Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Puppets update

For the past couple of weeks I have been working on creating my horse puppet as a prototype for my future film. For the film I have decided to create lots of sub-projects so that I can have a broad range of work done while also given as much detail and focus on each separate part of the project. Each part will be an extraordinary vs ordinary element which I have also decided to develop to also look at why we might create fantastical worlds, by comparing the magical world with our harsh reality. To keep focus, after I have finished these horse puppets I will storyboard the film so that I have a general gist of what direction I am going.
As for the horse puppets, I began by making the separate horse parts from clay which I then cast in plaster to make a mould. From this mould I have made, or almost finished making, 5 puppets with :-   wax, latex, papier mache, salt dough and cloth with a egg whites and flour mixture. I tried to use materials with different densities and moveability as I thought it was important to explore which materials had the necessary weight without being to heavy or without having to much friction between the parts.
The wax I found had the best density, it is solid without being too heavy; however, the parts are quite brittle in the smaller areas and it is quite greasy to use as the wax rubs off on your hands. The plus point is that it is reusable so if something does sanp I can melt in back down in the mould, however, this isn't the most convenient of things to do.
The latex is very light, which for the body and head could be solved by stuffing it however, the way the legs are designed they couldn't be stuffed. There is also a lot of friction between the parts, so even if I could adjust the weight it is never going to be the most ideal puppet material. The plus point however, is the difference in the tone of laex where parts have been applied thicker which I think gives a nice effect of the complex muscle structure of the horse.
Papier mache had an unusual effect. I used a different recipe than usual which used wallpaper paste, which I think I mixed too thick as when I put it into the moulds I couldn't really see where there was paper and where it was just paste. Therefore, when the mache dried it had gaps and speckly bits in it which actually made it look quite skeletal and ghostly which while not directly relating to my project was an interesting effect. The mixture also dried harder than normal papier mache with PVA so it was better built for puppet making. The wallpaper paste, however, meant that it took up to a week for the castings to set.
The salt dough was experimental to see what a heavier material would be like but the salt dough turned out to be a bit too heavy. I baked the salt dough in the oven but on a very low temperate so that it is still fairly soft in the middle, it does, however, keep its shape. It is not impossible to use, with its weight, so I will continue in the exoeriments but it does make it more difficult to use.
Finally the egg whites and flour mixture was a medieval plaster casting recipe that I found online and tested with cut up pieces of cloth as I was intrigued into how it would work. i didn't have measurements so I used 2 egg whites and just poured in the flour until I got a smooth and creamy texture. I was surprised by how well this experiment worked as it dried very hard but gave a much smoother finich than the papier mache did. The change in texture, however, is a plus point on both sides.
From now I will string all the puppets up to crossbars and then film them doing a short run and judge which puppet has the best movements. From then I will move on to think about the added element of disappearing wings and think about filming the final scene.


  1. are you going to put any photos of your puppets on here?

  2. Yes, I left the puppets in the studio so I'll upload photos when I can take them soon...