Dusty Rodent Hand Puppet

The head for this cheery little chipmunk is made from cast plastic wood, which can be purchased by the can or tube. But before the finished head can be cast, a plasticine model must be made and a plaster mould made from it.

hand puppet

Making a Split Plaster Mould
Model your plasticine head, then cut it in two halves by drawing a strong thread or thin wire down through it as shown in the illustration, A. This is not as easy as it looks and should be done slowly and carefully. It is easier with someone else holding the head in the palms of his hands with the features up and the neck pointed toward the cutter, as shown, B. The two halves of the head are then placed with their flat sides down in a frame about three inches deep. Mix plaster of Paris into about 2 pints of water, adding the plaster to the water, until it is the consistency of thick cream. Pour this slowly over the two halves of the head, making sure there are no bubbles against the plasticine. Fill the frame until the highest parts of the plasticine halves are covered by at least 1/2 inch of plaster. When the mould is dry, turn it over and remove the halves by carefully prying them out with a screw driver. Break off any overhang of plaster around the edges of the two depressions, and your mould is ready.

Making a
Split Plaster Mould

Casting Plastic Wood
The inside surface of the mould must be lightly but thoroughly greased with Vaseline before the plastic wood is applied. Fingers should also be lightly coated with Vaseline for handling the plastic wood. Apply it carefully, pressing it firmly into all the features of the mould, A, and trying to maintain a uniform thickness of an eighth of an inch. The wood must be left to dry naturally. Do not use direct artificial heat. Test the dryness of the wood by pressing at the thickest part; it should be rock hard. Remove the two halves of the head from the mould by lifting from the back edges, B.

Casting Plastic

Join the two halves together as soon as possible, as they tend to warp if left standing. If the edges do not butt together evenly, you can trim them with a sharp knife or by rubbing them gently in a circular motion on a piece of sandpaper lying flat on a table. Trim the bottom edges of the neck on each half so that they match. Prepare the edges for joining by first putting glue around the edges of both halves. Then put a little plastic wood on top of the glue all around the edge of one side only. Place the halves together, lining up the features at the front of the head carefully, C. The back can be fixed later. Build a small rim around the bottom of the neck, D, to aid in joining the head to the body later. Smooth the excess wood and glue into the joint and allow to dry. The head can be finished with added plastic wood and careful sanding.