Making Fetuses Dance

Posted by Steve on Feb 19, 2010 in Characters, Production | Subscribe

When last we saw our fetus friend he was a wee foam doll and not much more.  It’s taken longer than expected — which is to be expected — but I’ve finally got the little guy kicking. 

First order of business was rubberizing the puppet with several layers of liquid latex.  Then I went about skinning the fellow in mottled gray fleece.  Each limb is wrapped in a sheet of fabric, which is then cut to fit and carefully sewn to his body.

Rubberizing Phauntleroy is essential as it will seal the pours in the foam and hopefully create a semi-waterproof skin, which will protect all the highly rustable breakable bits I’m installing inside from being constantly submerged in faux-formaldehyde.

A close up of his jaw.  It’s made from MDF, tin metal, a spring, some wire and a lot of epoxy.  I basically ended up sealing this entire piece with epoxy to prevent breakage as well as giving it all a waterproof plastic seal.  I am extremely concerned about breakage.  Because of the ship-in-a-bottle nature of this puppet, should anything inside his skull go haywire it would prove a semi-catastrophic set back.  It would take an inestimable number of six-packs/dance parties/bike rides to undo the damage to my morale alone.  More precious than time, morale is.

I set the jaw plate to a stainless steel nail, which is supported by sheet metal and functions as a makeshift axle.  The movement will be achieved by a bicycle break cable pulling up on the end with the hole, causing the mouth plate to pivot and drop open his little jaw.  The spring will hopefully snap it back shut when the cable is released.

Here it is epoxied into the back of his skull with additional supports and an attachment point for the break cable.

This simple squeezing mechanism will run off the same break cable and make his body wiggle along when he speaks.  It looks a bit like an upside down flux capacitor.

I cut into his abdomen and glued the plates to either side of his rib cage.  When the cable is pulled the plates compress his body causing his limbs to wiggle.  I should have installed all this before covering the body in fleece but this is what happens when you’re making it up as you go.

Before attaching the cable I had to drill a hole in Phauntleroy’s jar and run the cable through.  Once it’s all hooked up, wired and epoxied, there’ll be no taking it apart, no simple fix.  At this point I can but cross my fingers, spark a flame for St. Jim and seal the back of his skull, first with water-proof vinyl glue, then with liquid latex.  He’s moving alright at the moment but how long that will last is yet to be seen.  I’ve still got to skin his head and add the details — the awful eyes and tiny teeth — but otherwise he’s up an running.  All in working order.  I hope to have finished pictures and possibly some test footage up within the week.  I hope.

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