Making Puppets for Stop-motion Films

In the case of this particular puppet it had a final coat of a special opalescent acrylic paint called moonstone, sold by Military Modeling suppliers. Available from them also is the invaluable epoxy putty, which becomes rock hard when dry. Use this to hold heavish bits of metal on the feet to weight them slightly. Spare nuts and bolts can be used. Put them in front of their plywood sandwich. Add a layer of papier mache around the sides of the feet, through which pins may be stuck, holding the puppet to the stage. The floor of this can be fiber board or some other such material. The outer cover of the feet will be leather or fabric.

As for the features, I painted them in watercolour and finished them with a coat of artist’s matt varnish for permanence except the eyes, where I used gloss. Tiny teeth were modeled in epoxy putty and painted with oil based paints, which take bettor to this surface. I used false eyelashes cut down to size of course, on the eyes. The hair was acrylic fur fabric dyed to the shade I required.

For the costume I used some specially purchased fabric and for the silk shirt I used the silk from an oriental purse that I took apart. The leather for the shoes came from another cheap purse but I could have used a pencil case.

The same method of construction can be used for animals, except that instead of dressing the puppet you glue sections of fur fabric to the foam rubber and plastic wood body. Felt and velvet are always useful when making animals.

This puppet was rather elaborate. You may choose to simplify matters by, say, substituting a table tennis ball for the plastic wood head.

There are a myriad of variations. For instance the puppet that I am building now is quite different, being more like a toy, a horse carved from wood with wooden friction joints, and stained finish.

Illustrations for Making Puppets for Stop-motion Films.

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 3 (Winter 1982)