Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Blunty is another one of the "Little Ones" in the play I have been working on. The beginning of his head was constructed almost identically to that of the Curious Child. I molded his face onto a cheap soccer ball using clay, paper mached over everything and then cut through the back to remove the clay.
Blunty is different though, in that he is not a free standing puppet, but works as an appendage to an actor. In the script, Blunty is slowly transforming from a sweet innocent Little One, to a large brutish, food hoarding giant. We decided that this would be accomplished by putting a Little One head onto a human body.
To make this work, Blunty's head needed to be operated from behind (where the puppeteer would be standing) instead of from below. I also wanted Blunty's mouth to be stronger because he would be constantly chomping on food whenever we saw him.
I used a reacher/grabber, like these, I bought at a local pharmacy for the mechanism of the jaw.
I used carefully pre-drilled screws to attach into the narrow ends of the grabber.
And secured it to the back of the head.
Instead of just paper mache, I made Blunty's lips stronger by filling in behind them with epoxy putty.
Blunty's head is mounted to his shoulders with a long bolt and lots of washers to spread out the weight and reduce friction. This simple pivot point was enough to allow the grabber, already attached, to turn the head in addition to chomping.
I used a baby carrier, like this one, that I picked up at a thrift store as the rigging to attach everything to the front of the Blunty actor.
For Blunty's arms we used two actors behind our main actor, doing the "boyscout arms" trick (sticking their hands, from behind, under his armpits and through his shirtsleeves). To make this easier I sewed wire around the edges of the front and back openings of the sleeves to hold them open.
In these images you can see how Actor 1 provided Blunty's body, and held the tray of food. Actor 2 was Blunty's right hand, and operated the head.
Actor 3 was Blunty's left hand and hugged all three actors together so that they could move as a unit.
This is Blunty's tray of food. I included some realistic fruit, and lots of torn up sponges to resemble fruit that had already been chewed and smashed into a mess.
Some of the sponges were glued down around the outside, but most were bundled and attached to the tray with elastic.
Which was simply threaded through holes in the metal tray and knotted to attach it.
This way Actor 2 and Actor 3, serving as Blunty's hands, could blindly pick up pieces, shove them at the mouth, and then drop them without ever causing a mess.
Also Blunty likes doing Jazz hands :)