Saturday, December 23, 2023


In 2021, the copyright Disney had usurped for the Winnie-the-Pooh property since 1961 expired. I was among the people who had hopes for other creators coming in and adapting the stories in their own way.

Alas,  what we did get was the "satirical" horror movie "Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey." This disappointment got me thinking about what I could bring to the table, and I thought of an episode in the tales where Piglet dreams of Heffalumps.

Nobody really knows what a Heffalump is, except for it being huge and scary. Pooh illustrator E. H. Shepard portrays the Heffalump as a big, angry elephant, and Disney interpretations have gone that route too, in a way.

So, for my project, I needed a version of Piglet and a version of the Heffalump. Starting with Piglet, I went back to Shepard's original illustrations. Color versions show Piglet's vest (or whatever the garment is supposed to be) being green, so that's what I stuck with too.

I sculpted a piglet head in Monster Clay, having the notion to reproduce the sculpture as a latex skin, as I usually do. In the end, I only used a portion of it.

This simple armature made the basis for the puppet. Not seen in this photo, there is an attachment point on the armature's bum for a flying rig.

The arms and legs were wrapped with soft yarn, and the rest of the puppet was padded with soft foam.

Here's the finished Piglet puppet covered with latex skin. I did consider making Piglet a felt puppet, which would've looked better. But since I was more familiar with latex and foam padding I went that route. The eyes and buttons are scrapbooking half-pearls glued on.

My idea for a Heffalump was realized a bit earlier than my planning for this film. I made this drawing just for fun and posted it on DeviantArt. I thought it'd make a good animation puppet.

I started with making the face in medium-grade Monster Clay. I simply made the face a bit too big, which meant that the rest of the puppet would have to be bigger than I usually make my puppets.

The face was cast in tinted latex from a dental plaster mold created over the sculpture. I made two eyes from a couple of very colorful plastic pearls and drilled a concave surface into them to create irisis. Each iris was painted and filled in with UV resin. The eyes are placed in silicone clay sockets held in place with thermoplastic. Three and four millimeter aluminum wires were added for the ears, the eyebrows, and the jaw. As you can see I removed the latex eyebrows. I sometimes do that to improve on the flexibility of that part of the face. The white stuff you can see on the inside of the latex skin is Polymorph thermoplastic, adding support for the head. I also added a rigid plastic tube as extra support for the mid-section of the face.

New eyebrows were built up with soft foam.

I decided to make a trunk with a grasping hand at the end. Fingers were built up by wrapping soft yarn around aluminum wires, while the trunk had a base of yarn, with foam on top of it. The yarn wrapping at the base makes the trunk less wobbly and more organic-feeling.

I also sculpted a foot and cast four hollow latex versions of it, using a blend of latex and cotton lining the inside of each cast to make it extra sturdy.

This turned out to be a huge puppet, the biggest I've ever built, standing a little over 16 inches tall. Each leg had a bundle of 4 mm aluminum wires for its joints. The body piece is a bit of plywood. 

Lots of padding for this puppet. It really wouldn't flex its midriff, so I just built up a big blob of foam, making it both bulky and slightly gangly-looking with its long legs.

Lots of latex patches cast in skin texture molds were draped over the foam. All the patches were tinted when cast, which gives a very fleshy look.

The base color was applied using a sponge and tinted latex. Over this, I worked up hues of purple and blue, with red shadows in creases and folds.

Here's the finished Heffalump. The hair is dark grey fake fur dabbed with tinted latex. This made the hair stiff and easy to control. The nails and teeth were made from tissue paper and latex. Even the tusks were made this way. I rolled long strips of tissue paper soaked in latex and pressed them together until I had a tusk-like shape.

The backgrounds were all digital 2D images. Piglet's bedroom was cobbled together in Photoshop using various stock image elements. I found an old photo of a teddy bear and placed it in a frame, making a portrait of Winnie-the-Pooh.  Piglets pillows and bedclothes were bits of felt and cloth I had lying about. I animated Piglet saying "Bother!" when he woke up, but then remembered that it's Winne-the-Pooh who says that -Piglet says "Oh dear!" But when I dubbed in my Piglet voice (which I did myself) "Oh dear!" fitted anyway.

Piglet's nightmare forest was downloaded from, where I have a subscription, and I'm assuming it's AI art.

So, that's my contribution to the pop culture universe of Winnie-the-Pooh and friends. Some kind people have suggested I should do more of this, but at the moment I'm happy with this short excursion. I love the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, and though it would be fun and a privilege to adapt them, I also feel I want to leave them alone and not add on my interpretations.