Recently I contacted Melbourne's Snuff Puppets looking to get involved. Touring all over the world, Snuff are known for their incredible giant puppets. Currently they are working on a world record attempt - the worlds largest ever human puppet... a character they call "Everybody". Artistic Director and founder of Snuff Puppets Andy Freer asked if I would like to come and work with them on this project as a volunteer. Of course I jumped at the chance. I am always looking for outlets to learn and develop, broadening my skills as puppeteer and maker. On top of that, here was an opportunity to form a relationship with this fantastic company and add to my growing network here in Oz.
Snuff run out of an amazing venue in Footscray in Melbourne's west. A huge old drill hall, it is now in it's 100th year! The perfect venue for a giant puppet company, the space is incredible and houses years worth of giant puppets (I was in awe). Welcomed in to the space by Andy, I was quickly introduced to another of Snuff's amazing artists Stéphane Hisler both of whom made me feel incredibly welcome throughout the day. After being shown around the space and introduced to "Everybody" in his/her current state, I was set to work on a giant nose.
I was so excited to have the opportunity to contribute something to this amazing project, plus learn some new skills and techniques along the way. Working from their design and pattern I set to work. Their pattern making process is similar to my own, working with a small clay model and covering it to create a small scale pattern that can then be enlarged. One difference, was that rather than working with masking tape right on to the clay, they first cover the clay model in tin foil, for easier removal of the pattern later on, a technique I am eager to test out in my own work.
Using a projector, after measuring up "Everybodies" face, we enlarged the nose pattern to nine times it's size. Then working with a dense foam (the name has escaped me), I drew up and cut out the pattern ready for assembly. Assembling the nose was challenging at times, but overall pretty straight forward. An exciting revelation for me was the kind of glue Snuff use for these kinds of projects. I generally rely on highly toxic contact adhesives (brands like Sika), which not only are risky to my health, but also incredibly time consuming waiting for the glue to set. Snuff use an amazing glue called Insta bond; non toxic, odorless, and works instantly! I am so excited about this glue; working similarly to most contact glues, minus the wait time. I am very excited to stock up for future projects!
Putting together this giant puzzle was a lot of fun, figuring out which piece went where and what all the different markings referred to. The most difficult part of the construction was fitting in the nostrils. I had made the inside of the nostrils separately and only attached them once the rest of the nose was complete. This left no room to hold the nose from the inside to assist their attachment... it was at this point I called in Stéphane to help me muscle them in to place. Stéphane was hard at work sewing together a giant inflatable ear throughout the day and proved to be a great source of guidance and entertainment.
After hours of hard work, the nose was complete and I felt very satisfied. Holding it up to "Everybodies" face, I was proud to have accomplished the task. I thoroughly enjoyed spending my day with Snuff Puppets and look forward to working with them more in the future. Thank you to Andy and Stéphane for having me, and sharing with me some of your skills, your knowledge and your stories.
For more about Snuff Puppets visit: http://snuffpuppets.com/
To donate to this project and help "Everybody" come to life visit: http://www.pozible.com/project/186795