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I'm still haven't came to which one i want to work with yet. Like to get you guys input.
Here's my input:
1) You'd get more responses if you posted this on the message board rather than your own blog.
2) Your question is way too vague. Better for what? Puppets? Props? What kind of latex are you talking about - liquid latex or foam? And what kind of baked clay?
The point I'm trying to make is that it's important to ask the right questions. In fact, more than that, trying to figure out the right question often leads directly to the answers. It's a well-known axiom in problem-solving that you begin by properly defining your questions, and quite often that process in itself will give you the answers.
Apparently I can't edit that response, but I want to add something.
My question to you, to get you started on properly defining your own questions:
What is it that you're trying to Make? Puppets, or sets, or props?
I will guess that you are mainly asking about making puppets that you can animate.
Polymer Clay that is baked to harden it, like Fimo or Sculpey, works well for heads if you want to be able to sculpt good shapes and details into it, but don't mind that it is rigid. Some people make astonishingly real art dolls from polymer clay. (Probably no other direct sculpting method looks as good, to match it you have to go to sculpting, mould making, and casting in silicone to match it.) There is a long tradition of puppets with rigid heads, from old carved wooden marionettes to Eastern European stop motion animation. Most of the acting is done with body language, the poses tell you how the puppet is feeling. You can have some articulation, like a mouth that opens, or eyebrows that move, if you don't mind seeing that it is a separate piece with a gap that allows it to move. The sculpture will retain all the surface textures and paint, without squishing when you touch it to animate it. I even used Sculpey over armature wire to make the whole body on two puppets (Adam and Eve in L'Animateur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lfqTk_v5Kk ) , but I had to leave gaps at the joints so they could bend. But that was ok, because I wanted them to look like old jointed puppets. However, I needed the fingers to bend and pick stuff up, so the hands are liquid latex over wire. After they are transformed into "real live humans", I used foam latex puppets. ( If they had been clothed, I would have just done the body in upholstery foam, whatever the heads were made of.)
Foam latex is a fairly complicated process, where you sculpt in plasticine, make a plaster mould, then mix up the latex kit (latex base, foaming agent, curing agent, and gelling agent) and inject or brush it into the mould, then bake for a few hours at 100 degrees F. It is becoming less popular, with silicone taking its place for many puppets. I still has one advantage, it is much lighter in weight than silicone, so I still use it for larger or thicker puppets, whether they are fat or heavily muscled.
Liquid latex is simpler than foam latex and requires no mixing or baking, just time to air dry.
The "stilt frogs" in the pond are cushion foam and liquid latex built up over armature wire. It is an easier way to make flexible puppets. You don't need to make a mould, you can build it up directly over the armature. I mostly just carve the soft foam with scissors and dab layers of liquid latex over it, so they tend to be a bit cruder looking. But like Richard Swensson, you could use a combination of build-up and casting sections of liquid latex skin in simple one piece moulds, so you still get the fine detail and accurate sculpting in the areas where it really counts. Here is one of many videos showing how he makes his creatures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w53Q1upAoHk
It is worth checking out his "Bluworm" youtube channel, he does great work and is generous in sharing his techniques. I didn't start making puppets until I could get foam latex, which I had read about for years but couldn't buy in my country, and I could have started much earlier if I had used his methods.
I did a couple of quick tutorials on puppet heads, one a latex build-up with no moulds needed ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uG-ZIOXZ7w ), and one sculpted and then cast in a mould in silicone ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fWdZnQRzB0 ). The second one also shows a few heads at the beginning that are made in different materials.
Wow thanks for all the feedback guys i truly appreciate it.
Might also give foamed silicone a look: reduces the weight and you can have a silicone skin. Has anyone tried this? Smooth-On introduced this product a few years back and I had been thinking of giving it a try at one point...
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