Monthly Archives: September 2008

Talking Birds, Part 2

Truth be told, I like planning these projects much more than assembling them. I learned several years ago that manufacturing things is hard. In fact, the smaller the parts the harder it is.

Conceptually, the parts of the bird go together like Lincoln Logs. Objectively, it’s really hard to make anything out of Lincoln Logs that you can fit up the butt of a hand puppet.

It would be great if only my local hardware store would stock a myriad of little brackets in varying sizes; tiny little metal shapes that would have no use in home construction. But they don’t.

I know. Some hobby stores carry some Erector Set like things for mounting servos or other small items, but they often get $4 for a ¼” L-bracket and that just doesn’t seem reasonable. Even at 50¢, you have to ask the question “How long will it take me to make these with a hack saw and a length of L-bar or U-channel?” If you cut the parts yourself, you can have any size you want for very little money.

Here’s an example:

How to create a neck joint at the top of the backbone? It needs to be at a certain angle and have a certain range of movement. I’m not sure how it should be done either. I think that a rod end affixed to the end of the L-bar should work.

And yes, I’m totally guessing at the angle.

Talking Birds, Part 1

I have this idea:

Two birds sit atop a gravestone and talk to one another with a kind of gallows humor. There’s a subtlety to this I like. If done properly the birds, ravens, should look fairly real. In telling jokes they should be able to react one another. After all, “Acting is reacting.”

I guess this is really the point. The only reason to use animated figures (as opposed to human actors) is to present a figure that a person can’t accurately portray. Okay, there are other reasons like cost or repeatability, but for non-commercial use, if I could fit inside a bird suit and convince anyone I could fly, I would. Likewise I do not make a good Jack Skeleton or Great Pumpkin. Maybe the Great Pumpkin is doable.

Anyway, the birds should give the spooky decorated front yard a certain feel. Clearly the birds are not going to scare anyone. I just want them to seem a bit afraid. Maybe, in turn, passers by will also feel afraid. It’s a theory.

Here are some parts:

After suggesting that Ruth learn taxidermy and my specifying the height and weight of the ravens I need her to catch, she suggested the use of hand puppets. While not as realistic as I had hoped, the puppets are ideal for the purpose of being… well… puppets.

To that we will add:

Now we just need to put it all together!