Sunday, March 17, 2013

AUTOMATA - "Pirate Puppet" Pt.2

AVAST, YE SCURVY KNAVES! Tis time for the next part of me PIRATE project!

Well as you can see, I've made a good bit of progress since my last post.  I have most of the mechanical stuff figured out.  There will be some fine-tuning on this as I add the strings and make sure all the movements work properly.  I'm sure I'll hit some snags when I try to make a jacket out of fabric.  But I figure this pirate wasn't able to sew that well with a hook for a hand.  Speaking of a HOOK...below are the steps to create that.

I then made the steering WHEEL. I found some nice wooden components at one of the local craft stores.  The "peace signs" were the right size for the main part of the wheel, once I cut out the middle area.  I glued some dowels into holes I drilled into a wooden spool.  Then I filled in the gaps with Sculpy.

Next up...the HAND that turns the wheel

Here is the way the Wheel Hand will look like it's turning the ship...a string from below will pull the wheel, causing it to rotate.  The arm segments are very loosely connected by screw-eyes.

The movement of the HOOK ARM was inspired by a cast-off umbrella given to me by my friend Susie (since she knows I collect junk).  The levers on the umbrella was just the engineering I was looking for.
 A string will pull the arm upwards at the shoulder area, and the hook will give a "High 5" (or maybe that would be a "High 1").

Each of the movements of the puppet will be activated by "keys" that you press in the front of the box.  When the key is pressed, it will pull a string from underneath.  I may alter the length of the levers that you see here, once I add the strings.  Currently, most of the pieces of the pirate are not glued to the box, so I can take things apart to paint it, and work on the rest of the sculpture, the jacket, etc.

That's it for this post.  Check back later...there's still a lot more detailing yet to add to this SALTY DOG!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

AUTOMATA - "Pirate Puppet" Pt.1

AHOY, THAR, MATEYS!  It's time to show you my latest project...A PIRATE PUPPET TOY!

It's been a while since I've worked on one of my "automata" characters.  For those who have not followed along before when I've built one of these, you'll soon find out that part of the fun for me is NOT KNOWING WHAT I'M DOING!  I'm not an engineer, so I have to do a bit of homework to figure out how to make these little animated toys do what I want. I will be posting as I create each stage of development, so stay tuned.  This will be a "mixed medium" toy...I'll be gluing fake fur on this guy for his hair and beard, and will attempt to SEW a little tiny costume!!

Below are some of the many sketches I've done along the way to decide what I want this little guy to look like, and the mechanisms I'll need to make it work.

Next in the process is gathering "research"...I love this stage!  I get inspired by photos, sculptures, movies.

Since this little pirate is going to be a "puppet", I needed to figure out how to make the mouth open and close.  It's a combination of a "marionette" string puppet, and a "ventriloquist" dummy.  But I want to hide the mechanisms inside.  So part of my research was to help me explore and adapt some time-tested tricks of the trade.

Okay...let's start with the basic construction of the HEAD.  I used a wooden ball, dowels, and a block of wood to create the "skull" that would be underneath the sculpted face. Under the front of the lower jaw, I added a screw-eye for the string to pull the mouth open.

I created a spring mechanism much like one used in a ventriloquist dummy head.  This will keep the mouth closed until the string is pulled to make him "talk". The spring came from some discarded electronic thing I've dismantled for parts.  I often use "found objects" to repurpose for my projects.

I made some nasty big teeth from PLUMBERS EPOXY, instead of my usual SCULPY, since it would need to be stronger, and not chip or break when the mouth "talks".  I also carved a bit of wood to protect the spring...then sculpted a notch on the back of the skull to hold it in place better.

I continue with sculpting each section of the face with SUPER SCULPY (not the white "regular" Sculpy which is too soft.) The parts of the upper skull that are gray in color are made from a blend of "Sculpy FIRM" and Super Sculpy.

The head is pretty close to being finished here...complete with eye-patch and nasty scar.  I will be adding a hat and head-scarf later, after I paint it and glue on the hair and beard.  That'll be all fer now, ye land-lubbers! ARRRRGG!!