May 2006 was character development month complete with armatures, mask-making, and clothing. The puppets for the Vitruvius project are made of aluminum wire and epoxy putty for âbonesâ? in the arms, torso, pelvis, legs, and feet. Iâm using the Nick Hilligoss T-shaped tie down method for the feet.
The head construction starts with balsa wood and hot glue which bulks out the shape and also provides weight reduction. A thin layer of Super Sculpey is applied and the heads are baked. The eyes are wooden beads with pre-drilled holes and are baked inside the sockets. I sprinkled some talcum power into the eye socket via the pre-drilled hole to help the eyes move around easier (thatâs a tip from Strider I believe).
I use Sculpey flex over the wire armature to bulk out more body shape and then bake the whole armature. The Sculpey flex allows me to create tighter joints while reducing fatigue on the armature wire over time since the edges of the Sculpey near the join are not rigid like regular Sculpey or epoxy putty. Theoretically I will bend my wire joints over time but reduce the possibility of the body mass eating into the wire.
I patch the joints with liquid latex and build up a latex skin over the whole armature. I used polyester fabric and hot glue for the clothing. Some of the edges of the clothes have a strip of aluminum wire hot glued in a seam to allow for positioning. The robes are made of wire-ribbon, purchased at Michaelâs Arts & Crafts, and glued together like an accordion to simulate cloth folds. With the polyester tunics, I was able to run a cigarette lighter quickly across the edges to cauterize the fabricâs plastic material and keep the edges from fraying while also keeping the fabric from becoming to bulky. It also eliminated the need for sewing edges.
Here are some photos to illustrate various stages of character development for Vitruvius.