Thursday, 31 December 2009


My Lord,
'tis been a while. Christmas and fitting a new kitchen are no excuses but...

Friday, 6 November 2009

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Scientist reborn

Here is version 2 of the Scientist. This is so much better. There's a lot of hot glue here. the burns are slowly subsiding...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009


Mr Punch naked, with hand in position that, if inserted, would produce the pose he is in.

One thing I hadn't considered in advance was that thumb and forefinger are quite different in length (and fatness). This has some unexpected consequences.

It makes it hard for a two-fingered puppet to be used on either hand. The positioning of the holes through which the puppeteers fingers support the puppet's arms has to made to fit either a left hand or a right hand, but once made for one hand, the puppet cannot easily be used on the other...

Costume ponderings

I've not made as much progress as I would have liked, on account of working on kitchens, but have got the basic concept for the two fingered puppet pretty much sorted.

This involves making the sleeve and arms as one piece, and the body without arms as another as shown here, and stitching together.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Mr Punch in an old costume

Blinkin' Blimey, e's an 'andsome devil.

Micro Mr Punch is wearing a previous (and sadly deceased) puppet's garb, but he looks rather dapper methinks. Taken from a dead man, tsk, tsk.

He will get a new set of clothes of his own, but looking sharp in hand-me-downs, meanwhile.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Mr Punch's body...

Mr Punch is looking good. I went for full body in the end and it turns out to have been a pretty good idea...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Skeleton problem may be solved

A-ha! This came to me on the train.

I have made a breakthrough in changing to a puppet with a full (if small) body with a separate sleeve attached horizontally.

This works by mounting the head on a rod (as a counter balance), and attachin the pivot to the costume inside the neck. This frees the two working fingers (thumb and forefinger) to move freely without being contrained by holding the rod

Friday, 2 October 2009

Puppet skeletons gone wrong?

I am starting to think I have not cracked it with the basic design of how a small two-fingered glove puppet needs to be mounted on the hand.
The problem is that I am trying to adapt the traditional mount for three fingers, and not just trying to start from scratch with what works for two fingers. It is not working!
Using a trad glove puppet with the arm upright it is surprisingly uncomfortable and restrictive to move the puppet arm with the index finger.

I had a bit of an a-ha moment thinking about a steadicam mounting, which might be a better model than a glove puppet. How weird is that?

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Beautiful gold fabric

Lovely offcut bought cheap. Shimmers enough to confuse my camera sensors!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

This hat looks like a bobble hat. Not sure that's appropriate.

...and I think even more so in colour...
I like the warm richness of the pencil against the coolness of scribbled paper. Floating it is...

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Back in the newly cleared out shed with a new table for the sewing machine.

In the meantime, I lost a puppet head today, as it was purloined by a member of the public from a gilding workshop - shocking!

I had left it to be covered in (faux) gold leaf, and returned to find a schoolboy had taken it home. Farewell!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Scientist assembled

Scientist is now put together with his own hands and head, but no costume yet.

The final mounting shown uses a bamboo cane for mounting the head with the hands mounted on bamboo skewers. All three are glued into place using a hot glue gun.

This is a two fingered operation. i.e. it uses a thumb and forefinger in the two arms, but no finger in the puppet head. This method is not as symmetrical as using the standard three fingered glove operation (forefinger in head, thumb and second finger in the arms)

This is significant because the arms are not symmetrical, the puppet cannot be used on eather hand as effectively. This may mean considering each puppet as they will appear in the plot, so that the correct puppet is on the correct hand at any one time.

Assembling scientist body parts

Gluing hand into place for Scientist using a hot glue gun. The hand is mounted on a tiny bamboo extension rod (not visible here) to keep the arm sleeve rigid in use, but light to operate

Monday, 14 September 2009

Puppet body material

I have retrieved forlorn dead puppets from the loft, and notice the fabric is very heavy. My current glove puppet test bodies have been suffering from floppy arms, under the weight of the Fimo hands. It occurred to me that soft fabric is where they are going wrong...a-ha!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Judy in another Judy's wig

Here is the latest Judy, with a previous Judy's wig on. Its a bit massive, and my hand holding it looks rather blue and dead in this photo, I must say!

