AN ARTICULATED PUPPET FOR THE NEW FILM ADAPTATION OF 'FIVE CHILDREN AND IT'.

Psammead

This project was my first introduction to core moulding and foam latex. It was a swift, brutal education that I feel put me in good stead for the future. The Psammead character appears in the children’s book Five Children and It, and we were requested to make a physical version of the character, so the child actors would have something to interact with on set, before it was replaced by a CGI character.

The main sculpt of the figure was in clay, which was then moulded in fibreglass. The head of the mould was then separated off for core moulding. The clay was laid up to 12mm all around, and the core mould was made in fibreglass. We put the pour hole in the back of the head, and drilled our bleed holes.

We used monster maker foam latex. Unfortunately, in the initial baking of the mould the temperature was adjusted too high, which meant the fibreglass contracted. We made a new core, but the outer was slightly too small, meaning there were relatively thick flashing lines. 

I spent a lot of time trying to get our foam latex right. Despite being advised that the salty air and ambient pressure of out part of the country would make successful foam latex casts nearly impossible. I used a piping bag to introduce the material to the mould, and followed the advice of many people experienced in foam casting. We achieved a couple of good casts despite the problems with temperature (this job occurred during a very warm July).

The body was articulated with an aluminium armature and various swivels. We covered all the moving parts in cling film before we filled the body mould with 022 Polyurethane expanding foam. Once we had the body cast, we brushed latex over the to to make sure we had a good waterproof seal on all areas. We then stuck the head on after we had laid in the eyeballs. 

This job was an exercise in patience with learning about foam latex, which is a material I now feel a lot more confident in using. Despite the puppet never appearing on-screen, it was nice to produce a prop to assist in a movie. 

​The heads were made out of polyurethane rubber, pulled out of alginate moulds of our co-workers heads! We then added wigs, swords and hats. After artworking, they were taken to local coastal areas during high tide, and as low tide would come in the figures would slowly reveal themselves to the public.

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Email: keith@keiththomsonprops.com