Creaturiste's Laboratory

Techniques, works in progress, and everything that doesn't fit in the portfolio. Comments and questions are encouraged, custom orders are welcome!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ball & Socket & Elastic Joint

Hi all.
Today I thought of a simple way of holding a puppet head in a body, while making it removable at all times (interchangeable heads on this project).

With my colleague Daniel, we ended up with a very strong and tight ball and socket movement.

The system is very simple. A spherical hole in the wooden body, for the ball joint of the neck, which could be metal, wood, or plastic. We had a metal ball bearing that had been tapped to add threads inside, to fit the bolt that makes the neck). Two holes are drilled very close together, on both sides (left and right) of the center of the neck. The holes are drilled from outside (tarting at an angle, away from the shoulder articulations) and reach within the neck hole.
Elastic cords are run through each set of holes, making two straight lines crossing the neck opening. They are tided outside with knots, tightly.
Now here's the only tricky part (not a challenge at all): how to insert the neck ball in there.
All you need is two straight stiff rods of some sort. I use big nails or whatever piece of straight rod that's lying around. Lift one elastic out of the hole with one rod, and hold in place. Do the same with the other elastic. Slide the ball in there, release the elastics.

The hold is very strong, it won't let go until you want it to. Tension on the ball bearing from the elastics pushing it on the wood makes a very tight joint, without any parasitic movements.
Pull very hard to release the head again. We added a metal ring, made from a pipe we cut, to re-enforce the neck, but I don't think it's really necessary (but it looks neat!).

I love this system so much, I can't wait to make another puppet for myself and give it this neck system!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Giant Skull Mask 2

This is the sequel to Giant Skull Mask WIP.

The skull mask is close to be completed.

The first two pictures show texture of the paper mache Bark before the sealing (diluted Weldbond, two coats inside, one outside) and application of the Monster Bone finish, which has softened it and made the whole mask come together.

The yellowish paint job on the last picture is the first step of it. Much more staining and aging will be required. As a solution to reduce friction and noise that was happening from the stiff wire, I used a braided black cord to hinge the lower jaw to the skull. The compromise that comes with this choice is that I see the black knots outside the jaw, which I made as clean as possible, by trimming close and gluing with a drop of hot glue. The more I look at them, the less I worry about it. After all, a skeleton creature, without tendons or muscles, must need something to hold the lower jaw in place!

I was lucky to find a bicycle helmet that fits my head perfectly. It fits inside the skull mask, and brings my eyes level with those of the mask. The helmet's straps allow total stability and ease of movement. The mask, made of paper mache, is so lightweight that I don't need extra support like heavier masks would need, such as a harness from the shoulders.

The biggest remaining step is to build a foam chin piece that will activate the jaw without the need for a strap. It has to be low profile enough to allow for enough depth in the open jaw to appear like an endless hole of darkness, once the black veil is installed in the jaw to hide my face.

The costume is a simple black robe with long falling sleeves. I made a separate hood that fits the giant mask's size. This separate hood prevents the need to cut into the robe, which will allow me to re-use the robe for future costumes. I was looking for a natural fiber look, without paying the high price of linen, which would definitely have been my first choice. I was glad to find this 100% polyester textile which had a "linen" look to it, at a very affordable price. The weave is not too tight, allowing enough breathing while still being sufficiently opaque.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Macabre Puppet Show - in Montreal

All Hail You Mighty Lords Of Nowhere!
Written and performed by Alexander Winfield.
Click on poster to enlarge.

A new Puppet Show about two demons and the end of the world.

Performs In Montreal, on November 1st, Café Volver, at 8pm.
Puppets by yours truly (see the Macabre Puppets).