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May 30, 2006

choice of metal for armatures

by sven at 8:00 am

It appears that there are mainly just four metals used in creating metal-jointed armatures:

If you want to make armatures at the pro-level, steel seems to be the standard. I suspect that this is primarily due to it being safe for use with latex. Aluminum has the advantage of being lighter -- but this is counterbalanced by the fact that it's difficult/impossible to braze.

I'm in the process of collecting the materials that I'll need for making a steel armature. Even if I'm just a hobbyist, I'd like to do pro-quality work. And I'm interested in steel just for the sake of experiencing different materials hands-on.

However, I've begun to question the assumption that steel is necessarily superior to brass. If I understand correctly, brass works fine with silicone. Brass is easier to find than steel, and doesn't spark when you cut it. So, if you're making silicone puppets, shouldn't brass be the preferred material?

I have a suspicion... For a very long time, foam latex was the pinnacle of pro puppet-making. Foam latex puppets require steel armatures. Silicone is relatively new on the scene. I suspect that people still feel that steel is the "professional" and "superior" material -- but only because they haven't disentangled the actual needs of the casting materials from what kind of armature is required.

I was very interested to read this on an SMA thread:

[Henry] Selick recently mentioned, in an interview relating to his work on "Life Aquatic", that he's basically abandoned foam latex in favor of Dragon Skin, which is silicone based, I believe.

It looks like silicone may be the future. ...Perhaps brass is the future, too?

posted by sven | May 30, 2006 8:00 AM | categories: stopmo