September 26, 2016

Kubo's Monkey

If I had my life to do over again, I would have wanted someone to tell me that you could grow up and make things for a living at a movie studio called Laika.

I've been a fan from the start. Coraline brought me on board as I was already a fan of Neil Gaiman's writing, and I even made a yellow coat for the crochet little me so we could be her for Halloween. Then Paranorman came out and won us over with its sheer quantity of details, B movie horror, and humor. I even made a comic and several posts for their #WeirdWins contests, leading to me winning four stunning posters, which I still have framed in my home. Then Boxtrolls, which I will admit I did not love as much as the other two, but still had such warm and loving characters that I had to make my own Fish, complete with box.

When Kubo and the Two Strings was announced, several people said to me "Ang, it's like they made a movie just for you." I was so excited to see it when it finally came out this month. I knew I loved it from the first few moments as the mom crawled across the beach to her son, and I started crying right then. Some people say that Pixar is making fairy tales that grown ups can enjoy, but I feel like Laika has always taken it just one step further, like they are making fairy tales for grown ups instead, that kids can also enjoy. This other way around is somehow more powerful to me, and so much more moving.

Kubo and Monkey
It was only a matter of time, then, that I would make something from Kubo, and Monkey seemed the perfect choice. I don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen it, but I loved the combo of protective, sassy, and wise that she pulled off. The dynamic between Beetle and Monkey was a joy to watch both for Kubo and the audience.
naked monkey face
I made her head, body and legs from some basic Red Heart which yarn I had on hand. The face and ears were from a leftover dusty rose color acrylic I also had in my stash. The taupe brown  of her hands is the same is Vanna's Choice from the beak of my Graboid. Finally I went out and bought one skein of Lion Brand's Wool-Ease in White-Multi, which has a little bit of shiny blue and pink something running through it. I felt it was perfect for her fur, which seemed to shine in many of the scenes.
really wanted to get her chest right

third version monkey paws
After spending a few weeks making body parts and ripping them out again, I finally got some shapes I liked. Then I remembered that Monkey has a left and right hand, and left and right foot, and that I would need to tweak the patterns to get it right. Then came stuffing and assembly, which always takes a few tries to get it all positioned right on the body. After that I added a bit of embroidery to the feet and added a little pink paint to the paws and face.

a hairless monkey!
Finally it was time to add the fur. This part took forever when I did Lion and he only had fur on part of his head and body, not everywhere! I only got about half of her body done when I ran out and needed to go buy a second skein. I spent about 15 hours just pulling the "fur" through. Then it was time to give her a hair cut. This was crucial, and I did use shorter tufts than Lion so I would have less to trim, but she still needed shaping around the face along the arms, neck and back.

looks a bit like when she was poofed by birds
She is finally done after about a month of work. Working on this just makes me appreciate how the Laika makers took the time on every puppet, every detail, just for us to take in without notice. It's amazing. Now she just needs a sword unbreakable...



Difficulty: Intermediate/Hard
Time to complete: 15 hours body, 10 hours fur
Finished Size: 13 inches from head to butt when sitting

Yes, I did write up the pattern, but not sure how I feel about sharing it yet, plus I still need to transcribe it. If there is interest, I will probably share.

2 comments:

Ashley Byszkowski said...

I would love a pattern. Even if it's just scribbled notes. I have a 3 year old (whoops! 4 now) who loves this movie and with no marketing I'm trying to cobble my own patterns together.

Angela Skees said...

@Ashley Byskowski Please send me an email directly at angela dot skees at gmail dot com and I will work on writing up the pattern from my notes. Might take a few days but I've been meaning to do it anyway. Thanks for the interest!