bird by bird: robin #2

The role of the robin in The Secret Garden is shared by two puppets I'm building, so it can quickly appear in different places on the stage. While #1 has a wing flapping action, I wanted #2 to tilt its head along with the flute voicing its song. Wing flapping I'd done before, tilting is new to me. So again I made a quick cardboard mechanism to see if my idea would work. 

The simplest solution seemed to be a pivoting joint with 2 strings coming from paddles on either side.


This required getting more serious, so I went into the wood shop. Some experimentation 
and much reshaping resulted in this sloppy but adequate interior neck joint. 
The smaller holes are where the two strings will start from.

First mantra-- use what's on hand. Old paintbrushes are aplenty, 
and their hard coating makes a smooth twisting action as pins for the pivot.

Here it is put together: the crescent pieces will glue into the shoulder, 
while the round piece will pivot between them. Dowel inserted at angle to hold up the head. 

A wicked fight to get it into the cardboard body, which I'd already built. 
I would have done it the other way around, in hindsight. Der. Glued and stapled in.

A double strand of thick fishing line threaded through the holes, held down solid with 
epoxy and hot glue. I won't be able to get back into the body
easily for fixes, so extra back up strength is going in from the start. 

Clay-over-styrofoam head put into place. 

 And now, cardboard feather layers again, for texture and shaping. So much fun!

With robin #1 I was inventing from scratch, this time I'm recreating robin #1. 
Easier now that I know what to do, harder now that I have to match something.

Eye sockets carved, beak and wings added.

The first robin poses and watches on like a cheerleader.

"You're doing great, Robin #2!" says Robin #1.

End of a long and fruitful day 1, a moment to look at the evolution of the robins,
from maquette to finish.

Day 2: constant checking to get the second body similar to the first, 
using the cardboard feather pieces to add roundness and disguise the much different 
shapes created by the two different mechanisms.

Face and head feathers added. Carefully measured overhang to hide the gap between 
head and shoulders without obstructing the tilting action. Beak reshaped. 
It's always nice to finally get eyeballs in.

Looking like a bird now.

Remembering how the paint went on. Glad I took process photos to put on my blog.

And here they are, not quite identical, but twins nonetheless.

The tails might not be seen much from the audience, but they didn't look complete without them.

Robin #2 shows off his head tilt.

Next, a less visible rubber band for #1, and dowels for both, and then we'll be ready 
to head to rehearsal.