Saturday, July 25, 2009

Why are Chickens so Funny?

Seems like they are an International Punchline, sort of sad when you realize that they have some genetic ancestry with animals like the Tyrannosaurus , and Velociraptor.No denying that they make great puppets though. The Muppet's are probably just as well known for the Chickens that populate the Back stage of the Muppet theatre as they are for Kermit and Piggy.

Back when i was working for The Jim Henson Company , i spent several weeks Refurbishing chickens that had seen better days , Ultimately, Re-Building the original Camilla for a Made for TV Christmas Special. I'm glad i spent so much time on her since in the end in true Muppet fashion one of the old Basic chickens was used as Camilla for most of the film, and the new rebuilt hero Camilla was sent into the background. Gonzo apparently cant tell the chickens apart either

Along with Chickens it seems like Ducks are a much maligned species as well, But again fun to build, These two where built for "Mop A Tops shop", To replace the old Muppet Show ducks,My supervisor Tim Miller told me to have fun with it, and wasn't concerned with Replicating the original Muppet ducks, so i spent a couple of weeks making new patterns and individually gluing feathers and hackle pads to fleece and fur that i used to make these guys, I'm still very happy with the results, i wonder if they will ever see the light of day in another production some where down the line.

All this time spent Building and re-building Chickens and other avians proved very useful a few years later. In late December 2006 i got a call from a Production company , They needed 3 chicken puppets for a short series of TV adds For the restaurant chain Ruby Tuesdays, by the time we had finished emails,and phone conversations, i had about a week to build all three puppets. We shot on a Horse Farm in Long Island on a thankfully warm January morning.
here are a few images from that production.

My very Rough Sketch and the First Mock Up head

The girls nearing the finish line.

Stuck in a net

Ready for their Close ups,

Its always a good idea to hold on to your patterns, you never know when you might need them again. 2007 seemed to be my year of the Bird. a large project came up , that i new was beyond one builders ability,Several of my puppet building colleagues had just formed a puppet building company in Pa called, Monkey Boys productions, (see the post below for link). i talked to them and we started work on the build in March, One of the main Characters was a Brightly colored bird with polka-dots, and a Guest on the Pilot episode was a Partridge (also called a prairie chicken) so with some minor alterations i was able to bring the chicken pattern out and put it into service once more.
here are those puppets from the pilot episode of "Planet camp"

Dolly Partridge Built By myself and Ozone the Bird Built by Mike Latini, and Myself
wow This was along post with lots of Pictures, Here is link to the chicken video to close it all out , I hope you enjoy !

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