In 2011 Hemsworth Arts and Community College wanted an Audrey (man-eating plant) puppet for their production of Little Shop of Horrors. Some of the make was with their students at college, the rest was at the workshop.
This is how it was done.
I found a metal stand that was just the job. I spent many a night trying to figure out how to start this and the found metal frame provided the inspiration.
The hinge and basic shape fell into place within the hour. The hinge has to be right as, once covered, could not be altered. When finished the Audrey puppet had to ‘swallow’ one of the cast and they had to then escape out the back.
The outside shape had to be strong yet flexible. It had to take the weight of the performer it ‘ate’ as well as allowing for expression.
The willow shape was covered in cling film first to give the foam something to stick to. Spray contact adhesive was used and masks and appropriate PPE used by the students, (as you can imagine).
I used a split hinge in construction so that the whole puppet could be split in half for ease of working and transportation.
Care was taken not to make it too big to fit in the van, (you’d be amazed how often that happens).
Luckily Mark Deal arrived on work placement for the second half of the make. And here he is being introduced to the joys of liquid latex.
Acrylic paints were used. For large areas the paint was mixed with diluted latex for flexibility
At the back you can see the 2 piece of wood used to operate the puppet. Press down and the mouth would open, move apart and the mouth appeared to chew.
The teeth were made individually and attached with velcro so they would be removed if necessary.
Leafs and tendrils made with the students. Tendrils are made out of paper rope covered in green gaffa tape. Strong aluminium wire was threaded through the tendrils so that they could be coiled and shaped.