Yoda, the Jedi Master


After seeing the Empire Strikes Back, I just had to make a Yoda. Well, since I am over four foot tall, a costume was out of the question; so I decided to make a kind of puppet. My first thought was to make a backpack version of Yoda, like how Luke carried him around on Daggobah.

First try Yoda in Plaster First try Yoda in Plaster

I ended up sculpting Yoda's head twice in clay. The first one (above, not too clear a photo) I made with a rubber mold of and cast in plaster. It turned out a little too reptilian, but my second sculpture went much better (top of page and below.) So I cast that sculpt in dental plaster to make an injectable mold. This was my first try at foam latex, and I do not think my Mom knew exactly what I was up to. You see you need to use an electric mixer to whip air into the liquid foam concoction. Next you use an injector (for me, a turkey baster) to push the foam into the mold. Then the whole plaster form has to be baked in the oven for an hour. If you have ever wore a rubber mask, you know how bad they smell; now imagine baking that in your kitchen - not a pretty smell. Fortunately, it was a hot Chicago summer day, and we had all the doors and windows opened. And my Mom, she decided just to let me keep the mixer and baster and bought herself new ones. (If you have not noticed, I have pretty great parents, they encouraged me on so many projects that I think they did not exactly understand.)

Yoda Standing

The head turned out great; so I sculpted, cast, and baked a couple hands and built a wood frame body for the little guy. The head pivots along the neck and originally there was a wire to make the mouth move, but the foam is much too fragile now. The eyes are actually portions of ping pong balls. I sewed up a little suit for him and stapled it to his frame. Feet made from Sculpy clay finished the creature.

Originally, I was going to make Yoda into Luke's backpack trainer, but I think this was the year that my Dad finally figured out that my mask making and computer engineering just might get me a really creative job. Well, it was also my Father's 50th Birthday, and I had spent most the summer making this creature. So since my Dad was so proud of my littlest creation, showing it off to his buddies when they came to visit, I gave it to him for his birthday. He was quite surprised, and to this day, Yoda sits on my parents dresser in their bedroom.

by Earl B.

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