Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Putin's Puppet Show Tonight...

Back in mid-February, The Last Leg contacted me to ask if they could use all my old puppets for a skit they wanted to do on their Friday 17 February show (Series 10 Episode 4, I believe). They also wanted a new Farage puppet, all this with only two days' notice! On top of this, they asked if I was free all afternoon and evening of Friday to act as a puppeteer, and could I bring along anyone else? So I roped in my old muckers Dodders and Paul, while Channel 4 got in three other guys to be puppeteers, and their props people made bodies and costumes for my puppet heads.

They already had Trump, but my other puppets were supposed to portray non-famous figures (namely, three Russian whores and three Russian spies) and so they had to be heavily disguised to conceal their actual identities. The whores were played by Boris Johnson, Nick Griffin and David Cameron, while Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Benjamin Netanyahu played the spies!

We actually performed the skit - a parody of The Muppet Show song rewritten as The Putin Show - live on air! It went like a dream, the TV people were without exception lovely to work with, no air & graces or attitude on show, and afterwards they laid on a taxi at their expense to ferry us and the puppets back home.

Oh, and Nigel? Well, ironically, after the mad rush to make the new puppet, Channel 4's lawyer got the jitters and said he couldn't be used... That's showbiz, I suppose.












Thursday, 2 February 2017

BIG DONALD IS WATCHING YOU...

Needless to say, the extraordinary advent of Donald Trump as US President has demanded a response in rubber...



Thursday, 17 November 2016

Body Transplant...

For some time I've been mulling over changing the look of the puppets, and going for a Large Head/Small Body aesthetic, which is more in line with traditional drawn caricature. To that end, on Christmas day I made a small body using foam sheets glued together and cut to shape, and children's clothes I'd bought some time ago with this use in mind. Here are the results with Boris Johnson and Benjamin Netanyahu...



Sibling Rivalry...?

Some time ago, my Rubber Balls collaborators Jon Rist and Ian Buchan asked if I could make - wait for it - a talking belly creature for a short film they were planning. The upshot was that I found myself one day slathering Ian's midriff with a load of soft-soap mould release, and then bandaging him up like an accident victim, so I could produce a mould of said body section.

From this I made a hard polyurethane foam 'plug' conforming to the shape of Ian's belly. Slap a load of clay on that, sculpt a weird face into it, fling a ton of plaster onto that and voila! You end up with an open mould of the belly creature, from which a latex skin is made. Using foam sheet cut into shape, I made a substructure for that onto which I attached a 'chassis' bearing cable-operated mechanisms to operate the creature's eyes (left and right movements) and mouth, the lower jaw being sprung and capable of moving up and down.

Although appearing to be a radical departure from my usual subjects,  the belly-brother's face was modelled vaguely after Ian's features, my concept of it being that it was kind of a Siamese Twin gone wrong...

Anyway, here's the film:



And here are some photos which are, hopefully, fairly self-explanatory (mainly because I can't be bothered to explain them)...










Sunday, 31 July 2016

Nigel Hits Channel 4!

Recently, I spent a few weeks in the United States visiting my boyfriend. Whilst there, I received a private Facebook message from Jon Rist, the Rubber Balls cameraman/compositor/editor etc., to the effect that Channel 4 wanted to use the Nigel Farage puppet head as part of a mock statue which was pulled over, in the fashion of a deposed dictator's statue, on The Last Leg (Series 8 Episode 5) broadcast live on Friday 8 July 2016!

Not only that, but my name appears in the end credits!

Here are some screengrabs...







Aborted Projects 2: Assorted Maquettes

Although I've not made a full-size puppet since last year, I have made several maquettes as studies in miniature for projected puppets. Being studies, the 3D equivalent of sketches prior to finished drawings, they tend to be somewhat rough, with certain areas, especially the ears, generally being left unfinished. They are even sometimes quite asymmetrical, as I sculpt either side of an imaginary vertical line halfway across the face slightly differently to see how alternative approaches might work sculpturally.

The maquettes below depict Zac Goldsmith (I had a crack at Sadiq Khan but I wasn't happy with it and mashed it up), Jeremy Clarkson (bald, as the full-size puppet would have had a wig because of his frizzy hair), the Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow, and former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne:




I even sculpted maquettes of Iain Duncan Smith and Richard Hammond (to go with Clarkson), but I was never that happy with them and ended up mashing them up before I could even be bothered photographing them.

Aborted Projects 1: Strings Attached...

A couple of years ago, I came up with a concept for a series of sketches which would have departed radically from the conventional Rubber Balls technique of life-size hand puppets filmed against greenscreen for compositing, in that I actually intended to make full-bodied marionettes filmed in complete miniature sets. Of course, this was wildly ambitious, and never got off the ground...

However, I did get as far as sculpting the masters for a marionette Boris Johnson head, along with a Michael Gove head (Gove was to play a stereotypical boffin, hence his exaggerated cranium). Both are small, around three inches from chin to crown. The Gove head is somewhat damaged in the photos, and was never actually finished, hence the rougher look than the Boris head, which was pretty much complete and ready for mouldmaking. He was sculpted bald, as I intended to add hair to the completed cast rubber heads (all the Boris family were to have been cast from the same mould) using fine hair from a large doll bought cheaply from a charity shop. This Boris was sculpted after the large hand puppet Boris and is, in my opinion, a superior sculpture to the large version.