For much of his youth, Bloo was reared to become a lumberjack. Coming from a family of lumberjacks, Bloo had witnessed his father and brothers fell trees for as long as he could remember. It was his destiny, albeit not his chosen one. On his third birthday, when Bloo had to fell his inaugural tree, he simply could not, within an ounce of his being, bring himself to even lift the axe with which he was meant to fell the pathetic, spindly tree with. His heart heavy with disappointment, Bloo vowed to never lay his paws on an axe ever again. Taking pity on him, his family left him in charge with their three cats, named Dolphin, Fish, and Turtle. He now lives in Brooklyn with his three cats, listens to Indie Rock in his spare time, and brews craft beer in his basement. He hopes to one day attain the title of ‘Plant Dad’ and teach his cats how to yodel.
The character design behing Bloo came from one quick sketch. I was trying to create monsters with animalistic elements in order to explore the theme of biomimicry. It is quite subtle, but Bloo’s ears are fennec fox inspired, and his bushy tail is also somewhat fox inspired.
From there, it was about having to research the steps I would have to take in order to create the basic form for Bloo. I watched an abundance of puppet making videos, and some of the most helpful ones are linked here:
For the base structure, I used foam rubber acquired from Canal Rubber. I bought a square yard of both the half inch and 1 inch thicknesses, unsure of which would be most useful. I ended up only using the 1/2 inch foam rubber for the whole puppet. After creating the movable mouth piece with leftover chipboard and muslin to connect them, I built the foam rubber structure around it. I initially had trouble with adhering the foam rubber to itself, and after burning myself several times over, learned the art of patience and had to just sit and hold pieces of foam together till they dried as one piece. To reinforce my shoddy hot-gluing, I also sewed the most important seams so I wouldn’t end up with an unfortunate headless puppet.
In creating the foam rubber form, I prototyped with muslin first to ensure that the pieces would fit together cohesively. After creating the whole foam rubber form (the head was created separately from the body), I adjusted the patterns for the foam rubber elements slightly to create a fur suit to wrap around the base structure. I then created Bloo’s appendages- his ears and arms. I stuffed his ears with foam rubber and a bit of polyfill. In terms of his arms, Andrew had suggested using wooden dowels connected by I-screws as joints to allow for mobility. He also suggested using fabric hinges to allow for some swivel movement at the shoulders. I wrapped the wooden dowels with foam rubber and fit them snugly into the arms, then sewed them into the gaps I had left at the trunk of Bloo’s body. I also attached a flannel lining to the inside of the puppet for more comfort.
After that, it was just a matter of bringing Bloo’s character to life! I looked up tutorials and patterns for creating a flannel shirt. (Funny story about the incompetency of a non-fashion student: I hand sewed most of Bloo for a reason: it took me two hours to sew three hems on his flannel shirt) I attached a hood with a contrasting fabric to create some textural interest, sewed on buttons, and added a scarf with tassels made from embroidery thread. For Bloo’s facial features, his eyes, teeth, and nose are crated from epoxy clay, painted with acrylic paint, then sealed with clear nail polish. His eyebrows were felted, and additional patches of white were created from fabric swatches from Mood.
Below are some images of Bloo at various stages of completion. I documented a lot of my process on my social media accounts, including some interactions with him, which are in the video playlist at the end.