Miss Trunchbull / by Daniel James

Hello and welcome to my first blog of 2017. In this post I would like to talk you though my latest project, making a puppet based on the much loved ‘well hated’ Miss Trunchbull from the Roald Dahl book Matilda. Like most people my age I grew up watching film version of this book, I wanted the look of my puppet to be a good mix of the how she looked in the film and how she is described in the book.

The first step was to make her armature. This was made to fit into a basic body mould I had lying around along with a batch of joints and parts from my time working with Animation Toolkit. The armature was fully silver soldered and the body was casted in fast setting foam with very nice results. Once the basic shape was casted the next step was to add the extra padding around to give her the required body shaped that was needed.

The basic head shape was cast out of a silicone mold using a 2 part fast-cast resin. Once this was set I sculpted on the hair and facial warts using Super Sculpey.  The head was painted with a number quick acrylic cots to highlight the facile features. This was to give her the look that she had popped out of the book illustrations and added to a nice texture to the head.

As for the feet I wanted her to have big scary army boots on. To make these I thought I would cheat and use the boots off an Action Man. They looked good but it was not particle as they did not allow me any movement for animating. So I took the boots and made a quick 3 part resin mold from them so I can recast them using a black silicon. Due to the size and shape on the boots i had to make a custom set of feet armatures. I made these by cutting the base from a steel sheet to the size of the resin mold joints. I used old 6mm joints to make the toe hing , along with a 6mm ball and bar soldered to the back so the feet can be attached to the ankle joints. Once the feet were screwed into the mold and cast in silicon the final result gave the desired effect.

For the hands I did not want to go down the path of making them out of silicone due to the cost. So felt it would be good the make a set of replacement hands instead. To make these I pressed out 8 sets of hands from a hand mold I had using Super Sculpey. I then sculpted these hands into 8 key character related poses and set them in the oven. To make them easily removable while animating I drilled in a bar with a 3mm ball on the end that will connect to a 3mm wrist joint. I then painted them in the same style as the head with multiple costs of acrylic. 

The next step was to make her costume of a shirt tie, jacket, belt and skirt. To help make the top of the shirt and cuffs keep their shape under all animating I used cardboard as a solid foundation. I then cover the cardboard in PVA glue and placed the fabric tightly over it. I then made the tie using the same method and glued it to the shirt. To make the jacket and skirt I took basic body measurements and cut the fabric to size. Placing the inside out fabric on the puppet i hand stitched the costume to the desired shape. Once happy with the shape i  flipped the fabric the right way around and stitch in 1mm wire around the inside of the jacket and skirt. This will help the costume keep its shape when i am animating. The final step was to add the fabric belt with a buckle made out of Super Sculpey.

To make replacement mouths I took one of the lip sync kits from Animation Toolkit. Using a heat gun I warmed up the resin and reshaped the lips around the head into a more grumpy / angry shape. The final stage was to paint them in the same style as the rest of the puppet making sure to give her really yellow and stained teeth.

And here she is the Final puppet along with prop riding crop all ready to be animated!

Next step making one of the school kids for her to torment….