I am using lino for the main shapes of this puppet as it needs to have the appearance of smooth brushed aluminium, but remain hollow and light weight enough that one performer can easily support it. The lino holds its shape beautifully and has a lovely shiny, flat surface. I was very lucky to find this silvery off-cut roll at the Barras. Using the net shapes I worked out on the miniature puppet I squared-up the body shapes onto the lino, adjusting the curves by eye. This involved lots of equations, which left me concerned until the end that a mathematical mistake would see me spoil the limited amount of lino I had. But fortunately it was fine. The full size puppet body is 12.5 times larger than the prototype.
Two hula-hoops provide the under structure for the body. Hula-hoops cost £2, they are very light-weight, hold their circular shape well and are easily resized. I resized the hoops to fit the measurements of the puppet by removing the staples which hold the join together, removing the plastic tube insert at the join, cutting the hoops to size and then re-inserting the tube at the join and stapling them back together again. You can also make larger circles by joining the plastic from two hoops together, in this instance it is best to use equal lenghts for each 'half' to maintain an even circle. Good cheap circular building blocks like this are otherwise quite hard to come by. The lino is riveted to the hoops, with 12mm washers stopping the rivets from popping through. I wanted a join which was good and strong, but also appropriate to the look of a metal robot. I am also riveting it decoratively to keep the look consistent.
The top hoop of the body will be attached to an internal supporting structure made from garden cane with the weight of the body hanging from this hoop, rather than the lino having to support any weight coming from above. The bottom hoop will be removable so that the body can be squeezed through a standard doorway. Making something big which can still fit through a doorway is often quite hard, but it's very restricting if a build can't be stored in a regular room, or taken to a venue which doesn't have a double door or garage entrance.
Once this structure is in place I will trim, neaten and add decorative detail to the body.
The arms and legs will have cane 'bones' attached to the internal body structure and passing through the lino, but not structurally joined to it. Again I am trying to make sure there is no unnecessary stress on the lino. The elbows and knees will have foam wrapped around the cane joints to stop the cane from bursting through the shiny silver ducting hose which will cover them and to give the finished joints a nice rounded appearance.
With the body taking shape, and now that I'm feeling more comfortable with the materials and tools that this build uses, it's probably time to tackle the slightly more complicated piecing together of the head. More on this soon...
I am a Glasgow based visual artist and maker