Dire Straights!

ToastCrumbs

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Pupils/tonsils

For the most part you guys aren't that far off, if you take TREELO and FISH'N'WOLFE'S info you pretty much have what you're lookin' for. I will try and clear things up a bit. Let me start off with a little tip for all puppet builders, when it comes to building any great puppet you really don't want to use fabrics or felts that are going to bulk up the insides of the mouth. This will keep your puppets mouth from closing properly. It may not seem like this is important, but trust me it is.

From what TREELO has written I can tell that they have gotten a good close up look at some of the workshops puppets. The observation that is made is correct, Muppet pupils and tonsils are not made from felt or ultra-suede. In the begining from what I can tell Jim did use felt for pupils in the old days and even a black sharpie marker to draw them in at times. Things change with time and the workshop has found something that works and lasts a little longer.

I do try to help you guys along from time to time with hints about how things are done. Sometimes I read statements that people claim are a fact and unfortunetly they are not true and it tends to lead people in the wrong direction. I think BUCK-BEAVER will stand by me and all my information. Sorry I can't give you the exact materials used or the sources for them, but you guys seem to do alright. I will say that FISH'N'WOLFE is on the right path with his information about sticky-backed sheet lining for cabinets. I believe that TREELO mentioned ultra-suede, the workshop does use it, but for the most part it's only used for tounges, many of you know this already. Look at any Muppet photo and you will see that tounges are either carved from foam and dyed like Oscar or cut from ultra-suede like Kermit.

Oh, for the record BUCK'S information on WackyStacks is all correct, and the workshops supply is still in use. Well I think that's about all for today as always HAPPY PUPPET BUILDING TO ALL!!!
 

Treelo

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ToastCrumbs said:
From what TREELO has written I can tell that they have gotten a good close up look at some of the workshops puppets.
I've worked directly with several of them. I've even done construction work on some of the Muppet characters. :wink:

Do you know if the tonsil/pupil material is commercially available out there? In the past, I've used black ultrasuede for the tonsils - split down the center to help ease the mouth action. But I like the Henson material much, much better.

Thanks again for your comments....
 

Buck-Beaver

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The bulkiness of felt is actually a VERY important point. I actually do use felt, but construct mouths in such a way that the mouth plate is actually lower than the "lips" or edge or the puppet's mouth (kinda hard to explain here) so it's not really an issue for me. Not sure if anyone else does that though.

I'd question whether any plastic is molded or lathed by the Muppet shop. They are actually two very distinct (different) processes. I don't know much about the Muppet shop's exact methods, but most shaping of plastic in professional prop and puppet construction is done with vaccumforming, which is generally much more precise and much less complicated than molding or using a lathe. That said, I'd be interested to hear the experiences and methods of anyone who has done this themselves.

I think it is also important to remember any time we're discussing the Muppet shop's methods that they haved changed and evolved over time (as Toastcrumbs pointed out). If you hear conflicting information here, it's possible that all the answers are right, but a some of them are just out of date. I see alot of dated info here that seems to be out of books or materials from the 70s & 80s.

Here's a partial list of materials the shop has made eyes out of over the years (this comes from various builders I've met over the years who actually worked there):

- Ping pong balls
- Plastic spheres
- Fishing floats
- Wacky stacks
- Vaccumformed plastic sheets

I think the method and materials are secondary to look or effect. Most puppet builders I've met are less concerned with techniques and materials and more concerned with the design, style and functionality of their puppets.

Personally, I think whatever works, works. Any method that does what you need it to is good. If you're looking for the exact up-to-date Muppet methods I'd go with Toastcrumb's answers since he worked there hands-on until very recently.

Again, it's all good. Whatever works, works. :smile:
 

Torarin

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well i can't say exactly how they were made, they were curved infront and then they had a molding seam where they start to curve inwards again on the back side. Definately not vacuum formed, i'm pretty sure they were molded, but i can't say if the workshop had made them or if they were bought in. I have some info on 3d tounges though. One type is just vacuum formed plastic with some stretchy material over it. Similar ones are made with styrofoam too. And then if they are big enough it's just scott foam dyed red, and sprayed black in the back.
 

