This summer I created this horse puppet for Circus Juventas, a youth circus school in St. Paul, MN, for their Wild West-themed production Showdown. I was informed by a posse of 10 year old girls that she was a she, and that her name is Pumpkin. I did not argue, for only a fool argues with a posse of 10 year old girls.
This was the first time I've built a puppet like Pumpkin, I learned a bunch and had lots of fun. She was built on a very small budget, almost exclusively from basic building materials from local discount hardware and surplus stores. Here's what she looks like on the inside:
The head is carved bead foam attached to a piece of 1/4" plywood, in turn mounted to a lazy susan swivel. The spine/vertebrae are a combination of aircraft cable, 3/4" plywood discs, flexible electrical conduit, eye screws, foam cylinders, hose clamps, and a bunch of bungee cord.
I got the "hide" from a discount fabric warehouse. It's crazy shaggy, so for the head/face I trimmed and shaved it using scissors and a Wahl hair trimmer.
This is how she looked when I first installed her at the theater. She was SCARY, she was like this demonic creature from hell. The kids (who were practicing circus acrobatics around me while I worked, which was very cool) were utterly terrified of her, and felt no compunction about coming over and telling me so. At this stage, I had to agree.
The final steps were adding the bridle, the mane (a cheap black wig from Party City), toning the hide, and giving her eyes. It's kind of amazing what you can accomplish with just some watered down acrylic paint to tone faux fur. But the eyes are what really made her work. The kids came over and started telling me how much they liked her the second the eyes were added, which was incredbly gratifying. The secret: clear plastic spoons. Paint the eye onto the inside of the spoon and it creates the illusion that the eyes are wet and very, very real. She literally came to life after I added the eyes, it's was kind of a magical moment.