The challenge was to create a puppet ... and that puppet had to be wierd.
So the Grey Alien was born
I chose a ventriloquist puppet – why? Ventriloquist puppets sit on you lap which is cool, however, Grey Aliens do not talk (which makes learning how to throw ones voice obsolete). Communication is still important for the puppet and I hear (according to alien abductee reports) that aliens communication is through telepathy ; so I decided to use LED lights in the eyes to illustrate mood and intention. Red LED for anger, white for acknowledgment and alternating colors for hypnosis (that shuold take care of the telepathic ability portion).
Note: I am not a sculptor or a puppet maker which would explain my choice of materials and techniques used for this Instructable.
I used Crayola Model Magic Modeling Clay (foam clay). On the plus side, it is ultra light weight clay which is easy to sculpt with. On the down side - it takes a long time to harden. If you rush to get things done, the clay may start to crack and split in the assembly phase. However a good quality white glue works great for repairs.
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Step 1: Sculpting
Before sculpting I started with a rough sketch, depicting a typical grey alien with a large head and thin body
1. Crayola Model Magic Clay (used 1 ½ bags) for the head and 1 package for the hands
2. Round (4”) and Egg Styrofoam (slightly smaller) floral forms
3. Hot Glue
4. Sunglass lenses (oval shaped)
A. Make the skull – the skull is just a solid base to work the clay.
1. Cut the round Styrofoam ball in half, it will be the top of the cranium.
2. Cut the egg at the widest part, this will create the cheeks and jaw.
3. Glue pieces together.
B. Apply the clay to the entire from – be liberal. You will need extra clay material.
to from the face.
1. Push in the eyes to create cavities for the eyes (make them large because alien eyes are buggy).
2. Pushing the eyes will also form cheek bones and brow bones ao use your fingers to refine the shape.
3. Push in the sunglass lenses into the face.
4. Shape the brows and cheek bones around and over the lenses.
5. Pinch the clay between the eyes to create a small nose.
6. Pinch the chin to make a small angular chin.
7. Halfway between the bottom of the nose and bottom of the chin, cut in a mouth.
8. Form the neck, making sure the curve of the back of the head and neck is a
smooth transition and not just a cylinder holding up the head like a lamp post.
9. Let dry (may take a week or two maybe more depending on the humidity).
C. Form the hands. I should have made a wire skeleton for the fingers, but the clay is
so friendly to work with that the formation of each finger was easy. My design had two
fingers and a thumb for each hand and a thin wrist. Once created set aside to dry.
Note: make the wrist long – this will help in the attachment to the arm
Step 2: Mechanics/LED Lighting
1. 2 red LED lights
2. 2 white LED lights
4. 3” piece of balsa wood (mount for LED lights)
5. Threaded lamp tubing
6. Black and red wire
7. Electrical Tape
A. Pop the sunglass lenses out from the face. The face should still be pliable (rubbery),
place your thumb in the center of the lens and push up and down (it should loosen
the lens enough to pull out).
B. Dig out the eyes
1. Cut the clay with an exacto knife, each hole should be about the size of a quarter.
2. Dig (believe it or not, the handle of an old artist paint brush worked great
(it crushed the Styrofoam as it dug).
3. Make sure that the eye holes are connected behind the nose.
C. LED set up: Each eye will have a red and white light.
1. Take the small piece of balsa (make sure it fits in the drilled cavities in the head).
drill for tiny holes in each end of the stick to accept the wire leads for each LED light.
2. Each LED light will have a long wire lead and a short wire lead protruding from the light.
3. Solder a short piece of red wire to the long lead from one of the white LEDs
Solder the other end of the red wire to the other long lead from the other white LED.
4. Do the same with the black wire to the short leads.
5. Repeat steps 3 through 4 for the red LEDs.
6. From center of each wire, strip about an eighth of an inch of insulation then set aside.
7. Take the threaded lamp rod and twist it through the neck of the alien until you see it in
the skull Keep twisting until you see the end of the pipe in the hollow portion of the skull.
8. Use a straightened coat hanger to push through the pipe to clear the end of debris
collected while drilling the pipe through the neck and skull
9. Wrap the neck and pipe with electrical tape to join the parts together.
10. Cut 4 long lengths of wire (2 red and 2 black) making sure you have enough to connect
the eyes to the chest of the puppet (I made mine extra-long about 18+”).
11. Twist one red and one black wire together. Do the same for the other two.
12. Fish both bundles through the pipe and out of an eye socket.
13. Looking at the red light assembly – solder a long length of red wire to the center
bare spot on the red light assembly. Do the same for the black then wrap with each
connection with electrical tape.
14. Repeat step (g) for the white assembly.
15. Test the lights with a button battery (if you use a 9V, use a resistor in the end of each
16. Slide the completed assembly through the eye socket. Make sure you can see lights in both
B. Put the sunglass lenses back on
Step 3: Repairing Damage
1. Wood putty
2. Good quality white glue
3. More modeling clay
A. For small cracks and imperfections, fill area with wood putty; let dry then sand
B. For major structural cracks fill crack with glue, smooth area and let dry
C. For cosmetic reconstruction (after placing the lenses back in, you may notice that areas of
clay that may have broken off
1. Use more clay and fill/reconstruct areas of missing clay.
2. You will not be able to smooth the clay totally so you will have to use the putty to fill in
Step 4: Painting
For depth and different tones for alien skin I used:
1. Testors spray silver paint
2. Testors spray olive drab paint
3. Testors spray light grey paint
4. Model Masters medium grey paint
Why modelers paint and not artist colors? My primary hobby is model building and that is what I had on hand.
