puppet head contruction

Simon Archer

The head of the evil sealord Titan was made by Stingray's chief puppeteer, Christine Glanville, thirty years ago. His appearance was based on that of one of Britain's greatest actors, the late Sir Laurence Olivier (Lord Olivier). Minutes after the first head was made, it was dropped on the floor by another member of the studio team and Christine had to start all over again and make a new one! Below we present a photo-strip of how a new head for a Titan puppet was made earlier this year [1993].

An original shape is modelled in plasticine. From this a cast is taken in rubber and carefully peeled off. The final fibreglass head is then moulded from this cast. Made in two halves, front and back, it is then glued together.
The face is painted with a green undercoat.
In order to allow his mouth to open and close, a thin area is drilled away from the lower lip. The eyes are added at this stage. Dental acrylic is used for making these puppet-sized eyes, the same material used to make false eyes for humans.
Fine quality leather is measured up to fill the gap.
This is then cut to fit and glued in place beneath the lip.
Living in the underwater world of Titanica, the evil sealord has a different coloured face to his land based enemies. The shiny coloured skin is achieved by mixing green paint with aluminium paint. In the background, a new head of Virgil Tracy from Thunderbirds awaits attention.
Small pieces of white nylon cord are cut and stuck in place to form Titan's beard.
More leather is used to create his headgear. Once in place, it is painted and small holes drilled through which the wires to hold his head will pass. It is then ready to be assembled to the remaining parts of the puppet's body.
An alternative puppet body, this time without strings, is made for display purposes. The body is made from strong wire which is covered in foam cut to the shape of Titan's body and glued in place.
Titan in all his glory in the Throne Room of Titanica awaits the arrival of the TV cameras.
text and photos ©1993 Simon Archer
article originally appeared in Stingray Monthly Vol 2 #1