Armature Making

Updated: Apr 1

I originally wanted to use a ball and socket armature for my puppets this year.

Mario was going to print off the appropriate parts using the 3D printer that the department has. However, the Uni has been closed due to recent concerns of the coronavirus, COVID-19. So I am unable to do a 3D printed hybrid ball and socket armature.

With materials I've bought and brought home from Uni before it closed, I've been making a wire armature at home in my make-shift studio.

I started by using the canon 550D to record myself, but it kept automatically stopping the filming. Then I connected the camera to my Mac and used EOS Utility 2 to control the camera from my computer. That also didn't work the way I wanted. At this point I couldn't be bothered doing any more Googling or downloads today, so I just went back to good old faithful and recorded myself on my phone.

To start building my armature using wire, I first used 2mm Extra soft Aluminium wire and cut double the amount of wire for the legs (using my armature design as a reference). I then folded the wire down the middle and put the cut ends into the bit of my Dremel, and using the attachment that acts as a holder for the Dremel, I twisted the wire at speed 2. Using the Dremel to twist the wire creates a continuous uniform twist. By doubling the wire, It increases the strength and durability of the wire.

I repeated this process for the arms and the spine of my armature. For the spine I used 3 strands of 1.60mm Bare Aluminium wire instead of two 2.00mm wire. I wanted to use 3 strands to increase the strength of the wire even more as the spine has to be more movable and I can't risk it breaking during filming. I had to use 1.60mm wire instead of the 2.00mm wire because 3 strands of 2.00mm wire wouldn't fit into the Dremel bit, whereas the 1.60 would. I had no bigger bits for my Dremel.

Next, I cut out the chest, weight and feet panels out of a bit of scrap metal that I've had since 2nd year from my 2 minute film. I tried using my little hacksaw with my clamp, but the blades have dulled a lot from previous use. Instead I used the cutting blade on my Dremel to cut the metal. I broke 4 cutting disks before remembering that I have a pair of really good wire cutters, so I continued cutting the metal using them. I cut squares out of the larger metal, and then shaped them with the sanding tool.

After this, I cut square K&S, aprox 4mm, using the cutting disk on my Dremel.

For the chest plate, a vertical piece of K&S serves as a staple part of the spine. Two more pieces at 45 degree angles either side of the vertical piece will be the base of the arms.

For the waist plate, a vertical piece of K&S on one side of the plate and a horizontal piece on the opposite side are used. The vertical piece is the base for the spine, these will have the triple twisted wire connecting them.

The feet plates are made up of 2 parts so there are 2 K&S cut for them. One small K&S for the front of the foot, and another that fits within the plate for the back of the foot.

I smoothed the K&S with the sander and then roughed up the side that will be face down to the plate, creating more surface area when I solder. Next I used tips-ex to cover the parts of the K&S and the plates that I don't want to solder to adhere to.

Before getting ready to solder, I cut my soldering wire into small sections and put them in a small jar to make it easier to solder later.


The best place at home to solder as I don't have the appropriate ventilation, is my back garden. It's been a nice day today so we had clothes drying on the line, so there wasn't as much space as I would have liked.

I set up the ceramic heating blocks outside the back door, and applied flux to the waist plate in the area I didn't apply tip-ex to. I prepared a box of water for dropping the heated metal into after soldering and placed it next to the ceramic blocks to make life easier. Before starting I placed the waist plate and the corresponding K&S piece onto the ceramic heat block and some of the soldering wire I had cut next to the block for easy reach.

Using the blow torch, I light it and pointed it at the K&S and metal until the K&S where vibrant red, using tweezers I places small pieces of solder to either side of the K&S and continued to apply the flame until it bubbled and melted underneath and around the K&S. I added more solder until I was confident that it would work before turning the blow torch off and dropping the now soldered plate and K&S into the box of water.

I repeated this on the chest plate, and the the blow torch stopped working.

Ive had to order Butane gas for the blow torch that should arrive on Thursday, So I should be able to finish my armature then.

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With the whole situation of lockdown, days have melded into one long day and night. Thank god for the Pete! With the final deadline looming, I honestly didn't know it was May bank holiday Monday when