Monday, September 18, 2006

Day 16 - THE ULTIMATE DAY AT LAST!!! and wrapping wrists

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Tom is our model tonight. He's demonstrating the handy-dandy wrist-wrap method, so good for those liquid latex buildup puppets. This is a little technique I first saw used in Dan Anderson's Mirror Monster puppet, and then Grant used the same technique for his Vitruvius puppets. The idea is to fill in the empty space between forearm and hand with wrapped string and then cover that with liquid latex. I'm using a special method that allows the ends of the string to be tucked away down inside for neatness' sake. You start by making a loop as shown in the first pic, which you hold in place with one hand while you wrap string - loosely around and around the wrist with the other.
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I'm using a nice soft string Shelley sent me as part of a fantastic and incredibly useful fabrication kit for my birthday a few months ago (thanks Shellsies!). It's cotton, which makes it a bit absorbent... that might soak up some latex and end up being a bit stiff, but it's a soft string that will move much more freely than a hard thread. I tried an even thicker nylon wrapping string, which wouldn't absorb latex, but it was too thick and lumpy and I couldn't get a nice wrist shape with it. So I tore it off and went back to cotton - the fabric of our lives. Wrap until you have the shape you want... pay close attention to what's happening, and sometimes you might have to back off a few wrappings and re-do them to fill in an area or to bring down an area that's wrapped too high. When you're done, tuck the end through the loop as demonstrated in the second pic.
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Then pull the first end of the string, the one emerging from under all the wrappings. This will pull the end down inside, where it's out of sight and out of mind, and you don't have to worry about how to tie it off or glue it down. Then simply snip off both ends as close as possible.

You know... if I had all these puppets to do over again, there are so many things I'd do differently in hindsight. I completely overengineered these armatures. Since I ended up building the forearms out of epoxy putty anyway, there was no need to do all that intricate thread wrapping and nail cutting way back at the beginning... the stuff that was the hardest to do and that my hands have only recently recovered from! But ya live and ya learn, right? Next time I'll know... next time.....


herself said...

Yay! Brom that's a great scheme you got going thar. Me copy u.

I know what you mean by hindsight and doing it differently AFTER you've had this experience. I think that's how it is for everyone, except those that do the same ol thing every single day.

Well done, Michael, puppet master, strider in night hours.

I'm so tie tie.

Darkstrider said...

Wow, you ARE up late, little lady! Thanks for checkin' in . And you know what... I would absolutely LOVE to get to the point one day where I actually *know_what_I'm_doing* and I can make armatures fast and efficiently... the same way every freakin' time! Of course it's little more than a fantasy I know. But it IS nice to dream, isn't it? Now get to bed and do a little dreamin' of your own!

Ubatuber said...

Man, armature techniques....gotta try 'em all....there are so many approaches it'll be a very long while before I decide on which is best for me, before I 'know what I'm doing' :)

Nice tip with the thread-wrap'd wrists, I'd read that before but forgotten all about it...would've been great for Docs arms....

herself said...

It was only really late for me because I was up all night the night before. Doh! Not good.

Can I just say that I ALWAYS ALWAYS deal with this sense you describe of forging new ground. It happens EVERY single bleedin graphic job and art thing--I never seem to walk the same ground twice. It doesn't feel as good as I imagine feeling expert would. Although--I notice that inadvertently, over the years, I am able to know how to do things from the past struggles. It's like soon, making armatures as you like will be like breathing, you won't even realize that you've become proficient until somebody asks you how to do it.

I asked Clare the other day what it feels like in his head to know all the methods of construction and art techniques, was it full up there? And he said he never realizes that he knows much until somebody asks him how to do something and he hears himself say the answer!