Head Materals

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Head Materals

Postby Tom » 15 Jul 2007, 10:18

People... what do you think is best for head materals beacause im thinking of making one:

1. Pottery?

2. Papper mache?

3. Wood?

Tom :|
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Postby Nick Jackson » 15 Jul 2007, 15:11

For some characters (if they don't get bashed about too much) paper maché will work but I don't think you can beat wood. However, suspecting you're under 40, I'd advise getting your dad involved with some of the initial cutting (whether electrical or manual) and then working with rasps, files and rifflers.
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wood

Postby Trev » 15 Jul 2007, 21:25

Wood is good.

I recently met an Italian Pulcinella performer and he had made his heads from wooden balls which are used for making and darning socks. He really hammers these heads in performance (his frying pan had so many dents it looked like the moon's surface) but his heads were fine.

The only thing was they didn't have much detail.
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Postby CvdC » 15 Jul 2007, 22:27

For a first set of puppets I would recommend papier mache. Mainly because there are no special tools and skills involved.
If you have wood working tools and can use them then use wood.
The thing I have found about wood carving is that you get better with practice. After you have finished making 30 puppets you start to get the hang of it.
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Postby David Wilde » 15 Jul 2007, 22:28

Have you reached 30 yet Chris!
Im above all this!!
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Postby Chris » 15 Jul 2007, 22:32

Wood is good if you are buying them Tom. It is not good for you to try to make yourself. You should only try carving when you are very well experienced at handling woodworking tools, and carving chisels are especially dangerous. You really need to be taught to use them properly. I don't know if your school teaches woodwork - probably not. There may be opportunities later, but for the moment I think you should explore the alternatives.

However papié maché is also a traditional method for Punch figures, and some of the famous Punch Makers like Quisto were as renowned for their papié maché figures as for their carved ones. I think one of Bryan Clarke's own sets which he uses is papié maché. And Geoff Felix does very clever things with papié maché.

And, properly made, heads made in papié maché are just as strong, if not stronger, than wooden heads. Of course it is true that they don't make the same noise, on impact, as wooden ones - but that is where the slapstick comes in. A slapstick gives a nice thwack on any hard surface. Properly made papié maché is good and hard. Did you know that the Chinese made furniture in papie mache?

And another great advantage of papié maché is that its cheap (carving wood is very expensive) so you can afford to experiment and make mistakes. Then again, it produces heads which are as light, or lighter than wood. Also you are not likely to loose any fingers when modeling. You can, quite easily, when carving.

We'll talk about how to do it when you come up here.

P.S.
You could, alternatively, take a tip from one young lady who makes her puppets in cloth, I believe, and stuffs them with old pairs of tights.
Of course it may be that you don't wear tights, Tom, but you could try stuffing them with smelly socks.
Last edited by Chris on 22 Jul 2007, 17:01, edited 2 times in total.
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wood-mache

Postby Trev » 15 Jul 2007, 22:36

Chris,

here in Poland you can get the ready mixed papier mache but you can also get a kind of 'wood-mache'... like a papier mache with a high wood ingredient. Is this readily available in UK, because I've used it myself and found it very easy towork with and very good.
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Postby Chris » 15 Jul 2007, 22:57

Yes it is available. A good enough modelling material, but nowhere near as strong as properly made papie mache.
The strength is in the paper fibres and if you start adding sawdust ( or any of the other fillers that have been used) you destroy this. Of course strength isn't always the first consideration - but it is with Punch heads.


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Postby James » 15 Jul 2007, 23:01

Yes it is, under various names, you only have to add water. I saw a Punch marionette with a head modelled in this a week ago.

You beat me to it Chris!
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Postby CvdC » 16 Jul 2007, 01:01

I have made a lot more than 30 puppets James. Not 30 Punch puppets though. I have now carved more than 100 puppet heads. So I am gaining some experience finally. Still learning.
There is a way you can make puppet heads without the use of chisels.

One problem with young people and wood work is that people tend to give them cheap wood. This is wood that is hard and grainy and only makes the job more frustrating. So always buy good carving wood that is 30mm thick.
Draw 3 profiles. A centre one that is a full profile with the nose. Make sure the grain runs along the nose and chin. And two side profiles that define the cheeks and eyes (grain up and down). Cut these out using a fret saw or have them cut out for you. You will need a vice. (as we all do). Glue and clamp the pieces together. When the glue has set use a rasp and file to round the sides, the nose and chin. Drill a hole for your finger. Sand and and refine the shape.
This produces a fairly stylised puppet. But I have seen manufactured puppets not much more elaborate. This sort of puppet should be well within the abilities of an eager teenager.
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thanks

Postby Trev » 16 Jul 2007, 07:38

Thanks Chris (and James).

Interesting about the strength.
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Postby johnstoate » 16 Jul 2007, 14:05

Hello Tom, I use mostly Papier-mache' or latex heads these days, Chris has it right, Papier would be the best material for you to start with. The way I do it is to use Kitchen roll and the 'Proper' PVA. (The sort you get from builder's merchants, not the watered-down stuff from craft shops) I tear the kitchen roll into strips lengthwise. If you try tearing it you will find that it only rips cleanly one way, which is what gives it the strength. Then I mix some of the pva with a little water,(Not too much, just enough to thin it slightly) in one of those shallow trays they use in take-aways, although any shallow tray will do. I then make a tube to fit round my 'Head' fingers,(Usually out of a toilet roll centre, squashed to fit over a bit of cloth, and wrapped with masking tape.) You then pull the strips of kitchen roll through the pva over the edge of the tray, so that it scrapes off the excess, and build up your head in strips wrapped around the 'neck' tube, crossing them over each other, a bit like weaving. (This builds the strength) This is where you need a bit of patience, as you have to be careful not to put too many layers on at once, but allow them to dry off after 3 or 4 layers, otherwise they take too long to dry, and shrink a lot. I get round this by doing a few heads at once. When you have them to a finished shape, (You can squidge up strips to make features, but cover them with longer strips to hold them in place) mix a bit of the pva with flour, to a thick paste, (Roughly the consistency of double cream) and dip the whole head into it, so it is completely covered, then let it dry. (I stand them on bottle necks to drain, - This is the messy bit! If you do this a couple of times, it will give you a good, hard, surface to paint on.Then when you've finished painting, give them a couple of coats of polyurethene varnish (Matt or satin) to finish. They should last you for years, needing only bits of re-paints. Best of luck, and above all, enjoy!-Remember, they will be YOUR characters, so don't be too bothered about copying anyone elses!! :D
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Thanks

Postby Tom » 16 Jul 2007, 14:57

Thakyou every one for helping me out!! Chris I will see you soon!


Thankyou again!

Tom :D
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Postby Morris » 16 Jul 2007, 18:15

Stuffed and painted cloth is good for making puppet heads, the result is a suface which will make a noise when hit but has a bit of give in it. They are quite quick to make until you get to the painting bit.

Oh and Chris, thanks for the old tights, I had run out.
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Postby Chris » 16 Jul 2007, 18:48

Anything to oblige a lady.



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