The sea monster is complete! I will think twice before planning another sequin project, but I am very pleased with the results. Here are some detail photos of the final phase of construction. I averaged about eight hours per inch of body coverage on this puppet that is about three feet long.
See Making the Sea Monster: Part 3, Making the Sea Monster: Part 2 and Making the Sea Monster: Part 1 too!
This picture is actually the first frame of a video clip showing the entire body. View it on Instagram.
I’ve made some more progress on my big, dangerous monster of the sand sea. See the first post detailing the making of the armature and skull here Making the Sea Monster: Part 1.
Detail of jaw and upper lips.
Smile for the camera darling.
The teeth are part of the skull, but the lips are separate. Armature wire is encased in the skin fabric and fastened behind the skull. The fabric is glued above the teeth with hot glue.
Cutting out the hands and arms.
Hand all sewn together and covering the wire armature.
Fishy monster tail.
The skin is made of sparkly spandex. Most of the monster’s body will be covered in sequins. The sparkly fabric will show on the more delicate parts such as fingers, toes and lips. To blend that with the sequins, I plan to use thinly applied silver acrylic paint. Below you see a sample from one of my experiments, along with the beginning of the application of the sequin scales. This is a very labor intensive process! I work on it little by little, often an hour or two in the evening. I won’t be needing the sea monster for a while so she is not my first priority in the production schedule for Seed in the Sand. Most of the time I have available for working on my personal projects is devoted to animating.
A sample of my paint experiments. This has silver acrylic paint thinly applied with a dry brush.
The beginning of the sequin scales! I am sewing them on, one by one.
Here she is so far. Ready for sequins and paint!
The fabric skin is only glued above the lips. All other areas are sewn onto the body. I avoided using glue where possible so it would not interfere with sewing the sequin scales on.
I am starting work on the sea monster for Seed in the Sand. At 38 inches long, she is almost four times the size of the nest dwellers. The monster is very dangerous but should look appealingly pretty so as not to cause fear at first sight. The scales and tail fin will match the mermaid from The One’s dreams and the hands will be feminine and pretty.
Here are some photos of my progress so far:
The head has a ball of aluminum foil at its center and is covered with wire mesh in preparation for the sculpey.
The dainty hand is the same shape and pattern as the mermaid and masked woman, but with ability to be more fin-like and have more flexibility due to the absence of knuckles.
The foot will be very lizard-like but be partially webbed. Notice the T-nut tied into the foot for anchoring. This monster is too large to use the magnets for tie down.
The tail fin also has a T-nut tie down.
Here is the entire armature rearing up in a threatening posture. Or maybe she just wants a hug. I plan to use some rigging for leaps and stabilization and it will be removed in post. You can see bolts temporarily installed in some of the tie down locations to help me make sure to keep the areas unblocked as I move forward with the flesh and skin.
The skull and lower jaw are made with translucent sculpey. The eyes are glass reproductions of fish eyes that I purchased from Van Dykes Taxidermy Supply.
Smile for the camera!
Black paint for the gums and inside of the mouth help to define the teeth.
Isn’t she pretty.
Foam in progress.
The foam is all trimmed. She is ready for skin!
I hope you enjoy this demonstration of how I make my puppet hands. If you have any questions, please comment below. This hand belongs to my villain that is under construction and it is about and one and a quarter inches long.
The hand is made as part of the wire armature:
Using the wire hand as a pattern, the back of the hand is cut out of felt with enough width in the fingers to wrap around the wire:
I glue that to the wire skeleton starting with the back of the hand and then each finger.
To do the fingers I dip the finger wire into the glue gun nozzle to coat it with a thin layer of glue and then press the felt evenly on to the finger, making sure to get the tip nicely rounded:
Next, using my tiny scissors, I cut the front of the hand out of felt using the hand as a pattern.
