Vlzerdko un Brun

So, before I spend the next two years of my school life working on *ahem* serious projects I wanted to do something a little frivolous and fun. As I've wanted to play with puppets again I came up with the idea of doing an episodal 'Punch and Judy' style puppet show set in a fictional Eastern Block country during the Communist era. After spending 15mins on the train ride to work writing the first script I thought I'd probably better design my characters, called Vlzerdko and Brun.

You don't need to be able to draw. I had an idea of what I wanted them to look like and scratched this onto a piece of paper in two minutes.

What to do now? Well, now you have to make them. There's a lot of different ways to make puppet heads. All puppets are kinda freaky (those dead eyes, eeep!) so no one way is better than any other and it really depends how you want your final puppets to look and what you're going to do with them. But the first step is always to make some original models that look like your pictures. I used a White Raku clay for my orginals because not only does it keep it's form and properties as it dries but it's also one of the cheapest modelling mediums you can find. Cheap means you can make lots of mistakes, so have FUN!

The blank head for Vlzerdko

The blank head for Brun, I've left his nose off for reasons that should become obvious later.

I decided on making latex heads because it meant they would be light, I could bash the things around 'Punch and Judy' style and they wouldn't get too damaged, and it would be easier to make their mouths move as latex stretches like skin. Latex is particularly easy to remove from complex moulds because of ability to stetch and compress which means for these heads I could use what I call a one piece slush mould. What is a one piece slush mould? Stop being so impatient, you'll find out shortly.

Once you're satisfied with your clay models, which may take minutes, hours or days (there's no rush or time limit), you need to start creating your moulds. It's really kinda easy. Take some more clay roll it into flat slabs and build walls around your clay models.

Make sure these are water tight.
This was the issue that caused my 3rd character, the factory owner, to die because
the wall broke and leaked litres of wet plaster all over my studio (not pictured).

Next, wash the clay off your hands 'cause you're about to get them covered in plaster.

Good quality pottery plaster, a bucket and some water is all you need.

Now, plaster making is the part that most mould makers will go on and on about because the plaster is going to be your final mould. They really should get over themselves, it's a simple process. Get enough water to fill the wall up to the top... um... guesstimate! Then, take the powered plaster and start dumping it into the water. Keep going. Once the powdered plaster is above the level of the water, like a little island, stop. The water will creep up through the island and cause it to crumble into the water (oh the humanity!), which means you need more plaster in the water. So put some more in. Keep doing this until the water no longer destroys your island. Yay, the villagers are saved... no they're not, this means your plaster to water ratio is perfect. With your HANDS, start mixing the plaster/water mix thoroughly until it's silky smooth and there are no lumps. Within a few minutes the plaster becomes thicker and warmer. The temperature change is important because it indicates the chemical reaction which makes plaster hard is taking place. This is why you must mix with your hands. The moment you feel it getting warmer pour it over the clay model filling up the wall.

Leave it alone for a day or two and then take off the outer clay walls...

Uh-oh, A huge lump of plaster with a huge lump of clay stuck inside it!

Turn the mould over and VERY carefully and sloooooowly dig out the clay. Use soft tools, so you don't scratch the inside of your mould, and small amounts of water to soften the clay. This is the reason I didn't put Bruns nose on, to get the clay out of a shape like that would have been far too tedious, fiddley, and all the scraping inside the nose could scratch the mould or worse... crack it. Much easier to make a nose later and stick it on. Did I say this is a slow process... I meant boring... BORING I SAY! Be patient. The slush that was once your clay head will come out eventually... and you will have a finished mould.

How ironic... my mould got mold... *shrugs* makes no difference as you will soon see.

That's probably enough for one post. I'll show the process of using the moulds to make the latex puppet heads next time.

Hope everyone out here is cool. I'll swing by and see you cats sometime soon.



The BFG has always been on my top 5 films I would love to make. Of course, it's kind of hard in the climate of todays children's cinema to make a film about scary loin cloth wearing giants that make a daily habit of eating children from all over the world except Wellington (because of their boot-y flavour). Then there's the logistical problem of writing a script that is mostly one on one dialogue between the BFG and young Sofie that is filled with nonsensical banter playing on the written form of the English language. Ah well, I guess it'll be up to me to crack the formula and convince people to let me make it.

I still haven't gotten around to uploading anything of the puppet project I'm playing with at the moment. The puppets look pretty cool on the few camera tests I've done to make sure their mouth mechanisms work properly. Yep, their mouths work... well, one mouth works and one big nose and mustache that 'bobbles up and down effectively imitating someone talking' works. Now all they need is arms. I've only today received the 'blank' hand casts that I skived from a doll manufacturer (beg, borrow, and steal people... it's the only way to make films) so I'll start re-casting them into latex and working out the hand mechanisms this weekend. It'll should all be ready for shooting next weekend (or the one after) .

Hopefully the shoot and edit for the first episode wont take more than 4 weeks cause after that I'll BUSY. Yes busier than I am now. Busy learning, learning to produce/direct a documentary and learning the finer points of production design with the other newbies at the prestigious (*cough* *cough*) Sydney Film School. I haven't been a serious student since high school... gawd help me, how am I going to do two years of Uni... but in the film industry you need networks of people to do big projects and institutions of higher learning are a great place to pick up and refine ones skills while making those ever needed contacts. So I'm a tad nervous about the idea of having to convince people to make my films through a pitch process rather than just convincing myself and then making a film, but ultimately it's the nature of the industry and I'm keen as a savoury spread to start the course... at the soon to be prestigious, now I'm attending, Sydney Film School. (No really, they've got a brilliant track record of International Film Festival representation of their work. I wouldn't go there if they didn't).

I hope everyone else out here is doing well.

Oh... and that picture above was going to be so much more detailed but after 5 days I decided to cut it down and colour it 'cause I just couldn't get enough time to take it any further than this...