Hand Help

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Hand Help

Postby Chris Richard » 11 Nov 2010, 01:30

I have removed the larger craft foam hands from Mr. Punch and have purchase a chunk of 10 mm (or 3/8 in.) basswood, which is similar if not identical to what you refer to as lime.

Now What?

In Glyn Edwards' book it shows a hand carved from a piece 125 x 50 x 10 mm. The illustration (below) shows it hollowed on the palm side. It says, "These ends are important because they are your fingertip control over the puppet's actions." That's it. Nothing about how this is attached to the sleeve of if the sleeve is stiffened in any way.

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Illus. from
Successful Punch and Judy, Glyn Edwards


Peter Fraser's book shows a more elaborately carved hand. He writes that when that hand is finished it "is glued to its cardboard cylinder and the joint strengthened with tape." Given that I see little in the way of wrist in the illustration, this arrangement doesn't seem particularly sturdy. Again the details of how this cardboard cylinder might be secured to the sleeve is left to the readers imagination.

Image
illus from
Punch and Judy, Peter Fraser

In the Punch plans by Chris vdC elsewhere on the site his hand illustrations seem to show the hollowed out section of the wrist being on the back side of the hand, as opposed to the Glyn Edwards illustration above, which seems to be opposite. (Though I could be reading one of those drawings incorrectly.) The hollow on the back of the wrist seems to make more sense to me. Chris also mentions "stiffening material" inside the sleeve, but I can't seem to find where he states what this material might be. Again no details on attachment.

Image
Hand diagram,
Chris Van Der Craats

I hate to say that these folks might intentionally leave out the important bits so you'll give up and simply buy a ready made puppet from them, but jeez. . . Attaching the hands so they will work well seems to be a detail that should not be ignored.

All righty then. Here's my situation. I prefer to work glove puppets with both my index finger and middle finger in the head. Punch's left arm will be my thumb. His right arm will be both my ring finger and pinky. That is what has always felt most comfortable for me.

So I need suggestions. A cardboard cylinder (ala Fraser) does not strike me as being durable unless the UK makes cardboard differently than we do here. And Fraser's drawing doesn't show enough wrist to glue to securely. A cylinder, unless it's wide or flaired, would be hard to get into quickly, too, I think.

Chime in please.

Regards,

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Re: Hand Help

Postby CvdC » 11 Nov 2010, 09:25

let me confess that I was wrong. I do not know where that info comes from but it should be the other way around. The hand should sit behind the finger. You need to be able to use your fingers to hold props.
Frazer was wrong with cardboard tubes in the arms. In France they use leather but heavy canvas is just as good. It should not be too stiff as your fingers must grip.(Which is why the illustration above is so wrong)
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris Richard » 11 Nov 2010, 13:50

Thank you, CvdC,

Those few sentences are of great help.

My hands needed improving because the hands themselves were a little large and the sleeve wasn't stiff enough.

One more question, if I may. Regarding the "elbow end" of the hand, for lack of a better term--the end of the piece opposite the fingers: do you attach that end of the hand to the sleeve in any way or do you just let it flop around in there?

All the small glove puppets I ever owned as a child had hands that were more or less an integral part of the glove/sleeve itself. I don't remember having one that had separate, rigid hands attached.

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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris » 11 Nov 2010, 17:05

Chris vdC may state that Frazer was wrong advocating card tubes for hand extensions but my puppets don't know that. I have been using card tubes on glove puppet hands for the last fiftry years or so, on all the hundreds of television puppets as well as my Punch set. I am not a lover of the wooden extension that most commercial punch sets employ as think they make the puppet arms look like railway signals, or that the puppet is trying to signal via semaphore.

If a glove puppet has a lot of picking up and putting down to do (a puppet doing magic tricks for example) then a small puppet with fabric mitts and finger in the hands is the best bet. Punch figures are generally too large for that and this is where the cardboard sleeve comes in. Firstly do not make the hands too big. Marionettes can have big hands because they can be given expressive movement but big hands on a glove puppet are an embarrassment. They emphasise the shortness of the arms and get in the way of the face.

I roll my card tube round the wrist, several layers glued, and while the glue is still wet I force my finger in so that the tube opens conically to fit the finger and diminish in size to the puppet wrist. Also I should mention that I have also glued to the inside of the spiral a layer of felt - so that this opens up with the card. The purpose of the felt is to grip the end of the finger tip and avoid it falling off during the action. Another tip to avoid this is to run a length of round knicker elastic from hand to hand, inside the inner garment, just tight enough to keep the hands on the finger and thumb tips. I usually then cover the outside of the card cone with by gluing on a layer of leather or strong fabric of some kind. This is so that the garment can be stitched to the wrist. Incidentally I should mention then when finished I cut the card-felt-cloth tube as short as possible - it should be just long enough to grip the operating finger or thumb. Too long and it will stiffen the arm and be just as bad as the carved wooden extension.

