Here's Ronan McMahon performing with a giant elf puppet I made last week for Bridgemanarts.
I set out to make a cheery, approachable character, with simple body shapes. So the design focused on a clear smile, a circular head, a bell-shaped body and clear colours to define the different body parts. I knew I wanted to use flexible plastic ducting for the arms and legs, so I designed the elf using the wobbly, elongated look it gives.
The head is a hollow plastazote foam sphere. I made a template using an exercise ball, joined the foam pieces with contact adhesive, heat moulded the nose over a can of spray paint, fastened a cane through the middle of the head to support the ears and to join the head to the hat later on, then spray painted the head and features before glueing them in place.
The shoulders and hips have lengths of cane to support them, there is a hula hoop at the waist to fill out the body shape, the body frame is built from foam pipe lagging and covered with lining material, the skirt and collar are plastazote shapes covered with fabric, the belt is a length of wide ribbon, the arms and legs are flexible plastic ducting covered with fabric which tie to the hips and shoulders with ribbons, and the hat is a smaller hula hoop with a pipe lagging frame and fabric cover.
The hat is supported by a cane structure which extends through the head and fastens to the bamboo poles coming from the body which means that the head itself is suspended and doesn't have to support any weight.
The hands are builder's gloves stuffed with plastic sheeting and joined to an old gaffa tape roll which holds the wrist shape open and gives a solid point for the arm canes to tie to. The shoes are 1cm plastazote foam shapes, contact adhesived together, tied to the legs, with velcro straps to hold them to the performer's legs. The buttons are baubles and the belt buckle is another plastazote shape sprayed gold.
Below are some photos taken at the events the elf visited, it was really fun making something so cheery and even better seeing the response of the family audiences.
I am a Glasgow based visual artist and maker