hello all, a friend got in touch with me the other day and asked me how i made hands for puppets. well, i thought the easiest way to tell him was through my blog. [pictures will be added later]
hot glue for glue gun
epoxy resin (glue)
1. sculpt the hands out of plasticine
2. when happy with the sculpt build a box around it. i usually build mine out of foam-board and hot glue, however this can be a bit costly so if you plan to make lots of molds you may wish to use wood and a couple of L brackets.
3. build up a layer of clay to cradle the hands
4. now, very carefully build up the clay so it is about half way up the sculpt. make sure the clay goes right up to the sculpt and that there are no gaps otherwise the plaster will leak later on. now that is done add a couple of dents with the back of a brush.
5. mix the plaster and pour gently into a corner. now, there is an issue of air bubbles, this can be sorted in a few different ways. you can brush on a few layers of plaster with a very soft brush but it can mark the sculpt if not careful and will ruin your brush. the second technique is to continuously tap and jiggle the table that it sits on but this can lead to a collapse and plaster is not that fun to clean up. the third technique is to glue a nut to an electric motor and attach it to the mold, this has the same possible drawbacks as the previous technique.
if you want to strengthen your mold, add some strips of material(best used if you add layers of plaster instead of just pouring it all in)
6. when that is set dismantle the box, turn it over and remove the clay carefully. once it has all been removed build up another box around it. using clay, make a seal around the edge and add a couple of blocks of clay on opposing sides(this is to lever it open later).
7. now brush on soft soap (can be found online quite easily as normal soap is not exchangeable) onto the plaster only and using a damp sponge mop most of it away. do this several times (the more the better) as this will help the plaster separate later.
8. pour in the plaster as before.
9. when set remove the box and clay. at this point you may want to use a knife to remove any sharp edges. using a pry of some sort open the mold (best do this slowly as to not snap the mold).
10. remove the sculpt and any residual clay. if there are any air bubbles you can mix up a small amount of plaster and fill it in.
11. cut ten lengths of aluminum and position in mold and mark where the palm would be. throughout the process keep checking that it still fits in the mold. tie the lengths together with wire and use epoxy resin to glue it in place. you may then choose to add a little milliput on the palm as an extra strengthening device and to pad out the armature. if you were unable to twist the wire make sure you add a very small amount of milliput to the tips to make sure that it wont rip through the latex later on.
12. mix up some latex and a small amount of acrylic paint and brush it on the mold. add a couple of layers. the latex pictured is the one that i use as it sets quite quickly without the use of any setting agents.
13. place the armature in the mold and fill the two sides with latex, then press the two sides together. apply a couple of clamps.
14. when the latex in the centre is dry you can split the mold and you should have two animatable hands that will just peel out of the mold.
this process may take a couple of attempts at any stage to get it right so don't be downhearted if it goes wrong at any point. i hope you found this useful and you can now apply this process to any part of a stop-motion puppet. if you want a simpler, less detailed hand you can always make the armature and simply dip it into the latex(this will need a few layers with the later ones being mixed with a colour).