armature

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 4

My stop-motion hedge knight, Sir Duncan The Tall, is now pretty much complete. His head and mouth can move as well as his legs, arms and fingers.

HKnight1

He still needs a few props, so I build him a sword out of Sculpey and a shield out of balsa wood.

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I also make him a massive pair of shoulder pads just in case the Kansas City Chiefs decide to take him with their first pick in this years NFL Draft.

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Ok, this guy is pretty much ready to make his big screen, stop-motion film debut.

HKnight4

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 3

Yesterday I got the feet made to my stop-motion puppet, today I tackle the hands. The first thing I do is sketch out a hand that is roughly the right size on a piece of paper.

HKhand1

Using a light gage aluminum wire I build the framework of each hand.

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I hot glue a piece of cardboard to the palm of each hand so they will retain their shape. I then add a thin layer of hot glue to all the aluminum wire in order to add strength to it.

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Finally, I sew on some fine leather gloves with elegant fur trim. I add some Sculpey painted armor to the top of the hands and they are finished.

HKhand4

Tomorrow… the next step towards finish.

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 2

Yesterday I got my stop-motion puppet roughed in and today I need to add some feet to it. I cut basic shapes out of cardboard and hot glue them to the foot dowel, but unfortunately, since I have no actual plan to work from, (I kinda just make things up as I go) I am completely at a loss as to what to do next…

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I look around my studio and find some scuzzy old modeling clay that is left over from a previous project. I use it to shape up the top part of the feet. (If any of you are old Mort Drucker fans you might recognize where my feet come from.)

HKfeet2

Ok, that worked pretty well, but now there is another problem. This clay is not the kind that ever dries and it’s a bit oily. Any kind of fabric material I put directly on top of that clay will immediately become all splotched and greasy looking. What to do? I decide at this point the best thing I can do is go to the kitchen to get something to eat and… hey… how about Kitchen Plastic Wrap?! I wrap the feet and they are now ready to be finished up.

HKfeet3

I like the way the top of the feet look, but they are pretty flat. They need a bit more depth to them, so I hot glue some scrap wood to the bottom of each foot to get the volume I need. I then sew fabric around all of it, add some Sculpey painted armor and I’m done.

HKfeet4

Tomorrow I build some hands…

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 1

I created my last stop-motion puppet with an armature of pencils and tape and while it was somewhat successful, it now seems to be pretty brittle. I really wanted to refine some of those ideas… so I built another one. Using a modeling compound called Super Sculpey I sculpted the top part of the head on an aluminum wire and the bottom jaw on another. Hypothetically I can then move the mouth around a bit and make this guy talk on camera.

Sculpey is a really great product that I have used for years. It has a great feel as you model it into shape and then you just toss it into your household oven for about 30 minutes and it comes out rock hard. It can then be painted with acrylic paint.

HKhead

This time around I wanted to build a sturdier armature, so I bought a medium sized wooden dowel rod, cut it to the correct sizes and drilled holes into the end of each piece. I insert a fairly thick piece of aluminum wire into the holes to connect the dowels together and create a moveable frame. I cover all the aluminum wire joints with hot glue, which will accomplish several things. It will keep the wire from eventually breaking from heavy use, makes the wire joints a bit more rigid and permanently connects the wires and the wooden dowel together.

HK1

This guy is big, so in order to keep the weight down I cut up chunks of foam to create the body mass. I also add some really soft foam to the knee and elbow joints.

HK2

Finally I wrap the arms and legs with some scrap material (old socks) and then sew some more scrap material (a really fine green sweater I rocked during the 90’s) over the entire thing to keep all that other stuff in place. This gives me a solid base to start creating on.

HK3

Tomorrow we build some feet…

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.