Beebers

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Dire straights project

Dear Meep -
Keep in mind that Kermit is quite small in proportion to, for example, Miss Piggy or Sam Eagle. Before you build, study any footage of Kermit that you can VERY closely, with your build in mind. Ignore Kermit's performance and concentrate on his construction.
Remember that the original Kermit's skin was a cast-off, somewhat fleecy spring coat belonging to Jim Henson's Mom. He did not have the flexibility of facial expression he does now.
To build him the least expensive way possible -
1. Go to a crafts/fabrics/sewing store. Get one 1 1/4" inch diameter white styrofoam ball (cost; 3 cents in U.S.), to be sliced in half for the eyes. One small sheet black felt (10 cents) for pupils and mouth interior. Same in red for his tongue. 1 1/2 yards green fleece fabric. One spool matching thread. Hot glue sticks. Foam - either purchase a 12 inch by 12 inch hunk of any kind, upholstery, craft, (it's expensive, unfortunately) or rip up a handy couch cushion. If you have to use thinner slices of foam, hot-glue these together to make a chunk. It works very well.
2. You will need a sewing machine and a hot glue gun.
3. Use the real Kermit as your guide. Stop your VCR and leave Kermit up there on T.V. for awhile while you build. Sculpt his head from the foam using any tool you have, scissors, serrated steak knives, rasps, files, or Dremel tools if you have access to those. His head should only be about 7 x 9 inches finished.
Bisect your sheet of fleece lengthwise. Cut one piece from one half large enough to accommodate the foam head. Leave a little excess at bottom to go nicely under the shoulders. Fit fleece around it, pin, remove and sew. You'll want a fairly tight fit but looser around the mouth for expression. Turn inside out, put seam to back, pull down over foam head, adjust as needed. You can stick the tip of the hot glue gun in anywhere you want to adapt the fabric and appearance. Hot-glue eyes, mouth fabrics, after the whole puppet is done.
Tear up another home furnishing for batting (stuffing) for tummy and arms. Follow same sewing/fitting methods. Sew back and forth side-to-side on legs and arms to create joints if you want them. Body parts should be joined by sewing for a quality finish. If you have trouble with this you can hot-glue but results are not as smooth.
Kermit is a rod puppet - use straightened-out wire coat hangers. Make a puncture in center of each palm (Kermit's, not yours) or bottom of wrists, fill punctures with hot glue and stick ends of rods in. Hold a second or two. Voila.
Good luck and have fun with it. It's worth the work. Best, from Beeb80 at FISH'N'WOLFE Productions in CT USA. (We build puppets professionally. I've given you the Budget Puppet Method).
 

Meep

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: (

um... dunno how to say this after that beautifully detailed guide.... but I'm doing a report on Kermit, but I'm doing a puppet of Beaker : ( It's mentioned later on in the posts but maybe it's not very clear in my original post. I feel so bad!!! :stick_out_tongue:
 

Whatever

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Never mind Meep, I think I'll have a stab at Kermit over Christmas break now that I have a "how-to" guide! Thanks, Beebers!
 

Beebers

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General idiocy (my own)

Meep said:
um... dunno how to say this after that beautifully detailed guide.... but I'm doing a report on Kermit, but I'm doing a puppet of Beaker : ( It's mentioned later on in the posts but maybe it's not very clear in my original post. I feel so bad!!! :stick_out_tongue:

Oh, nuts. That was probably my own reading-too-fast-fault. Sorry. Well, if you ever have to build a Kermit now you can. That guide I wrote is for a "poor-man's-Kermit" but he'll come out quite well and I hope someone can use and enjoy it now that I've done all that typing. Good luck with your project - I'm sure you'll do splendiferously. :cool: :cool: :cool:
 

Meep

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...

I'm glad the kermit info won't go to waste.

Thank you for the thought!! :flirt:
 

Rugby

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I just have to ask. What exactly are Wacky Stacks?
 
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