Most people in America are familiar with the famous Jim Henson characters of the Muppets. What many don't realise is how these amazing and lifelike puppets are made. Henson actually helped to pioneer a puppet-making technique that uses a foam latex moulding process. This foam latex puppet-making is more complex than many other puppet-making processes. However, with enough practice, you can probably make a presentable foam latex puppet using one of the commercially available puppet-making kits.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Face mask
- Puppet mould
- Foam latex puppet-making kit
- Electric mixer with whisk attachment
- Rubber spatula
- Oven with timer
- Hot pad oven glove
Place the face mask over your mouth and nose to protect against the fumes created by latex foam puppet-making.
Prepare the mould for the latex foam process according to the instructions included in your foam latex puppet-making kit. In most cases, you will apply a release agent to the inside of the mould, allow it to dry and then remove the excess. Keep the mould at room temperature.
Measure the correct ratios of the foam base, curing compound and foaming additive by following the instructions included with your foam latex puppet-making kit. Set aside the gel compound for later.
Place the foam latex puppet materials in the electric mixer with whisk attachment. Lower the whisk into the liquid and beat it at high speed until it reaches the desired capacity. Check the instructions to make sure that it is sufficiently mixed, but not over-processed. For most kits, it is normal to notice ammonia fumes as this is accomplished.
Add the gel compound and colouring agent to the mixer bowl. Mix gently into the foam latex mixture.
Turn the mixer off and remove the bowl from the mixer base. Scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula.
Pour the foam latex liquid mass carefully into the prepared puppet mould. Close the mould and allow the material to gel completely.
Turn the oven on to about 100 degrees Celsius and allow it to preheat completely. Place the mould into the oven and set the timer for at least two hours or for the time specified in your foam latex kit instructions.
Remove the hot puppet mould from the oven with the pot holders. Allow the mould to cool completely.
Open the mould and remove the rubber-like puppet. Run the puppet under water to clean off any remaining release agent. Allow the puppet to dry completely.
Tips and warnings
- Different kits use slightly different methods and ratios. Read the instructions completely before beginning the puppet-making process.
- Molds can be purchased or made by applying plaster to a clay sculpture.
- Open all windows in the work area to allow proper ventilation as you mix the foam latex compound.
- Foam latex puppets can be further decorated after completion as you desire.
- It may take several attempts at this process before you make a puppet that meets your expectations.
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