Has anyone had any success with using sugru to make puppets? I've just ordered some as it looks like it could be a pretty good material for heads and hands.
I want to make a head with a hinged mouth - just a fairly basic mouth that opens and closes but no great amount of expression, kind of like the muppets. I'm going to have a go at making the head out of styrofoam to keep the weight down, with sugru over the top. I'm thinking that I'll include an aluminium wire jaw. Going to do some experiments over the next week or so when I get some time.
One thing I wondered about is the eyes. If I use plastic beads, pushed into the head, I suspect that the sugru will dry and glue the eyes in place. This is not what I want to happen - I want the eye balls to be held in the sockets but still able to rotate, so the two things I'm going to try are:
1) push the eyes into the head to create eye sockets, but then pull them out again and leave them out until the sugru has cured.
2) coat the eyes (beads) with vaseline before putting them in, to see if that prevents the sugru from adhering to the eyes.
Has anyone on here ever done anything similar to this or got any experience working with sugru at all? If so I'd love to hear any tips. I've never used Sugru myself, I just came across it online and it looks promising.
I haven't used Sugru. I think that, while it has some flexibility, it's firmer than the silicones you'd want to use for puppet heads. But it might bend easily enough for hands, because the fingers would be pretty thin. Worth trying on a head though. If the mouth opening goes right back, like on a Muppet, it doesn't have to stretch a lot, just bend. I've made hand puppets from a hollow latex skin (cast in a plaster mould), making sure the mouth is like a hinge, and that always worked ok. I sculpt the mouth partly open. If there are cheeks that come well forward of the pivot point, they won't stretch much more open than the position it was sculpted in, and as the mouth closes, the cheeks tend to bow out. A mouth without cheeks, like a crocodile, works much better, so you are on the right track there.
I just looked up what the Shore Hardness rating of Sugru is. A-10 or softer is ideal. A-20 is a firmer mould making silicone, and A-30 is firmer still. Surge is Shore A-70, which is very very firm.
I found this list of rubber materials and their hardness:
A durometer scale is a type of measurement for rubber material hardness. The rubber durometer chart below gives you an idea of the rubber hardness that you want for your application. Generally, most rubber materials fall under the rubber durometer scale of Shore A. Thus, if you need a rubber or O-ring durometer that feels like a running shoe sole, review our rubber hardness chart below, then pick Shore 70A. A rubber durometer of Shore 70A is the most commonly chosen material hardness for all applications.
*Most common durometer
So Sugru is a little harder than a car tyre.
I use liquid latex, painted onto wire, for hands, and it works fine, but a solid puppet head in latex would be way too hard, and looks like it's only A-20. But it works as a thin skin, with something softer inside.
When I cast silicone heads with eye beads in them, I don't put any vaseline on. When it's cured I pull the eyes out, then dust the socket with talc and pop the finished eyeballs in. The beads will stick at first, but you can peel the silicone away, then it isn't stuck any more and can rotate. My eye openings are stretchy enough the eyeball can pop out. That doesn't work with a rigid material like Fimo, and I'm not sure how it would go with an almost-rigid silicone like Sugru.
It's ok to use styrofoam for lightness, but I wouldn't use it as the core structure to put neck and mouth wires into. They'd just pull out, or tear it. I'd either use a small wooden block, or join the mouth wires onto the wire coming up from the neck, then put a little epoxy putty over it to bind them together. Then add the styrofoam over the top to fill out the bulk. That's how I did a puppet with balsa wood in it, I didn't trust the balsa to hold the wires strongly enough, so I had some pine wood at the core and glued balsa on the outside.
Ive used Sugru yeah its not very flixible. Mostly I found it either tore or didnt give movement as well as id have liked. It was good for making small props or puppet parts that dont need to move like shoes, eyes etc
I've used Sugru for repairing computer leads which have started to come adrift, but am not sure I'd use it for puppets. It is not easy to work or get a good surface finish - super Sculpey is way better.
Your idea for putting Vaseline on the eyeballs seems like a good one. The Sugru takes a day or so to harden, so you could ease the eyeballs a couple of times during that period just to be sure they don't catch.
But I don't think the sugru will be flexible enough to allow a puppet's jaw to move, if it is one piece from face to jaw. For that you need something like silicone or latex. Alternatively, make the mouth quite solid - Muppet-like, as you say - and accept that you will have a sort of hinge for the jaw. Then you have basically solid pieces, and could just as well make them in clay that can be baked...
Has anyone used Sugru for hands? Is it any better or different than sculpey bake and bend?
Sorry its been a while since I originally posted this - I've now done a test and I can say that for they type of puppet I was trying to make, sugru is not a good material for the heads.
So the design of the head is a little bit like the muppets - a head with a basic hinged jaw that can open and close and that is about it - no more range of movement than that. As StopmoNick suggested, the cured sugru is too stiff for the head to be practical. I made a few with tests with different thicknesses of jaw wire. With three strands of 1mm wire twisted to make the jaw, the sugru was actually so stiff that if I open the mouth, the sugru pulled it back slightly to a closed position - i.e. it was impossible for the puppet to keep its mouth fully open. With stiffer wire in the jaw, the jaw would stay open, however the force needed to pull it open was too much - I had to use both hands and force it open - so there is no way I'd be able to do anything like usable animation with it.
I just thought I'd post these results in case its useful to anyone. It's a shame that it doesn't look like this will work as sculpting the sugru actually gave quite a good result.
I haven't tried using sugru for hands. I might give that a go. I certainly think it might be useful for feet on puppets where little or no articulation is needed on the foot.
Thanks to all who responded