Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Little Man Monks moving hands/ fingers

I wish I had documented more of the hand and arm making process. It was the most difficult, stumbling time, consuming aspect of Little Man. The chunk of foam done in days. The hands and arms ...many redos over weeks and weeks.

Here is the first arm I built. I knew I wanted at least the wrist to move. I watched a step-by-step tutorial online. Here is the tutorial I used:


I can't remember why I didn't stay with this design..I seem to remember it working quite well.

So then I built my own wrist movement mechanism. It involed two tubes one seated inside the other, the length of his forearm. The outer tube(plastic pvc) had a slit in it about an inch and a half long and the inner tube(aluminum) had a pin in it that fit in the slit of the outer tube so that it slid up and down inide the outer tube. Still with me? I then used a spring at the wrist to create an uppull on the inner tube and to pull the wrist down. So, as my hand hoeld the rod at the end of the forearm I only had to pull down on the pin (sliding it to its bottom parameter) to cause the inner tube to slide down pulling up on the wrist/hand. 

This was his right arm.
 His left arm I wanted to have finger movement and be able to pick up small objects. I was amazed whan I saw a puppet performance by Beau Bond a Seattle-based puppeteer. His puppets were small and his finger movements exquisite. So I referenced his hand control mechanism, which you can see below. 

The toggle I have my thumb on is a fixed piece of hanger wire seated into a rotating dowel. Pulling down on the mechanism pulls the strings running throught the 3 tiny tubes and closes the hand. Pretty amazing and not that tough to build

The thumb is fixed as leverage for the fingers to have something to grip against and yes that IS mini measuring tape you are seeing as fingers...i couldn't find anything else that worked. I spoke with a puppet friend of mine (Fred Fraleigh, creature suit fabricator for film)) and he said he once heard of someone using measuring tape metal for fingers. So I tried it and it worked amazingly well!  It is strong yet easily flexible and has spring-back to it. The perfect combo.
I eventually made both of his arms/hands this way. so, the fingers on both hands can pick up small objects or scratch his ear. I really like the element it adds. Now to just figure out how to move his fingers AND his wrist so that his wrists aren't  fixed and stiff. Workin on that!


  1. How extraordinary. How brilliant. Thank you for showing your process behind the mechanism.

    I do stop motion puppetry vs. live action but I hugely appreciate your ingenious articulate joint design

  2. Thank you Shelley I haven't been to your page recently but love your stuff. Thank you for checkin in. I will give your stuff a look-see.


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