Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Fun, Snapdragon Puppets



Roger Mara is a very the talented puppeteer and puppet builder behind Snapdragon Puppets. His web site, has been completely overhauled, and it looks great. Along with plenty of puppet pictures and show information, the new site includes an extensive behind the scenes section. Roger covers a wide range of topics including casting small puppet heads, video and foam puppets, giant walk-arounds, and more. also has a large section dedicated to puppet video production, that gives an in-depth look into the making of the Emmy Award winning video The Mousecracker.

To learn more about Elizabeth Luse, puppet designer for Snapdragon Puppets, check out Patrick's 10 part interview with her in his blog Puppet Design.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

PEAhind the Scenes, Part 3


Because the peas will be exposed foam and they won't be covered with fabric or fleece, I need to avoid marking them up as much as possible. Instead of using a pen to mark the mouth, I'm using thread pinned down at the ends with two straight pins.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

PEAhind the Scenes, Part 2


I've used Rit dye to dye the foam green. Dying foam is similar to dying fabric, but it usually take a little longer, depending on the density of the foam. Because foam floats it must be weighted down to keep it summered in the dye bath. To insure a consistent color, squeeze the foam while its summered in the bath, working the dye all the way into the foam. Once you've achieved your desired color, remove the foam from the bath and rinse it thoroughly under cool water. Rinse and wring the foam until the water runs clear. Before you set the foam out to dry, wring it out to remove all excess water.

Monday, March 27, 2006

PEAhind the Scenes, Part 1


When I'm making a foam puppet I usually use patterns, and the darting technique described in the "Ratchet Puppet Building Tutorial”. Sometimes different design choices, budgetary restraints, or time restrictions call for the use of a different puppet building technique. In this next behind the scenes series, I'll be chronicling the construction of the popular peas for Puppet

Because the peas were meant to be perfect spheres and a uniform size, it was decided that they would be constructed from store-bought foam balls.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Friday Fun, American Idol


This is a shot of me on the Paramount back lot during the shooting of a Ford spot that played during season 4 of American Idol.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

B.A.R.K. Update

It's funny what can happen during the development of a puppet show. As we were revising, the script for B.A.R.K. The Robot Dog we decided that since the pets belonged to an inventor, the names should reflect that - so we've changed Muffin's name to Ratchet. Stay tuned for more puppet show updates.

Puppet Show Posters



Check out the posters for our two new summer puppet shows, B.A.R.K. The Robot Dog, and Rex and Boots, Super Sleuths.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Puppet Building Tutorial: Ratchet


There are many steps to building a puppet. This tutorial will give you detailed instructions on how I built Ratchet for the Swazzle puppet show, B.A.R.K. The Robot Dog. Click on the links below to read each step.

Part 1: Starting Out

Part 2: Puppet Head Construction
Step 1, The Basic Shapes
Step 2, The Patterns
Step 3, Cutting Foam
Step 4, Putting the Shapes Together

Part 3: The Mouth
Foam Pallet
The Grip, Step 1, Making the Finger Grips
The Grip, Step 2, Covering the Gasket Rubber
The Finished Grip

Part 4: The Muzzle
The Bottom Jaw, Step 1, gluing the Foam
The Bottom Jaw, Step 2, Attaching the Foam
The Top Jaw, Step 1, Foam Construction
The Top Jaw, Step 2, Refining the Shape
The Top Jaw, Step 3, Refining the Shape
Attaching the Muzzle

Part 5: Fabrication
Terry Cloth
Dying Fabric
The Bottom Jaw, Step 1, gluing the Material
The Bottom Jaw, Step 2, Gathering the Material
The Bottom Jaw, Step 3, Cutting the Material
The Bottom Jaw, Step 4, The Stitch
The Bottom Jaw, Step 5, gluing the Material
The Top Jaw
The Head, Step 1, Terry Cloth
The Head, Step 2, Pinning the Material
The Head, Step 3, Cutting Around the Muzzle
The Head, Step 4, Sewing to the Muzzle
The Head, Step 5, gluing the Material
The Head, Step 6, Pinning the Material
The Head, Step 7, Cutting the Material
The Head, Step 8, Sewing the Cuts
Craft Fur, Part 1, Hair
Craft Fur, Part 2 Cheeks

Part 6: Puppet Eyes (Part 1)
Step 1, Positioning the Eyes
Step 2, Cutting the Eye Holes
Step 3, gluing the Eye
Step 4, Attaching the Eyes

