Large Shark Puppet help.

So I had this idea for a large puppet...Shark Cosplaying Lady Dimitrescu...It's stupid, I know.  I have a vague idea of what I want it to do/operate. I’m thinking cable controls fed through a custom wagon handle. The handle in the concept art here is in the front but I plan to make the handle in the back like a push cart that way the head is in view. The idea is its a miserable, fat shark. So movements for the most part will be minimal. The eyes squint and blink and the head can slightly move left/right like a real shark. The Jaw opening would be the biggest movement.

I don't have a lot of space so I don't want to make Bruce from Jaws, but sizable enough so it impresses. Any size suggestions would be appreciated.

First question is, what materials would you reccomend for the frame? I know that if its big, it needs to be strong. Since I'll be using a red wagon to move it, I won't be lifting it. I'm thinking bike cables for the eyelids. I will need a stronger mech for his jaw/head turn. Keeping in mind, the wagon handle will be made from a hollow PVC tube with the control cables threaded through, and triggers on the wagon handle.

Last connundrum is the skin. He's cartoony but somewhat real looking. I need a method and material that can save space and won't break the bank. Now, with latex, it requires a plaster mold, but I hate working with plaster, and to mold a giant shark with a plaster mold will be too big and too expensive.

Silicone is more expensive but since its a chemical cure and doesen't require a porus mold (to my knowledge) to cure, I could possibly 3D print a mold in pieces?

I've built rubber puppets, I've built mechanical puppets, but never one this big.

Anyone who’s made large puppets like I'm describing, let me know any tips. Thanks!

Concept Art:


  • Okay I think I have an idea of how I can make a large latex skin without a giant mold. I ordered a large beach ball. My plan is to inflate the beach ball and using cardboard, tape and newspaper, make bases for the head and fins proportional to the ball. Then, carefully remove the head and fin bases and use clay to sculpt just the head and fins. Maybe just the head since it may be easier to fabricate the fins. Once I sculpt a detailed head, make a hydrocal mold of that. Then with the beach ball, tape it to a garbage can so it does not roll around. Mark out the places where the head and tail would go, and make sure the beach balls inflate tube is exposed. Then using a stipple technique, stipple on a Whole lot of latex layers. Like a lot so it has a thickness. I’m not sure if the latex will stick to the beach ball so I’ll experiment on a small section before I go nuts. Once the body is covered in a thick latex skin I’ll use more latex to attach the cast head and fins blending them in with more latex. Once everything is attached, open the tube and deflate the beach ball (powdering it as it deflated so nothing sticks.) and in theory I have a full latex Shark skin. I’ll paint it while it’s still full with the beach ball too. That way nothing flops around.
    I’ll use the same beach ball to make a fiberglass understructure (covered in foil so it doesn’t melt) and similarly make a fiberglass skull for the mechanics. The idea is this is an oversized ventriloquist dummy mechanics wise. Have bike cables open/close the jaws, and blink the eyes. Not sure if I can get the head to turn but since the shark is so fat I wouldn’t have to turn much.
    What do you think of this idea? Any ways you think it could be improved?

  • I think your latex fabrication method should work.  You can do a lot of paper mache like techniques with liquid latex using tissue paper, cotton, etc to build up forms, and that could help you tie things together.

    Sounds like a fun project.  I hope you can share your progress and results with us!

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