There will be two Mail Man puppets used for filming so I will be working on both armatures simultaneously to make sure the two puppets are padded identically. You can find out more about the construction of these armature on my brothers blog HERE.
Now for the hard part....or parts.
Harder sections are needed on a puppet in order to properly grip the puppet. These section don't need to be squashed in any way when the puppet is moved and are usually found around the chest and hip area.
To begin I created triangular shape out of balsa wood to bulk out my characters hips. I then cut the triangle in half and traced the metal armatures shape onto the inner sides. These shapes where then carved out using a rotary tool in order for the armature to slot inside.
Square holes where cut to allow access to the rigging points. The balsa wood was then glued onto the armature using a two part epoxy glue and sanded smooth. Balsa wood is ideal for these parts because it is strong, light wieght and easy to work with. In the past I have also used blue foam core to make these parts which is easier to cut than balsa, but can also crush slightly of squeezed too hard.
The chest secton was made using the same techniques as described above. It is important to remember that your puppet still needs to be able to come apart so don't glue the balsa to any removable arm, leg or neck parts and don't cover up any rigging points. Also, a large area needs to be left above and underneeth the arms to allow for shoulder movement.
Now for the soft parts.
Areas that need to squash or stretch with the movment of the puppet need to be made of softer materials. Below are a selection of materials I've used to pad out my puppet including a selection of sponge/ foam, sharp scissors and contact adhesive.
Below I've added thicker upholstery foam to the waist and shoulder areas. I tend to cut the foam roughly to the shape I need and then glue it to the armature using the contact adhesive. Once dry, I then trim the foam further, cuting until I'm happy with the shape.
Contact adhesive is ideal because it's fast drying and can flex with the foam once dry. Remember to let the contact ashesive dry fully on both pieces before pushing them together, and make sure everything is alligned because it sticks instantly.