HOMEWORK: WEEK ONE Carving your Foam Puppets

Hello Online Workshop students. Time to carve some puppets. Post pictures of your work here. If you have any questions don't be afraid to post work in progress photos too! The more you share the more help you can get from BJ.



  • Hey BJ,
    I believe you said that in the 3rd class you were going to talk about foam coverings...my question to you is what if our character is fur covered? Or do you want us to carve a character that will showcase our carving techniques and not covered by fur or fleece? Just wondering as I am trying to narrow down options for my foam head and a couple of them have fur or some fur element to them.
  • Hi BJ, I used an electric carving knife to carve the block but had trouble when the block got deeper than the knife could reach. What is the best method for dealing with that problem to make a smooth deeper cut. Thanks
  • Tom,

    Yes you you can cover the character with fur if you'd like. As with the last course these are just techniques and there should never be limitations to how you use them.i like leaving the foam bare because I think it provides a unique texture on camera and there are a lot of options for coloring or finishing it as is, but that shouldn't exclude covering it with fabric or fur. Sometimes the easiest way to attain a a certain shape or look to a character is through carving and then covering.

  • Katherine,

    cutting through thick foam is always a challenge. I always keep my eyes open for electric knives with the longest blades possible. There are 2 ways I approach cutting through. The first is to do 1 pass as deep as possible and then try to spread the cut open enough to reach in and make a second pass to get all e way through.

    the second is to mark the cut line on both sides of the foam and cut through on each side  trying to keep the knife level enough to meet in the middle.

    You can also cut outside the line a bit and give yourself a little extra. You'll have to do a little more hand carving to get to the actual line but it will save you from cutting too deep or crooked.

    All the best,

  • Hi BJ.  I'm working on both my muffin (hard to say in polite company) and my character. I'm attaching my drawings for the character.  Not too complicated shape wise, abut the devil will be in the finishing/surfacing details.  The tail and fin work won't be foam (I'd like to find a way to provide a sense of constant movement via a sheer fabric), so I'll just be carving the body shape. This is all new to me, so my goal really is just to start to get a feel for the techniques. I hope to use the mouth mech that we are going to learn, so I'm not worrying myself with room for my hand. I'd like to segment her in a couple of places for movement and finish her with iridescent finishes, once again to provide the sense of movement.  Whaddya think?  Jiggs.
  • I have just 'plated up' my rough cut muffin and I have started sanding my block. How do I get my Dremel into the tight areas? Do I make a smaller sanding disc?
  • Very excited- I have just 1 more add on to carve for my big block puppet- the main crest going over and down the head! Can't wait for the next lesson to find out how to turn this foam sculpture into a working puppet!

    What I found really useful was to make a smaller sanding disc for the Dremel. I felt like I had more control over where the tool was sanding and unlike the 3inch disc, it rarely grabbed the foam.
  • Ben, your fish design is looking good and I can't wait to see the finished puppet.
  • Katherine, thanks for posting your work. (*)  You have inspired me to post my work as soon as I can find some foam to work with.  :D
  • BJ, I'm really enjoying your course and can't wait to learn more from your others videos!
  • Here is my Homework for this week. The problem I originally had was transferring my 2D drawings into a 3D carving. I had to make modifications to the character so the front profile was better designed but still keeping the look and the feel I wanted. I ended up modifying the head so I could add eye lids in later. I also carved a Muffin and a Carrot and a baby head from a Poof ball. I still want to do another pass in sanding and take final photos of everything as I possibly won't be able to make the course tomorrow until late. I will also start work on the shell.
  • Fun with foam!  Here are the tomato and cupcake ready for mechs that I made previous to the class.  The broccoli and carrots are in process.
  • Haha.  Great minds think alike, right Tom?  I felt guilty for not having a carved head, so I made a Benson baby too.
  • I want to flock my baby.  What are you going to do, Tom?
  • Not sure. Flicking is a possibility hmmmm :)
  • I've never flocked a puppet before, but I bought some coral flocking from www.craftflocking.com to try my hand at it.  I was thinking of Miss Piggy as a potential head carve project, but that was more time than I can spare.  Isn't Piggy flocked?
  • Re flocking- be aware that a flocked puppet cannot be handled- it rubs off very easily and is near impossible to fix. I had the opportunity to touch the Puppet Up puppets earlier this year and they told us not to handle the puppet on the skin but you can only handle them via their clothes.
  • good to know.  thanks.

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