Saturday, January 19, 2013

Making FUZZBRAINS Part 4!!!

The "eyes" have it! For the FUZZBRAINS, I've chosen to use the oblong end of some white plastic Easter eggs. Granted, since they are already white, you needn't really spray paint them, but I find them a bit too glossy. So, I chose to spray them. Firstly, I lightly sand each plastic shape with a piece of sandpaper. You can see the grade of sandpaper I used in the photo below:

After sanding, I spray the eyes with a spray paint designated for plastics. As with the contact cement, make sure you are in a well ventilated area (outside) when using spray paint. After the first coat, I lightly sand the shapes again and apply a second coat of spray. Once the second coat dries, a third coat is applied to ensure an even coat.

I needs some product placement sponsorship!
 Some of these FUZZBRAINS will be female, so I've decided they should get some eyelashes. To create the pattern, I traced the outline of the base of the egg shape on some card stock and added the lash effect to one side.

When tracing onto dark fabrics, black polar fleece in this case, I use a white color pencil to trace the pattern. You might also use chalk or fabric pens. Once traced, they are ready to be cut out.

 Here's another method I've been playing around with for smaller fabric shapes. I take some masking tape (painter's tape, here) and apply it to the back side of the fabric.

Next, I trace the pattern onto the tape.

Cut out each shape.

Then carefully remove the tape.

Using hot glue, apply to the rim of the egg and glue onto the fabric lash piece. This particular hot glue gun has adjustable temperatures and a fine-tipped nozzle, which comes in handy for detail work such as this.

Using the fabric glue (Fabri-Tac), adhere the lashes to the head in the desired position. Now your puppet will look like a zombie.

You can use a variety of things for pupils (or any features, for that matter) but I mainly use felt cabinet pads. I was able to find cards with a variety of sizes on them which is very handy since I'm constantly using a variety of eye sizes. These pads came in a dark brown color, which can be used as-is. If you'd rather have a black pupil, just spray paint the card black, as shown on the card on the left.

The importance of pupil placement cannot be overstated. It can take several tries to get the focus just right. Here you can see our female FUZZBRAIN's focus is right on.

Instead of adding arm rods to these puppets, I'm going to use a method of stringing the arms that I use for puppets in my live shows. More often than not, I simultaneously perform two puppets, limiting the use of arm rods to control arm movement. So, I took a notion from the world of marionettes and applied it to hand puppets. But I can't take credit for inventing this technique. I got it from my mentor, Terry Snyder, and I have seen other puppeteers incorporate this idea in various ways. Big Bird, for instance has a line of monofilament line running from his active hand, controlled by Muppeteer, Caroll Spinney, to his dummy hand. I use Cortland tie line for stringing up the hands. This happens to be 16 lb weight, but you could certainly use a lighter grade.

I stitch the line in place just about the corner of the mouth on the top of the puppet's head.

Once the desired lengths has been established, I stitch the other end of the line to the crease between the thumb and index finger on the hand. Trim away the excess line.

Now her hands are strung and she's ready for some hilarious dance moves.

Well, that about wraps up this tutorial on making FUZZBRAINS! You can purchase one of these charmingly weird creatures from my Etsy store:

Happy puppet making!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. I would have never thought to do that. Easter eggs and carpet pads! I want to make some for a book that I am writing but I am afraid my daughter will rip the eyes right off the puppet if I make it that way.