Dead judy's wig

This wig belonged to a previous Judy made in 2000, and since eaten by rats whilst in storage in the loft - Yikes!
I was thinking I perhaps should only create puppets for Micro Mr Punch strictly from new materials, but decided that was not really in the theatrical spirit of reusing anything that was to hand.
I will post a pic of new judy in dead Judy's wig perhaps!

Dead judy's wig
Originally uploaded by rosemarybeetle

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Varnishing eight hands

Varnishing eight hands
Originally uploaded by rosemarybeetle

Out in the lovely early evening sun...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

More hands ready to varnish

More hands ready to varnish
Originally uploaded by rosemarybeetle

Shot in the shed. Another batch of slightly eery hands...

Policeman costume

Policeman costume
Originally uploaded by rosemarybeetle

Created on iPhone app: "Brushes" on the train

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Piccies from iPhone

Piccies from iPhone
Originally uploaded by rosemarybeetle

This was a test of a rather tanned looking hand from my phone. Focus
is picking up the ground. Hmm...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Test bodies in the shop

Still not sure if they will be two or three fingered, but here are latest body blanks

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Hands in the vice

Hands locked into the vice, ready for spraying with varnish to seal

Colouring hands

I have said it before, but Promarkers are fantastic. These little manuals are crafted hastily in Fimo, then baked.

The base colour is a mixture of Yellow Oche, Burnt Sienna and Alizarin Crimson Acyilic diluted to a thick but runny wash with a dash of washing up liquid squirted in to make it stick to the plasticky Fimo. (Amazing - makes water paint stick to water-resistant plastic!)

The Promakers are used to apply smudged washes of delicate colour and slightly sickening shades of green, pink, yellow, etc. This gives depth and richness.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Smaller hands

Hands, lovely hands...

Doll grade Fimo is pink, soft and easy to use. Cooked on gas mark 1/2 overnight, which is probably rather too long. They look good, but I am not sure how well they will paint, and more importantly whether they are too brittle when smacked into another puppets head!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Hands inside hands

What a lovely hand...

Fimo hands

I have been thinking about how best to make some hands, and Fimo is looking top candidate so far. Easy peasy to mould, but can be set hard - fabulous. This is rose coloured doll making Fimo, which is quite soft to work.

A new video of how to make hands using Fimo is available here:

There is a similar setting modelling material that sets as an eraser - that is rubbery, but I have not tried that.

Monday, 10 August 2009


Blessed Fimo. Having started carving hands from oak, only to have a (puupet) thumb sliced off with hasty chisel action, I have reverted to modelling, but this time the rather handy Fimo. These hands are too big for their owners heads I fear.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Lost in the woods

Here's what is going on in the darkened shed... I am sure this sewing machine is an antique, well vintage or something...

Friday, 31 July 2009

This is a test of the rod based skeleton, version 1. I am not convinced it allows enough subtlety of manipulation. The joint quality is also important, as slack in the joints, introduces lag and play in the movement between hand motion and motion transmitted to the puppet. Rigid rods also do not allow curling of arms or necks that direct finger control can do so well. Hmm...

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Talk to the Hand

Having got cross with rod based skeletons, I am considering just doing hand control. It is so much easier to get character going, even if I feel like I have dobbed out of the challenge of doing it small to some extent...

Here is one piccy, with a blank costume.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Costumes instead

OK, I have had enough brainache trying to get to the bottom of rods versus fingers. It's times like this when you need to go sideways, so I am going to look at costumes instead...

How about this for a suit!

Hands or rods?

I have been struggling with making a rod based skeleton to mount the undersized puppets on, and which will allow their manipulation from below with one hand. The idea being to have a mechanism that transfers the hand movements via rods to the puppet above. This is proving tricky.

The rods and hinges being used are not really of a high enough quality. This introduces play in the transfer of the movements, which in turn causes a loss of subtlety.

