Scaley's Snakeover

Scaley 1 was the snake puppet we used in the R&D and our first full AnimAlphabet performances. She was mainly constructed of wire and mod rock.

She was fab but the structure didn't provide much opportunity for movement and the mod rock was starting to fail where the handles were fitted. . After replaying the recordings of the early shows, and a lot of thought, we felt we need something with a mouth / jaw that moved so Scaley could talk and also something with a bit more magical sparkle. We also thought it would be a good time to experiment with shape and found some images of Chinese street puppets that we liked.

Whatever Scaley looked like we knew it needed to be lightweight, have a moving mouth and sparkle.

Scaley 2 started with a 2 pieces of light wood, a hinge and a hoola hoop cut in 2 pieces. When assembled this created a snake shaped mouth and jaw. This was the basic shape for the final creation. Progressing this idea we decided to try 2 pieces of mdf hinged like opposing paddles.

This worked well as a jaw but was a bit on the heavy side. We were concerned but not enough to let it stop us, we would worry about weight if it was a problem later. Next we needed to create a shape for the head. We tried a wire frame but we were concerned that this might crush or damage on tour. In the end we decided to go for a polystyrene head, its light, easy to work with and we already had some we could use :-) With the help of expanding foam we created the 2 pieces of Scaley's head.

We were quite pleased with the look and shape of Scaley and as this point and we were still not put off by the combined weight of the 2 head pieces and mdf panel. So we carried on and Scaley was assembled. If you ever need to stick polystyrene to mdf I can confirm, through experience, that PVA is a great choice (unless you later find you need to take everything apart again in which case, I can confirm through experience, it's a terrible choice).

Anyway Scaley was assembled, covered and she looked beautiful. The only problem was she weighed a lot. When I say a lot, I mean a lot, she was heavy. What to do, a week before the start of the show and Scaley is heavies than a wet rug. We could try and find someone to make one but it would be expensive and we are short of time. There had to be a solution, we looked at options to support the weight through the shoulders or through the waist but they didnt seem practical. We needed to loose some of the weight. As nearly all of the weight was in the wood, the wood had to go. After 2 hours of sawing and cutting and choping the wood was out and we were left with 2 bits of polystyrene again. This time I created a lightweight hinge with lighter wood plus the original hinge. Then, bouyed by the success of my previous wood and polystyrene pva bonding experience I decided to glue the hinge to Scaleys head. Success and to be extra sure I reinforced the hinge with glued pieces of old car seat belt and strong cloth tape. Now we were making progress.

Scaley was then re-covered and finished, a tongue and eyes were added and here is the finished article. We hope you like her, she really sparkles :-) Why not come and see Scaley the Snake live at one of our shows. Details of all our shows can be found here.

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