JUANA - The Puppets
We were able to whittle down the puppet count from 68 to 31. That's still a whole bunch of puppets! Here's what we did:
For most of the puppets, we built off of wig forms with paper mache. Facial features were built up with chicken wire and wallpaper tape. Above is Victor, hard at work on Cisneros (the character he is portraying.) for some of the puppets, we mounted masks on the wig forms (and on a few empty one gallon water bottles!) and used the preformed facial features to work off of. You can see an example of this below.
Above you see Duncan (background) and Shawn adding shoulders to the "heads on a stick." We did not build torsos for these guys. They are very "bare bones." We attached a cross member to the central control rod so that we could hang arms off of something, and then attached arched wire hangers to create the illusion of shoulders once the puppets are dressed. Very low-tech.
Above you see a flock of puppet heads and shoulders on our makeshift puppet cart. At the head of the cart is Fernando, on of our "pageant style" puppets. Fernando has a nodding mechanism that allows him to look down at the other puppets. I'll explain how the nodding mechanism works in another posting.
Above and below ... just a couple of shots of the puppets in progress. The faces have been painted white as a sort of base coat.
Above, Darcy is painting a flesh tone onto the neck and face of Beatriz, the character she portrays. One of the cool things about our production is that the actors had the opportunity to work on their own puppets.
Beatriz in progress. Note that we left the eye sockets white. I love this puppet. Paul Eppelston did the initial work on the facial features, and I believe Jenn Scuderi did the hair. What a great silohuette!
Hair is painted on, facial features added. The puppets are really starting to take on some personality!
Milk crates make excellent puppet racks as well. In the above picture, you can see the detail work that Paul Eppelston added in on the faces. Shadows and highlights, just like theatrical make-up. In fact, I'd say that a workable knowledge of theatrical make-up is a huge benefit for this kind of puppet making.
Next came bagging the heads and painting the "body" of the puppet black, attaching hands, and dressing the puppets. More pictures later!