Ok guys, so after a very stressful week I have a devil puppet made from silicone. However the weight of the puppet is ridiculous and he doesn't bend mush at the torso, which is a royal pain as he will be sitting for many shots!

the limbs and the head mechanism work well but I am now thinking i may need to take some time out and have a real think about remaking the whole thing from a different material. I have never used foam latex before but I assume it would be far lighter and have bend better in thick sections compared to silicone? The other method I was thinking about would be to skin the mold with a layer of standard latex and then backfill will a very soft expanding polyurethane flex foam.

It is a real shame because I have spent so much time and money on trying to make this the best puppet I have created but I am thinking further down the line that animating will be too tricky in its current silicone form. If anybody has any ideas they want to share then as always your input is valued. Thanks.  

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It doesn't hurt to slightly exaggerate forms, especially when making a puppet that's not meant to be realistic, i.e. a vfx type creature a la Ray Harryhausen.

I would cast a foam puppet with an armature inside it, shear off about 2 mm of the outermost layer with scissors, then paint in, or inlay your mold with silicone in the different colors. let it cure ever so slightly, then coat your shorn foam puppet in silicone,  and press that bad boy into the mold, and clamp shut. You will have a foam core puppet with a gorgeous silicone skin. You made this silicone - i think you can handle foam latex, my friend 

Also, the wings would look nice in foam latex, due to the nature of what I can only call "wing skin". The look of a wing has wrinkles in it anyway, and foam latex is very light. A double-twisted 16th inch aluminum armature wire would support that weight. 

Thanks Kathi, Your puppets look amazing by the way, real beautiful craftsmanship. I tried the silicone skin method with a previous puppet but I found the results were not very good. I used ordinary upholstery foam before but I would assume that even if I used flex foam or foam latex i may have the same problem. I would have given the soma foama a try but I cannot find it in the UK which is most annoying! Im guessing that the puppets in your feed are mainly foam latex? I would love to play around with some but I need a mixer and all the chemicals so the initial start up seems quite expensive, although worth it, I'm sure.

The problem with foam latex is that it's incredibly expensive in the UK because nobody seems to manufacture the ingredients here, it all has to be imported from the US. Plus you then need to arrange for / build a foam latex oven, hassle and expense enough for professionals, let alone an amateur no matter how talented. Personally, if I were you I would try to make the most of the materials you do have access to (which are not inconsiderable anyway) and concentrate on animating technique. Getting a good performance from a puppet is at least as important as how it's made, probably more so. After all, a good performance will enhance a poor or indifferently made puppet, but a good puppet is for nought with a bad performance. You do at least have firm foundations in that your sculpting skills are very good. My advice - just get on with building your puppets even if you think they're not perfect and animate them.

With upholstery foam, I found the silicone soaks into it, making the puppet actually stiffer than solid silicone.   I think there would be less of that with foam latex, but you need to use a tin cure silicone, the platinum silicones will not cure if they come into contact with latex.  I know there are soft tin cure silicones in the UK - can't buy them here in Australia - so it is a possible way to go.  Here's a UK tin cure silicone:   http://www.animationtoolkit.co.uk/stop-motion-silicone-skin-500g/   (They won't ship outside the UK.)

Long ago (19 years) I bought a 20 litre container of cream latex base here in Australia, from a company that no longer does latex, and all the chemicals from a company in the UK.  Whether they still exist or not, I don't know.   They were  Aquaspersions Ltd in West Yorkshire. 

Just googled - they still exist and stock the foaming, curing, and gelling agents for foam latex.

http://www.aquaspersions.co.uk/latex.html

I had a lot of large puppets to make, and even with a third of the latex eventually getting too old before I could use it, it was cheaper than buying enough foam latex kits from the USA.  

What I don't see is a UK supplier of the cream latex base, which is the bulkiest component, and the one which deteriorates with age.  Cream latex has a higher percentage of latex solids than the ordinary liquid latex.  The cream latex I had behaved like a GM foam when used with GM chemicals, and like Burman with Burman chemicals.  The Aquaspersions additives gave me a slightly lower rise, but a very good fine cel structure, and the puppets lasted a bit longer.

I did find the Monstermakers foam latex quart kit at 38 pounds, a lot less than the L 129.99 price for the GM 1 litre kit at animationtoolkit.  

http://www.mouldlife.net/monstermakers-foam-latex-1218-p.asp

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Nice to see you on this board again, Kathy Zung! 

Yes, I agree that the foam cells are much larger with upholstery foam and that cast foam latex is much smaller and uniform, so silicone just lays on top but adheres well to the small cells. It may not be cost effective though, especially after the cost of shipping. I'm sorry to hear that materials aren't as readily available in the UK. I feel so spoiled now. 

StopmoNick said

I did find the Monstermakers foam latex quart kit at 38 pounds, a lot less than the L 129.99 price for the GM 1 litre kit at animationtoolkit.  

http://www.mouldlife.net/monstermakers-foam-latex-1218-p.asp

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Nice to see you on this board again, Kathy Zung! 

I love Monstermakers foam - so supple, so dreamy. Nice to be back, Nick! 

I looked at the monstermakers foam and seems to be the cheapest option, although I would still need to splash out for a sunbeam mixer. They didn't seem to have the monstermaker in stock when i looked though although there is an alternative called creature foam latex, has anyone tried that? I assume it would be similar just different brands maybe?

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