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Topic: A tutorial on the muppet I made for the Jim Henson Swap (pic heavy)  (Read 5596 times)
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« on: July 22, 2008 08:32:39 PM »

So this was a long process and caused me much grief but the end product was so worth it.
As I couldn't find one tutorial to settle on when making her I pieced together a whole bunch. 

The first step (after finding a foam ball, which, in my case was a nerf ball because they're cheaper than going to an art store and finding an alternative ... atleast when it comes to travel time) is to hollow out a cylindrical shape in your foam ball big enough to fit your hand in, make sure to keep atleast an inch of foam between the outside and the inside for stability purpose.  You could theoretically hollow out the entire ball, I pretty much did.  This is time consuming, and foam gets everywhere, so I recommend a good movie.

Next step is to cut the mouth.  It should be approximately in the middle of the ball (up and down) and run for half the ball (left to right), I used an exacto knife.  You're going to want to play with the ball (put your hand in and give it a try as a puppet head, this way you get a feel on whether the mouth should be extended.

The "skin" was ridiculous to make.  There are templates out there that you can print off for this, but muppet heads very and the templates are kind of useless unless you have the standard measurements of the head they were covering.  This is the gist of what it should look like.  You'll want to make sure you have lots of the material you're using as the skin.  If you can pin the fabric onto the head and make a template that way all the power to ya.  I couldn't so I ended up doing this part twice.  Note, you'll need the darts on the back part of the head because of the shape. I actually ended up cutting more darts as I went.  They were all hidden by the hair in the end.  If you're using a fun fur I'm sure you could hide these darts in the fur.  I attached the "skin" (which was this weird polyester dishtowel I picked up at the dollarstore... if it doesn't fray and isn't too thin anything will work) with a hot glue gun.  You can sew it apparently, according to other tutorials, but I'm not sure how you'd go about doing so, and I'm guessing it'd take forever.  Oh and the way you attach the hair, if you have hair, reinforces the skin even further.  You can also dye the foam instead of adding fabric, there are a bunch of googleable tuts on that.

The mouth (which I stupidly didn't take a pic of before gluing into the head) is made out of thin sheets of foam which you can find at most dollar stores and craft stores.  The biggest part are the lips which you can make to any specification you feel like making sure when placed folded inside of the mouth it extends for an inch or two to outside the mouth.  The next part is the black inside of the mouth, to make this, fold the foam in half, stick in the "mouth" and cut it out so that the foam is flush with the outer rim of the ball. After that I made a tongue and uvula out of red foam.  These pieces I hot glued together. I then hot glued the entire mouth to the ball, coating the foam ridge and the outside where the lips sit.  The outer lip can prove to be difficult to glue, you do have to glue then hold down in sections otherwise it pulls away.  The lips are very good at hiding the end of the fabric ("skin"). 

The hair was sewn on with clear thick jewelery string.  Basically you cut a whole bunch of strands to twice the length you want the hair to be, fold in half and sew in in clumps.  Keep in mind that if you sew the clumps in in a straight line it will create a nice part.  I made the part to be on the side of the head. 

I had the dardest time figuring out how I was going to place the eyes on.  At first it all just looked so silly, placing the foam on the head, trying to find a place where they looked correct.  Then I figured I'd do them Beaker style so I took two pieces of foam, drew on the eyes with crayola fabric markers and glued them to the lenses of some glasses I picked up from the dollar store.  These I hot glued to the head.  You can make your eyes however you want.  There are some tutorials out there on how to make blinking eyes, moving eyes, the works but I was working with limited time so I went with the easy fail safe.

I attached some fabric to the inside of the head by gluing and sewing it in place. (I used satin back crepe because it feels nice and is easy to slip your hand in and out of) Sew the piece into a funnel shape.

For the body I used baby clothes.  I cut the baby jumper in half and cut off some of the length in the arms, then I sewed it all together leaving a space in the back between the shirt and the pants for accessibility to the mouth.  Feet were proving to be difficult so I merely decided that the pants were "long" and sewed two pieces of fabric into each pant leg which were attached in the middle to create a circle for a more fuller look when stuffing.  The hands were also tricky. Remember to make the thumb wide enough that when flipping right side out you can do so easily. I had to make a few hands because of this.  Also when sewing them on to the arms try not to sew the sleeves together. 
From here I sewed the "body" to the neck, I also hot glued it for extra strength.  Make sure the neck fabric is inside the shirt.   This is when you'll want to stuff your muppet.  I actually stuffed the arms and legs before attaching the head. THen I stuffed the "bum" and torso, making sure to define a bit of figure. 

The final step was to cut the satin back fabric to be a bit longer than the opening in the back of the pants/shirt when pulled through it.  Bundle in and sew the upper part to the shirt and the lower to the pants making sure that the stuffing is not accessible any longer.  The fabric should be puckered and bundled in, well I'm sure it doesn't have to be, I just think it feels more like the puppets I played with when I was a child.
Then that's it you're done. You have your very own muppet. 

(Note the body does not have to be done this way, you can make it from scratch, you can make it dress up able, from a reconstructed doll body, it's totally up to you)

All comments are welcome. Plus I'd love to see what you guys make if you are inspired by this.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2008 06:38:19 AM by oxynitrate » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2008 10:46:12 PM »

Thanks! If I can find the patience, I'll do it! =D
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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2008 06:48:01 AM »

That is an awesome tutorial, thanks oxynitrate.

When my muppet needs more company I'm going to have to try it.  I can't believe the head is a nerf ball though, I think as soon as I tell my husband that we will end up over run with muppets (cause the only thing stopping him right now is our lack of foam)...
« Last Edit: September 02, 2008 06:51:31 AM by kjlutz » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2008 06:57:33 AM »

Aw thanks!  My boyfriend is the same way. He's been pestering me to make him one now, but I'm pretty busy with other crafts, I'll have to find a time to sneakily make him one to surprise him with. 

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Wow, how'd you do that??

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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2008 07:22:01 AM »

WoW!  I'm so excited, thank you!  I have two swaps to finish up, and I'm itching to do one for my nephew, he would LOVE this!!

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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2008 08:59:55 AM »

You did a great job & are very generous to share your secrets!  Wink

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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2008 11:21:32 AM »

Thanks again cats!  If anything is unclear or you have any questions just let me know.  I'd be more than happy to try and muddle through them

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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2008 11:56:22 PM »

This is awesome, she is too cute...
I wanted to make puppets for my boys (I homeschool and they love to do puppet shows to "teach" mommy the lesson)..
I might even have a couple old nerf balls I can recycle... Thanks for sharing a great tute.


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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2008 06:19:13 PM »

oh my goodness
terrific  Cheesy
your generosity is appreciated
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2008 08:28:56 PM »

This is awesome, she is too cute...
I wanted to make puppets for my boys (I homeschool and they love to do puppet shows to "teach" mommy the lesson)..
I might even have a couple old nerf balls I can recycle... Thanks for sharing a great tute.


Ooo Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Before Me Nothing Was Created But Things Eternal. And I Create Eternally.
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