Introduction: Stop Motion Puppetry With Sugru

About: Making things to entertain myself comes second to entertaining my offspring, but my mind is always working something out.

This is just as much about experimentation with different techniques as it is about making an Instructable.

I had been wondering for a long time as to whether or not Sugru would be a good medium for making parts of puppets for stop motion. Normally I'd use foam and latex to make my puppets. When I first discovered Sugru I thought it may have a useful application in stop motion. This Instructable documents my first experiences of using it for this application, and is about the creation of a hand, which could be attached to a puppet.

Step 1: The Tools and Materials

I wanted to make a skin tone, so I chose red, yellow and white Sugru. There is a handy mixing chart inside the card outer packaging, which I discovered after mixing up some very dark orange. I rectified this by adding more yellow and then lightening with white. I believe my final mix was 25% red, 25% white and 50% yellow but you'll want to experiment with that. Just pay attention to the mixing chart.

You'll also want some wire. I used proper animation aluminium wire. It had a "dead" bend. It doesn't spring back from the position you bend it to. The wire I used was 1mm.

You'll also want some wire cutters and I used a small screwdriver to assist with the twisting.

Step 2: Working the Wire, Part 1

Normally you'd work to a drawing of the part you're building. It's handy to keep to the scale of the puppets and sets and to have it as a template for when you need to make spare parts. I was making a one off so I just eyeballed this step.

Decide how long you want your hand including the palm and wrist. In my example, each length was around 3" long. I tend to fold the wire into the lengths I want and then cut them afterwards. I always have a double thickness of wire in each finger, for strength.

Once they're separated, twist the wire until the twists are as long as you want each finger plus the length of the palm. Putting the small screwdriver through the loop helps with the twisting, especially if you're using a fine wire.

Step 3: Working the Wire, Part 2

Once you have prepared the fingers, arrange them into a hand shape, taking note of the different lengths of the fingers and the position of the thumb. If you're not sure what a hand should look like, try looking at that strange flappy appendage at the end of your arm.

Once you're happy with your fingers, twist the rest of the wires together to form the wrist and forearm.

Step 4: Mixing the Sugru

Like I mentioned in the introduction, there is a mixing chart in the cardboard outer. This is your friend. Use it.

My orange was much too dark to begin with and it might be better to mix a white and yellow packet together and then add the red in small amounts. Red is a really strong colour and you really don't want too much to begin with. I was fairly pleased with my end result and the four packets I used, covered the hand armature I'd made but I wasn't savvy enough in the first instance.

My final mix was:

1 red packet

1 white packet

2 yellow packets

But experiment! Find what works best for you. Just don't mix it all at once and hope for the best.

Step 5: Covering Your Armature

Splay the fingers of the armature out so that they don't get in the way as you work each finger. Make sausages of Sugru and lay them along each finger. Squeeze it around And close the gap up on the opposite side. Smooth the join lines out as much as possible and try to ensure that the Sugru covers each finger evenly.

Once the fingers are satisfactorily covered, reconfigure the fingers into a hand shape and add the mixed Sugru to the palm and the back of the hand. Ensure an even, smooth covering.

Step 6: Details!

Now add details to your hand. Not only to add realism but to add functionality. The creases on each finger and where they attach to the palm is where the fingers will naturally bend. The middle finger on my finished model doesn't quite have the "dead" bend I mentioned earlier and is slightly springy why tightly curled. The rest of the Sugru on the fingers will act as a bone and remain fairly stiff compared to the joints.

I also added creases to the palm and a small ball, squashed onto each knuckle, just to give the whole thing some texture.

Once you're happy with how the hand looks, put it somewhere safe for the Sugru to cure.

Step 7: Conclusion and Considerations

It works! It's quick and easy and it works.

It's not necessarily the best method and not the cheapest but as a proof of concept, I'm pleased with how it turned out.

Adding texture through painting techniques wouldn't be possible and the flat colour does detract from the finished product but that's if you're making a fleshy hand. There is such a wide scope for Sugru to be used in animation, that I'm certainly not going to rule it out as an option. If you're thinking about trying it, just do it. I'd love to see what people come up with.