Having said all this, I must admit that on other people's puppets I love to see "flappers" - small wooden hands which are simply stitched to the ends of the sleeves. The fingers do not control these in and way and the hang and flop and are splendid for beating time on the playboard. This is how many of the Punch puppets I remember as a child were equipped and I have always thought them typically Punch. I would not approve of such hands for glove puppets other than in a Punch show.
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Nick Jackson » 11 Nov 2010, 21:24

My hands (if you see what I mean) are glued and tacked just into the sleeve, about 1cm – this allows flapping if desired but, as my dressed are tailored to my hands (mine, not the dolls') the tips of my fingers are just on the end of them. This means they can flap or be quite rigid as required! (Sorry for convoluted sentence structure.)
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Re: Hand Help

Postby CvdC » 11 Nov 2010, 23:33

I agree with all the above. I too like to see a bit of flap, makes the puppets look limp at the wrist which is quite amusing.
I did use cardboard tubes originally in my trialling and erroring in making puppets but I found that I could grip objects with the puppets better if I could feel them through the glove. also personally I don't think puppets improve any with extra long arms (and certainly not large hands).
I have seen puppets that have quite loose fitting arms as well as flappy hands. This means they are not capable of any controlled expression, let alone semaphore, which limits the performance considerably.
Nick's method seems to be the best if you are making a puppet for your own personal use and know how long your fingers are.

Oh by the way, flappy arms are perfect for the baby puppet.
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris » 12 Nov 2010, 00:30

I don't quite understand this business of "grip objects with the puppets better if I could feel them through the glove" - surely you don't grip anything with the finger tips - and it is only the finger tips that are in the card tube. Actually there is very little object manipulation in most Punch Shows - the slapstick is never held at the finger tips? Also card sleeves as I advocate certainly do not lengthen the arms.

I wouldn't say that Nick's way was best. Certainly it his preferred method. But card sleeves are certainly best for me and most none Punch glove puppeteers. And many other professors appear to be very happy with the Wal Kent splint which has been copied by most of the commercial makers who followed him. This is undoubtedly the method of choice among those who do not make their own figures - although perhaps that is because they have no choice.

Punch is a very forgiving genre as regards puppet manipulation in that there is less attempt at realism and therefore one can go for comfort and expedience, the best hands being the ones you are most comfortable with. Also remember that in a very fast show you don't even need to have your fingers in the arms all the time.

I remember seeing an old time showman's set of figures which were a variation of the Catalan style. In the Catalan style the middle three fingers are in the head and shoulders and the arms are worked by the thumb and little fingers which enter the arm at the elbow, the upper arm being a stuffed tube. This gives a proportional appearance and is easier to dress,

The Punch variation had a stick to the head, and the hand entered the puppet at the back rather than the base of the costume. The second, third and fourth fingers gripped the stick while the thumb and forefinger entered the arms at the elbow. I only saw this one example of this style of puppet, but the old chap thought it the usual method. Has anyone else seen examples of this style? David?
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris Richard » 26 Nov 2010, 17:19

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, is a day off of work for many of us in the US who are not working in the retail establishments.

Instead of heading out with the hoards for shopping, I've been carving Punch's new hands. The size of the full piece is 4 inches, with the hands themselved being 2 inches. (That's 10 cm and 5 cm for those of you who decided we needed a new form of measurement based more logically on tenths. . .)

These are basswood. The design is a combination of the Edwards and van der Craats designs.

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Re: Hand Help

Postby Miraiker » 27 Nov 2010, 17:30

Chris R
I guess I should have mentioned this a couple of weeks ago when you said you had bought
a chunk of 10 mm (or 3/8 in.) basswood, which is similar if not identical to what you refer to as lime.

I carve from English lime all of the time. It makes a good, strong puppet head which will last while not being too heavy to use.
When my supplier had run out of lime once he offered me Basswood instead. He said it was known as 'American lime'. I gave it a try. Perhaps it is called American lime because of the fruit it grows? It certainly had nothing in common with lime wood to carve. It was like a cross between lime wood and balsa. I ended up throwing it away.
I'm afraid that the hands take a bit of wear and tear during performances and these might not go the distance.
I didn't mention it at the time because I was quite miffed by your comment in the same post
I hate to say that these folks might intentionally leave out the important bits so you'll give up and simply buy a ready made puppet from them, but jeez. . .

