Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Reverend Fred Lane as a puppet!

As I was thinking over who I know that would appreciate a puppet of themselves and is also visually iconic, I came up with none other than The Reverend Fred Lane. The Venn diagram of people I know and who can be unmistakably rendered in puppet form is admittedly small, but I digress.

The Reverend Fred Lane as described by Wikipedia:
Tim R. Reed, known by the stage name Reverend Fred Lane, is an American, Tuscaloosa, Alabama-born singersongwriter, and visual artist, who released two relatively obscure yet critically appreciated albums in the 1970s on Say Day Bew Records, later re-released in the 1980s on the Shimmy Disc label. These albums explored various traditional genres of American music such as jazzcountry, and big-band swing, but infused with improvisational experimentations and Dadaist free-associative lyrics.

I first met Tim at the showing of the documentary of him titled Icepick To The Moon. David had clued me in to The Reverend Fred Lane many years prior and we were both thrilled to see the film and meet Tim in person! It was shown at the University of Florida. If you haven't seen it, here's a link to the trailer for it. It was super to see the documentary on Tim Reed and then have the opportunity to meet him and his lovely wife. The following year, we visited them both at their artists booth at the  Florida CraftArt festival in St. Petersburg, FL. He and his wife Jeanie are traveling artisans. He works in wood (mobile sculptures) and his wife Jeanie works in fiber and ceramic arts (mixed media).

I reached out to Jeannie and asked if having a puppet of his stage persona would appeal to Tim. She said yes (!) and I quickly began working on replicating The Reverend Fred Lane (TRFL) based on photographic evidence in the way-way back machine called the Internet.

The puppet pattern is the Small Fry pattern created by Adam Kreutinger. The fleece is from PuppetPelts.com (leftover from the fleece I used to make Kraftwerk). Once I had the puppet form created, I began working on creating The Reverend Fred Lane's stage props and costume accessories. I used a duplicate resin cast of a nose I sculpted for another puppet, flocked it with UHU glue and fibers cut from the fleece I'd used to make TRFL's puppet.

I documented the process behind making all TRFL's accessories and costuming in this Flickr photo album.

I ordered the smallest "straw" fedora and children's sunglasses that I could find on AliExpress. The sunglasses turned out to be just perfect. I knew the hat was going to be too big, but I hoped boiling it would make the synthetic fibers shrink up. I had no luck in shrinking the hat, so I cut up the hat according to a tiny fedora hat pattern and made a TRFL sized hat from a hat.
<insert hat photo here>

My pal Joel is a whiz with 3D printers, so I sent him a link to sunglasses on Thingiverse and said, can you make these sunglasses but have them be 2 1/2 inches wide? He said yes he could, so he sent me 5 print out in case I needed backups. As it turned out, my measurements ended up being much too small for TRFL's face. I was shooting for 'comically small' sunglasses but ended up with TEENY TINY sunglasses. Not a problem, I turned the teeny tiny sunglasses into a pair of earrings (!!) for Jeannie.

Bespoke 3D printed sunglasses

I used my Cricut to cut a sheet of ABS plastic into sunglasses, salvaged a pair of eyeglass hinges from a broken pair of sunglasses, and created the 'comically small' sunglasses for TRFL. It required much sanding and grinding with a Dremel because my Cricut is a Cricut Air, not a Cricut Maker. The Cricut Air is not powerful enough to cut all the way through the ABS plastic, I had to do the work to free the semi-cut parts from the surrounding plastic and grind them down to the 'engraved' lines the Cricut made in the ABS sheet.

Custom Cricut "cut" sunglasses

To get the right look for TRFL's band-aids, I made three prototypes. I used ink-jet printable heat transfer material to get two sets of band-aids on a sheet of white fabric. One prototype used Mod Podge gloss to glue a layer of thin clear vinyl to the band-aid image to make it shiny, the second prototype used layering of the Mod Podge gloss to create several layers of Mod Podge to create a shiny band-aid surface. The third prototype used a beige vinyl fabric and permanent fabric markers to make the band-aid perforations and gauze pad center. The beige vinyl band-aids looked the best against TRFL's head! I used Fabri-TAC glue to adhere heavy-duty Velcro hook squares to each end of the band-aid; leaving the gauze section in the middle of the band-aid free from Velcro. This allowed me to criss-cross the band-aids on TRFL's face as is his stage wear.

Which band-aid is best?

As luck would have it, I found a paper-craft globe online and it was already sized proportionately to TRFL's puppet size.

He's got the world on a string

I used this photo of Mattel's Tommy-Burst Detective Set to replicate the toy Tommy Gun TRFL is seen sporting in photographic history.

Papercraft Tommy Gun for The Reverend

PEX tubing made the frame of TRFL's tricycle possible. Silver and red spray paint made it complete. Tiny pedals made out of FIMO gave TRFL something to perch his tiny feet upon.

Fimo pedals to push on

His hair was cut from a scrap of faux fur, sewed into place and then a suitable haircut was given. After his first hair cut, I fashioned a wispy mustache and goatee which could then be 'waxed' into a twist.


For his final million-dollar grin as seen on the cover of "From the One That Cut You" I sculpted his grin out of a section of PVC pipe with various Dremel bits and grinder tips. A base coat of paint was applied to his teeth and the final paint layer added pink to his gums and a bit of grey shading between his teeth to make the depth of them pop visually.


I had a ton of fun making all of TRFL's accouterments and I am happy to hear that Tim is as pleased with himself as I am!

He's got the world on a string and Anne Plastic Ear.
He's got the world on a string and Anne Plastic Ear.

The Reverend Fred LaneThe Reverend Fred Lane

1 comment:

  1. Holy Smokin Jesus (Lucky Strikes ®) You nailed him!< Rev.Lane (not tha Lord;)