In which I’m halfway done… wait, I’m halfway done!?

Yes, I’m halfway done! Well, more than that really, I’ve finished the first 2 plants, painted the 3rd and framed half of the 4th – there’s still a lot of work left to do, but at least I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

ImageFirst plant, default position (closed).

ImageFirst plant slightly open.

ImageFirst plant completely open.

Image2nd plant!

ImageTiny finale plants have gotten a base coat of paint!

It’s great to finally see some success, but there’s still a lot of work to do!

In which Audrey II is bigger than hula hoops…

I started out today painting the 3rd plant.

ImageTa da! It’s kinda hard to see right now because it’s laying on it’s face in the, erm… curb stomp position. It’s almost completely painted except for the areas around edge that it’s laying on, which will have to be touched up.

ImageThen I proceeded to assemble the top half of the structure for the fourth plant. Those hula hoops are really hard to break apart! I smacked myself pulling on one, and broke a few razor blades prying the seam apart, and finally had to resort to a combination of drill and hacksaw to get them apart. To be honest, it’s something of a miracle that I haven’t lost any appendages yet seeing as I’m walking around barefoot using power tools and breaking razor blades.

Anyway, it came together sort of freestyle and all at once. I’ve worked with both artists and engineers, and the main difference between the two seem to be in the planning. Engineers will sit down and draw 7 different schematics of something, editing it 90 times before they build it, while artists will jump into a project with only a vague plan of attack- sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. What I’ve found is that I’m somewhere in the middle. I made a few sketches, and had an idea in my head of what I wanted to do, but then when I started building, it was mostly improvised. 

ImageI also sewed a sleeve out of the black jersey material and hand stitched it into the back of the 2nd plant to hide the actors arm. 

ImageThen I sewed the petals onto the back of the 2nd plant. Now the whole sleeve/pod/petals unit is all one piece that can slip over the actors arm in the pot. I just need to attach the leaves to the pot and add some teeth!

In which my airbrush fails me yet again…

While I didn’t have materials to move forward, I started working on 10 little hand puppets for the finale made out of all the leftover chunks of foam. They kinda look like little yarmulkes. 

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Everything sort of fell into place at once, I received my foam, fabric and airbrush part all on the same day, so work has progressed on the plant. 
Unfortunately, after 2 attempts to get my airbrush to work, I finally get it working, to find that it’s temperamental and only has a very narrow spray. I.e. it takes forever to paint a small area, not including the time you spend trouble shooting the damn thing. So I gave up on the airbrush for the time being, and painted everything with the same watered down acrylics I had been airbrushing with. 

ImageNow all the leaves and petals for the first 2 plants are painted, so all that needs to be done there is assembly. And teeth. I want to add teeth to the 2nd plant.

Painting the 3rd plant should be time consuming, but not impossible. 

I also went to Toys R Us the other day and bought 8 hula hoops to frame the final plant. I’m getting fairly excited about starting that build because it involves power tools. 🙂

 

In which Audrey II acquires a taste for blood….

So, a lot has happened in the past few days. After I put together the shell of the 3rd plant, I trimmed it up and got it stitched to the frame with fishing line. 

ImageSomewhere in this process I managed to razor blade myself in the bicep. Not a deep cut, mind you, but one that wouldn’t stop bleeding until I staunched the wound with a magical unicorn bandaid. Still, I fear it was too late, and Audrey II has tasted human blood.

The past few days have been rather challenging in terms of weather, so I wound up doing a lot of sewing which is tedious, but can take place in air conditioned comfort. 

ImageWhile covering the shell in yellow spandex, I made myself some matching accessories, always fashion conscious, even in the face of extreme puppetry . 

ImageThe middle plant is now covered in spandex, and is starting to look good. It still needs to be lined with black jersey material, with an opening so it can eat some assorted small bits. 

ImageI also got to work on the petals for the 3rd plant. For the 2 smaller versions, the petals are just made of stiffened fabric, but for this version, since they have to be much larger, I essentially sewed sleeves for foam petals so they function like giant pillows. This went much faster than stitching the shells up because I was able to do it on the sewing machine… well, when I wasn’t breaking and fixing the sewing machine. 

Now I’m sort of at an impasse. My missing airbrush part finally got here, but they sent the wrong part. So a new one is on the way, along with my new shipment of foam, and the yellow spandex that wasn’t in stock in the store…… so I can’t paint, pattern or sew until everything gets here. 

Well, at least everything is going ahead of schedule!

In which Monty Python figures heavily…

After several days of panic, and a ton of research, I finally dove into building the 3rd plant. I recently bought 20 ft of 7 strand copper wire, which I unraveled into 40 ft of 3 and 4 strand copper wire, which I used to build this:

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The idea behind this being that the 3rd plant will need some structure to support itself while it’s being violently puppeteered. I’m planning on sewing the foam shell to the frame and otherwise reinforcing the form to keep it from collapsing in on itself. 

ImageI don’t know if this is cheating, but I scanned my pattern from my earlier plant and enlarged it on my computer. The largest size I could print it in without using some other program (I was feeling lazy) was still a bit too small for the frame, so I used it as a model to hand scale the pattern to the size I needed. When I got it cut and glued, it looked a little something like this: 

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Which couldn’t help but remind me of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMCNltgrs1U (Skip ahead to about 3:00 ish). 

Now I have to trim, frame, cover and basically finish this. Yikes! 

In which Audrey listens to Coldplay… alot

So I was that kid with my blacklight in Joann Fabrics the other day scrutinizing the spandex. I did find a green florescent spandex, and a yellow florescent cotton… but I was really going for a yellow spandex, which will be much more forgiving when I sew it around the awkward shape of Audreys head.  

