Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Joy of Character

Hello everyone!

First of all, I'm ashamed to face the fact that the last time I wrote on here was almost a month ago! I've been up to my ears in puppet making for the past four weeks, but the hard slog has paid off - just about everything is ready for the first rehearsal of 'Santa's Stressful Day' tomorrow. With the show opening in a weeks time, it's all starting to feel very real. Speaking of which, my puppets recently got a little feature on the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama blog - pretty cool! The company 'Western Power Distribution' are sponsoring the performance so that local children can have the opportunity to access live classical music. I've got a little paragraph in the article explaining how puppets will make the story more engaging for young children - you can read all about it here:

Now, let me fill you in on where the past month has taken me. In my last blog post I talked about fabricating my lion, and specifically the process of covering upholstery foam puppets with stretch jersey fabric. At this stage the lion puppet was just a blank canvas in the right colours - since then I've given him the details that have really brought his personality to life.

From the moment I gave him pupils I started to believe he was real - it's amazing what eyes do for the character.

The teeth were really fun to make. These are plasterzote foam, snipped into shape and painted before being given a final glaze with clear nail polish. 

With puppet making, I often find that the materials I have to hand help inspire and form the personality of the character. For example, his frizzy whiskers are made of some unwound rope I had leftover from the initial structure building. I wanted the crinkled look I had imagined in my original drawings, and this stuff worked wonderfully. I tend to hoard materials and oddments for this reason - you never know what might come in handy!

Here's a shot of Rudolph after his initial covering. At this stage the puppets look very flat, but are a canvas for detail just waiting to be explored.

A crown and cape are just what Mr. Lion needed to give him an air of nobility. At this stage Rudolph was also starting to get some character - a fuzzy white belly, some cute little antlers and a rather large red nose (which actually lights up, might I add!) I wanted the style of Rudolph to echo mid century illustrations. 

As the weeks went by and my making list grew longer I got worse at taking photos of my process, so I have very few of Santa in the making unfortunately. Here's part of his creation that I did document - the costume making. This is the start of Santa's coat, which was great fun to make. I don't know as much as I'd like to about costume making and am always looking to learn new techniques!

I've come to find that a lot of puppet making is trial and error. There were many ways that I could have made Santa's facial hair, but I came to the simple solution of brushing PVA glue onto faux fur to give it a permanent shape and texture.

In this picture the puppets are near the stage of completion. This project has been great for me personally; having such a short amount of time to make make many puppets has meant I've had to put my perfectionism aside and find quick ways of making to a high quality.

In the past week I also made a gang of guinea pig puppets, but I'm going to give them their own feature in a seperate post.

Thanks for reading, until the next time!

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