Thursday, January 17, 2013

Making FUZZBRAINS part 2!

Let's talk brains, shall we? There are many different methods for keeping your hand snug in a puppet's head. Really, it depends on personal preference. Filling in the hollow puppets head with foam, called a "brain," is just one method that I like. For the smaller FUZZBRAIN head, I took a piece of 1" thick foam, cut it to fit the hollow area around the base of the skull and then rounded the edges on my belt sander. For comfort, I glued velour to the side of the foam that would come in contact with my hand. Velour was handy but you can use anything you find most comfortable: scrap fleece, Spandex, etc.
Gluing velour to brain pieces.
Now that you've glued your fabric to the brain, you can trim away the excess fabric.
The brain will fit snugly inside the skull of the puppet head. You can glue it in place if you like (for larger heads I'd recommend it) but for these smaller heads, they can be easily removed and replaced if not wanted.
A snuggly fit brain inside the skull.
Now, onto mouths! For more flexible mouths, I like using a Polypropylene plastic used on thicker place mats (I got these at Target). You can get several mouths off of a single sheet. Mouths are cut in two halves and taped together with gaffer's tape for a hinge on both the front and back sides. For the front side of the mouth, I've used the same black velour I used to line the brains. But you can use any fabric/color you choose. I sand both sides of the plastic mouth with a medium grade sandpaper to create a rougher surface for gluing with contact cement.
Gluing velour to the front side of the mouth.
 On the back side of the mouth (the side your hand will come in contact with) is lined with a knit jersey fabric. I like applying contact cement to a slightly bigger area around the edges of the mouth to allow the lining and the velour fabric to adhere to each other, sandwiching in the mouth palate. Once both sides have fabric, trim away the excess fabric.
You should be feeling good on the fumes by this point.
Get a grip! For additional comfort and performance ease, I take a small piece of dowel, sand a flat edge on my belt sander and epoxy to the top mouth palate. Placement will vary depending on what feels comfortable to you. I like placing it where my top knuckles bend so that my hand curves slightly when puppeteering.
I use a 5-minute epoxy to glue the grip to the back of the top mouth palate.
I use a toothpick to mix the two parts of epoxy and apply to the flat side of the dowel. When glued in place on the top mouth palate, use a clamp to keep the dowel in place while the epoxy sets up.
Tune in again next time when we'll hear Doctor Bob say, "That's the worst case of clamps I've ever seen!"

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