I’ve been so consumed with the mind-numbing repetitiveness of mass puppet production that I’ve not bothered to take pictures of my progress. Rest assured, I’m hard at work coiffing the kids, one hair at a time. I’ll post something on that subject shortly, but in the meantime let’s take a look at the forebearer of the species, the James Rumsey prototype.
Rising from the smoldering wreckage of the overdeveloped, underpossible puppet project of my college days — The Thistledown Dirigible — comes James Rumsey the first. He and his stillborn British twin brother are all that survived the crash of that incoherent catastrophe. Still, it was not a total failure as they’ve become the nucleus of this new undertaking. Above is the raw cut foam core of the kid. The abdominal incisions are to increase the flexibility of his torso.
Here he is partially covered with fleece. This puppet was designed to be permanently seated, acting as host to a much more expansive hand puppet show about two argumentative gentlemen traveling through history and literature on a dirigible powered by awesome. Awesomite, actually, an artificially engineered element created from the super-compressed ashen cremains of dead rock stars. I wonder how that project got so far out of hand.
Horror show, isn’t he? Sans pupils, eyebrows and hair with lips punctuated by pins.
The finished prototype, finger nails and all. The Frown Town puppets won’t have fingernails as it takes the verisimilitude a tad too far. All in all, I’d say this James came out decently from a sculptural standpoint. However, I completely overlook performance when I constructed him and to see that tiny mouth try and form words is too terrible to tolerate.
There are several points that we’re improving upon with James II. His features are underdeveloped and lack a baseline emotion. His nose and ears barely register and his expression is blank where it should be forged of unfathomable sadness. His hair is made from feathers and — as the Fraggles have shown — this is an excellent method, but it’s also costly and limited in its stylistic variability. The felt hair I’ve been working with these past weeks gives the puppets a more distinct and illustrative style, while allowing for incalculable coif variation. So while the prototype came down with crib death, what I learned from failing at him will prove invaluable to future generations.