I wanted to make a sidekick for my costume for Dragoncon 2011 costume-Steampunked Warg Rider ( from the Lord of the Rings movie) so I decided to turn a innocent wolf puppet to the darkside. I stumbled upon a Folkmanis Big Bad Wolf puppet and so it began...
Folkmanis Big Bad Wolf Wolf Puppet - this is apparently out of production so any wolf or wolf- like dog hand puppet)
Wolf jawset-I used Van Dykes (medium)
Paper Tape-painting type
Aves Apoxie sculpt ( or any sturdy self-hardening epoxie clay)
acrylic paint and sealer
Step 1: Step 1
Carefully open the seams all around the mouth and remove tongue, any foam or padding, including the upper muzzle and nose area
( save the padding)
Measure your jaw area-top and bottom by width & length and determine how much material you have to work with, then cut out thin cardboard strips ( posterboard,cereal and beer case boxes work great!) and fit them in the upper and lower jaws forming a palate. The bottom of the jawset can be a rough beginning guide. I used paper tape to allow multiple positioning, then added more cardboard & tape layers until I had the form I wanted. I found the jawsets were too deep so most of the bottom below the jawline were removed using a grinder and sanded smooth. The smaller jawset would have fit better but we wanted big fangs!
Step 2: Step 2
Paint your jaw set used acrylic paints in very thin layers, letting each layer dry. I used Google images and taxidermy sites are also good for reference photos. Dirty them up a bit for realism. While they dry you can reinforce the palates with a water based sealer, thin coats, dry before the next coat. Everything layered and dry? Now set the jaw into the palate with a epoxie clay, use some clay to reinforce the palate where needed.
Step 3: Step 3
When the clay is completely dry It's time to set the jaw into the muzzle, do some fit tests and figure out where and how much padding ( you saved it, right?) you will need. Leave enough material you can hide your palate form and cover so just the gumline shows-don't rush it, it's one of the most important steps! Set the other jaw in as you test the fit, depending on your puppet one may need less or little padding. On mine there is a lot of padding on top, very little on bottom. The wargs have much broader snouts and cheeks so more padding was used in the upper area to reshape the muzzle and fatten out the cheeks, which I encased in some open weave cloth so it kept the shape I wanted and didn't shift. I tacked it in place with a few stitches
Step 4: Step 4
When you are happy with the fit, glue in place, palates to interior. Pull the fabric taunt along the jaw, hiding the palate while leaving the gumline exposed. I did not glue the very end of the palates so I would have some flex when moving the jaws from inside. I glued some suede strips on the end of the palates to interior puppet mouth cavity, this keeps the ends from moving too much while giving some movement. I had a small patch on the gumline that receded when the glue dried, I cut a little fur from the tail and glued in a patch, making it blend in.
We got fangs-admire the brilliance of your pet and notice his new demeanor! The muzzle is reshaped and more warglike. I painted the eyes with black glass paint to dull that baby blue..
Step 5: Step 5
Claw time! I fashioned some from epoxie clay, let dry overnight. You can sand or grind them when set. I used black clay so no painting needed. I formed them to a half circle for easier insertion. Opened up the paw seams, and sewed between the claws. Congratulations, you're the proud parent of a baby warg! Spiked collar optional.