Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Curious Child part 2

(To see how I made the curious child's body, check out The Curious Child Part 1)
For the curious child's head I started with a cheap inflatable soccer ball and molded the face onto it with clay.
I based the face off of a cabbage patch doll.
I covered the molded face with layers of paper mache, concentrating especially on the front of the head.
I cut a hole in the back of the head for access and then cut through the ball to pull the clay out of the front. Everywhere I didn't need to, I left the soccer ball for added support.
I used this image I found online as the basis for the working mouth.
After hollowing the clay out of the face I carefully cut out the bottom lip of the mouth and the jaw (though there wasn't much of one). 
I cut a wood block to fit the back of my cutout and attached a half of a hinge to it. I ran a cut off piece of a hanger through the hinge, inserted a screw-eye in the top of the piece for the spring and into the bottom for the pull string. I inserted the hanger wire into a wooden block on each end to give me an attachment point into the head.
In this image you can see the hinge installed in the head, the spring attached to the top and the hole where the chin used to be.
I attached my cutout chin piece to the wooden block and re-paper mached over all the screw heads and exposed cut edges I created when I installed the jaw mechanism.
To cover the gaps in the jaw that I needed to allow the jaw to move, I glued in a square of stretchy lycra fabric. The stretch allows for the jaw to still move up and down easily, while not creating wrinkles or gathers when the mouth is at rest. Again I paper mached around the edges to help blend it into the rest of the head.
I added yarn hair, and then reattached my cutout from the back of the head,
then painted his face. One step I now realized I skipped was sanding. On this stage and from this distance he still looks fine, but paper mache can be sanded once it is dry and a light sanding would have given my puppet a smoother cleaner finish.
The string that pulls down to operate the jaw was run through the neck and down the dowel rod into the body, where a simple tug on the ring can easily make the puppet talk.

I installed the head back into the body and added clothes 
Now it's all up to the puppeteer.
And the little puppet looks great mixed in with the crowd of "little ones"

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