A. To even out the repairs and clay, spray the parts with the light
grey – cover everything.
B. To give the skin some sheen, lightly spray the parts in sporadic areas with the
silver paint (do not cover the entire piece).
C. For a cool mid tone that is not grey, lightly spray parts in sporadic areas with
the olive drab paint.
D. Lightly spray shadowed areas with the medium grey paint (best to spray at an angle
i.e. from the chin up).
E. To accentuate highlights, spray highlighted areas with the light grey again at an
angle (best to spray at an angel i.e. from the forehead down).
Step 5: Making the Body
1. Sturdy fabric (I used Osnaburg. Left over from another build)
3. Pencil and a large sheet of Paper
A. I chose to build a rag doll body because it is a super easy (joints are made
with a straight stich through a limb. How easy is that?).
B. Place the head on the paper and draw an outline of the body (only half).
C. Cut out the shape.
D. Place the pattern on folded fabric (center of body should be pinned to
the folded edge of the fabric).
E. Repeat step D.
F. Cut out the shape bigger than the pattern. Make it about a half to three
quarters of an inch largeraround the edges (you will need extra meat to
the fabric to sew together).
G. Make the arms separately (they are thin and will be easy to sew onto the doll
body – shoulder joint).
H. Sew both body panels together, making sure you leave a hole large enough to
turn the body inside out, leave holes in each thigh and shin for fill plus
leave the wrist holes open to accept the hands.
I. Filp the body inside out.
J. Sew a straight line over the joints (hip, knees and elbows).
K. Fill the body with Poly-Fil.
L. Hand sew the arms to the body, pinch the shoulder joint or tie a knot.
This will give the shoulder joint better motion.
M. Once the poly fill is in, you may notice that the body does not look right
(maybe too round). You will have to sculpt again using needle and thread.
Step 6: Making the Costume
1. Sliver fabric (I used Pleather)
2. Silver thread
3. Baby booties
You will need to reuse the pattern from the body and add more fabric to the edges (about three quarters of an inch to an inch larger. You’ll need the costume larger than the body so that you can dress the puppet without it being skin tight.
A. Place pattern on folded fabric and then cut out.
C. Do not unfold the fabric to sew the front and back together. Instead sew the
sides together (see sewing diagram).
D. Cut the folded edge apart.
E. Sew the right side to the left side using the uncut folded side.
F. Sew only the front – leave the back open.
G. To make the sleeves, use the arm pattern, fold the fabric, cut out
the shape making sure you add extra fabric and sew the long side
together (repeat for the other sleeve).
H. Dress the body.
I. Hand stitch the sleeve to the costume.
J. To make the cuffs and Collar, cut out a long rectangle piece of fabric
about a foot, fold in half long ways, and sew together (like the arm).
K. Cut the cuff material to the length that you need and hand stich the cuff
to the end of each sleeve.
L. Leftover cuff material can be used as the collar.
M. Shove the booties onto the legs and glue.
Step 7: Control Box
1. Head with rod and wires
2. Styrene sheets
3. Half inch hose clamps x 2
4. Two momentary switches (naturally open)
Since the puppet is a ventriloquist’s puppet, the puppet will need to have a functioning control box located in the puppet’s back.
A. Cut the top and bottom panel of the control box out of
some thick styrene.
B. Cut the top longer than the bottom piece since the chest is wider
than the waste and make a radius for each corner that faces the chest side of
C. Drill a hole in the center of the top piece to accept the pipe.
D. For the side walls, use a thinner piece of styrene. Cut it to
length and score it with vertical stripes across one side of the sheet.
E. Flip the sheet over and cover the other side with duct tape.
F. Bend the styrene along the score lines (it will look like a bread box
or a roll top desk).
G. Use duct tape to tape the assembly together.
H. Cut another piece of the thick piece of styrene for an inner support
for the rod and add two smaller holes to accept the momentary switches.
Tape it in. You may want to add supports to the bottom of this shelf/support).
I. Cut the back of the rag doll open and pull out some of the stuffing – not all.
J. Place the control box in the cavity and secure it by folding over the fabric from the body into the
and taping it in with duct tape
K. Cut the lamp rod to length, being careful not cut the wires. (TIP: if using a
hack saw, rotate the rod as you make a cut. If you see a hole, stop and rotate
L. Slide the head assembly through the neck and insert into the hole for the control
box and support.
M. Place the hose clamp on the lamp pipe above and below the support.
N. Install both switches
Step 8: Wiring
1. More black and red wires (cut short approx 2-3 inches)
2. 9v battery and holder
3. 22 Kilo Ohms resistor (red, red, orange)
A. At the bottom of each switch there are two wiring leads, they are for the
B. Attach one of the black wires coming from the head to one of the leads
C. From the same switch, attach a new small black wire to the other lead.
D. Repeat steps B and C for the other switch.
E. Cut another new piece of black wire and join all three black wires together
(like a Y).
F. At the bottom of the Y splice in the resistor.
G. Attach the end of the wire to the black wire coming from the 9V battery holder.
H. Cut a new piece of red wire (small) and join the ends all of the red wires.
This too will look like a Y.
I. Connect the bottom of the Y to the red wire coming from the 9V battery holder.
J. Insert battery and push down on the buttons. One will turn on the red eyes
and the other.
K. Stuff the wiring and battery holder under the support shelf and cover with a
scrap piece of styrene.
Step 9: Enjoy!
Last Step - place the puppet on your knee and reach your hand inside the back.
With your fingers, twist the rod to the right and then to the left.
with the same fingers press down on the switches
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