Posted By Kathleen David on December 11, 2012
First a Treat Williams the Cat update: He got through surgery just fine. They kept him overnight to make sure there were no complications. He will be home later today sporting the cone to keep him from licking the stitches. The biopsy is going to take a little longer to process.
One thing I have learned very well in making puppets, dolls, and costumes is to make do with what I can find. It would be nice to have an unlimited budget and access to every crafty material on the planet, but it is not very practical.
For example I love Antron Fleece aka Muppet Fleece. It is a beautiful fabric that takes dye well and is perfect for hiding seams. But it averages about $18 US a yard. I can get fleece fabric from the local store for about $4 US a yard and much less when I find large remnants since I need less than a yard to make many of my puppets. So I make it work so that I can price my puppets in the range for most fans. Not the perfect fabric after using Antron Fleece but it works for what I need it to do.
I love Wonderflex which is a material that you heat up and then form into the shape you want. Let it cool and it holds that shape. Sort of like the old friendly plastic as a sheet of material. Even more that Wonderflex, I love Fosshape which is another fabric that you can sewing like felt and then apply heat which then fuses it into the hard shape. Both are not cheap materials at all. I have used paper mache, felt and glue, and buckram as my substitutes depending on what I need the material to do. Each has their problems, short comings, and extra steps that one must take to get the finished product to look accurate so it is labor vs. cost.
I always look at packing material and cardboard with an eye towards what I can I make out of it. Little plastic doo-dads can become eyes or parts of a puppet. Spoons can be converted to eye blanks. Plastic Easter eggs of different sizes are great to kit bash into part of puppets and dolls. There are places I can buy the blanks but they are not cheap.
I have created my own wigs with yarn hair, which is time consuming but cheaper than buying a wig. Feather boas on sale are great for me because I can get a couple of puppets out of one boa. Proper doll wigs are great but expensive. I do use them when I can because it saves me so much time but it adds to the cost of the final product.
There are times that one can’t find the right fabric. Trying to get browns once the spring fabrics are in is close to impossible. And if I am trying to recreate a costume on a human or a puppet, I have to be very clever to make it look right. I have gotten very good at this. If I wanted to, I do have access to the fashion district fabric stores in NYC but that can get very expensive very quickly so I have learned various tricks to make it look right. I think my proudest moment in this are the 6 Snape coats I made with 50 cent a yard fabric. The trick was that I used the “wrong side” of the fabric for the coats and lined them so you couldn’t see the sequins that were all through the fabric on the correct side.
I take pride in making do with the materials I have and creating something that looks like what I am trying to create. It can be extra time but in the end it is all worth it.
I am grateful for found materials.