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Questions Concerning Puppet Construction  (Read 420 times)
Lampshadefanman
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« on: September 13, 2017, 12:17:52 am »

Hi everyone. I'm fairly new to puppet making. I have made a few puppets but they aren't that great. I really want to make a good puppet that looks professional. I plan on remaking a puppet I have previously created, but this time make it better. Here is the original puppet and his future version's concept drawing.

My first question is about the arms. How do you give them structure? For my past puppets, I stuffed the arms with poly fill but it usually came out where some parts of the arm had more poly fill than other parts, so the arms were lumpy. To avoid this I tried adding more poly fill to even the arms out but it ended up having too much and the arms being too stiff. How can I properly structure the arms?

My second question is about the mouth of the puppet. I have noticed that on the inside of the mouth there is always a small edge of fleece outlining the mouth's inside. I tried to add this but I couldn't glue the edge down without it not going in a straight line. How would I do this? And on that note, how do I even attach the mouth in the first place? Do I cover the mouthplate in fleece and glue that in or do I sew the mouthplate fleece covering onto the puppets skin and pull the skin and mouthplate fleece over and around the head, where it will hopefully line up? Also what material would I use more the mouthplate's fleece covering? I was trying to use velvet but it was kind of hard to work with. What's a better material that the professionals tend to use?

Finally I have two more, small questions. I am planning on buying some dome eyes from Out of the Box Puppets. I see that there are pegs coming out from the bottom of the eyes. I assume you poke a hole in the puppets head where the eyes will be, and insert the pegs into those, locking them in place from the bottom with the washers. Is this how you do it? And now the pupils. What is a good material to make the pupils out of that will last and look good? What are the Muppets' pupils made out of?

Sorry if I wrote too much. Thanks for reading and hopefully helping.
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 06:18:49 am »

For arms I always sewed a tube out of cotton material that did not stretch, then I stuffed the lower half with poly fill so that it was nice and rigid. Sew a two lines across the tube to make the "elbow" so it can bend then stuff the upper half of the arm the same. Now you can cover this with your fleece and you have a nice solid arm.

I always sew the mouth fabric to the head fabric then turn it and fit over the foam head. That should give you that clean "lip" you are looking for. More often then not I just used felt for the inside of the mouth.

I always just painted the pupils on my puppets.  Some folks  use pre-made plastic pupils that get glued to the white of the eye.
Snail
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2017, 07:00:32 pm »

For mouth I like to use lots of pins stuck straight in on the edges to hold the head and mouth interior before sewing. Never sew over a pin, pull it out just before you get to it. Start at the fold edge with small stitches and turn down the speed. For smaller curves you may have to stop with needle down in fabric and lift presser foot to slightly turn the fabric before proceeding. Sew only one half of mouth at a time from fold to fold. I don't use felt for puppet skin or inside of mouth because it is not woven fabric, it is only pressed together fibers. On the mouth after time your thumb will poke thru felt. Felt is fine for a tongue or uvula details layered on top, but no where that will be stressed.  I prefer a knit fabric that will give a little but not fall apart later. If I go to the trouble to make a puppet I want it to last a while. The  eye washers seem to me to have a right and wrong side.  It seems to me that one will lock it on an the other will come undone. I never can remember which side I need to put up, but if you have trouble flip it over. I wish they came with instructions.
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