The puppet coordinator, Steven Widerman, came to us looking for a custom tree puppet character for the TV project, Kid Fitness. The puppet needed to be able to move his eyes and mouth and be installed into a life-sized tree trunk built by the show’s production and prop crew.
We began by sketching out our original design for the producers to approve. When the character’s look was finalized and approved by our client, we began sculpting in clay. Based on things like budget and timeframe, as well as performance, we settled on latex for the medium for the final puppet. The finished clay face sculpture was approximately 22″ tall! The giant face was then molded in ultracal cement and hollow cast in latex. The tree puppet’s skin was finished off with flexible paint and a frame made inside to support giant, hand painted mechanized eyes that could look left or right. We even made separate eyelids for a specific scene that required our tree puppet to look like he was sleeping.
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“Hey Tom, We shot the tree scenes today and it was simply great! We used the closed eye-lids, and they were very effective. The director said the tree was really nice and he hoped they would use it in other episodes. Everyone was very impressed, myself included. Anyway, thanks for all your help and doing a great job. I look forward to working with you again soon.
Steven Widerman, Puppet Coordinator