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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » A Realistic Rabbit in the Hat Puppet » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Chris Capstone
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Tulsa, OK
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I've been looking for a high quality, realistic rabbit in the hat puppet for a long time with no success so I decided to make my own. My oldest daugter is also a creative type so we worked together on it.

I wanted it to fit into the actual top hat I wear during my show and I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. It has hand blown, 3 part glass eyes, very realistic faux rabbit fur (modacrylic used by the fasion industry), the inside of the ears are air brushed, the paws and facial features are hand sculpted, and realistic whiskers, nose, and mouth.

We made about 20 different prototypes in order to get it the way we wanted. I'm interested in feedback from Café members who have experience using a rabbit in the hat puppet.

I have some video but it's just a short clip taken with a Flip in the theater where I work, please excuse the audio. I'll try to get some better HD video later. The video and pics don't really show how beautiful the puppet looks in person.

Here's a link to the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXigqlJq1OM

Here's a link to some photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chris_capst......klahoma/
Chris Capstone
MagicSanta
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Northern Nevada
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Very nice puppet.
gmindmagic
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Best I have ever seen! Chris are you going to make them for resale?
Chris Capstone
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Thanks for the comliments guys. My daughter is the one who does the sewing, I do the cutting, sculpting, and finishing details, we both worked out the design.

The ears were the hardest part to get a realistic shape. We went through so many prototypes before we finally figured out how to do it. The airbrushing inside the ears looks so much better in person as well.

One thing we learned about this type of dense faux fur is you have to hand stitch it first then use a pet brush to carefully get the fibers out of the seam before you can sew it on the machine. It's a very tedious process but it ensures the the seams look right.

The eyes are really amazing too. They are called 3 stage eyes because the glass blower first makes the iris, then overlays the pupil, and finally lays a clear dome over the top. They have incredible depth and shine which doesn't really show up on the video and picks. We thought we might have to settle with plastic eyes but after a long search we finally found a source for realistic glass albino rabbit eyes.

Again I have to apologize for the poor quality video. The lighting in the theater is great for my show but so good for taking video with a Flip. The audio is kind of bad as well because a big group of noisy kids was outside the theater when we took it.

gmindmagic if you would like one send me a PM and maybe we can work something out.
Chris Capstone
MagicSanta
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Northern Nevada
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You actually make the puppet itself? Impressive as heck.
Chris Capstone
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Thanks MagicSanta. Yes many hours of very tedious work to get it right. It takes several hours just to make the ears.

Since the puppet is not permanently attached to the hat, I can put it in a mirror box, a jack o lantern for Halloween, a gift wrapped box for Christmas, etc... It really looks magical with a spirit cloth if you have a good quality gimmick.

I'm working on an idea to use an Owen Enchanted Rabbit hutch to create the illusion of the rabbit being dumped from the hat into the hutch for a magical transformation of the puppet into a real rabbit.
Chris Capstone
c.mcbrien
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Chicagoland
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Chris,
I have been performing with puppets since I was about nine years old in my Dad's first church in front of his congregation. I've used EVERY kind of rabbit puppet you can imagine. Yours has to be the best looking rabbit in hat puppet I've ever seen!
I'm so happy for you! It's a lot of work creating a puppet, I know from years of learning how to sew and stuff, that's it's a real trial of errors to get it right.
Congrats!!!
PM me the price, very interested!
Chris
"Drama and ego are great for the stage, but when I'm off the stage, I drop all that crap..and don't put up with any!"

http://www.chrismcbrien.com
Chris Capstone
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Tulsa, OK
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Thanks Chris, a lot of the credit goes to my daughter for putting up with countless changes and keeping at it. You're right, it's not as easy as we thought it would be. Drafting the pattern was a nightmare! It's so difficult to visualize something in 3-D and then translate that to a 2-D pattern. At one point I tried sculpting the head from foam and then covering it in the usual muppet making technique but that made the head too bulky and took up too much room in my hat. So we had to figure out how to draft the pattern on paper. It's surprising how things can turn out so different when you think you have the pattern just right and then you sew it. So many many little unintended things happen and you have to start over. We been working on it for about a year. We feel like we just completed a graduate course in puppet making!
Chris Capstone
Mr. Pitts
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David Pitts
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Chris, that's a great looking rabbit puppet. But I'm wondering,if you use it your actual top hat, how did you set up the hand access so it's not visible when you are wearing the hat? Is it in the back or the bottom (actually the top) of the hat?
David Pitts
The Astonishing Mr. Pitts
Comedy Magician and Ventriloquist
http://www.mrpitts.com
Chris Capstone
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Tulsa, OK
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Quote:
On 2010-06-18 11:02, Mr. Pitts wrote:
Chris, that's a great looking rabbit puppet. But I'm wondering,if you use it your actual top hat, how did you set up the hand access so it's not visible when you are wearing the hat? Is it in the back or the bottom (actually the top) of the hat?


Thanks Mr. Pitts, Yes, you will notice I show the hat all round in the video. I'd prefer not to reveal that aspect of it on a public forum as it was something that took a long time of trial and error to develop (and I ruined a $70 top hat in the process.) After that I got smart and starting making cardboard mock-ups to test my ideas for the hand entry. I will say the entry is in the back. I don't think it would be a very good illusion if the hand entered the bottom (top) of the hat. Especially since I perform many shows where the audience is sitting on the floor (libraries, school gyms, etc...)They could see the entry point from that angle.

