This has been one of my recurring problems, when it comes to making stop motion monster puppets: The Jaw. In the image attached I have shown the two ways I have tried out in making a movable jaw from wire and wood/epoxy blocks for the skull. Any other ways???

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I've done it using a hinge method. Works well for skulls, but I'm not sure you would have the strength for something that's covered over w/ latex or other. The hinged jaw is a single piece of wire with sculpey on the lower jaw - the two ends that come out of the top of the jaw go into the top portion of the skull on either side at perpendiculars. The 2nd method you showed in your image I've also used with success - sculpey skull with plastalina skin. What kind of problems are you having?

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=208526465955535&set=pb....

The wire is just snapping. Definitely using the right stuff.

Aaron Martinez said:

I've done it using a hinge method. Works well for skulls, but I'm not sure you would have the strength for something that's covered over w/ latex or other. The hinged jaw is a single piece of wire with sculpey on the lower jaw - the two ends that come out of the top of the jaw go into the top portion of the skull on either side at perpendiculars. The 2nd method you showed in your image I've also used with success - sculpey skull with plastalina skin. What kind of problems are you having?

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=208526465955535&set=pb....

Either of those should work.  I like the first one because it has more length of wire, so the bending can spread over a wider area.

The only reason I can think of for the wire breaking is if it has any nicks or scratches in it.  It will weaken very quickly where those are.  The nick makes it a little easier to bend at that spot, so it bends there every time, and that makes the wire start to fatigue in that one spot.  Check the wire before you use it, and don't use pliers to bend it!  Only use pliers to cut the ends, do the holding and bending with your fingers.

Nearly all my puppets have a wire jaw, and out of more than 200 heads, I've only had the jaw wire break in one frog puppet.  That was because I sanded the block after the wire was glued in, to make it fit the mould more easily, and I accidentally sanded the wire a little.

Many of my puppets just have the 1.5mm wire loop for the jaw, but my skeleton has the jaw wire covered in epoxy and Super Sculpey.  It is not a hinge, with the wire rotating in the hole, the wire has to bend.  It has a shorter length of exposed wire between the jaw and skull than most puppets, since I'm trying to keep it out of sight with no "flesh" to hide it, but it's held up so far.  I have replaced the right hand and wrist because the swordfighting (with Sinbad) and drinking (in 7th Skol) both required a lot of wrist action and the wires broke there, but the jaw still works. 

Have you tried using more than one piece of wire for the jaw? You could do two or three wires in a row (parallel to each other) coming out of the jaw and into the skull. That way there's a little bit of back up support in case one breaks and might help you get to the end of a shot.

In addition to Nick's advice about the nicks and scratches, I've found that it's a good idea to avoid the temptation to do a bunch of posing with your puppet prior to shooting.

Thanks for the advice guys!

Here is a alternative to a moving jaw. Sculpt the head in clay with a neutral expression. Then sculpt another head, using the first one as a guide, but with a angry expression. Make a rubber mold of each head and then make a plaster cast of each head. Design your puppet so that the head can be easily removed and then animate the facial expression via replacement animation using the different heads. I had planned to do this on my current project, but only sculpted one static face, which worked for what I needed.

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Hi Angus - I know this is an old post, but I just wondered, did you get your hinged jaw to work in the end?

Angus Lamont said:

Thanks for the advice guys!

Hi Joe. I ended up not using that method and kept to using wire. I think maybe the wire I was using before was too thin.

Joe said:

Hi Angus - I know this is an old post, but I just wondered, did you get your hinged jaw to work in the end?

Angus Lamont said:

Thanks for the advice guys!

this is what I did

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