The front of the hand ready to be attached:
I glue the palm first and then do each finger using a very thin layer of hot glue. To finish, I clean the tip of the glue gun and use it as an iron to make the finger look seamless and rounded and to melt any stray strands of hot glue into the felt:
Here is the finished hand photographed using my cutting mat as a scale reference:
One of the many good reasons to use hot glue for making the puppet hands is that if a finger wire breaks I can carefully melt the hot glue and peel open the seams to make repairs. I like to use felt because it looks like short fur and I can make the seams disappear.
Work continues on the dream sequences for Seed in the Sand. I have just finished the mermaid who beguiles the poor creature in his dreams and points to the island of the dancing dolls. My decision to sew on sequins for her fish scales led to many hours of labor. Though I was in some despair over the slow progress, I am very happy with the result. Here she is sitting on what will be her rock in the dream ocean. I am carving it from a high density foam block with the drywall saw shown in this photo.
The mermaid sits on her unfinished rock.
Below you can see some shots of the mermaid in progress.
The mermaid’s head is sculpted and painted and her wire armature is covered in green foam.
The pattern for her body has been copied onto a sheet of sticker paper to make cutting out the tiny fingers easier. I used white shimmery dance/swim knit fabric for her body so she will shimmer a bit as if she was still damp from the ocean.
Here you see the mermaid’s hand in progress. It is turned inside out. I don’t need to leave a seam allowance with the dance/swim knit fabric because it does not fray. It works well for these tiny fingers. My stitches are very tiny so this seam won’t have any gaps with it is turned.
I am nearly done sewing on the sequins here.
The male nest dweller has strange dreams after the gem seed is planted by the masked woman. In these dreams he sees twelve dolls dancing. This doll and her sisters. The dreams grow more complex night after night and in them he travels over the sea and sees the dolls dancing on an island. As the food runs out and his mate is starving, he becomes so obsessed by the dreams that he leaves his family to search for the doll’s island.
The first doll has been complete for a while. I made her to use in the animation demonstration that I did as part of my lecture at Portland Community College last spring. I am ready to make the rest of them now and have just finished the wire armatures.
As you can see from the photo, I’ve got a little work left to do on the other eleven dolls. The next step is to put the magnets in their feet and glue the foam to the wire.
The puppet is finally completed!
The final piece of her costume is the short cape. I was unable to find the original pattern I used for the life sized version so I had to make a pattern directly from the original.
First, I spread the cape out on the floor, taped a piece of paper on it and marked a center point. Next, I took measurements from the center point to the edges and converted them to 18.75 %. I then marked the corresponding point along the same line on the paper, eventually ending up with the reduced pattern. This time around I used the metric side of the ruler. It is much simpler to convert using millimeters.
After sewing the trim on in the same way as I had done for the coat, I assembled the lining and pinned it before hand stitching it onto the cape.
Ready to be stitched.
Here is the photo of the full sized costume for you to compare with the miniature. The puppet is twelve inches high and the live doll woman is 64 inches high.
The Masked Woman’s Costume is on my dress form, which is why the arms look empty.
My puppet has hair now! Here is a photo of her on set.
The puppet on set. She still needs her cape. If you click on the photo it will open in a new screen. Click it again to magnify it and you can see her individual strands of hair.
For her hair, I started with a wig cap made of leather.
Here is the leather wig cap. I painted most of it black, except for the part in the middle.
I used Gutermann Black Quilting Cotton thread for the hair, because it has a nice sheen, and stitched each strand into the leather cap.
Here is the inside of the wig cap. You can see the stitches. Each stitch makes two strands of hair. First stitch from the outside in and then from the inside out and clip at the correct length.
The puppet’s coat is finally complete! The next step is the hooded short cape.
The completed coat. I made the buttons out of 3 mm pom-poms. Luckily many of them are actually 4 mm wide to precisely replicate the 7/8 “/ 22 mm velveteen cover buttons that I will be putting on the live action costume to replace the current ones that are plastic.
Here are some detail shots of the coat in progress:
Sewing the black trim.
Close up shot of sewing the embroidery floss in place.
The white dots are embroidered onto the black satin ribbon.
I reproduced the slit pockets. They are functional.
The coat is spread out here to show the completed trim. Notice the slit pockets there too.