Monday, 7 February 2011

She lives!!!!!

I have made my first puppet and it feels a little like creating life, thankfully a lot less painful than childbirth although the small stitches did make me squint.  My partner said I was possessed by my creation as I could hardly put her down until she was complete.  Here is her journey the fabulous Zsa Zsa Gabor of puppets!

Her frame was a simple contruction of dowelling for the arms, legs and spine.  Three 6cm pieces for the shoulders and upper arms and two 5cm pieces for the lower arms.

They were connected with wire loops created by bending round the dowelling to get the perfect width.  and fixed into place by taping down with masking tape.  This is not the most permanent of joins and could be made better with glue or duct tape.
 The shoulders were connected to the main spine of the puppet by notching both to create a cupped joint and secured in place by twisting wire around the join.  Her head was originally going to be a cotton reel however mine had too large a gap (the old fashioned fat reels are the best) so I used a stick cut to the same size with the lower third cut again to create a moving mouth.  I needed to drill a further three holes into the centre of the stick, one central just slightly bigger than the dowelling rod and two smaller either side to thread elastic through to operate the mouth.

The final puppet frame just before I started to stuff the body.  The head is attched to the spine at the back by a piece of wire pushed through a predrilled hole to secure it in place.  To animate the mouth you thread shirring elastic through the smaller holes on the entire head and tie firmly at the top, this will make the mouth return to closed when you operate it.  To make it open thread string through the small holes in the lower jaw and tie off at the back of the head.  The string is then run down the body in a straw attached to the back and tied off to a finger loop made of wire to enable easy operating.  

Her hands are made of twisted wire and animated by wire rods connected to the underside.  She could equally well be animated by strings attached through the hand.  The loose action of the wire joints means that you can easily manipulate the arm.

Tights are an excellent way of creating flesh and fleshy contours as they do not fray and can easily be connected together and sewn to create fantastic expressions.  A favourite artist of mine Lisa Lichtenfels uses tights to create wonderful lifelike sculptures. 

Once you have stuffed the body then start to create contours by stitching into the wadding to create lines.  This is her after torso, boobs and belly have been completed, starting to come to life. 

 Side view with part of the costume already started ........ she was crying out for nipple tassles.  Alas disaster strikes when I start to carve the head, her neck snapped!!!!!  Because I had already sewn the body around the spine there was no way I could get to the snap to repair it so drastic action was required......OFF WITH HER HEAD!!!!

The new head is made of wadding covered with stocking to remain light as there would be no spine to support it.  Alas the moving mouth has been lost in the repair.  In future I will carve any heads before attaching them to the body.

 She is starting to take on a character of her own now an ageing star - still legless!!!

 Arms were fleshed out by wrapping them in wadding and sewing strips of tights around the outside.  The legs were formed much the same way except they are not jointed and hang loose to provide incidental movement or for easy positioning if she is seated.
Finally she is finished ..........a spangly G-string matches the nipple tassles perfectly and a shawl preserves her mystery.  "I'm ready for my close up Mr DeMille!!!!"

Vat do you zink dahhhlink is Zsa Zsa gorgeous????

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