A movement test

I met with the seamstress today and she’s confident that making the jacket will be easy. We talked about the need for the pockets to be gigantic to allow the bear’s paws inside. I’ll drop the bear’s body off with her on Saturday so she can make the pattern for the jacket.

Here’s a video of the process of finishing the head and a movement test. As you’ll be able to see, there’s still some finish work that needs doing, but the bear is very close to being finished.

I’m very pleased with the movement of the bear. What doesn’t make me happy is the heat inside the head. Although I put in a lot of ventilation, it’s still very stuffy. I’m going to open up the mouth tomorrow and replace the sheer cloth I have with scrim. Hopefully this will get more air into the performer.

My biggest surprise, and my largest concern now, is that the mouth doesn’t work when I speak Icelandic. The prevalence of þ and ð (both make a “th” sound) cause interesting lipsync problems because the sound of both letters is produced without moving the jaw. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to move the jaw and make either sound. When I try to say Þú (the word for “you,” pronounced “thoo”) the mouth only moves if I really force it, and then the vowel sound changes because it’s not meant to be said with an open mouth. I’ll put a native Icelandic speaker in there tomorrow to see if they have better success. I wish this had occurred to me as a potential problem. I’ve been testing the movement of the jaw with, well, English. Silly me, it’s an Icelandic bear.

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8 thoughts on “A movement test”

  1. Well, watching that pile of fiberglass and boning come to life and dance to Duke Ellington is lovely! The swaying silky fur is especially fine. Great movement. Too bad Icelandic is the bear’s second language though. BTW, remind me, how did you come to make a bear for a childrens hospital anyway?

  2. Ingólfur and Anna, the couple I’m building it for, had the idea to create this character to visit children in hospitals. When they got married, rather than setting up a gift registry they asked their friends to donate money to create the bear.

    They originally hired Gummi Þor to build it, and he asked me to assist him. As his house remodeling took on a life of its own and he asked me to take on the whole project. He’ll handle questions and any tweaking while I’m in the U.S. so he’s not completely off the hook.

  3. That is SO neat! Both the cause for the project and the seeing the costume in motion, even though it’s not done yet. It’s going to look fabulous when it’s done.

  4. If the children the bear is talking to are Icelandic speakers, then it would look funny to them if the bear’s jaw moved when it made a sound where the jaw shouldn’t move. You should be OK.

  5. Lipsync doesn’t work like that. Puppets’ mouths don’t move the way a real person’s would. It’s a visual symbol language. What people are used to seeing is the puppets mouth opening at the beginning of a word and closing at the end, with partial closes at syllable breaks.

  6. Love the dance at the end… reminiscent of Baloo in the animated The Jungle Book.

    Look for the bear necessities…


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