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Building a mouth assembly  (Read 48732 times)
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« on: July 24, 2006, 10:04:07 am »

Hello List:

I thought I would ask a question about mouths and what people use when creating puppet mouths. In the past I used cardboard covered in felt, but lately I've been relying more on foam board with foam tubes on the under and upper mouth for finger holes to make it easier to manipulate the mouths. One company I order professional puppets through now has a "handi-sphere" on the top part of the mouth (basically a rubber ball of some kind covered in material to aid in gripping (prevents flipping lids). Other puppets I own utilize foam rubber in the top part of the head and then below the jaw to add enough resistance to manipulate the mouth effectively.

I'm always looking for new, better ideas for constructing puppet mouths, so I thought I'd throw out this question.
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2006, 10:12:50 am »

do a search on this site for "mouth", we had quite a few discussions on the topic. There was even one on the lips, how to make lips.
Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2006, 12:56:37 pm »

I ordered a puppet off E-bay just to see how it was constructed and they used one of those pool tubes sliced in half and then you cut each halves into smaller pieces to fit the mouthplate. Just trim it down with the scissors.( makes a good gripper under the elastic strap)
I've used anything from foam core board, old book covers, Heavy cardboard covered with styrene plastic, wood wall paneling, Experiment with what you feel comfortable with.
I use foam mouths straps in some puppets, Elastic straps and the tubey as I described above on top and a thumb cup on bottom, Then I use the finger tubes sometimes.
I'm always open to learning a new technique.
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« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2006, 02:05:37 pm »

Some professional builders also use Sintra, which is a type of plastic (I've only seen it in white) that you can get in different size/thickness from some hardware stores or plastic manufacturers. There is also a slightly more flexible plastic that is thinner, clear, and can be found at craft stores as well as plastic manufacturers... not sure what it's called though.

Some builders use wood, but I never saw the point of that since it adds so much unnecessary weight to the puppet.

For a flexable mouth like Kermits, many builders will use gasket rubber, which can be purchased in large sheets. I haven't been able to get large sheets from Home Depot or Lowes, but just visit your local plumbing shop/supply and they should have it available. You should be able to get it in different sizes/thickness too.

The plastic cut from Ice cream containers, lids, old buckets, etc can make wonderful mouth plates too.... I also use them to cut eyes, claws, to make props, small suitcases, etc.  Wink

Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2006, 02:09:40 pm »

Thanks Michele glad to see you back and at it. I will have to check the gasket rubber out Undecided Plumbing store... Undecided
Ron G.
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2006, 04:01:44 pm »

I seem to recall someone here suggesting the use of mouse pads as a replacement for gasket rubber in that application, but I have no personal experience concerning its suitability. What I do know is that if you keep your eyes open and ask around it's not hard to pick up a bunch of mouse pads really cheap, or for free.

I also saw someone mention using those new heat-resistant silicone oven mitts as the foundation of a mouth assembly, but it doesn't seem practical to me. Those things are fairly expensive, and wouldn't adapt readily to a traditional mouth design. Still... if you wanted to create a sock puppet scuba diver it might be pretty good...


Here are some cut-down silicone pot grabbers that might be better suited for mouth assemblies...


And a closeup shot of the two types together...


Then again, there are silicone oven mitts that were made to look like puppets...



Ron G.

« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 09:33:03 am »

These pot holders are so totally cute, I'd get few for my kitchen anyway. They'd make nice Christams present to my friends, too. 
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2007, 01:48:52 pm »

My technique is the finger tubes on foam core covered in sculpt or reinforced with duct tape. The Foam Book illustrates tubes for each finger. I have found out that tubing the 2 middle fingers (separate or together) on the top plate, while resting your point and pinky finger outside the 2 middle finger tube has the best control and least strain on fingers.

When I use the foam core for the mouth board, after finding the correct measurements for the whole mouth circumference, I slice the inside crease with a razorblade. Doing this serves as a spring making the mouth easily open.

Hope this helps anything.
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2007, 12:45:01 pm »

I have used rubber and many other things. What I have found that lats the lobngest is leather. I use different thicknesses of leather and the great part about it is the older it gets the more flexable it is. I swear by it. Rubber wears out and the gasket rubber you can get at auto part stores wear out even faster. If any of you are ever intrested in leather let me know i will send you some shots.
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2007, 08:17:49 pm »

Yes, yes, yes, Tiffany loves pictures. HHHmmm leather. Undecided
Billy D. Fuller
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2007, 08:21:38 pm »

How do you apply the leather... I bought brads and rivets, I don't have the tool that you hammer them together.
I have a leather supplier on ebay and  couple of other sources. Do you know of anyone that sells scrap leather, I should say what kind do you use?
Pictures, yes pictures will do.
Billy D.
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2007, 09:34:24 pm »

I am covering some heads this weekend. I will remember to take some shots. I use different kinds of leather. For large mouths that I want stiffer plates I use 1/4 inch thick tooling leather. I usually wait until its on sale from Tandy leather and buy an entire hide at one tiem. Its around 70 bucks, but enough to make dozens of puppets! The scrap I was refering to that I use to joing the other peices and I think Billy asked about I buy at Micheles art supply. If you have one they usually have a leather working secition with bags of scrap for projects. Its great stuff only about a few bucks a bag!
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2007, 09:35:32 pm »

I apply the leather using the same glue I use on the foam. Its works great with the leather. Hay I tell you what I have to make some mouth plates anyway would anyone be intrested in a photo tutorial?
StiqPuppet Productions
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2007, 09:56:59 pm »

Oh.......we love pictures........we are visual learners.....bring on the pictures.....Huh??  LOL

Truly it would be very thoughtful if you could show pictures and a little written on how you make your mouth plates.  I am always looking at new ways to try them and heard of using leather but never have tried it yet.

Thanks for the thoughts and looking forward to your pictorial workshop.

« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2007, 07:37:35 am »

I apply the leather using the same glue I use on the foam. Its works great with the leather. Hay I tell you what I have to make some mouth plates anyway would anyone be intrested in a photo tutorial?

Yes ...pictures...yes...tutorial...yes please.
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