The fact that I can install the puppet in a real top hat that I actually wear is one of the things that makes it different from other rabbit in the hat puppets (besides the realism and the wiggling tail.) I couldn't find that in any other puppet currently available.

That may be of no interest to performers who don't wear one but I always wear one so it was worth the extra time and money to solve that challenge.
Chris Capstone
Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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Chris, I really like both the puppet and the hat. Way to go!

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Chris Capstone
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Thanks Donald, it's nice to get feedback from experienced performers like yourself. I think I've read posts where you've indicated that you don't use a real rabbit. Do you use a Rabbit In The Puppet in your shows? I don't own a real rabbit but I have in the past. Mainly because of the many issues with transporting and caring for a live rabbit, (all of which have been discussed on the Café before.)
Chris Capstone
Wes Holly
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Baltimore, MD
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Your (and your daughter's) hard work and vision has obviously come to life. Way to go! Now set up a marketing plan to only make 50 of them and then charge upwards of $1500 each!! Smile
Happily Yours,
Wes Holly
www.wesholly.com
Baltimore, MD, USA
Donald Dunphy
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Victoria, BC, Canada
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I don't use live animals in my show, but I have considered putting a rabbit in the hat puppet into the show. (I love Sammy Smith's "Puff the Magic Rabbit" routine.) Right now, there are no puppets in my show.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Chris Capstone
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Tulsa, OK
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Thanks Wes, we have been asked to sell some. Fortunately we had to buy a fairly large amount of the fur to make the prototypes. We have material on hand to make 14 but 9 have already been spoken for. We probably won't be making any more than that because my daughter is leaving for law school at the end of July. It's her first year so she'll be just a little too busy to be sewing puppets!

It's been a really fun to have one last joint project with her before she leaves Oklahoma for Virginia. I'm letting her have all the proceeds from the sale of the puppets to help defray the cost of her move and initial law school expenses like books, etc...

I'm gonna really miss that young lady! She's the first of our 4 to leave the nest.
Chris Capstone
Chris Capstone
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Quote:
On 2010-06-18 13:05, Donald Dunphy wrote:
I don't use live animals in my show, but I have considered putting a rabbit in the hat puppet into the show. (I love Sammy Smith's "Puff the Magic Rabbit" routine.) Right now, there are no puppets in my show.

- Donald


Donald, there are so many talented performers who have done great work on routines with the rabbit in the hat puppet: Sammy Smith, Steve Kissel, Greg Hamilton, Doug Wathen, and of course Dave Risley. I'd get all their stuff, put in your brain and let it ferment for a while, and then use what fits you to come up with a routine.

Dave Risley's puppet was the first one I bought along with his DVD. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to develop a routine. I think Dave is the KING of rabbit in the hat puppeteers!

The great thing about it is you can continue to come up with new stuff to do with it. It's great for performers like me who do a lot of shows for repeat audiences. They will always be glad to "what that little rabbit will do this time."

You don't get that kind of mileage out of many props.
Chris Capstone
JamesinLA
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Dear Chris,
I love your rabbit puppet. The tail is great. I also want to complement you on your handling of the puppet. Really like the way you have him "talk" rather than just bobbing his head up and down and also the other movements that looked really independant and which brought him to life.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
Chris Capstone
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Tulsa, OK
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Quote:
On 2010-06-18 20:44, JamesinLA wrote:
Dear Chris,
I love your rabbit puppet. The tail is great. I also want to complement you on your handling of the puppet. Really like the way you have him "talk" rather than just bobbing his head up and down and also the other movements that looked really independant and which brought him to life.

Jim


Thanks Jim,

I'm glad you noticed the talking technique. That's something I've always felt was an important aspect of manipulating this type of puppet. I like to speak the rabbit's dialogue silently in my head and sync his movements to the words as I say them. It never made sense to me when I saw someone bob the puppet's a couple of times and then deliver a very lengthy line that the puppet was supposed to have said. It needs to make sense as a dialogue, like an actor playing a scene with someone on the other end of a telephone. Older Café members will remember Bob Newhart being a master at this in his stand-up act.

That tail really gets a great response. It works well when the bunny is going down in the hat to get something.

The reason I get the head to move that way is because I have both the index and middle fingers in the neck of the rabbit. The fingers don't go all the way up into the head. They are kept spread apart inside the neck. This design developed after much trial and error. A number of different head movements can be achieved by independently wiggling and bending the two fingers. This avoids the stiff look usually seen in glove puppets.

Larger puppets usually move by means of the wrist twisting and flexing. That's a broad movement which involves the entire puppet. This smaller puppet moves primarily by means of the wiggling and bending the fingers independently of each other which is a smaller and more precise kind of movement.

Thanks for your feedback, I especially appreciate you saying he "came to life." that's the best compliment a puppeteer can receive.
Chris Capstone
Razamatazz Magic
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Hi Chris

Having developed a rabbit in a hat ourselves we know how much work you have put into this. It looks great !!! Well done.

Regards

Andy & Sue
Chris Capstone
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Tulsa, OK
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Thanks Andy & Sue,

Your animatronic work and artwork is very impressive. Your website is wonderful as well.

I'm always surprised by the process of creating something like a puppet or a prop. So many unforeseen challenges and ideas pop up as you go along.

I wish I would had done a better job of documenting the process of creating this rabbit puppet with sketches, notes, and photos but when your in the whirlwind of creating it's hard to stop and take time to do that.

I have a hunch that careful study of such documentation would yield fruitful insight into our creative process that would prove useful for future projects.

Chris
Chris Capstone
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