Friday, April 24, 2009


Dr. Cortex is finally back!

He must have had a pretty rough time in that box!  I'll get him out and moving around a bit before I take some final photos to share.  He may need a few days before he'll let me take his picture again, but I'll have some up soon. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!
Recently, we took Yancy to a butterfly garden to learn all about some of Earth's most vibrant and beautiful creatures.  He was even lucky enough to have some butterflies land on him!

Check back for some quick videos we took!  (that I haven't been able to edit yet)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Where is Dr. Cortex?!?!

Hey all! It's David.

Dr. Cortex was supposed to be on his way back to Chicago from Pittsburgh after the LAN'ded reading, but after numerous attempts, he has managed to find his way back to Pittsburgh each time...

This hurts.

I'd love to show you the rest of the Dr. Cortex build process, but that will have to wait. I only got through this much with the camera before it was buried by the puppet supplies and building materials...

This is the state he was in when I made the sneak peek video.

...I found my camera during the clean up after I shipped him off, and had every intention of getting him back in time to finish this blog series. He must have made a pretty great science lab inside the cardboard box I shipped him in, though. I'm not sure he'll ever be back.

I'll let you know if he the mean time, we may move on to other things.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Wallaby, A City, and a Man With A Plan

Talk about a busy week!  Whoo!

I just got back yesterday from a whirlwind adventure in NYC where I was able to meet up with some old friends, some new friends, and hopefully life-long friends!  I hope to be able to fill you in on some of the wonderful things I was privileged to experience this week - I just want to wait for approval from my gracious hosts.

To finish up the process of Wally's first build, here are a few pictures we used as promotional shots at the reading last month.
I really like this picture.  It says "I'm adorable, 
well-built, AND friendly!

He's so cute when he thinks!

I feel like I'm being watched... 
and they're hungry...

Luckily, proximity won out over patience, 
and I live to see another day.  Goodbye Aaron!

Thanks for following along.  In the future I will be able to show more of my process when I receive my fixed digital camera.  As you can also see, there haven't been any recent changes to the Fisticuff Puppets website... but expect that to change soon!

Friday, April 10, 2009


Hey Everyone!

It's David. Sorry I haven't been faster with the posts. I'm in rehearsal for a show right now at school, so I've been short on time.

I wanted to you show a couple of Dr. Cortex's features, so here goes...

I've never carved foam before, nor do I have blocks of foam to carve, but I really wanted a specific shape for the nose. I decided that the easiest way to accomplish the carved look, would be to actually carve some foam (who would have thunk it?) so I made my own block. I just took some really old scrap foam I've been keeping in a bag for who knows how long, contact cemented about 6 half inch pieces together, and gave it a shot. Above is what came out of the attempt.

I haven't really explored ear building much at all. Usually I have time for two very basic flat pieces, but this time I wanted to try for a more 3D look. They looked ok in foam form, but once I covered them, I lost a lot of the definition that was intended. (You'll see that soon.) I'll keep trying though. I know I can get a cleaner look in the foam in the future, but it's actually the fabric I'm more concerned with figuring out for the next attempt.

I love making hands! I'm not a fan of covering them, but I really enjoy this stage of the build process. As you may be able to tell from the picture, I opted for wire armature. Time permitting, we really try to make sure all of our designs incorporate this. While it adds to the cost, I think it's so important to add expression wherever you can.

It's no secret that puppets have a harder time showing emotion. Subtle differences like this though, help bring real life to your puppets. We as humans store emotion in our hands that we release constantly as we speak (at least those of us born with some Italian blood...). Why not transfer this to puppet building?

Just like Kyle mentioned... We would love to hear what brings you to the blog and what keeps you coming back. Let us know what you enjoy and what you'd like to see more of. We can't wait to read your responses!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Wally: Shaping Up

I wanted to continue showing my process with a series of "Before/After" pictures...

The nose isn't exactly what I had planned, but I made do with available materials I had in my suitcase... I have a slew of obscure knick-knacks!

Originally, I wanted the eyes to look a little wacky to play up his nervous nature, but then I decided to just add wire to the eyelids, allowing a wider range of expression and not getting locked into a static face.

I love how expressive he can be!

Next up is Dave with more on Cortex' bits and pieces...

Also - PLEASE feel free to leave us feedback!  What you would like to see - what you don't want to see - more pictures - more videos - more good news - etc...  We would love to hear back from you!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Belly Time!

Hey, it's David.

Here's what Cortex's belly ended up looking like...

As you may be able to tell, I used the wedge method again (just like with Toby), however this time I played around with it a bit. I made the wedges too big so I decided to use 7 instead of the 8 that it would have taken to make the sphere.

A little secret: When using the wedge method to make bodies, play around with the angles at which you cut the arm holes. You can control how much BELLY you want your character to end up with.

I decided to take in the bottom of the belly because I didn't like how big the hole was for my arm. I really like the way it turned out after doing so. It just goes to show, the more you play the more you learn.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Wally: The Beginning

So you have already seen some of Dave's construction process in building Dr. Cortex.  As he mentioned, part of the head was adapted from a Project Puppet pattern purchased a few years back.  In all honesty, we learned an invaluable amount from those patterns - most of all, how to simplify...

When I start to think of character designs, I create a few sketches to try to capture an essence of the character.  This time I am able to draw from an endless library of images online to get  a feel for these exotic creatures.  As I feel more comfortable, I start to really dissect the 2D design into 3D shapes.

The first decision to be made is deciding on hand placement.  Every good design keeps in mind the shape and placement of the human hand for optimal manipulation.  With Wally, we knew he needed to be very expressive and have the ability to communicate a variety of emotions - so we quickly realized a rigid mouthplate would not do the job.  Being my first time venturing into a "soft palate" puppet, I was curious to see how different it would be and how well it would hold the supporting shape.
One of the most notable features I found with wallabies in general is a strong rostrum bridge - taking note of this I simplified it down to a simpler shape - like a "T" wearing a superhero mask.
Check back again to see how it developed as more foam was added...
PS - I can't believe how practical Math and Science are to the artistic process...  Maybe I'll write more on that later.