Thursday, September 19, 2013

So you want to be a gorilla man ?...part 4...JAWS!!

All right folks, no drawn out intros, lets get down to business.

When we left off, we had just attached the lower jaw to the upper via the canvas strips we created.
These will be the hinge joint of the jaws, that will make the whole thing work.
The way it functions is this: When you open your mouth..The gorilla mouth opens.
When you close your mouth...the gorilla mouth just hangs open.....until we put the jaw muscles in!

When Chris Walas did his jaw mechanism, he placed hooks outside of the jaws to attach rubber bands to. This is a great method, and easily accessed by lifting away a flap of unglued fur.
Check out Chris's method here.....

We will do this a little different. We'll put them on the inside this time.
Why the difference, you may ask?.....Just a preference..simple as that.
When you wear the suit a lot, like me. the jaws get a lot of exposure to heat, sweat, and mechanical abrasion from rubbing against the hooks.

The biggest thing is the bands just plain fatigue after a good workout and won't pull the jaw closed as effectively. Using rubber bands and hooks, you can simply throw on another band and your done.

OK, lets make some hooks.
For the hooks, I use the small 1/2" long "figure eight" chain from the hardware store. 1 foot will get you enough hooks for 20 masks. The chain I use has a black plastic coating that will keep it safe from sweat. Your body's sweat actually has a corrosive effect on the rubber bands and metal !
To make them, simply insert the tips of needle nose pliers into one of the links where it connects to the next one. Pry outward gently to spread the link just a little bit more than it takes to remove the link from the chain.
If you do it correctly you will only have to open one side of each link. Leave the other side closed !
Now take your canvas cloth and cut 4 circles about an inch across, you can trace a quarter if you like.
You will also need a needle and thread, so get those.
Thread you needle and tie it off the the closed eye of one of the hooks.
Now sew the eye to the canvas as close to the center as you can. Do this for all 4, just make sure it's sewn very strong !
To attach the hooks, lets first determine the best attachment points.
Looking at the mask from the front, find the point you want the back edge of the mouth to be.
(If you put your finger in your real mouth and slide it all the way to the right till it hits, that's what I mean by the back edge.)
Now put a small. inconspicuous mark on the lip of the lower jaw at that point.
now go down 1/2" further into the mouth and slightly back. Mark that.

Somewhere around the point above, as long as it's at least an inch(or more) in front of the canvas hinge joint.
Now, apply a heavy coat of contact cement to the back of two of the canvas discs the hooks were sewn to, and also to the areas specified above, and allow to dry.
As soon as it dries, carefully apply the hook disks (with the hooks aiming towards the top of the head) and press them down HARD ! To add additional strength, and cotton and latex over the canvas and blend it onto the surrounding areas...allow this to dry thoroughly.
 After the lower hooks are completely dry, turn the mask around and reaching in from behind, attach a rubber band to one hook only. Now stretch the rubber band towards the top of the head until it pulls the jaw shut. You may have to move your finger around to find the best spot,and hold it there. With your other hand pull the mouth open and it should spring back if it's in the right spot. mark the point where you're holding the band on the inside. Do the same with the other side.
Now attach the hooks the same way as above, except this time the hooks will aim down.
Let this dry thoroughly . apply some rubber bands to both set of hooks. It should look something like this.

( One note here, do not install upper teeth yet! these photos were taken after the fact!)

Now for the fun part...test it. put the mask on and hold it tightly to your face.
If the mouth doesn't close all the way, first add one more rubber band to each side. If it won't close, and it feels tight against your lower jaw, you may need to carve out some of the EVA foam where it is hitting your jaw. ( Have a care when trimming inside the mouth for your own safety !) 
It should just barely touch your jaw.
Hopefully we haven't had this setback, although it's easily fixed..
Now open your mouth.
If the mouth only opens part way, then we may need to add more foam to make it work.
once again it should just barely touch the jaw.
Hopefully all is well, and you should see something like this in the mirror.


The photo's above have had the finished hair work applied, but we'll get to that a little later.
Last time, I mentioned a heart breaking setback...The upper teeth. When I got the jaws assembled and working, there just wasn't room for the full set of upper teeth with everything (including my face!) assembled. I was devastated!, not really. What i wound up doing was removing the back molars and installing only the front ones. I did this from behind again with the mouth closed. This way the mouth would still close with the teeth in place. When I lean my head back in a full roar, you can see the upper fangs. This works out well for me, because one of the apes I used for inspiration had this same feature! You only saw the bottom teeth most of the time, till the head tilted back.
To fit the mask tightly to you face you can go two ways. You can add padding to the back and sides of the can add a strap system to the inside of the head, with either elastic or Velcro.
Since I need more than one person to wear this particular suit (for some stunt work) I used the Velcro option.
I used web belt strap from the fabric store as a base. I cut two pieces about a foot long and sewed one end of each to a piece of our canvas around 3"x 4".
On the other side I sewed the Velcro, hook side facing out, fuzzy side facing in.
I then glued the canvas to the temple area of the inner canvas face plate we made in the first installment. Now I can adjust the mask as tight as I need to..
Next time we'll finish the paint and fur, and we'll call this rascal done !

No comments:

Post a Comment