And this is where the title comes in to the story. I’ve been listening to Coldplay on shuffle for a few days, and as I was stitching the yellow spandex in place, my ipod saw fit to play every single version of the song “Yellow” that I own…. which is surprisingly many. 

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At which point he started looking a bit like a silly yellow hard hat. 

Today I used glue and a little bit of water to stiffen the purple lining fabric that will be Audrey II’s petals. After thoroughly soaking the fabric, I placed it over some plastic to dry with some texture and curvature. In the petals for the 2nd pot, I also included wire between 2 layers of fabric so that the petals can be arranged a little bit.

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Speaking of the 2nd pot, I finally punched a hole in it! With….. a razor blade. It turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. Hopefully it’s big enough, I’ve been sticking my own arm in there for reference, but as my arm is approximately the size of that of a two year old, but I tried to make it sufficiently large for a real person. And I padded it with foam and duct tape so Seymor won’t sue me for pot related scratches. 

I have decided to go with gardening gloves instead of a fake hand on the 2nd pot, and I’m going to wait until someone is actually cast to finish those parts. 

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After completing everything I could on the first 2 pots without my airbrush, I went to Home Depot to stock up on some supplies. I’m going to try and use the braided copper wire to create a structure for the next two levels, but I’ve really been freaking out about the these designs. I mean, like waking up in the middle of the night with mini panic attacks freaking out. I’m going to have to sit down and figure all of this out tomorrow. Wish me luck! 

Audrey gets oral surgery

After a few failed attempts to create the shape I wanted for the head, I cheated and took apart a ball to make a pattern. 

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Don’t worry though, I took care to avoid destroying Chris Hemsowrths beautiful face. 

Mmmm... Thor.

After that it was fairly simple to trace, cut and barge together the top and bottom of Audreys head.

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You’ll also notice that the leaves have some shape and curvature to them. I grabbed some floral wire and threaded it through the foam to give it some structure and allow it to be bent into more interesting three dimensional shapes. I wound up putting the wire in the pattern of veins in the leaves because, as it turns out, that’s a really useful placement. Plus, if any of it shows once it’s painted, it’ll just look more like a leaf. 

Speaking of painting, it turns out that my air brush and compressor aren’t compatible, so I’ll need to go find an adapter. 

Next step is to track down fabric for the flower and to start painting!

Welcome to the office

My very professional workspace.

I was having some serious vasovagal issues today, so sitting on the floor was not an option. Thus this silly little card table work station was born.

I started to go forward on the little pot today, but quickly ran into the obstacle of space; after putting all of the leaves in, there isn’t much room left in the interior. So, that sent me back to the drawing board.
After some thought and research, I’ve decided to stiffen some fabric with glue and form the petals out of that. In this particular plant, the petals don’t have to do anything, and really just need to be visible. I also planned on covering them with fabric anyway, so this way they’ll look the same as the later models.

iPad sketch of the little pot.

 

I also managed to cut the leaves for the 2nd pot. This is the one that has to be operated by Seymor through a hole in the back while a fake arm holds the pot. I’m going to use wire to train the leaves down over the edge of the pot and up in the back to cover the awkward shoulder situation.

The problem I’m looking at with this one is cutting the hole in the plastic pot. This is the kind of time where I wish I was back at Cooper and could just go down to the machine shop and jig saw a hole in this thing. The plan is looking like drill a hole in it big enough to fit a hack saw blade through, then jury-rig a handle on the blade.

My little Audrey is growing up!

Also, I’m planning on doing some fun blacklight effects with this, so my next big purchase will be Wildfire paint and a blacklight!

Stay tuned for more fun!

 

Day 1 – Wake up and smell the barge

After finally assembling all of the  materials I needed to get started, I sat down in my garage this morning and started building Audrey II.

For the first, smallest iteration of Audrey II, I used a small flower pot, and designed leaves that can open and close to reveal the flower inside.  This is my answer to the “growing” effect.

nom nom....

Leaves closed.

Om nom nom!

Paper prototype with leaves open…

I started with paper leaves to get an idea of the size they would need to be, and to fine tune the opening and closing mechanism. For this version, I taped thread to one side of each leaf and threaded all the threads through a hole in the bottom of the pot. This gave me an idea of where the strings needed to be placed, and how well the effect would work.

Polyfoam leaf closed.

When I was satisfied with that, I cut out one leaf in 1/2″ poly foam. I sewed 20 lb test clear fishing line to bias tape, which was then

barged to the leaf.

Leaf open.

To pull the leaf open, the line was threaded through a drinking straw wedged between the leaf and the pot, and then threaded through the bottom of the pot.

Nest step; the flower!

Engineering a better plant

It’s the summer between completing my engineering degree and starting a masters in Entertainment Technology, so naturally I’m going to spend it making puppets! I have the opportunity to build a set of Audrey IIs for Playful Theatre Productions production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Kelsey Theatre, opening in October (shameless plug). Of course I’m totally psyched, and have already used the excuse to get all the puppety tools and supplies I’ve been wanting forever and set up m garage as a makeshift studio.

If you haven’t been following along, I’ve been interning with puppet companies in NYC (Tandem Otter and The Puppet Kitchen) for the past 3 years and have had a chance to help out on some really incredible builds including The Addams Family, A Winters Tale and ImaginOcean, but this will be my first solo foray into the world of puppets.

I’ve been trying to create a new interpretation of Audrey II, something other than the traditional green pod that can actually be described as a “strange and unusual plant”.

OM NOM

One of many potential Audrey IIs.

Inspired by exotic plants, corals and bizarre imagery, I want my Audrey II to really stand out.
Stay tuned and see how it turns out!