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Posted by Strider, on 2001-10-27 08:28:19

WIRE SPIKES FOR TIE DOWNS?

My sets are usually built on cardboard that is then laid on a table. They are built from foam and a sort of paper mache made with Durham's water putty. It would be very easy to poke tiny little holes through them, or dremel holes if need be. I was thinking I could pile two or three sheets of thick foamboard under the set and use a piece of wire coming from under the puppet's foot to poke down into the foam. These puppets are very lightweight, cotton/latex/wire and only eight to ten inches or so tall. The wire should be strong enough, as long as it is a good size piece of steel. My only problem would be how to attatch it to the feet. These puppets basically are human, or at least humanoid, and would probably all have shoes. Any thoughts?

Posted by JohnL, on 2001-10-28 05:07:30

how about instead of foam, you use thick cork board. and instead of wire, you use stiff pins and then more cork into the feet of your puppet and you can just rip out the pins and put them in when you need. make the pins long so that if the puppet rocks out of place it will just spring back to the right spot. also if you make the actual table out of the cork (well braced of course), you could get pins with a decent head to hag on to, and just push them through the bottom of the table

Posted by Strider, on 2001-10-28 08:20:01

Thanks, John. Very good advice. It occurred to me that I could bend the pins so they stay out of sight, and they could attatch to the foot when it is a little lifted. Hmm... how about tiny little spring-loaded devices in the leg that will shoot a long pin down at the press of a kneecap...:D

Posted by Nick H, on 2001-10-28 19:38:30

I really prefer a solid ply or partical board floor, with bolt tiedowns, that hold the puppet very firmly. Sometimes you have to manhandle the character quite a lot. But recently I had a character going up a step that was too thick for my longest tiedowns to reach up through. I cut a slit in the hollow latex shoe, and just put a wood screw in from above, through the slot in the metal foot and into the particle board. It still held the puppet firmly to the floor, and the slit in the latex shoe just closed up and hid the screw. For tiny mini puppets, I've used a pin through the body, that goes into fine pre-drilled holes in the set. I lift the puppet off, move the limbs with tweezers, then place it on the next hole. It's worked for 1:24 scale cats, and 1:6 scale spiders (the cats were about 1/2 inch long.) But I've certainly heard of others using pins for bigger puppets.

Posted by Strider, on 2001-10-30 02:58:08

I know many of you use this method, like Nick described above. What do you do though when a puppet has to walk out across a built-up area (hills or rough terrain) where there is no access to the wooden flooring, and the feet will definitely show onscreen? and just for curiosity's sake, how about characters climbing walls/poles,etc.? Hung-up on tie-downs,

Posted by Nick H, on 2001-10-31 22:32:45

If the ground's just a little built up, I use longer tiedowns. For monkeys walking on tree branches, I made hollow branches from plaster and fibreglass matting, with no back, so I can put the tiedowns in from behind. Same for tree trunks, rocks, hills etc. I make a mound of clay, build the shell over that (like making a mold), then pull out the clay. Then I drill holes and use the same tiedowns. It helps to make up a block like a wooden washer to put on the tiedown, to tighten the wingnut against, so it doesn't dig into the reinforced plaster. If the rock or hill rests on a flat base, I make a hole in the chipboard underneath for access. Polyester resin fibreglass rocks would be be even better, but cost more.

Posted by Strider, on 2001-10-31 23:43:06

Thanks for once again sharing your wisdom, Nick. It's just that I build these sets that are deeply contoured, with lots of great texture and detail, and I really don't want to have sort of flat pathways where they have to walk. In olden days, I really didn't use tie-downs at all, just made big wide feet (they were sort of alien humanoid creatures) and tried to balance them each time. Yeah, worked about as well as you would expect. (not very) Or sometimes I would make big wire stands, if the feet were hidden. Of course, just as in any film, the feet won't show in every scene. And I suppose it would be pretty cool just to have those complex set-pieces behind (and in front of) the puppets.