Some options are:
  • to carry on and perfect the mechanism by prototyping.
  • abandon this and revert to using direct hand control

Monday, 6 July 2009

Heads in the vice again

Here is the cast, minus one crocodile.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Further painting

This head is different from rest, at least for having moving parts.. Half way through painting, showing pink base coat with green and yellow layers over it, partly rubbed back.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Mr Punch gets colour

Here is the more developed version, gaining some colour...

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Mr Punch being painted

Mr Punch under the brush. The pink base coat is white emulsion paint stained with alazarin crimson acrylic. This shows a wash being applied over this, before being rubbed back with a dry brush. The wash coat is highly diluted acrylic, with applied mainly yellow oche, with a small amount of burnt sienna, and a tiny touch of crimson.

Mr Punch gets colour

Mr Punch starts to get colour. After 5 coats of white emulsion, 2 of pink, an oche wash over that, the detail is drawn on using Promarkers, a type of art grade marker pen.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Painting on raw papier mache

White emulsion paint applied to raw papier mache on the Saleman puppet head. The cracks are caused by the water being absorbed from the emulsion too fast.

The remedy is to sand it and apply another coat. This can be repeated several times, although if you use too many coats, you can end up losing fine detail, as the paint tends to fill in grooves and cracks.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Base coats for the cast

The assembled cast. Well, their heads anyway.

These are drying after having had their fourth base coat of white emulsion. Each coat of paint is lightly sanded to make it smooth. For hard to get at edges you can use wirewool. It is much more flexible for getting into details like eye sockets and nostrils!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Painting faces

I am starting to paint the faces of the puppets. The first thing is to cover the plain brown heads with a base coat of white. I have always used normal domestic white matt emulsion paint for this, which is not only cheap, but does the job.

However I thought I might try acrylic artist paint. This was to see if it was quicker between coats as acrylic dries very fast. It was not a good idea though. Acrylic holds brush stroke lines very visibly, which on a small puppet is a problem. It is also quite rubbery, and so the lines cannot be sanded down effectively between coats.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


The small size of the puppets means that even with 2 fingers, instead of 3, it is not easy to get a hand inside without making the body look either too fat, or unduly distorted when working the puppet.

This has meant going back to the idea of using an internal skeleton. Here is the first prototype being built.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Stencil and example body

Here's a stencil and an example stitched from denim cut from it.

Note - the template is asymmetric in this case. This needs to be considered when using material that has a different pattern on each side (e.g. a facing side, and backing side).
If you just cut out two pieces, and stitch together this will mean the face is not showing on one side.
To get round this, after drawing out one piece on your cloth, simply turn the stencil over before drawing out the next piece.
This will give two pieces that will sew 2 together with faces out on both sides. In this case the body uses plain cloth, so it doesn't matter!

Glove puppet pattern - the quick and easy way

Drawing round one's hand is a pretty simple way to get a base pattern to make the body parts!

You then cut out the pattern, and use as a stencil.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Basic costume - version one

A first rough sew of a costume body for Mr Plod (or whatever the policeman may end up being called). This will be the basis for a generic cloth body, over which the proper character costumes can be fitted later.

This shows the stick where the finger would normally be. Using thumb and forefinger makes them a bit lopsided. arms are too big at present, but that can be adjusted in version 2...

Sunday, 3 May 2009


getting there. this the last head to get put together. Costumes next then...

Friday, 1 May 2009


I think that my attempts to use rods and hinges to transfer expression from fingertips to puppet-tips may be overkill.
This drawing shows what may be a simpler way - just using 2 fingers instead of 3.
It still does not address the fact that a finger in the puppet's head gives a huge range of expression, but it does mean a simpler more direct connection between fingers and puppet movement than the rods and hinges probably could.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Cleaning up

Judy is out of the mould, and this half is being cleaned up with a riffler.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Judy moulding...

Judy moulding in the palm of my hand. You can see the roughness of a raw untrimmed moulding. A scalpel and some rifflers later and this will be a polished thing...