Creature Puppets

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Skeksis, Mystic, and Aughra

Since the focus of the project was the Jen and Kira characters, and as time was growing short, I elected to do only one representative each of the Mystic and Skeksis, and just Aughra's hand holding the eye.

I used half inch, open celled foam sheets, from which I used patterns to cut the pieces for the heads. I made the upper and lower jaws so that the mouths could be manipulated to open and close.

These were painted with acrylic paint, and fitted with human-sized doll eyes.

The eyes arrived just seven weeks before the convention, not much time to complete the puppets. One arm for each was constructed, with wired fingers to be pose-able.

The Mystic


The Mystic was patterned loosely on the common characteristics of the Mystics. The pattern was rudimentary, and the visual effect was obtained with a mottling of paint in the correct, blended colors.

I augmented the design using felt-tip pen. On stage, if it were done with any less contrast, the detail would have been lost.

Note that the eye has no white. The whites were painted with acrylic paint.

I added crepe wool hair to this character, rather like a mane, and assembled enough fabric over the neck to indicate a costume attached to the shoulder of the character.

At a distance, the effect is a little less crude. Even for stage work, they were very rudimentary. I had no time to experiment. Had I not received the eyes in time, I would have had to have left the puppets out of the presentation.


The Skeksis

The Skeksis was modeled after the Chamberlain character, as it was the most easily identifiable of the Skekses. I cut foam and adhered it in layers over the basic head shape to create an approximation of the character.

There are several layers around the eyes, to contour the "brows" and to help secure the eyes in place. The piece was painted to exaggerate the different layers. The "beak" area was treated with lacquer, to give it a hard appearance, and I inserted teeth that were fashioned out of plastic from a dental kit (the same material used for Fizzgig's teeth).

For both the mystic and skeksis, the focus is the eyes. Using human eyes made them more startling and lifelike, even roughed out as they were for the stage.

The Urskek


The Urskek was the last puppet I made. It had a substructure of chicken wire, over which was a skin of foam rubber, cut from 1/2 inch sheets, glued, and painted white. I also blended some darker paint to contrast the shadows for the stage, or the result would have been a white blob with no detail.

Its "hair" was made from strands of natural fibers, along with open and closed cell foam strands. Regrettably, it looked as though it was combed back instead of standing straight up, despite my best efforts. In retrospect, I should have used styrofoam inside the head structure, and implanted rigid hair spikes in. It would have yielded a better result. I was also concerned over the weight of the piece. It was the heaviest piece in the production, and required considerable strength to lift it and hold it steadily.

It still looked intimidating for anyone looking up at it. The eyes on this puppet were very large, roughly the diameter of a baseball. The translucent eyes had no pupils, and the puppet looked as though it was seeing everything around it.

During the presentation, the lighting technician trained his lights on Jen and Kira, so the puppets were in shadow. That worked in my favor. The eyes of the Urskek picked up enough of the ambient light to appear to "glow" to the audience, and whatever flaws there were in the puppets, they were not seen from a distance. Up close, even in the photo area, people tended to focus on the eyes.