some recent puppets

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some recent puppets

Postby martin@no10 » 01 Feb 2013, 23:46

Although I post very infrequently, I very much appreciate this website - the topics of particular interest to me are historical information and making, especially the carving of figures. I have been enjoying the various pics uploaded recently of figures in stages of being made. So - here are a few photos of some of my recent attempts, although all are not quite finished...

Here is Mr P in the finishing stages of carving - I regret not taking photos sooner, but will attempt to remedy that in future. For this I used lime sourced locally and some oak from an old drop-leaf table. Two thicknesses of the oak are in the centre to give strength to the nose and chin - the grain runs from front to back of the head. Lime is on each side and the grain is vertical. These pieces were glued together after being basically bandsawn (first time I have used one, not sure what I think yet) from a simple side view template.

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I gave it a thin coat of white emulsion to show up any areas for further sanding, etc - that is the reamins of the white paint you can see in this photo.


Once glue was dry it was gouge & mallet time - I do enjoy that... This photo shows the hollowing-out pretty much completed:

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Here he is painted, but no hair or costume yet - although the fabric has been bought:

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I also made hands and legs of course - a bit knobbly-kneed.

Once all-costumed I'll post another pic. And if this posting has worked I'll do another one.

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby martin@no10 » 01 Feb 2013, 23:52

And here's Judy:


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She still has to get some tidying up around the neck of the costume and some sort of a hat or cap.


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Judy's head was laminated in the same way as Mr P, with Lime and Oak.

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby Chris » 02 Feb 2013, 00:06

I bet you had fun with oak Martin? I have carved it, sharpening the chisel every few cuts, but I've never tried it laminated alongside another wood. How was the hollowing out?
It must have been not too difficult since you repeated the process with Judy.
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Re: some recent puppets

Postby martin@no10 » 02 Feb 2013, 00:20

Policeman next. Still to be costumed and hatted - and have still to finish painting the face. The eyes to be done and probably will do more with his skin-tone.


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Being hollowed-out:


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Start of the hands:


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Here's the head & hands just painted with acrylic primer. Before this, I painted a sort of base wirh a mixture of white emulsion with casting plaster, just to see what sort of effect it had on the finished head.

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For the hair, I mixed the colour I wanted in with some acrylic modelling gel, and spread it on the head with a palette knife. Although the 'tache is carved I also used some of the paste on it.

The hands have suitable-sized holes drilled at the wrists to fit 2nd finger and thumb of my left hand.

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby martin@no10 » 02 Feb 2013, 00:24

Hello Chris - yes oak can play havoc with the cutting edge! The hollowing-out wasn't too bad - the bulk of it came out with a 25mm flat bit, with a shallow gouge, and later a spoon gouge to get round the edges. The trickiest part perhaps was where the grain directions of the lime & oak were different and so felt very noticeable when carving. But - in theory anyway - it should make for greater strength?

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby Harvey » 02 Feb 2013, 10:14

any news on Mr Punch
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Re: some recent puppets

Postby martin@no10 » 02 Feb 2013, 19:09

No Harvey, his costume has still to be made - although I think I have all the fabric required for it, I still have to come up with some hair for him - undecided on that yet. So I think it will be at least a couple of weeks before he might be completed. But here is a Ghost:


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His neck extends:

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The head and hands are carved in Lime. I did the arms using plumbers' pipe bending spring, which I cut to length and fitted in a shoulder piece and pinned and araldited (is that a word?) into the wrist part of the hands. This means that when you shake the figure the hands move about in a (hopefully) spooky fashion. It also gives a sound a bit like rattling bones, caused by a combination of the springs and the rods attached to the head & shoulder-piece.


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The last pic shows under the costume - sorry it is not the clearest of pics, but you can see part of one of the arms/pipe bending springs, and also the neck extending lever. You can probably make out that the main rod for this puppet is a piece of plumbers' plastic waste pipe - inside that is the broomhandle rod which goes into the underside of the head. Attached to the lever is some cord (from a mountaineer shop, they like their cords to be strong and not liable to fray) which raises and lowers the head - the idea being that it can be done one-handed.

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby Chris » 02 Feb 2013, 20:43

A cheaper option to the pipe bending spring is to use spring curtain wires - the things that go through the tops of net curtains. If they are two flimsy for the weight (the hands) then you can tape one or two lengths together to create springs of greater resistance. I used these, in a similar way, for the arms of my giant in St. George.
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Re: some recent puppets

Postby Richard Coombs » 02 Feb 2013, 22:08

Nice clear photos Martin.

Thank you for sharing.

I particularly like the hands ...I find the curve of them very pleasing ..punch/judy/policeman.

The ghosts hands are splendid too , and put me in mind of some of John Thirtles rod puppet hands.

Lovely stuff.

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby Chris » 02 Feb 2013, 22:50

Yes, I agree Richard, those stylised hands with diminishing fingers are very pleasing - and, to my taste, particularly suitable for Punch figures.
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Re: some recent puppets

Postby martin@no10 » 03 Feb 2013, 13:21

Thanks - I am delighted you mentioned John Thirtle because those hands are just what I had in mind when I did the hands for the Ghost. Years ago there was a series on TV which featured a visit to Playboard and John Thirtle was demonstrating some figures and some making ideas. I really like his puppet design ideas and the hands in particular stuck in my mind.

Spring curtain wires are a good idea, I'll keep that in mind - I used the pipe bending spring simply because I came across one cheaply at a car boot. It had been seriously bent in the middle, but was ideal for my purposes.

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby Richard Coombs » 03 Feb 2013, 17:11

He he ...
I am actually quite glad I was so spot on in recognising the inspiration for your ghost hands.

Im sure Dear John would have been very pleased to have known he was the spark for your creativity.

And yes .. there's nothing better than suddenly finding something like the pipe spring cheap at a boot sale , just as you need something ...or finding a use for something you have had squirrelled away 'just in case' it is needed.

-- Better that way round rather than a job turning up for something you have only just thrown away in a clear out ! ( and usually after hanging on to it for many years too prior to that ) ....weird just how often that happens .

Anyhooo ..glad you are having fun : keep the pictures a- coming please.

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Re: some recent puppets

Postby lesclarke » 11 Feb 2013, 20:41

I do like the Punch, it has some nice shapes in the head, Judy's hair works well probably looks good when she moves and shakes her head in desperation! Favourite of those shown though is the Ghost. Again some great shapes and I personally always like a Ghost to look potentially scary but silly at the same time.
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Re: some recent puppets

Postby Harvey » 12 Feb 2013, 11:13

Looking at these photos it looks like carving puppets is really easy. I did make some puppets out of wood once but the wood was varnished so it was impossible.

Well done they look great.

Mr Punch's hat is possibly I think the most difficult out of the lot to make it easier you could use the Piccini Punch hat.

here is some brilliant examples http://www.bryanclarke.co.uk/piccini_puppet.html
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Re: some recent puppets

Postby martin@no10 » 12 Feb 2013, 18:39

Yes Judy's hair moves around quite a bit. I like the idea of the ghost looking silly - in fact the whole idea of "silly" appeals to me!
Yes some great examples on Bryan's website, and I do like the Piccini hat design, but I am still undecided on that.
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