Our Construction Diary
Page 72



Ping Pong's Puppet Workshop


November-December, 2002 (2 of 3)

Our friends in Ojai needed another puppet -- well, actually they needed two of them. A turtle and a sunflower. They decided to build the turtle themselves, if only we'd make the head out of neoprene for them.

With us, they also contracted the building of the Sunflower marionette. She had to look like a little girl, vaguely multi-ethnic, she had to be able to wilt, and she needed blinking eyes and a moving mouth. She also had to ride on the back of the turtle in a flowerpot and also be able to walk on her own on her roots.

Lets take a quick walk through her creation, and one quick shot of the turtle head.



The neoprene turtle head

Here's the Turtle's neoprene head connected to the dryer hose that, when covered with fabric, will serve as his neck. His head is about eight inches long and 6 inches wide. Bill Holznagel did the sculpt, and we have no idea what the rest of him looks like, because they haven't sent us any pictures.

Before & After

Lets jump right in with a picture of the initial drawing and the finished marionette. When you ask us to build something and you approve the final drawing, you'd better be sure, 'cause that's what you're going to get.


Working on the sculpt

Here Steve is working on the head of the Sunflower. The original black & white drawing is on the right, a colored-in version on the left, a blowup of it in the background, and a picture of Steve's niece (for inspiration) in front.
Note that the eyes in the sculpt are actually wooden balls. They will be covered with a really thin layer of plasticine before being cast in plaster. That way, the final eyes -- the identical wooden balls -- will fit nicely in the neoprene.


Problems with the neck

Sometimes the great breakthrough happens. We were stumped as to how to connect her head to the stalk which makes up her body. She looked too much like a little girl, not a sunflower -- Until...(next picture)

Hair becoming the stalk

Make her hair be part of the stalk!!! Steve quickly lumped more clay on the back of her head, as shown here, to produce the results shown in the next picture at right...

The final sculpt

Now she's beginning to look like the top of a sunflower. Look how much her neck has been pushed back from her chin as compared with the picture above. After some final smoothing, this is as she was cast.

Original leaf concept

Another breakthrough occurred in the manufacture of the leaves and flower petals. This was our original concept, wire that would fit inside the sewn and reversed leaves.

Twisting wire

Then, Marty started twisting wire with the electric drill and the vise.

The new leaf design

Instead, we sewed the leaves leaving a channel up the middle for the wire, didn't reverse them at all, but still had nicely bendable leaves. Much easier, much faster, and finally, better looking.

Candace painting the back of the sunflower's head.

Here, Candace is painting the back of the sunflower's head. It will be glued back onto the front of the head when Marty gets the eye and mouth mechanisms finished. To see that, you'll have to venture to the next page...

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All text and photos © 2003, Olde World Puppet Theatre

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