. This is where the problems started. I didn’t have enough foam on the body to fill everything out.

The seams on the back spines and the front chest looked really bad.

And the details seemed all mushed together. The brown belt though that you can see is another experiment using rubber cement, thinner, and paint all mixed together to make a paint medium that will stick to the latex and still flex. It seems to really have worked well.

Above is a close up of the detail. Below is the head. I may leave this part.

I am removing the red skin from the puppet and starting over but the head seems ok. Below is a wrinkle in the side of the puppet.

I removed all the red skin and bulked up the body mass with more foam and will see what happens from there.

3 responses to “A failed puppet

  1. Hey John, it looks to me like you’re getting much more serious about your puppet fabrication and that always seems to be where the problems start, higher expectations equals more rejected attempts unfortunately. I’m thinking that you may want to try casting this in a urethane foam but, I’m not sure what you may be able to order.

    It’s very easy to use and you get fast results from it. All you need to do is cast latex into your mold as usual but, instead of peeling it out, you place your armature into the mold, mix up the liquid urethane components, pour it in, close the mold tightly and wait while the foam rises, fills the mold and cures.

    That stuff is a bit more stiff than the cushion foam you usually use but, it’s a good alternative and it cures quickly within just minutes.

    If you don’t want to go that way with it, then what you’re doing is just fine. You just had an Oops, that’s all – it happens to us all! The only thing I would suggest about your current method is that you build up your foam body first, sticking it into the mold along the way to see how it fits as you’re building up the shape of it.

    Did you put baby powder on the latex castings after you pulled them from the mold? If you didn’t, that’s probably why you got the pinch on the side of the body. Latex will stick to itself like contact cement unless you powder it.

    Other than that, I’ll need more details about the steps you took in the creation of this puppet in order to diagnose a solution. Your method seems correct and I really wish you success with this character because the sculpture and the castings look great!


  2. You can order expanding flexible urethanes from http://www.monstermakers.com (just in case you ever want to go that route).


  3. castlegardener

    I think I may take a look at those foams. Thanks. Ron also mentioned them.


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