make

Assorted props and costume elements

Here are a few photos of costume elements and props I’ve made for The Fool Factory over the last couple of years.

A new cover for the Giant Cherry! I love this photo because it looks completely photoshopped and surreal but isn’t. Finding the right fabric and colour is always challenging…

A giant Allen key in progress. This was for a prop for a gig at the opening of the Canberra IKEA store.

A hat and epaulettes for a Christmas Toy Soldier character.

New decorative leaf collar for the Sunflower Character.

A new body suit and colours for the Black Butterfly character. This is the front and head.

And this shows a side and back view.

And a big ruff for a scary Jack in the Box character for Halloween.

Big Malcolm Turnbull and Barbnaby Joyce puppets

It’s been a while… almost three years since I last posted. So some catching up.

Following on from the ‘Real Big Tony’ Abbott puppet, I made a ‘Real Big Mal’ puppet head of Malcolm Turnbull (when he replaced Abbott as Prime Minister in September 2015). His handler, Matthew Armstrong, repurposed Real Big Tony as the Ghost of Tony – not much has changed! – and for a while both puppets appeared together. Prior to the 2016 election I also made a big Barnaby Joyce puppet head. At this stage Matt did away with the large body suits, just wearing the heads on top of ordinary suits. I think all three puppets may now have been retired.

Tony Liar Pants on Fire puppet : Hands and flames

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I’ve recently made new hands for the Tony Liar Pants on Fire puppet, as well as some flames to accompany his smoking pants. Meanwhile he has appeared at a rally at the ANU to protest Abbott’s changes to higher education, and the March Australia protest in Melbourne last weekend.

And now you can keep up with Real Big Tony on FaceBook.

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Videos of the giant Abbott puppet

Here are 3 videos of the giant Tony Abbott puppet at the Bust the Budget rally last Sunday.

Abbott ripping up a promise:

Abbott arrives at the rally:

Tony ‘liar,liar pants on fire’ Abbott breaking promises in front of the crowd:

Light-up emu egg prop

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This is the finished emu egg prop made for BiamiThe story recounts how Biami ‘created the emu Dinnawhan, the female emu, whose spirit he used to create the Wiradjuri people; who now believe they are of the egg of Biami and the female spirit’. This is symbolised by the shadow of a baby in the coolamon within.

The egg is made from Plastimake, small pellets of plastic which soften when heated and can then by modeled. I this kind of plastic at Philip Millar’s puppet doctor session at the puppetry conference in Melbourne last year, and have been itching to have a good reason to use it! Peter, who I contacted at Plastimake, was very helpful, and it turned out to be a great material for this project.

I found it quite tricky to think through the various steps in how to make this, as it had to light up from inside but be self-contained, and you have to be able to access the batteries so they can be changed.

I started by making a polystyrene egg about 20 cm long as a former. Here it is with Special Tool A, a bit of plywood with some blunt sandpaper gaffered onto it, which happens to be ideal for smoothing  polystyrene once you have carved to roughly the right shape. Then I cut the egg in half lengthwise and put a bit of polypropylene in between so that I could later split the egg in half easily, and also cut away a small section at each end so that the ends would end up thick enough to hold screws to keep the two halves together.

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I used small quantities of Plastimake, heated in boiling water. The pellets turn transparent when they are hot enough to fuse, and then you can fish them out with a spoon and mold them to shape. I found that squishing them together a bit with the spoon while they were still in the water was a good idea too. (The little bag of black pellets are colouring pellets of Plastimake which I didn’t end up needing).

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This photo shows the egg completely covered with plastic, in various stages of setting. The opaque areas of white at the large end are set, but in other places where it is still warm you can see right through to the gladwrapped polystyrene inside. Once the egg was covered roughly, I spent quite a bit of time heating it with a hairdryer and then smoothing it out. One of the great things about Plastimake is that it can be reheated and reused, as well as added to, drilled and cut.

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The egg has a flattened part for it to rest on so it doesn’t roll around, and into that I set some polypropylene sheeting with the black contact cut-out of the the baby in a coolamon. In the other half is an led light unit from the dollar shop, with it’s switch button rewired to fit into the right position poking through to the outside of the egg. I also replaced the batteries that came with the light with button batteries instead as it seemed neater, hacking a tealight battery holder so that it held two batteries rather than one. (Thanks Zaiga!)

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Once the egg itself was made and joined up I paper mached the outside with white tissue paper because although paint takes well to Plastimake it can rub off fairly easily with wear. The speckled finish is spray paint and a little green acrylic paint.

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Grey felt

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I couldn’t find any fur fabric that was right, so opted for felt for covering the kangaroo mask. I was actually happy about that, (although it still leaves the question of what fabric to use for a tail), because I loved the masks using this technique that I made some years ago. I built a section into the inside of the mask that will fit the wearer’s face comfortably and firmly. There’s still quite a bit of detailing to be done on the ears, eyes and mouth.

While the mask was drying I went back to  making an emu egg for the same show, Biami. I’d already made a polystyrene form for it, but had set it aside while I considered how to make it light up inside. Today I finally covered the egg in Plastimake. I’ll have some photos of the egg later as it progresses.

And now a kangaroo mask

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Today I’ve been making a kangaroo mask. This is for the Biami production I blogged about yesterday. I decided to use paper mâché even though it’s a little time consuming. For something fairly small like this it’s fine, and I am pretty quick. I like doing paper mâché very much and find it meditative. I’m not sure on the final finish yet – fur or felt?

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Mechanical cardboard creatures

Lucas Ainsworth & Alyssa Hamel have a Kickstarter appeal going for these cool mechanical creatures made in kit form out of cardboard. The animal moves either with a manual winding mechanism, or by itself if you build in an additional the gear kit.

(via @dugnorth)

An origami shell

This is an origami shell sculpture I made a while ago for a special present. It’s folded from a large brown manila envelope, and measures 20cm both lengthwise and across the widest end. The ends are held in place with wires threaded with tiny beads.