Friday, October 16, 2020


"Advice" was published on YouTube in July 2020. It's adapted from a very short poem written by pulp author and H P Lovecraft buddy Frank Belknap Long Jr. I became interested in it simply because it's subtly funny and atmospheric, and it offered me a chance to do some folkloric creatures. You could say that "Advice" is a bit of urban fantasy since it seems to be set in our contemporary world.

There are four different creatures described in the poems. The goblins are a fairly straightforward thing, or they were to me, at least. I simply made the most goblin-like sculpture I could come up with, with a crooked nose and big ears. Medium grade Monster clay was used. In these photos, I've also added the clay containment wall that will keep the plaster from spilling out around the sculpture.

The goblin has a super simple aluminum wire armature and a quite small one as you can see. Soft yarn was wrapped around parts of the armature to create basic padding. 

Soft polyurethane foam (yellow) and denser foam (green) was used to pad the torso. Cotton dipped in latex eas used to shape muscles on the arms and legs.

The torso and head were cast in latex and patches of latex skin covered up the rest of the body. The toes are made from latex and cotton. Latex tinted a bluish-green (using Monster Maker's latex dyes) was stippled over the puppet to create a dark base paint.

The finished goblin was dry brushed with lighter tinted latex. Teeth and nails were made from latex and toilet paper. The eyes are plastic domes covered with a metallic red bought from a scrapbooking shop. The loincloth is made from latex and tissue paper. The belt is another piece of latex cast in a plaster mold I did many years ago, where I had sculpted various belt, ornaments, and other bits that could be cast quickly and added as pieces of clothing to a puppet.  Around its wrists, the puppet has another cast latex bit and a piece of string dabbed with tinted latex. The tongue is made from clay. The earrings are just bits of thin steel wire bent into a loop.

The weirdest character in the poem, and my video, is probably the "the bloated thing(s)". There's no description of this being, so I just went on instinct and sculpted something fat and nasty-looking. A rule of thumb is that, generally, the more human elements you add to an otherwise strange-looking creature, the creepier it'll look.

Since this puppet wasn't required to do much the armature was simple but sufficient. Soft yarn covered with latex was added to a few parts. I mostly use this method for limbs that are tentacular or snake-like. Using a yarn wrapping removed most of the fake-looking wrinkling that will occur when you bend a snaky limb covered with only foam.

The head and torso were cast in tinted latex. I went with a reddish-brown as a base color to help create a fleshy look when the other layers of color were added. The gut was filled with cotton balls to make it soft but also sturdy.

The body was padded with only soft bits of foam. The t-nut used as a tie-down on the underside was left open.

Using liquid latex as a glue, the latex torso skin was added over the padded body, and patches of latex cast from texture molds helped cover the rest of the body.

The finished puppet was dry brushed with greyish tinted latex. The eyes were white plastic domes from the aforementioned scrapbooking shop, and the two claws are cotton dipped in latex. I used Glossy accents scrapbooking plastic to add drops of sweat to the latex skin.

In the poem the "Fears" are as diffuse entities as they can get. Apparently, they can float. I resorted to using a couple of puppets I actually built a few years ago for the film "In the Court of the Yellow King", but which were never used. Over super-simple aluminum wire armatures, I added a yarn wrapping, cotton, and latex. Scrapbooking pearls were super-glued into the latex faces. The robes were made from tissue paper dabbed with tinted latex. The belts were cast in latex from the same plaster mold from which the goblin's belt was pulled.

The kobold is another old puppet -really old, in fact. I made it for a super 8 version of Sleeping Beauty way back in 1998. I made a bunch of puppets portraying various fairies, and this was one of them. The latex skin covering the arms is now so brittle that small flakes came off when I started animating.

All backgrounds in this film were HD photos downloaded from Most of them didn't require any tampering at all.

The staircase which the kobold runs down wac cut out from the rest of the image in Photoshop. This allowed me to add a wallpaper background and sandwich the footage of the running kobold puppet between these layers.

Weird Tales and other old pulp magazines have quite a few poems (and stories) that are now public domain works. I continue to plunder this source for more film content, but I'm also happy to be able to share and spread these writings, which are almost forgotten nowadays.

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