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Newb having issue manipulating puppet jaw  (Read 1724 times)
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« on: March 18, 2019, 09:14:45 am »

Hi everyone,
 I’m Dave. Husband, father, grandfather and professional videographer. Recently my 4 year old grandaughter expressed interest in making videos and I quickly figured out that “we” don’t exactly have the right chemistry to make it interesting for other kids etc soooo I thought using a puppet to interact with my grandaughter would be more interesting. I bought one of those FAO Schwartz “whatnotworkshop” puppets/muppet because it was inexpensive and I’m not sure how this is going to work out. After viewing a bunch of how to and tips videos I’m finding it very difficult to move the lower jaw of the puppet only vs the upper jaw. It could be that I’m just not used to it but it seems the jaw is not very pliable and my hand gets fatigued very easily. Anyone have experience with these puppets and/or suggestions on how to make the mouth/jaw easier to manipulate? I’m going to post this in general discussion as well as introduction. Thanks!! Dave
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 06:08:44 am »

It is something that just takes practice.  You can practice without the puppet on your hand and try moving just the thumb. I can sometimes help train your brain to move just the thumb if you can see it. I've never worked with one of the Whatnots before but I have had to deal with puppets that are a bit tighter in the jaw then others. Over time they tend to loosen up a bit.  The fatigue is something you'll also get used to with practice.
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2019, 01:06:29 pm »

Thanks Shawn, that all makes sense. I'll keep at it.
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2019, 11:19:20 pm »

When I each my teams, the thing that we do every practice, is practice. I actually have a set of exercises that builds up stamina. As Shawn said, it just takes practice. Welcome to the group.
Papa of Pubbets
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2019, 10:09:07 pm »

Hi Dave,
A couple of years ago when I was living in China I was fortunate enough to find a warehouse full of excess stock from the FAO Schwarz Muppet Whatnot workshop. I ended up buying around 60 of the bodies and later found another place that had the outfits, eyes, noses and hair.

It was great fun! I made different characters and sold them to teachers across the world. They didn't last very long and the feedback was great except for one point: they were too small and grown up puppeteers reported hand cramps and discomfort.

I still have a couple of the Whatnot puppets but use them in classroom workshops or to try out new characters before building them on my bigger puppet bodies.

One thing that helped me when learning now to not 'flap' the top of the head, was to overlap a couple of my fingers on the top mouthplate. This tends to make the top fingers stay in place a little easier. I can take a photo if my explanation isn't very clear.

Related to your question: how to people build up their arm strength/stamina? Most of my puppetry is done alongside me in online classes, so it's quite easy to keep my arm at that level. However, when I'm trying to film videos with the puppet up over my head - my arm gets tired REAL fast..
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2019, 07:04:42 am »

The only real way to build stamina and strength is to practice with the puppet over your head. I have heard folks say they hold a weight that is about the same as thier puppet over their head but I don't think it is the same since you are not manipulating the mouth.
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