“In the beginning, it was a lot of trial and error,” says Bier. At first it was just a very small thing, so he wouldn’t have to have a lot of different shapes in his mouth, but he’s since built two more puppet heads. “One on my left side—I just moved the tongue out and moved the tongue in a way where I could move the lips. Then I moved the mouth forward and up a little bit so it had a little bit more of a mouth with my upper jaw,” he said. He has tried putting a lot more muscles on his upper jaw, but he says that’s a lot of work and not particularly efficient. “I don’t really see how it would be very economical in that environment.”
On this day, Bier’s goal was to make a tongue. He did it, and this is what it looks like. From the picture, it’s more a mouth than a tongue, not a mouth and tongue, a mouth without a tongue.
What was the process of making that, given that the body is in the mold?
“I started in the body first. Just put enough molding to take the torso and then put a body in there and then move [a second frame] away so the puppet could have its own body shape. I knew I couldn’t move the legs right away, because that wouldn’t allow them to have a good enough bite,” Bier explained, “so I put a mold of the legs and then moved it towards the body so it could have a good bite and then move it away so you could cut the legs [back] back out.”
To work, that first section of his jaw was a little bit difficult because of the lower jaw because it didn’t have enough surface area, which would allow him to cut them. Then he learned how to get his upper jaw to move and just use that to hold the lower jaw in place a little bit better. Then when he made his head, he did a lot of manual movement, so he learned that too.
“You’re thinking about how to move a lot of different little points [in your puppet],” he says, “and you don’t have to think about it so much, because it’s a really smooth motion. So the first time I touched the puppeteer, he kind of pushed me [with his hand] like, ‘Okay, that’s how it should go.’ And I said, ‘I don’t
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