|The final puppet, ready to animate!|
Once the head was complete, I was able to begin sculpting the body. As the neck needed to slot into the body, yet again I was required to sculpt around an already baked component. First of all, I sculpted the hands out flat in order to achieve the requisite level of detail, before bending then into the correct positions and baking them- I did not want them to deform when sculpting the sleeves around them.
With a simple wire armature to help the rubbery Sculpey retain a position, I blocked out the torso shape with the head and hands in place, then proceeded to add finer details.
With the Sculpey model fully sculpted and baked, I hand-painted each component individually (including the addition of pupils to the eye beads).
Despite being a static model, this character still needed to be firmly secured to its base, to prevent it from moving around when the replacement mouths are switched. I could not use a simple screw through the bottom as the body was hollowed out to conserve materials, and so I devised a two-pin system to plug the model into the wooden base. Holes were manually drilled into the bottom, either side, and likewise into a small wooden block to match. Brass rod was cut to length to form pins to fit snugly into these holes. To further steady the model, a piece of Sculpey was used to take an imprint of the hole underneath the model. The parts fit together to form a plug connector that will only fit properly with the model facing the correct direction.
The bar at which the character sits was constructed from two blocks of wood. The bar was stained with wood dye, attaining a strong colour yet allowing the natural grain to show through as a nice detail. The other sides were painted black to give a professional, finished look. The plug block was glued on, since the character is to remain in one position.
With the model complete, I could finally use my press mould to create the replacement mouths. The mould halves were lined with cling film to ensure easy removal of the Plasticine once pressed. Plasticine was mixed to the correct colour by kneading, and placed into the deeper half to best judge the required amount.
When clamping, I was admittedly apprehensive as to whether the plaster was strong enough, and so sandwiched the halves between pieces of corrugated card to distribute pressure as uniformly as possible. I am delighted to say that my mould worked great, and soon enough I had created as many mouths as needed, plus a couple of spares just in case.
Then came the far lengthier process of sculpting the individual expressions according to my designs! The ten finished replacement mouths (nine speech expressions and one standard mouth) were placed into a box with dividers, ready to be animated.
Head on over to part 4 to see photos of the finished puppet!