Considering the amount of help and advice you've received on this site I thought it unworthy.
I've got over it now.
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris Richard » 27 Nov 2010, 18:22

I'm sorry to have offended, Miraiker, and I've sent along a private message as well.

I'm grateful for everyones's help here. I was just getting very frustrated that all the experts seemed to ignore the attachment of the hands.

Regarding basswood/lime there does seem to be some confusion about how similar or different they are. Wikipedia says this:
Tilia is a genus of about 30 species of trees native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, in Asia (where the greatest species diversity is found), Europe and eastern North America. . . . They are generally called lime in Britain and linden or basswood in North America.


At worst they're very very closely related. It's very possible that European species are more dense and tough. And its also possible that it varies from tree to tree.

In America, too, a lot of farmed trees for lumber are raised using faster-growing cultivars, that are often inferior to their slower growing cousins.

Basswood is available here in blocks for carving and also milled into a great many shapes for 1/12 scale dollhouse work. All the big craft stores sell it in sheets and strips for making dollhouse furniture, flooring, wall paneling, etc.

I used to do a lot of dollhouse work and never found basswood to be anything like balsa, but it is a clear, fine grained, relatively soft wood.

At any rate, it's all we have readily available around here.

These hands are now painted and have one coat of polyurethane on them. (They'll be getting another couple of coats.) They seem as though they should hold up well enough.

We might have to exchange some bits of lumber to compare.
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris » 27 Nov 2010, 19:23

I agree with Miraiker - Basswood is not English lime and does not have similar carving characteristics - but since the genus is of some 30 species then I am not surprised that there are differences. But because something is ideal for dolls' houses does not make it so for puppet carving where different characteristics are important. Basswood like Lime is a hardwood but is, as you say, relatively soft. That's what I found.
I was just getting very frustrated that all the experts seemed to ignore the attachment of the hands.

It might be pertinent to mention that all the experts who failed you were in fact Glyn Edwards who doesn't make puppets himself (his wife Mary is a very talented carver) and I have never seen a puppet made by Fraser - he draws beautifully but his work is inspirational rather than practical and Chris vdC simply made a mistake. And, by the way, despite your suspicions neither Glyn nor Fraser sell puppets. But my point is that if you need the minutiae of how to attach a hand then there are literally thousands of books on puppet making available to you.
I am afraid you won't find Punch and Judy making kits, or scale plans, as for dolls' houses.
You have to add something of yourself.
For example if you don't think Fraser shows enough wrist then you leave the wood a bit longer.
If you are not told how to attach the sleeve try glue.
If American cardboard is so much weaker than in the rest of the world stick two layers together.
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris Richard » 27 Nov 2010, 21:59

Thank you again so very much, Mr. Somerville, for your clarification and help.

I apologized to Miraiker both on an off the board for a comment I made 17 days ago at the very beginning of this thread when I was frustrated.

I then explained what I've read about lime/basswood and described my own experience with American basswood. My conclusion, based on Miraiker's post, is that English lime and American basswood, while closely related are different. I also agree with you, Chris S, since it it the very same conclusion but more sharply stated.

I have also been arts-and-craftsifying since I could first toddle, and have a college degree in art, so I've been gluing, sewing, carving, papier macheing, coloring, painting and building everything from puppets to school projects to gifts and decorations to lifesized sets for musical stage productions for nearly all my life.

But I hadn't made a hand puppet in 30 years and never one with wooden hands. When I found published suggestions confusing or lacking, and my own several tries did not fully satisfy me, I asked a group of people who have experience and who have been very helpful. I've been thanking everyone both publically and privately quite regularly.

Now I'll stop posting and go and work on Judy and my swazzling. . .
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Chris » 27 Nov 2010, 22:05

Jolly Good Mr Richard...
and don't forget the ear muffs for the little ones.
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Re: Hand Help

Postby lesclarke » 28 Nov 2010, 17:59

This is the way I attach my Wal Kent style wooden hands, not sure if I copied it from an old puppet or worked it out for myself. The hands are held in place at the wrists by the grip of the fabric cuff, to fix them so they lie flat against the inside of the sleeve, make 2 smal holes, as on a button, near the bottom of the extensions.
Drill them, or use a hot spike rather than risk splitting the wood. The sew them in place, as if one was sewing a button inside the sleeve.
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Re: Hand Help

Postby Miraiker » 28 Nov 2010, 21:06

UHU
Who'd want a proper job?
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