Thursday, April 23, 2009


While I still had access to my dad's workshop I decided to get the hands done too. I roughly followed along the AWESOME posable hand building tutorials at project puppet ( and the puppet 101 blog.

First I created the hand- sorry for lack of pictures on this step.

I started by using a pattern to cut the foam hands. I then set them aside.

A little jump here.... I cut the palm out of 2 ply chip board. I cut holes in the board using an exacto knife and then attach 16 gauge floral wire (Looking back I should have used thicker wire). Notice they are curled on both ends. This helps displace the pressure on the fnger tips when adjusting them later and the bottom curls attach the wire to the board.

You can see all the supplies and patterns here. You'll also notice a few new pieces in hte upper left that I created with foam and then wrapped the "skin" terry cloth around. I'll get to that later.

I'll ve using 5/32 music wire for the arm rods. These aren't easy to cut to size so we had to bring out the POWER TOOLS. Did I mention power tools ROCK!? SPARKS OMG!

Next you want to bend the end a couple of times so the angle is appropriate for the hand.

Next, using some 5 minute epoxy, I glue everything in place.

I put this aside and get to work on the grips. I'm using a half inch square dowel that are cut to two 4" peices. I drill a hole for the music wire to fit into.

Using a dremel I cut a groove into the wood. This will allow the wire to sit flush.

Using epoxy I glue the rod in place. Note I have bent it 90 degrees before hand. The rod should fit flush on the grip.

Then, using electrical tape I wrap it up.

Now back to the hands. I coat them with contact cement and sandwich them between the foam hands.

Then I finish the edges by applying some cement to the edges and pinching them. Here is the finished hand.

Puppet Stand

So I have gotten a lot farther on my project than this blog would let on and I really need to catch up. Things may end up being posted a little bit out of order so please bare with me.

A couple weekends ago I went home to get some help from my pop. He's got a well equipped wood shop and a lot of experience. It's always extremely helpful to have someone with experience give you a little help.

After realizing my work would be made a lot easier with the aid of a puppet stand, my dad and I set to work to make one. First thing to do was cut a base. He happened to have a nice piece of hardwood laying around that we could utilize. We cut it to size using a band saw.

Next was measuring to find the center.

We then cut a hole at the center for a pole fit in.

Then we fit the wooden dowel to the base to size it.

Next we crafted a small round piece to cap the dowel with.


The top is screwed in place.

Then the base is glued in place.

Yay stand!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Head and Mouth

Ok I got the head glued up and I have cut the bottom out.

At this point I suggest heading over to and checking out the great Ratchet mouth tutorial there

My process was a little bit different but very close.

Here I am checking the fit of the red palette on the inside of the head.
I cut a hole once I've identified where the mouth should go.

Then I do a test to see if the mouth works. I wanted to give him a frowny mouth with a conservative amount of opening clearance to give a mumbling look. I'm not exactly sure if it will work out that way but the tests look good.

I create my finger grips out of craft foam and then cover it with cloth. The Ratchet tutorial suggests using spray adhesive but I think I would suggest just using contact cement. The spray adhesive shoots a bit like silly string. For me it was messy and hard to control. Hot glue might work as well.

I've attached the finger grips to the foam and also two more pieces of foam to create pockets for my fingers.

(Insert funny caption here)

I put the mouth glove into the mouth slot and secure it with contact cement. This isn't an exact science. It's difficult to get exact measurements for things like this so calling upon your Yoda Dagobah training may be necessary. The foam is pretty forgiving and you can always edit later but make sure to pin everything and do tests before gluing.

And here is the finished foam head. It seems to work pretty well.

A Shout Out to the Puppet Masters

I just wanted to give credit where it's do. I have been aided by some really awesome sources on the internet. Here they are:

Thanks guys! I appreciate all your help!

Dying The Palette

I went out and bought some Rit dye for the mouth palette. I am going to be dying two peices of foam. One is a circularish piece of foam for the mouth palette and another splurt shaped piece to put in place of his removable ear. The kids should love the added gore right?

Here the pieces are enjoying a nice red dye bath. I'm crossing my fingers the foam will take the dye. I'm also hoping I don't stain my sink red permanently. I bought a small plastic container from Walmart for the dye bath. I've never done this before. Gulp.

Phew. The puppet gods smile upon me. Looks like it worked out. It's not quite the bright red I was hoping for but since the foam was originally green this is probably the best I'm going to get. And somehow my clumsy ass manages to avoid any dye disasters too. I hope my luck holds up.

The Hair Has Arrived!

The hair got here quicker than expected! I ordered some orange fur for his hair from It's a pretty sweet craft site. Good prices if you like to buy in bulk.

I've also cut some facial features out of the 1/2" foam and bought an orange feather Boa. And I've cut some plastic spoons for eyes. I do a little test to see how the pieces will work together. It's starting to look like something..... or someone.

The Body: continued

Ok so turns out that I made the body a bit too big, even for burly old Van Gogh. So I needed to trim it down....
So I start by drawing some guide lines to select the parts I want to cut....
And then I start cutting the foam off....
And then I reattach everything with contact cement. Tadaaah!
Notice I also cut out the neck hole. A razor blade and a sharp pair of scissors will go a long way.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Body

Now that I have the basic head shape cut and glued I'm ready to start the body. Similar to the head, first I rough out a pattern and then cut the peices out of large paper. Here's some sketches I did thinking about the body shape. I decided to go with the more rectangular body to give Vincent a broader look. One of his doctors did say he was built like a railroad worker and he spent days wondering the countryside hauling all his art gear on his back.

Here I have pinned everything together and am getting a feel for how the puppet will work. By this point I am starting to feel a bit like a mad scientist bringing something to life. I am also feeling like I am a HUGE dork.

A close up of the pinnings....

And the poor pinee.