Part 7: The Nose
Step 1, Cutting the Nose
Step 2, Rounding the Nose
Step 3, Positioning the Nose
Step 4, Attaching the Nose

Part 8 & 9: Ears and Tongue
Step 1, Cutting Foam
Step 2, Cutting Material
Step 3, Rounding the Ears
Step 4, sewing the Tongue
Step 5, Attaching the Tongue
Step 6, Sewing the Inside of the Ear
Step 7, Attaching the Ears

Part 10: Arms
Step 1, Making the Liner
Step 2, Stuffing the Liner
Step 3, Terry Cloth Arms
Step 4, inserting the Liner

Part 11: Hands
Step 1, The Pattern
Step 2, Foam Pieces
Step 3, Armature Wire
Step 4, Attaching Armature Wire to the Palm
Step 5, Attaching Armature Wire
Step 6, Rounding the Fingers
Step 7, Attaching the Fingers
Step 8, Cutting the Fingers
Step 9, Rounding the Fingers
Step 10, gluing the Fabric, Part 1
Step 11, gluing the Fabric Part 2
Step 12, gluing the Fabric Part 3
Step 13, Cutting the excess Material
Step 14, Attaching the Hands

Part 12: The Neck
Step 1, Cutting the Fabric
Step 2, Sewing the Liner
Step 3, Attaching the Head

Part 13: The Body
Step 1, Foam Construction
Step 2, Attaching the Body
Step 3, Fur
Step 4, Attaching the Arms

Part 14: Puppet Eyes (Part 2)
Step 1, Drawing the Iris
Step 2, Painting the Iris
Step 3, Drawing and Painting the Pupils
Step 4, Painting Highlights

Part 15: Whiskers
Step 1

Part 16: Arm Rods
Arm Rod Tutorial

Meet Ratchet

Friday Fun, Meet Ratchet


Over the past couple of months I have been chronicling the creation of this puppet. Now I am please to present the final product - Ladies and Gentleman, loyal readers, I would like to introduce you to Ratchet.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

B.A.R.K. Production Journal: Arm Rods


Now it’s time to make and attach the puppet’s arm rods. Once the arm rods are attached the puppet will be complete. Please read my Arm Rod Tutorial for step by step instructions.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

B.A.R.K. Production Journal: Whiskers


Now it's time to add the final touch. The cat's whiskers are made from a thick gauge fishing line cut into six, five inch pieces. To attach the whiskers, puncture six small holes (three on each side) with an exacto knife, apply a dab of hot glue to the end of each whisker, and insert them into the holes.

Monday, March 13, 2006

B.A.R.K. Production Journal: Puppet eyes, Step 3



Just as I did for the puppet's irises, I'm going to trace and paint the pupils. Rather than centering the pupils on the iris, I'm making them a little crossed. This will make the eyes feel more focused.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

B.A.R.K. Production Journal: Puppet eyes, Step 2



Paint the puppet's irises with acrylic paint. This takes a careful eye and a steady hand so take your time and try to stay inside the line.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday Fun, Project


Project is a great web site for working professionals or puppeteers just starting out. They provide unique foam puppet patterns with step by step instructions that can be used to create a wide range of characters. Project also has an informative blog where readers can learn more about puppet building techniques, discuss puppet making materials and more.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

B.A.R.K. Production Journal: Puppet eyes, Step 1



Draw your desired iris shapes on paper. Cut the shapes out and use these to determine the proper iris placement. Their position and focus is important, because the eyes are the first things people look at. Make sure the eyes aren't too crossed, walleyed or uneven - unless of course that's the effect you're going for. I usually like to make the eyes slightly crossed, this makes them feel more focused. Take your time, move them around and try different looks. Once you've found the proper placement, tape them to the puppet's eyeballs and trace them with a pencil.

Monday, March 06, 2006

B.A.R.K. Production Journal: Puppet Body, Step 2


Normally at this point I would fabricate the puppet's body the same way I fabricated the head. This time I'm going to do something a little unusual. The cat's body is supposed to be very thin so I'm just going to slip the foam tube into the neck of the cat. Now I'll attach them at the bottom to keep it all in place. He is really coming along, I just need to attach the arms, paint the eyes, and add a few final details.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Fun, Fantastic Burgers



This is a rock puppet that I made for a Burger King "Fantastic Four" commercial. The puppet was sculpted out of a block of foam and painted with layers of latex paint. Because the mouth was practically invisible when it was closed, it could easily be sealed shut or cut open depending on the needs of the director. In the final cut of the commercial the non puppet version was featured.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006