Greetings all! My first post on this wonderful site. I came across a simple and inexpensive method of making a type of foam latex on youtube. Its basically unflavored gelatin, water and dish soap. Has anyone tried this method for making stop motion puppets? Its seems much simpler than using traditional foam latex which needs a special oven and mixing/temp/humidity requirements. But will is it any good? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGOq80QzXe0

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Hi, and welcome, I'm pretty new to this, but I've done a ton of research, and it seems a lot of puppet makers are going with Silicone instead of latex. I'm guessing because of how easy it is compared to latex. It doesn't have to be put in an oven, just mixed and poured into molds and left to "cure". Check out some Youtube videos. I'm not familiar with what you mentioned. Perhaps someone with more experience will chime in. 

This is interesting. We use silicone as well for our puppets - but Dragonskin is expensive.  I wonder if we could use this material for certain things.  Just now sure how it would work in a mold.

Thank you! Im working on my first build up puppet (kong type, 18in tall) and its coming out great so far, but was thinking if I progress Im going to want to use a sculpture & mold puppet for more professional results. Can I use silicone molds/dragonskin for large 18in harryhausen type puppets? Ive been watching a lot of Nick Hilligoss's videos on youtube (awesome btw) Is silicone the way to go vs foam latex? Thanks for the replies Mark & Rebecca!

Interesting find.

I remember Michael Davy has had this method available on his website for a while (he may have invented it -- of that I'm unsure). https://youtu.be/u4rxnovwN_0?t=5m46s

I've never used this process for puppets, but wouldn't think it the best option. Because of gelatin's sensitivity to high temperatures, you'd have to be sure to keep the set cool -- possibly using LED lights and air-conditioning? I'd also assume that the gelatin wouldn't be as sturdy as traditional materials, as it would have to hold up to days of bending and repositioning -- whereas a prosthetic would be in use a few hours for one day and then discarded.

Either way, it'd be a cool experiment (and cheep enough) to try maybe as a background puppet -- or just a quick one-take animation.

Wow, yeah, you're talking about a pretty large puppet.  You can definitely use Dragonskin or another quality silicone for a great look, but unless you found a way to fill out the armature with some kind of padding that the silicone will stick to, it could be a large expense.  I don't know what your puppet looks like, but since you mention Ray Harryhausen, if you were doing a King Kong type character that has hair, you could just cast the skin-like parts in silicone (head, hands, feet, etc). Then for the "hairy" body of the armature, you can use foam to thicken it up and then apply on the outside some faux fur; we're doing that for our character except using tiny "pijamas" - 

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Thats pretty cool how they made a great looking half face appliance in under an hour. But as you mentioned, it might not hold up to heat or long term use...but pretty awesome just the same. As you said, it might be good for background characters or a one off use. Thanks for the reply and link.

Thanks Rebecca, Im nearly done with my first puppet (working on the head now) its far from perfect, but not a bad attempt for a first timer I think..lol The armature is made from aluminum wire, two internal wood connectors, furniture foam & faux fur. The chest, hands and feet I built up with tinted latex. Hes a big boy at over 15 inches without a head yet.

I'd like to make an creature type puppet similar to Nicks cast one above.  But Im thinking a sculpted/cast puppet would look much better than a built up one with latex skin over foam padding? Is that correct?  I like the pjs btw, they look very real and way cool! (my puppet pics below...w/no head yet)

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Hi there. I can shed some light on gelatine as a material, having used it for many years to make appliances. It is definitely not suitable for anything that is intended to last, as it will lose the water content and change shape. It will also tear under any strain within a short time. So I would not consider using it for puppets. But it can be used for a mould. I saw a YouTube video where a hand is placed in a shallow box and gelatine poured to just halfway up the fingers, to create a short-lived half-mould. When set, plaster can be poured over to make the top half, then when it is set the gelatine is washed off and the second plaster half moulded. When I tried this it worked OK, but was a bit messy.

Gelatine can be very handy for lots of effects - slime and all that sort of stuff. We used it in television programmes as blood, because one could put it onto an actor and leave it there all day knowing it would not move around too much.

The issue with silicone skins for puppets is how to keep it light. Solid silicone is very heavy, so creating a skin and then casting foam inside where there is no armature is a way to go. I haven't tried silicone foam (Soma - Foama) yet, but this seems to be the way to go.

Some great info there and much appreciated. Am thinking I might give a build up puppet with added latex skin a try first before attempting mold making. This method seems the easiest and most inexpensive for a new puppet maker.



OK, just to throw in another idea, as this thread is about an alternative to foam latex. I have made some pieces using liquid latex as a poured-in skin in a mould, backed up with Flex Foam, also pured into the mould. It makes a simpler alternative to foam latex, and the skin can have more latex stippled or glued on as desired.

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