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.
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 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).
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...
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.
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.