A new jaw

The jaw is creating two problems; it’s contributing to the ventilation issue, because it’s solid fiberglass, so is providing a shelf that the actor’s breath bounces against, shooting it up against the eyes. It’s also not fitting one of the actors well. This bear needs to be able to fit multiple people which provides challenges, since masks are usually built to fit one person. Particularly with a mouth that’s activated by the performer’s jaw, the mask needs to fit extremely snugly. The fiberglass, while providing clean movement if well-fitted, is too big for one of the actors.

So. To start with, I created a copy of the jaw in reticulated foam. I use a brand called drifast which is designed to wick moisture away in outdoor furniture. Hopefully, this will help with the venting issues. To get really specific and uber-jargony on you, I used 1-inch DriFast with 35 ppi (pores per inch). Copy of jaw in foam
Next, I stitched elastic to the exterior of it, in the same place I had elastic on the original fiberglass jaw. I also added a piece across the interior, which serves to two functions. It helps the jaw retain its shape and it also acts to cup the actor’s chin. Added elastic to jaw
I lined the jaw with black fabric, and covered the exterior with fur. One of the things that I love about reticulated foam is that you can stitch to it very easily and it’s tear-resistant. Lined interior with black
Once it was all covered, I installed it in the original location. To my surprise, this has better movement than the original fiberglass. Usually you think of going rigid for mechanism, but, I’m guessing, because of this is a really snug fit it responds more quickly to the jaw’s movement. Think of it like wearing a ski mask. Covered exterior with fur

Sadly, the thing still fogs, but it’s slower and not as hot so that’s movement in the right direction. I’ve been reading about defoggers for scuba divers. Most websites recommend spit. Somehow, I can’t see myself recommending spitting into a mask that’s supposed to be worn around sick children. There are actual products, so I’ll see if I can find any here.

Before anyone recommends it–there is no place to put a fan in the bear’s head and even if there were, it would not solve the humidity issue. I think we have oxygen flowing in the mask now, but the humidity is the next hurdle to deal with.

If the defogger doesn’t work, then I’ll try putting a vapor barrier between the eyes and the nose, but this will likely make it uncomfortable, so I’m trying to avoid that.

(For the puppet geeks reading this, I buy my foam here. They ship.)

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2 Responses

  1. Heiko

    heh when ever I ask the people at the foam store for a specific type of foam they look at me like I have two heads. very interesting hearing about the elasticated jaw.