– Plastic (flexible beaded variety) or metal armatures
– Foam (upholstery / urethane type or a type of foam called Plastazote)
– Wire/wire mesh
– Polymer clay – Super Sculpey, Sculpey Premo, Fimo and Cernit – this clay must be conditioned/warmed up by kneading before it is used. Running it repeatedly through a pasta machine really helps with this, as just using your hands is very tiring and time consuming. When you have finished sculpting polymer clay, it is baked at low temperature in the oven and hardens into a plastic-like consistency.
– Epoxy Putty – plumber’s epoxy, Magic Sculpt, Aves Apoxie Sculpt, Apoxie Clay, Milliput, Devcon etc. Epoxies come in two parts that have to be kneaded together thoroughly to begin the chemical reaction that will result in their hardening. Wear gloves preferably when doing the kneading. If you only need a short working time, epoxy putty will work, but if you need longer then choose to use polymer clay.
– Plasticine (an oil-based clay that doesn’t harden) – Van Aken, Claytoons, Chavant types for instance – usually only used for the parts of the puppet which need to be continually manipulated such as the hands and face.
– Aluminium foil
– Wool roving for needle felting the outside of puppets
– Liquid Latex (for the puppet skin)
– Foam Latex (used for the puppet body) which needs to be baked in a mould to form the required shape. Foam latex comes in 4 parts; latex base, gelling agent, curing agent and foaming agent, which all need to be mixed together, cast and baked. You will need an oven and food mixer purely for using with foam latex (they cannot also be used for food).
– K&S (square brass tubing which comes in different sizes – it strengthens wire and makes the ‘bones’)
– Aluminum wire
– Nuts and bolts – for tie-downs for instance
– Enamel paint
– Acrylic paint
– Plaster (mostly for mould making) – a very popular product is gypsum based ‘Ultracal-30’
– Fabric for clothes
– Various joints, rods and plates if you are building an armature
– Neodymium/rare Earth magnets – very powerful and quite expensive magnets used to secure the puppet’s feet to the (steel) stage.
– Resin – this is cast into moulds (cold – no heat involved) to produce solid shapes such as feet. Resin can also be used as a mould material when making silicone or foam casts (remember you use a solid mould-making material like resin for casting flexible/soft parts and a flexible mould like silicone for casting solid parts).
– Silicone – can be cast cold just like resin, but the resulting castings are smooth, springy and rubbery. When mixing silicone you can create a range of colour shades.
Extra Tips & Info:
– Heads can be made from hard materials like polymer clay (Super Sculpey, Fimo) or wood, or cast from resin.
– Armatures can be covered in clay, fabric, latex, foam, or silicone – or a combination of methods. If using foam or latex, you can paint these materials with a mix of acrylic paint and a medical adhesive such as Pros-Aide. Nothing sticks to silicone so it can’t be painted – instead, the colour is created in the mixing process by adding a tint.