Orpheus: Head and Hands Casted

Here’s a quick update on my Orpheus puppet since I finished the head and the hands yesterday:

Orpheus, Hand and Hands.

Orpheus’ head and hands.

(See this image in higher resolution on my flickr stream.)

My process here is pretty much the same to making puppets from cold foam. Before I pour the foam into the mold, I cover the form with latex mâché. Latex mâché was invented by my dear fellow Shelley Noble, and it’s very similar to paper mâché:

First, I cover the inside of the mold with one or two layers of liquid latex. Next, I add little snippets of very thin dyed paper and glue them down with another layer of latex. If all is covered and has dried, I’ll place the armature into the mold and fill the gaps with cold foam.

Once the foam is cured, I take the cast out of the mold and hide the seams under another layer of paper and latex. The head measures approx. 3,5 cm from crown to chin.

Orpheus: Head and Hand, Detail.

See the paper structure under the hand’s skin.

My intention is to get everything at least a bit paper-like. The latex mâché method is a good way to combine a papery look with a flexible puppet, even though it’s quite laborious: Covering the mold with paper and latex from the inside took me about two hours.

It took me three attempts to get everything right, and I haven’t taken any photos of the process so far. When I’ll make Orpheus’ body mold and cast next, I’m going to take some for illustration for you.

The picture on this post’s top reminds me of an Orpheus portrait by Jean Delville, a Belgian symbolist painter who completed this painting in 1893. – A coincidence?

27. May 2011 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , , | 11 comments

Comments (11)

  1. Great! And now 7% puppets for Animation Monday!

  2. These 7% on puppet making weigh more than the last 3% on set building… But I’ll do what I can! ;)

  3. No – they don’t.
    And next time simply start with the last 7% instead of the first ones, if this is easier for you. :P

  4. Love this. I actually even like it with flicker!

  5. Hm, I had some more ideas on this, so I’m also thinking about laying a glass plate on the background to keep it plain on the one hand, but to also enlarge the distance between the clouds and the background…

  6. about the idea with the glass: I’m very curious how this might turn out… the clouds have a certain three-dimensional quality though they are clearly ‘just’ two-dimensional – and thereby got a special quality… Oh, and the background is something. Now with the moving clouds

  7. Looking great, Jessica. Your puppet look might be different than mine but just to make sure you can experiment to decide…

    You may want to see what happens when you use torn rice paper for the skin layers (the first ones into the mold) and perhaps try to not put a bare layer of latex down in the mold before the paper, rather after the paper. (the thinner nature of the torn rice paper makes it conform to the shape w/o needing the latex down first.

    In this way your puppets can look exactly like they are made of only paper, if that’s interesting to you, yet they will be as strong and flexible (stronger actually) as a pure latex skin.

    So exciting to see you trying this material out too!

  8. Rice paper may be a good idea, because you descibed my main problem here perfectly: even though I used a very thin paper, it still was too strong to fit in the smallest parts of the mold (like the nose, for example) perfectly.

    I think I’ll have to go into town to get some rice paper! But probably not today. Right now I can’t see it anymore! ;D

  9. Oh! And I really love the way you’ve used differing colors of paper to mark the hair vs. the skin! That is brilliant!

  10. Excellent to see Orpheus coming along so nicely!!

    I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to Shelley when she did this…

    Putting paper into the latex will mean it can’t stretch, which might not be important for some parts. But If I were going to use this technique I’d experiment first by making a part with the paper and one with only latex and see how the movement is affected.

    It seems like it would be possible to get almost the same effect using bits of thin latex cut from – say – condoms, or rubber gloves or something. Again, it would require experiments… I don’t know how well it would work.

    But I do love the adventurous spirit of sheer artistic creativity here!!

  11. Mike, welcome back, and thank your for suggestions! – Your advise is always appreciated here.

    The hands, as they are right now, are flexible and move perfectly. I suppose it’s because the paper snippets are covered by two layers of latex on th eoutside. I think it dapends of the size of the paper as well: the smaller the pieces are, the more flexible that part of the body becomes.

    I already did the small test you described, and it confirmed my idea of how the materials may react.

    The next step is, that I’ll be testing Shelley’s method above, with rice paper on the outside.

    Thank you both!