Stop-Motion

Top Chef Masters

The armature for my foam stop-motion puppet is almost ready to go…

…but the brass fittings in it will eat away the foam over time, so I seal all those areas with a healthy dose of spray paint.

Next I whip up the top secret foam recipe. OK, it’s not actually top secret, but I apparently wasn’t paying very close attention when the instructor was going over all this and I have no idea what I poured into what, when, where or why, so this is still a secret recipe to me.

I pour the foam into both sides of the mold, clamp my armature in, cross my fingers, pick up the other side of the mold, spin it around and drop it into place. There is so much foam and goo squirting out all over the place I don’t know if the armature has stayed in position or not, I will only find out when this process is through.

I strap this puppy up and head for the oven.

I have gone a little extreme as far as stop-motion puppets go. Most are small mainly because if you have a large puppet, you have to build huge sets for them to be animated in. Just to give you an idea of the size of my puppet, that is my mold sitting in between two normal sized molds.

Here is a normal sized mold in the oven.

Here’s my mega super-sized mold in the same oven. Absolutely zero room to spare.

OK, everyone keep your fingers crossed. We are about to find out if this worked or not!

Magnus… Down But Not Out

I cracked open the mold for my stop motion puppet and sadly, poor Magnus did not survive the procedure.

So long Magnus…

I clean the mold out and then build an armature that is truly an engineering marvel… ok, ok, your standards for engineering marvels has to be kinda low to consider this one, but I have pretty low standards…

The armature is fitted into the mold…

The next step, the almighty casting of the foam… then I will either experience the thrill of victory… or the agony of defeat.

Building A Mold For Magnus

I have moved into the next phase of building a stop motion puppet: making the mold. First I lay Magnus on his back, prop up his arms and legs with some water based clay and then work clay all around him.

Next I mix up some kinda goop, (I hope that wasn’t too too technical for you to follow) and slop it all over the top of him.

I keep layering the goop on, mix in a little burlap for strength and work it all up until it’s flat on top.

When that whole mess is dry I flip it over and start digging all that water based clay out.

Ok, all cleaned up and ready to make the back half of the mold. (Looks like this poor guy tripped and took a face plant into wet concrete).

Time to say goodbye to Magnus. I basically repeat the entire process and create the back portion of the mold and, yes, that does look like a coffin.

My clay figurine is now gone… forever. I will destroy it as I pull the mold apart and clean it, but hopefully a newer, better, resurrected version of Magnus will emerge from that coffin and have many fabulous stop motion adventures ahead of him.

The Clay Is Ready To Mold

Last Monday my stop-motion teacher suggested I open up the vikings mouth so it could be rigged with wire and then he could talk. That sounded like a good idea, so I did that, and then I put a few finishing touches to my sculpt. I reworked the helmet a bit, added a soul patch to his lip and gave him a snazzy belt buckle.

I added a little shoulder armor.

I reworked the arm gauntlets, cleaned out the scale armor and gave him a stitched garment of some sort.

I also flared the back of the helmet up a bit.

I’m interested to see how much detail the mold will be able to hold. It will be a few weeks before that process actually takes place.

Stop Motion Build 2

…ok, so what have I learned so far on my first ever stop motion puppet build? Two tiny little aluminum wires will not hold five pounds of clay in the air very well. I had to bite the bullet last night, tear off the bottom half of my sculpt, and build a more substantial armature to support the weight… and you can tell by the look on this guys face that he was none too happy about it…