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The Fabrication of Annie for "Roadkill Jamboree"

Annie is the drummer in our band, because of course she is, she's a rattlesnake after all. We wanted Annie to be a ditsy feminine character reminiscent of Betty Boop. So in other words we turned Dolly Parton into a snake. Annie is one of the more unique puppets I’ve created and because she had to be made largely with materials that are felt a few challenges came with her creations. As for a timeline Annie took 2 ½ weeks to make.

The Rig

Annie was the most, unlike any other puppet I’ve made. I don't often use Jeton sockets in my work but the floral wire would not be strong enough to hold up the weight of her head. Because we needed Annie to drum with her head and her tail we needed to make sure that both of those parts were sturdy and flexible.

However, Annie isn’t made up entirely of Jeton socks. Her skull is made of cardboard, tinfoil, and air dry clay. But most notably her tail is a much simpler option for an

alternative to jeton sockets. Because Annie is so long the cost of a few feet of Jeton socket gets expensive fortunately it was around Halloween time when I made her and again Grocery Outlet, my favorite place on earth, was selling discount skeleton two-headed cobras, Annie already was supposed to have a boney tail so I just cut the head off of the cobra and use its body for the rest of Annie.

Lots of Foam

Annie is largely made of couch foam with cardboard and tinfoil-reinforced segments for grab points. I originally was just going to leave the foam uncovered and glue the scales on top of it but it ended up being goofy with the foam. So I cut the leg off of some stocking I had and covered Annie’s entire body in stocking material. It worked great and was a really cheap solution.


Annie was the most expensive puppet of the 5; this was largely due to the combination of the Jeton socket armature within her and the ribbon we used for her scales. Annie was made for around a budget of $250. Lady Joann Fabrics has taken a lot of my money because of Annie. For Annie's scales we didn't want to have to hand-make, them so we decided to go with a ribbon that looked like scales. The ribbon we ended up using was an acorn-style ribbon but we ended up needing several yards of it to cover Annie's whole body. We needed so much that the first store we went to ran out and we had to go to a different Joann'swhen. That's why you’ll notice that about halfway down Annie’s scales change colors before she was painted.

I counted out how many of the acorn designs needed to go around Annie, excluding her belly since we used a different ribbon for that, and then cut that amount out. I would also alternate adding an extra acorn on either side to give a more natural layering pattern.

After gluing her scales down I painted the scales in the pattern that our visual development lead Katharine Taddei designed. I painted the scales with acrylic paint which may have ruined my apartment floors in the process.

Annies Face

As I’ve said before Annie’s skull is made up of cardboard tin foil and air dry clay. I used the really synthetic white air-dry clay that Crayola makes because I think it is less fragile than paper clay when used correctly. However, air dry clay is a little tricky to work with. It doesn’t blend well and leaves a lot of cracks where two clay pieces meet. So I used a little bit of masking tape to cover the crack and then blended the texture of the tape back into the clay but went over her whole face with a very small amount of hot glue. I then gave her a finishing coat of paint.

I used this same technique in order to make her eyelids. Annie's eyelids are important because snakes blink. Because of this, we wanted to give her a set of eyelids that really enhanced the beauty of her face. We also used multiple sets of fake eyelashes to make sure she was all dolled up and ready for the film. That being said her eyes are set loose enough in her skull so that you can animate them. Like all the other puppets in this film, Annie's eyes have a pinhole in them to give the animators an easier time animating.

Annie's jaw is where we brought back in the floral wire. I also added a magnet to the top and bottom of her jaw to help keep it closed while drumming. Annie’s teeth are made with wire and hot glue so that they are sturdy when her jaw clips up into them. Her tongue is also rigged with wire to allow for some really great overlapping action while animating.

The Wig

This was really my first attempt at rigging a full wig before. Annie’s wig is so important to her character that it had to be animatable. When she is using her head to drum her wig should be moving along with her. So I built her wig out of the floral wire I love so much and then a thicker aluminum wire I received from a friend who had recently given up on needle felting.

The thicker wire acted as the grab points while the floral wire remained flexible to allow for dragging and squashing of the wig. I then looked up how the hair is normally laid when making a wig and then tried to replicate that with the roving will I had. I originally tried using doll's hair but it didn't have the coverage I wanted. I used a lot of hair spray and melted wax to help seal everything to the wig. I also used glue to make sure certain points were stuck.

As for the bangs I had some old beige ribbon with a wire running through the ends from a different project so I just cut a small strip of that and then hot glued the wool to the ribbon, making sure to fully cover it. As well Stanly the wool I used was a custom blend of colors. I didn't want it to be too yellow or too blonde. I think I made a nice middle ground with the remaining wool that I had at the time.

In the End

Annie was a really great learning experience because I really had to go outside of my comfort zone to make her. But I learned a lot in the process and I look forward to making especially more wigs in the future.


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