Bicycle Brake Posted by Desipio on Feb 23, 2013
OK... I'm here to pick your brains again folks!!

Has anyone ever used Bicycle Brake cables for a mechanism? I know Handspring and a few other places do... But never really paid much attention to it (DOH!)

Been working for a theatre company. Gave me a project to build 12 men puppets. The Director INSISTS they're built on Broom sticks. So imagine a Crucifix shape.. With heads on top. Chest 'slightly' bulked and dressed with a shirt... VERY simple.. but how she wants it... and WON'T listen to other ideas... So I'm going with it! Pretty much had NO budget for first build... Now some funding has come in she would like them rebuilt! Hurrah! So I have to use $3,000. So to me thats £1,960.50 to be precise

I've been thinking of making heads really light... Tin Foil or something.. Then a thin layer of clay over the top. The faces are to be very ghostly.. Gaunt.. No emotion of features.. just the depth around eyes and cheeks.

They also need to have up and down movement.. This is where the Brakes come into play? Would that be sufficient enough? Or am I missing the obvious? As some of you have gathered I like to ask questions to most of you before most my projects.. Reassurance of my ideas and seeing the flaws always helps settle my mind! SO... Any help, advice or ways you might go about these figures/puppets?
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Gail on Feb 23, 2013
Can you describe what you mean by up and down movement, can't visualize that.
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Shawn on Feb 24, 2013
When you first said up an down movement I thought of simply using a piece of PVC that would fit around the broom handle that would slide up and down that the head was attached to. BTW, in the past I've used syro wig heads as the base for life size puppets (I assume these are). Lightweight and just the right shape to start from when adding features.
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Desipio on Feb 24, 2013
Styro Heads! OF COURSE!! Totally didnt think of that... But yet the most obvious thing! Thanks Shawn!

As for 'up and down' I mean for the head to look up to the ceiling and back down again!
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Gail on Feb 24, 2013
Some kind of pivot on the front side of the chin when pushed up could tilt the head back.  Or for Shawn's idea of the PVC over the broom, maybe you could cut out back half of the PVC on the top half so that only front side pushed up the chin and the back side tilted back.
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Na on Feb 24, 2013
Have you thought about a bunraku mechanism - not the rod puppets Westerners tend to refer to, but the actual Japanese puppets? Their head mechanisms are very simple, it's just an elastic attached at the back of the head, with a string trigger.

What you describe is almost exactly what the puppets are made to be: a head on a stick, with a lightweight costume attached.
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Lookeeloo on Feb 25, 2013
I like the PVC tube idea, you could also make the heads rotate.
To tilt the head you could even just run fishing line or kite string down the shaft or through the tube. A dowel on the top of the shaft could act as a pivot point.
Ghostly gaunt faces could be made by using cheese cloth with starch or some other medium to make them more rigid. You can shape quite a lot of detail with the cheese cloth
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Shawn on Feb 25, 2013
Ohhh ohhh.... love the cheese cloth idea! Cover your styro heads in foil then give them the cheese cloth treatment.  Let it dry and cut them apart to get the stryo out and you have a ghostly almost see through face. I think you would need to put something solid in the neck to keep things stable and have a way to secure to the pivot or rod.
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Desipio on Feb 27, 2013
I'm a visual kinda guy... struggling to picture this PVC tubing idea? Sorry for being slow here....
Re: Bicycle Brake Posted by Shawn on Feb 28, 2013
I think maybe Lookeeloo is talking about a variation on how a rod puppet often works. There is a bar or shaft that runs from the front of the puppets head behind the chin down the front of the rod to a trigger that wraps around the rod (much like a PVC slid over a dowel) This shaft or bar has a pivot or small hinge at each end where it joins the head and then the bottom trigger. Moving the trigger up and down on the rod makes the head tilt back and forward. Moving it around the rod makes the head look left and right. The head itself is attached to the rod via a ball joint or universal joint so it can tilt left, right, up and down.

If you just need to look up and down then keep it simple. Attach the head to the broom stick with a barn hinge. Barn hinges are normally long which is why I suggest them. One end could be pushed up into and glued into the styrofoam head. The other end would be screwed to the broom stick. Might need to flatten one side of the broom stick in order to fasten the hinge securely. So now that  you have the pivot take either a smaller dowel or length of wire and attach just in front of where you put the pivot on the head. Say maybe 1/2 out. This also needs to be able to pivot. With wire you could bend it over in a loop and then do a pin in stryo head to connect it in. With a dowel you maybe be able to find a smaller hinge and repeat what you did on the head. Now at the bottom you really don't need to do much of anything. The puppeteer holds the main broom stick in one hand and the other wire or dowel in the other and pushes it up and pulls down to move head.

The same pivot in the head would work fine to do something with string and say springs or heavy rubber bands. You put the tension of the spring or rubber bands on the back of the head. Set them so they are holding the head in the raised looking up position. The string goes on the front and when pulled it brings the head down.

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