Friday, May 31, 2013

AUTOMATA - "Pirate Puppet" FINISHED!

 YO HO HO, ME BUCCANEERS!  The Pirate Project be DONE!!

As often happens, my projects turn out to be way more complicated than I anticipate when I start with a little sketch on a scrap of paper.  But fortunately, I had some time over Memorial Day weekend, and some on-line encouragement from my friend, Joyce, to stick with it and finish this guy! So, without futher ramblings...let's look at the final stages.

I will say up front...the most frustrating part of this project was messing with beard fur and super-glue!!!  What a mess! Some months ago, a co-worker buddy of mine, Shannon, had given me this 98¢ fake beard, which was perfect for my pirate. I began by cutting out a piece to fit the lower jaw.  I glued the fur upside down, so it would hide the fabric backing, and give a soft, rounded edge to the top of the beard.

Next up...combing...trimming...then a little razor work to make the beard more uneven and shaggy.

Then I glued on a piece to cover the back of the head and neck.  After that...I added the mustache.  You will note that there is a nice little gap where the Pirate's wicked scar cuts across his lip.

The finishing touches were a bit more fur added in front of the ears, and also to back-fill any spaces where the backing showed through.  And then I glued the hat in place.

Next, it was time to see if I remembered anything at all from the sewing class I took in college, umpteen years ago! This part of the build took about 10 to 15 hours to figure out how to create the jacket.  But I think it worked out pretty well in the end.  The lace cuffs were some ribbon material I found at the fabric store.

One thing that I didn't account for was the thickness of the black felt that I used for the jacket.  It bunched up a lot in the area of the elbows, so I had to trim out and sew the sleeve with a bend to the heel of a sock.

Since I did not have a pattern, I had to trim and measure things as I went.  I cut a hole for one arm, wrapped the felt around to the other side, then cut another arm hole.  The sleeves were long enough to tuck under for stitching later. Once I had a "vest" made, I folded the tops over for lapels, and added a collar.

I had stumbled across some ribbon fabric in the laundry room a few days ago, and thought it would make a nice "shoulder belt". So, I quickly made a buckle out of wire and plumbers epoxy.  The final step for the jacket was to attach the "steering arm" by closing up the "screw eyes", and then stitching on the other sleeve.
 Once the jacket was complete, I ran my strings through all the mechanisms, and glued the puppet parts to the base.  I was a little frustrated to discover that much of the range of motion with the finished puppet was diminished, due to the way the thicker felt fabric, and the beard material restricted the movements.  Oh and learn!

Check out the final photos below!

 Time to swab the decks, Maties...this journey be over!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

AUTOMATA - "Pirate Puppet" Pt.4

LAND HO!  We be headin' fer home soon! 

I'm sorry it's taken me over a month to get back to this little project.  Fortunately, I had a vacation day today, and made some good time on this guy.  In my last post, I said I would have the pirate's beard and jacket ready to show.  However, it dawned on me that I need to make sure all the mechanical bits on this thing work, before I start with the final details. Happily...everything actually went according to plan!

So, I started painting the rest of the base.  Above and below, you can see the color scheme.  I tried to make the "deck" look all "distressed" with multiple colors and textures.  Below you can see that front of the box for the wheel has not been glued on yet.  I need to keep all the parts removable so I can work on them a bit more.

Here's a little detail of the front...I added just a touch of "ocean blues" just to give it a little accent. I also have gold on the beaded molding strips that go around the top of the base.  I found the nice detailed molding at Michael's Crafts store...they have some cool stuff in there, if you look around a bit.

Time to show you the steps of this phase of construction.  Here are all the little "hook eyes" that I run the fishing line through and connect to the three levers.

As the lever is pushed pulls the string to make the action happen.

This is a close up of under the pirate's jaw.  The string goes through a hole in the neck, then runs down a little groove that I cut into the back.  There's a hole at the base of the waistline that goes to the hook eyes.

And here are the ways the Pirate will move when you push each lever.  The one on the right makes the wheel turn, and the arm goes up with the rotation.

The middle lever makes the mouth open.

The left lever raises the "hook arm" with a salute!

And here's what happens when you push all three levers at the same time!  
See ya next time, as I put the finishing touches on this puppet!