When it comes to puppet making, I have an obsession with hands... TINY HANDS!
Prague really had it down to a science.
I distinctly remember our visit to Jaroslav Bezdek's studio.
Our class had crammed into his quirky bachelor apartment to learn about latex hands.
He was a very skilled man, with a "secret" recipe. We witnessed two hands come to life and got to make a pair of our own, but never have I been able to achieve that same concoction.
Here is one of my favorite Czech animations aptly called The Hand by Jiří Trnka.
I kept searching Youtube for a tutorial on how to make puppet hands, for a small budget and home studio.
After a little bit of research, I decided I would document my process. These tips and tricks would not have been possible without the help of New Zealand based artist/friend Leigh Aderton-Hall. I'm sure there are many other methods out there, but this one worked great for me.
I hope it helps you!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
-aluminium armature wire (I used 1/16)
-pliers and wire cutters
-hot glue gun and extra glue sticks
-epoxy putty (found at the hardware store)
-stretch bandage (found at the pharmacy)
-liquid rubber latex
-acrylic paint (any colour you want!)
-piece of styrofoam
-popscicle stick or other mixing stick
-piece of foam (to stick the arm in to let it dry)
You want to start by bending, cutting and shaping the wire into fingers.
Double over the wire down the arm and twist it.
If you want firmer fingers, you can double up the wire throughout the entire hand.
Personally, I think single wire works best as it makes for a more bendable finger.
Next, take a small amount of Epoxy putty.
Mix the two parts together until they blend into a solid colour.
Form it into place (I use sculpting tools) to ensure the fingers are where you want them to be.
You can also use hot glue to form the palm. This worked great for a double wired hand.
Filling out the finger is great fun. There are many different ways you can do so. I like to start by forming little hot glue balls at the tip of the fingers.
The next step would be take a paintbrush, dip it into your liquid latex and brush a thin layer on each finger. This will act as a glue for the cotton.
Take a small chunk from a cotton ball and wrap it around each finger.
You can also use stretch bandage to fill out the fingers. (see video below)
Apply another thin layer of liquid latex all over the fingers and hand.
Let the latex dry for 30-60 minutes (per layer) and repeat for as many layers as you like. This will vary the thickness, of course.
If you use a paintbrush, there will be texture. You can simply dip the hand in the latex mixture for a smooth finish. For your last coat, incorporate some acrylic paint if you want the hands to be a specific colour.
There you have it! This has been a real revelation for me.
I am excited to make hands with my class this week!
Here's a video tutorial I put together. Hope this helps you, the way it's helped me!