So - mold is made (check out here to see a great tutorial by Nick Hilligoss for making far better molds than the one seen here!) And the armature is fit to it. 1/16th armature wire, 4 strands.
Next the wire is tied together using embroidery cotton (have quite a bit kicking around). I much prefer armatures this way - no twisting the wires together - it has a very nice feel to it. I also don't use epoxy for bones - I use a small piece of cheapie stainless steel wire, bent a few times for strength, then lash that on in place to act as bones. (Mentioned a few years ago on SMA) It's cheaper, faster than waiting for epoxy, allows very thin limbs, and puts little strain on the joint as there's not one little spot that takes all the pressure. I did this for the bones on Henry and he lasted an 8 min film without breaking (admittedly he was a pretty mellow/non-jumping around character)
Next is the skull. I used some clay to create a space for the silicone, then clay for the eyes as well to create a gap. I used Sculpey Light for the skull. It didn't want to come out cleanly at first so I lined the cavity with plastic wrap so it could remove nicely for baking. Very simple skull with movable jaw, and decently light.
Here's a bit of cushion foam to bulk out the large belly. There's a wire going through the stomach as well to keep it from moving too much when animating. Very roughed-in shape - the silicone still fills a 1/4" gap or so.
Here's the first casting, a fail. I used Monster Makers Med. Flesh Tone pigment to tint the silicone before pouring it which works great, and a small container will last forever. I hadn't put enough silicone in the mold and ended up with large empty pockets on the back of the casting. The shiny bit on the back is from a failed attempt to fill the cavities - any silicone against the plaster will come out with a matte finish but left on it's on it's quite shiny.
Here's casting attempt 2 with the first layers of paint. I picked up some Speedball water-soluble block printing ink which is fantastic! Highly recommend it. Just mix a little into a bit of silicone and paint on - and $20-ish gets you 1.25 liq. oz. of 6 different colours each which should last a few dozen puppets.
Here he is in his tutu - just need to clean up some loose threads on the inside. It's a thin veil-like fabric with quite a few coats of a fabric-stiffener on it. He still needs a few more coats of paint, a final coat to remove shininess, gloves (to look like flower petals) and some nice ballet slippers and he'll be ready to go! I hope to have some animation tests up by the end of the week. It's a very quick cheapie puppet, but I can't want to animate!
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