I've been keeping our latest build a secret the last few weeks because I didn't know if it would work, and honestly it sort of doesn't?
Still, I'm going to show you anyway, because John and I put a lot of time in and mostly had a blast learning an entirely different skill set. (There's also some frustration since we built it three times and it's still not quite right, but that's to be expected, right?)
Besides - and this is the important part - LOOK WHAT WE DID:
Herpity hoo, my friends. HERPITY HOO.
(That's, uh, supposed to be the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. Here's hoping you already knew that.)
I didn't have the patience to set up a nice backdrop or do any editing, so you're getting straight-off-the-phone snapshots:
I'll have a full build log up later, so you can see how John and I did everything from scratch, from sculpting a head shape to templates & pattern-making. (We followed Adam Kreutinger's tutorials, which I HIGHLY recommend.) We also quite stubbornly did it on the cheap, custom-dying $5 fleece rather than paying $40 for the fabric you're supposed to use, then harvesting the fur/hair from an unlikely - but cheap! - place.
We even made the bow tie and hat from scratch.
That said, our dear Chef is still very much a work in progress. So much so, that we may start all over again... again.
That back seam isn't quite finished.
Considering he's our first puppet ever, though, I'm quite proud. John and I learned so much about foam and patterning and fun new stitches to hide seams. We also watched a lot of Swedish Chef videos together, which somehow only get funnier the more you watch them. And it probably goes without saying that we've been singing the Bork Bork song to each other for weeks now.
Bork! Bork! Bork!
Getting the look right has been the hardest part, partly because the Swedish Chef has changed a lot over the years. If you take a look at my reference sheet, you'll see at least 3-4 very different puppets:
Ours is mostly modeled off Chef's most current style, which has redder hair and looks like this:
I'm struggling to style the hair, since his mustache especially flops down/all over as soon as he moves, but both hair spray and watered down glue make it look stiff and clumpy. Anyone have a solution for that?
His nose is almost completely wrong - the shape just isn't right - but I made it all myself and I love it:
And while I'm pointing out flaws, John is pretty much beside himself trying to smooth out the lumpy lips
That's where having a giant mustache is helpful.
So now that you've seen our nearly-completed Swedish Chef puppet, I'm sure you're thinking: That's cool, Jen, but what the heck are you gonna do with it? That's where I need your help.
Our original idea was another Junk Lady-esque illusion cosplay. We'd have Chef behind a small kitchen counter (i.e. a rolling cart), then a curtain/false wall behind him to hide me. I would wear crazy chef pants, so my legs would look like his legs, and I'd puppet his head and one arm.
That idea, however, is not going to work.
Puppeting Chef is surprisingly hard; his mouth doesn't open easily and within a few minutes my hand is pooped out. Beyond that, I can't puppet anything directly in front of my body; it has to be off to one side or up high.
We thought we had a solution for both issues when John put on his Mad Scientist cap and built THIS contraption to operate the mouth:
... but that doesn't quite work, either. I mean, it works, but not for this puppet; the mouth isn't sitting right and there's too much friction operating the spring lever.
Plus, to be honest, our original cosplay idea doesn't feel clever enough. I'd like something a little more creative than hiding myself with a literal curtain.
So now we're stalled out, unsure what to do next. We can either scrap the whole cosplay plan, or come up with a new housing/backdrop for Chef - ideally one that doesn't require him to talk much, ha. I can still have him dance around, and we can make pose-able hands and arms I can move, too, but we need a way to hide ME in a funny/theme appropriate way.
So help me brainstorm, hive-mind: what could Swedish Chef be sitting in/on, or carrying, or next to? Even if you don't know how we could do it, throw out some ideas! So far John's best one is to have Chef sticking out of a giant cake, which I'm kind of loving for biased reasons. (Our original plan was to have the small cake from the Caken Smoosher skit on the counter in front of him:
We love this one so much, we have custom art of it in our game room. Hee!
For what it's worth, I don't consider this project a waste at all, even if nothing more comes of it. I had fun, I learned stuff, and I got to build something new with John. Plus I'll get to show you guys some of what we learned, so you can try your own puppet-building, too!
Now, lay those ideas on me in the comments! Please?
Oh, but first, let's announce some winners from my last post!
The winner of the Mario Princesses is Rabidbun
The winner of the Star Wars Doodlez is Susan Anderson
And the winner of Belle is Jessica Layman
Congrats, you three, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!
If you believe the world needs more ridiculous projects like this, and would like to help me and John continue to make them, then you can support us directly through Paypal! Every little bit helps us keep doing what we're doing, so thanks for being here and cheering us on.