The King of Finger Puppets July 30, 2015 08:00
You’d think that in 10 years, I would’ve made a custom Elvis Presley puppet before now. I’ve talked about it with a couple of customers before, but things just never panned out– That is until earlier this month when I finally got the opportunity to create The King once and for all.
Lovely customer Judy was interested in an Elvis from either the “Jailhouse Rock” or “Aloha from Hawaii”-eras, and although that black and white striped shirt is super iconic, I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to create a felt and embroidered version of that classic bedazzled white suit.
It was surprisingly difficult to find good detail photos of Elvis’ white suits (of which there were multiple, I discovered), but I did figure out that the red, gold and blue rhinestones in the “Aloha from Hawaii” suit were in the shape of an eagle. Who knew, right?
When I’m creating a custom puppet, I usually start with a sketch based on source photos. I keep detail photos up on my phone or computer to refer back to as I work. If the expression is key– as it obviously is with Elvis– I’ll often do a “sketch” on a piece of scrap felt to get the details just right. You can see in the photo above a few of the tests I made to get that smirky, hunch-lipped sneer just right.
Once the parts are all cut to size, I’ll start piecing together the body and sewing in details. For Elvis, this meant that crazy suit. I wasn’t quite brave enough to try to do the eagle pattern with the rhinestones, but I think the dots keep the spirit of the bedazzling. And the red lei was a must, of course. When in Hawaii, right?
I’ve done a few puppets with microphones before. Because they’re so tiny and have to be free-standing, it’s tough to get much detail, but I decided that the finishing touch for Elvis would be to have a black cord coming from the bottom of the mic. I had to experiment a bit to figure out how to attach it at both ends, staying taught enough without pulling the arm in. With a little finessing, I’m thrilled with how much that small detail adds to the design.
So, what do you think– a puppet fit for a King? (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)
Interested in a custom puppet of your own? Get in touch— I’d love to make it happen!