UPDATE! JULY 4, 2008
I posted the write-up below in 2007when the city of Vallejo commissioned a giant Mariano Vallejo for the Vallejo, California 4th of July parade. For July, 2008, they asked that General Vallejo be joined by his wife, Benicia Vallejo. Below are photos of the newly constructed Benicia, and the first time that puppet Mariano meets his puppet wife (he is looking at her with adoration, obviously!)
Above, Mariano gazes with love at the "little woman." To right we see Benicia next to an 8 foot ladder. Both giants are over 10 feet tall and both weigh less than 20 pounds, fully dressed! It will take 6 puppeteers to work the two puppets.
Making a Light and Comfortable Giant Puppet for the 4th of July Parade
July 4, 2007 Marked the 200th birthday celebration of General Mariano Vallejo, who lived in Sonoma, CA, and the city of Vallejo, CA is named after him. To celebrate, the cities of Sonoma and Vallejo commissioned Magical Moonshine to make two giant Vallejo puppets to walk in the parades. We made the puppets very light and airy so the puppeteer inside would be as comfortable as possible (the puppet was less than 25 lbs. and had a structure that allowed the puppeteer inside to stand the puppet on the street and rest inside, not holding the weight of the puppet at all.)
The first step was to find pictures of Vallejo.
General Vallejo has some very distinctive characteristics, as you can see. He has curly hair and large "mutton chop" sideburns (the fluffy hair on his cheeks.) In all the pictures he also looked very stern. He probably smiled a lot in real life, but this was the style of photographs in those days (the mid 1800s.) Since the puppet was going to be very, VERY large, and since there would probably be small children at the parades that might get scared of a giant, we decided to make him look very friendly.
First Michael sculpted a head out of clay. Inside the head is a 3 foot diameter beach ball. A plaster mold was made and the entire head (shown below all painted) is made out of a very lightweight plastic mesh, with bamboo structure inside.
He needed some clothes in the style of the mid 1800s (but very fancy, after all it was his 200th birthday party!)
Then he was ready for the parade. Here he is in the Sonoma 4th of July parade. He is holding a piece of his birthday cake. The giant cake (not shown) was made of foam and cardboard, but looked like it had chocolate frosting with raspberry layers. It had three candles on it, in the shape of numbers (2, 0, and 0.) And below you can see Travis (the puppeteer who carried him in the Vallejo city parade) making friends with the General.