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Jaw-O-Meter 2000

Ruby Age 9

Blyth, Northumberland, UK

This idea has been made real

Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, UK

I'm an animator and model-maker based in Northumberland. I combine digital animation techniques with more traditional methods like stop motion. I enjoy sharing my skills with others - I'm an Associate Lecturer at Northumbria University and an animation mentor with TICE - introducing children to what it is like working in creative industries.

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The Jaw-O-Meter 2000 generates energy by harnessing the power of a good chat. The more you talk, the more sustainable energy you will make. Ruby was inspired by ventriloquist's dummies that she had seen on television and her family - we wonder what they were chatting about! Starting with what you know and what is around you can be a great place to begin when inventing.

The Jaw-O-Meter has been brought to life by animator and maker Chloe Rodham with voiceover by illustrator Liz Million.

Maker blog entries

Chloe Rodham has been working on making this idea real.
Filming
Posted by Chloe Rodham

After the chat with Ruby, I thought it might be interesting to make the film into more of an advert to showcase the invention as a product, so I did a quick thumbnail storyboard (very rough sketches) of what the different shots could be.  I'm not too sure how is best to set up the scene to video the characters' jaw movement and take stop motion photographs as I know I will have to mix the two different techniques together when editing. I'm just going to try and get as many photographs and films from lots of different angles so that I've got lots to work with later on. The joys of working from home...my cat has very already been  'helpful' checking that I've got  all of the camera settings correct!

Chatting to Ruby
Posted by Chloe Rodham

Ruby and I had a great chat about the progress so far - I showed her the puppets and she talked me through her idea for a portable version of the device that you could use out and about. I got to see Ruby's drawing of her ideas for her own prototype too. She's come up with some really good ideas about what materials she could use and also some considerations on how the user might be more comfortable wearing the device. I talked through the next steps of how I'm going to make an animation of the invention and Ruby is going to come up with some ideas of what the two characters might be talking about.

Jaw-O-Meter
Posted by Chloe Rodham

Now that the puppets are almost finished, I can get onto the most important bit - adding the Jaw-O-Meter! I've made it green like Ruby's drawing and thought it would probably attach to the face around the ears so have added some straps. Where the teeth wind up - I've made some little wooden cogs to go over the handle. If people wanted to power various different devices with the Jaw-O-Meter I thought it would be sensible to have the mask plug into a main transformer box which the devices would be attached to. This could also show how much power is being generated with some kind of dial or pointer.

Making the bodies
Posted by Chloe Rodham

The bodies are made from foam which is covered in papier mâché to keep the faces and bodies looking similar. The legs have bolts on to attach them to the set so that I can photograph them easily. The hands are made from a special type of clay called Magic Sculp. I thought if the characters are chatting lots they might need cups of tea to keep them going so the hands are made in a shape to make it look like they are holding a cup. I've also been gathering various materials to try out for the hair - wool and wood shavings seem like an ideal choice for the two different 'Mam and Gran' characters.

Painting
Posted by Chloe Rodham

This is what the faces look like when the papier mâché is dry and painted with acrylic paints. In some areas the face needed a little bit of smoothing so I used PVA in a thick coat to even out any dimples. I've left gaps where the eyes are going - I'm going to use painted beads for these.

Papier-mâché
Posted by Chloe Rodham

The papier-mâché I am using is very thin tissue paper with watered down PVA and a tiny bit of plaster mixed in to make it a bit stronger. I put about 4-5 layers on and once it had fully dried I scraped out the plastercine inside so that I would be left with a hollow face - nice and lightweight to keep the jaw working.

Working out what materials to use.
Posted by Chloe Rodham

After playing round with the clockwork chattering teeth I could see that if I was going to make characters, they would need very lightweight faces to keep the teeth mechanism working so I'm going to sculpt the faces from plastercine, and then paper mâché over the top so that I'm left with a lightweight shell for the faces. The first attempt at sculpting a face looks a little bit creepy!!

Starting the Project
Posted by Chloe Rodham

I absolutely love Ruby's idea - I was tickled at the idea of  'mams and grans who like to chat' generating electricity! I know when my mum starts chatting there is no stopping her - imagine what she could power!! My idea is to make a video to show two people chatting wearing the devices. In my day job I'm an animator so I think I will make the characters as models and have their jaws moving to show how the invention might work. When I started thinking of how the jaw might move I thought of clockwork toy chattering teeth so I'm going to see if I can work similar mechanics into my models of the two characters. I've bought a pair of chattering teeth to see how they work!