Adventures in Puppet-Making 101: The Head and Some Corrections

Caution Note: An electric knife is made to carve meat. This is exactly what we are.  As I’m carving foam in smaller and smaller sections while holding onto it, I am beginning to envision fingers jumping about in front of my eyes but they’re not attached to my bones anymore. I haven’t cut myself yet but it’s unnerving to think what this machine could do.  Take especial care with it.
So for the head shape, I took a piece of foam and wrapped it around the perimeter of the jaw to see how much I would need. Using an electric knife, I cut off a generous piece of foam and just started hot gluing it to the edge. Darts were placed to help shape the form as I went along. This is really more spontaneous than I would have thought. You have a general direction but no directions so you cut and test the shape by pinching the pieces together. If you like what you see, hot glue it. If not, cut some more. Try a wider cut to bring the shape in dramatically. Slight removals of foam make for more subtler changes. Just cut and glue and see where it takes you. If you take out to much then simply glue back in a nice sized piece and keep on going. Modify till happy with what you see. Pictures below will explain more. Also, note the shapes of the foam debris on the table and you can see what size and shapes I am removing to accomplish my goal.
The next day and I am not real happy with the head shape.  It is too high in the back and needs to slope once past the eyes as per the sketch.  So a few darts here and there and its shape is much better.

Following day: the thumb tube has been re-situated.  I found that thumb placement should be more in the position of your thumb resting under your index finger for comfort.  When trying for placement with just the mouth flaps, you tend to place your thumb centrally to hold the flap up so it doesn’t fall out of your hand.  Then you mark that and glue it.  Once the head is on and you start to work the mouth, you begin to feel the stress from the bad positioning.

The back of the head piece has to be shortened again to accommodate the extreme range of the mouth opening.  I am unable to extend the mouth completely as I would like because the back of the skull is in the way. When I open my hand all the way up it connects with the back of my wrist. So the head is reshaped once again with darts and hot glue. Corrections are easy and quick and testing as you move along in the process is essential at every change.