Puppet feet

So, what about the feet, you ask. Well let’s take a look at how I do puppet feet.

The basis of my puppet feet rely on a piece of aluminum with some drilled holes and a tapped hole for the tiedown.

aluminum stock

aluminum stock

This is 1/8″ thick aluminum, about 1/2″ wide. Notice the three small holes on the left. That is where the wires from the leg will enter. The next hole towards the right is the hole for the tie down screw. Ignore the other two. They will be cut off.

two feet blocks

two feet blocks

This is what the two feet blocks look like. There are three holes near the back for the armature wires coming down from the leg. Drill holes just large enough for the wires to fit.

tap

tap

The larger hole is for the screw that you will use for your tie down. I use a 8/32 screw because I can easily find 3-4″ long 8/32 screws at the hardware store. So, we need to cut threads in our foot blocks for the screw to screw into. Once you choose your screw size, buy a tap that cuts the matching size threads. That tool above is a tap. It has threads on it to cut metal. It will cut threads in the hole for the screw. Drill the large hole the proper size.

Look at your screw or your tap. Imagine if you ground off the threads and just had a shaft left. The size of that shaft is the proper size for the hole to drill. Or sometimes the tap tool will tell you what size drill bit you need. So, find your desired screw, buy a proper tap tool. Drill the proper sized hole. Now we are ready to cut the threads.

tap tool holder

tap tool holder

The tap tool has a handle that works great for it.

tap

tap

The tool goes in the hole. Turn a tiny bit, then reverse, turn a tiny bit, then reverse. You will feel the teeth cutting threads in the metal. Take this very slowly and try to keep the tool perpendicular to the metal.

teeth

teeth

You can see the teeth on the tap tool.

Insert wires

Insert wires

Insert the leg wires into the three hole. Slide the foot up where you want it.

bend the wires

bend the wires

One at a time bend the wires up and over the foot block. Cut off any excess.

bent up

bent up

This shows two wires bend up and over. Don’t block the large hole. Squeeze the wires tight down on the foot block with pliers.

all three done

all three done

The above photo shows all three wires done. See how they lock the foot block in place? Also notice the wires near the ankle area are not twisted together. This will help the foot twist.

IMG_5502

You can see the armature with both feet blocks in place.

You can shape your foot block any shape you wish. You could also add wires for toes if you desired.

feet

feet

Now I add some epoxy putty around the bent up wires. I personally use “greenstuff”. It is made by Kneadatite. The two parts are blue and yellow, when mixed they turn green. But you can use any epoxy putty you want.

putty

putty

blue and yellow

blue and yellow

apply putty

apply putty

Put your screw into the threaded hole to keep any putty from gumming it up. Apply some putty around the wires to lock them in place. I use putty instead of glue so I can have more control where it goes.

my tie downs

my tie downs

You can now see my tie down system. I use 3-4″ long 8/32 screws with a wing nut. The screw threads into the bottom of the foot then the wingnut spins up to tighten it all together. Thanks to Nick Hilligoss for the wing nut idea.

puppet on stage

puppet on stage

The puppet foot lands on the stage, over a pre drilled hole.

wingnut

wingnut

The screw is threaded up from the bottom of the stage into the foot. Then the wing nut spun up to tighten.

tie down system

tie down system

ready to animate

ready to animate

putty

putty

You can cover your feet with latex or foam as you build your puppet.

I can’t really mention tie downs without showing you Nick Hilligoss’s incredible tie down video. It is a must watch.

So, my puppet feet are a little different than other peoples’. They involve a few tools, but I have made lots of feet like this, and they work pretty well for me.

Pros to this system include cheap, easy to make, and they hold pretty well. They also can be shaped to any shape you wish.

Cons are there is nothing to prevent your screw from going up too far into the foot or shoe. Also the aluminum can strip out or cross thread if you mistreat it because the metal is pretty soft. And the ankles don’t twist very easily as compared to some other systems.

And a side note, you can use some of your epoxy putty to solidify the wires near the chest area, and hip area. Just mash on a blob, and work into the wires.

Go ahead, make a mess, make some feet, have some fun.

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One response to “Puppet feet

  1. Great tips here, love see the different methods for tie downs

    -Jeff

    Like

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