Teeth and Mouths

Posted by Steve on Jan 14, 2010 in Characters, Production | Subscribe

The focal point of most floppy-headed Muppety puppets is the mouth, so it was important to get ours right.  This meant many arduous hours crafting realistic teeth and uvulas.  Was it worth it?  I don’t know.  Probably.

The Muppets are a great guide for this.  This same basic design was used from Kermit on down to most modern Muppet iterations, from the magenta tongue cleft to the negative space uvula.  Once these are dry, the incised edges are sewn together, making a closed gullet fit for installation.

Those puppets with larger mouth interiors needed to have layers of smooth flexible craft foam glued in to keep the felt crisp and add support to the mouths, which get the most wear and tear of any part of the puppet.

Here James, Judy and Patches have had thier mouths sewn and glued in.  Even without their eyes, you can see how much it brings the characters to life, implying levels of depth and anatomy utterly absent from their foam cores.

Judy’s uniquely lolling tongue was sewn two-layers thick to give it added heft and poseability.  She still needs a massive set of teeth bound with braces, but they’re yet in the works.

Here are teeth for Orly, Geer, Doogan and Trey, from top to bottom.  They’re made of Sculpey modeling clay, which will be painted various shades of yellow and off-white before being glued into the Puppet’s gum lines.

Here are the incisions I made in Geer’s upper lip to glue his teeth into.  The teeth are all twice as long as they need to be and taper at the back to allow for a clean but steady fit.

Close up of Doogan’s teeth.  Really adds to the murder monster thing he’s got going.

Here’s a shot of Geer as a functionally finished head.  All he needs is his adolescent anarchist hoodie and he’ll be primed to set squirrels ablaze.

The kingdom, the power, the glory of Trey.  Now and forever.  Apart from his omnipresent sunglasses, this is pretty much the finished Awesome head.  Dig his irridescent peacock green headband?  I sure do.

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