When one declares that her new film is a mix of stop motion and drawn animation she must follow that recipe or risk riots of revolting audiences.
One day I scratched my head and thought:
- Why draw everything? Why not make a paper mache character that also moves? It would be so much cheaper and faster than draw every move.
For this project I already have moving backgrounds and props. My drawn characters playfully handle ropes, flowers and buckets. But drawing sometimes gets old, like eating fresh sushi every day. I looked into my script to find where I could fit some stop motion action. There was a place – a scene full of people telling the main character to forget her dreams of becoming an artist.
- I’ll have puppets that will wave their arms (- No no no! you can’t!) and look up the sky surprised when the main character flies in an airplane to New York, – I decided.
But where do you start? I have no knowledge nor experience on making stop motion puppets. I only have an ambition and determination.
I called Angela Stempel, a well educated and knowledgeable stop motion expert. Immediately she informed me that to make a puppet walk I’d have to have these bolts attachable to a plywood floor:
I knew rigth away what I didn’t want my puppets do.
- No need for a puppet to walk, – I said. – My puppets will be fine just sitting.
- You can’t make a stop motion puppet without epoxy, – Angela continued. – And epoxy dries for 2 weeks.
- Two weeks! – I exclaimed in despair. In two weeks I could make about 678 drawings thus eliminating the need for epoxy and slow drying puppets.
- Well, maybe you could use a puppet sooner, but you’d risk breaking it, – Angela said.
- What do I need the epoxy for? – I asked.
- You’ll make an armature for your puppet from aluminum wire. The parts of aluminum that you want inflexible you’ll cover with epoxy which will ensure that the aluminum will bend at the joints, not wherever the wire wants.
- Ah, – I said. It made perfect sense. I didn’t want my puppets to have rubber arms waving like flags in the wind. I wanted them to have elbows and wrists, like me. I started to consider an alternative, mentally browsing through meterials I had at my studio.
- How about pieces of wood for the inflexible parts?- I asked.
- How will you attach wire to the wood?- Angela inquired.
- Just wrap it and wrap it again and hope it doesn’t slide off, – I said with an optimism of a 5 year old. I used to make stuff like that when I was five and wire usually did slide off.
- How about making a groove at the end of each piece of wood for the wire to catch on ? – Angela suggested.
Together, we came up with this plan:
Then, enthusiastically I set to work. I cut pieces of wood certain length according to The Plan and cut the grooves at the end of each piece. I made a cross (who knew that every puppet carries her cross within?) and secured it with wire and a screw (screw functions as Heart for an otherwise heartless puppet), then attached the pieces of wood for arms, palms and the head. Here it was – the unbearable cross of lightness:
My favorite part followed – wrapping the armature with newspaper as if it was an expensive but small gift that had to be simultaneously enlarged and disguised by many layers of wrap paper. On top of all that wrap I put the final layer of paper soaked in Metylan wallpaper glue, and here’s the result:
After I top the pile of glued paper with the head, the puppet comes to life, and in my cold rooms it needs some warmth:
See the joints?
The black paint covers the news, so that you don’t read the puppet when you meet her:
Oh, there is two of them! They multiply! binary fission is in fashion now!
Like everything good in life, color takes an effort and lot of tubes:
The final touch – I run to Jem Fabric store and got some fabric for the sleeves:
The puppet now is fully dressed and able to move arms up and down:
I am ready to shoot my stop motion sequence.
THANK YOU, Angela!