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I've been roped into our helping with our school's production of "Aladdin" as a props creator (they knew about my Halloween decorating), and I have been asked to make several large pieces for the Cave of Wonders scene and 2 life-sized llamas for the parade scene. The Cave set doesn't bother me too badly since it's mostly making treasure piles and chests, and I have plenty of Styrofoam and spray foam to do the job.
The llamas on the other hand are different. I have done some papier mache sculpting before, but nothing on this scale. Any tips or tricks on how to make a realistic looking, life-sized, animal with paper?
PS, I only have until early March to have these things ready. Yeah, nothing like waiting till the last minute.:rolleyes:
 

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I'd check out the tutorials on Stolloween.com for a start. Amazing inspiration there.

The only other thing I'd say is make sure you spend your time and effort where it's going to be most appreciated - I always get bogged down and end up spending time on details that will never be seen.
 

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One possibility is to start with a wood frame (stick llama) then wrap some chicken wire around the body, head, and legs to give it some bulk. I don't know what your budget is but if you have some money to spend, you could then wrap sheets of foam over the chicken wire and then cover the llama in some wooly looking fabric.
If you don't have much of a budget (which I know most plays don't) maybe then go with the wooden frame and chicken wire and then mache with large pieces of fabric instead of paper. That might help to give it more of an animal texture.
Good luck with your project!!
 

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Are they meant to move at all? Like move their head on a stick like a puppet?

Adding some shaggy fabric to the head and neck (and hock?) area seems like it would help. And making the eyes shiny, with gloss paint.
 

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First I would plan out your budget , check out the cost of supplies, and get free stuff like plywood or chicken wire wherever you can, sketch out a plan for the camels, try to figure the height and length and I would use a plywood base to keep them sturdy. You don't want them tipping over. For a frame I would use pvc pipe and chicken wire. You will also have to buy the cement for the pipe. The neat thing about pvc pipe is that you can assemble it and take it apart to modify before you glue it. You will have to spend some time on budgeting and planning but it will keep thing on track and give you a good base to work from.
 

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I would advise throwing realism out the window. It's theatre, so you can do an artistic representation without it being weird. You'll more likely get a more polished piece going the artistic route than trying to make a realistic animal and having to worry about getting all the details right on a tight timeline and budget. Definitely have a look at the Stolloween tutorials. Remember to keep in mind how it's going to get out on stage, what it needs to do there, etc.
 

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This method was taught to me by my "Jersey Devil Home Haunters" group member Yogosoth. He showed me that a simple frame (pvc or wood) can be built up with bubble wrap/packing tape in to a quick and cheap base figure. You then can use .7 mil drop plastic drop clothes or shrink plastic wrap (whatever u can find cheaper, try habour frieght) to "skin it" by using a heat gun. By over-bulking the bubble wrap, u then can "shap" it some by popping the bubbles (then "re-skin" the "popped" areas to keep out any weather issues you may have [IE non on stage]). If cheap fake furs are to expensive, try just making swirly rough textures with your spray foam (I understand llamas have a short fur sheep-like pattern to most of the fur on their bodys). Painting/dry brushing will finish off the fur effect. Remember it only has to be theatrically accurate - the llamas will be over 20 feet from the audiance. I think doing it paper mache' may take you to longer than the March due date you have. Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, great ideas everyone. I think I have a decent plan of attack now. I just have to put in a few late evenings and get it done.
 
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