Making my First Full Body Puppet: Part 4

The next phase of the construction was to make the concentric rings that are the skeleton of Totoro. Using the calculations I made with the full size plan, all 16 rings were created by measuring the length of the circumference, adding a palm width of cane for overlap and using masking tape to hold the ring closed.

Trying to flatten the cane rings

I did run into several issues with the cane. When it arrived, the cane was very tightly coiled. When creating the largest rings, the rings would distort and not lie flat. We tried putting the rings under weights overnight, which did help some of the rings to lie flat-ish. Some rings also responded to hand manipulation of forcing the cane to bend in the opposite direction, but we always risked snapping the cane.

The other challenge I had to address was how to suspend the cane rings from the backpack frame. Adam Savage used a wooden ring bolted to his backpack frame. I don’t have access or expertise in using wood to make a ring, but I do have access to 3D design software and a 3D printer. I designed a circular disc with a section that inserts into the pvc mast. By using gaffer tape, the rings are suspended from the main disc.

  • Support disc midway through 3D printing.

One thought on “Making my First Full Body Puppet: Part 4

  • November 6, 2022 at 2:28 am


    I am a student and I have been wanting to make this costume for about a year now. I have completed the Alice backpack and frame. I used bounded reed that took awhile to straighten and it turned out amazing. I followed your instructions for the Alice backpack and had an old backpack that I placed that frame into. For now, I have been trying to solve how to mount the Totoro frame onto the Alice backpack without wood milling or 3D printing. But! I now have access to a 3D printer and would like to ask for your digital model, if you would be so kind.
    Have a lovely day!

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