Why Reticulated Foam is Best for Professional Puppets

The Benefits of Reticulated Foam

Reticulated foam (or Scott foam) has been used in the professional puppet-building industry for decades.  Here are the benefits:

  1. It’s lightweight
  2. It dries fast
  3. It’s flexible, durable, and more tear-resistant than polyfoam
  4. It can be hand-dyed
  5. It’s great for building puppet heads

The problem I’ve been having recently is finding a source with the right porosity.  I used to buy my reticulated foam from Project Puppet.  They carried 35ppi reticulated foam, and are currently out of stock at the time of this writing.  I’ve purchased from a local source (Luxury Fabrics) and online sources (Amazon & Fabric Empire) and received a lower porosity.  The porosity was closer to 25ppi.  You can see the visual difference in the photos below.  Besides the visual difference, the texture is what really alarmed me.

Does Porosity Matter?

The porosity I’m finding online and locally is closer to 25ppi, and the resulting texture is very scratchy.  The smaller 35ppi pores from the foam I used to buy from Project Puppet were smaller and the texture was softer on the hand. The 25ppi foam was so scratchy that I was concerned the puppeteer’s hand would be raw and chafed over time as the hand became sweaty inside the puppet. After making a head in this coarse 25ppi foam for a client, I lined the head with fabric to prevent chafing.  This extra step is time-consuming and could create a maintenance issue in the future should the lining come loose.  I hand-stitched all the fabric lining edges to prevent the fabric from coming loose over time.  After learning that lesson, I had to find my favorite 35ppi reticulated foam.


Sourcing 35ppi Reticulated Foam

It was not easy to source a retail supplier online.  Based on a suggestion from another builder, I bought a sheet from Empire Fabrics.  The porosity was not listed, so it was a bit of a gamble.  The foam that arrived is in my comparison photos.  It was closer to 25ppi and coarse to the touch.  Horrid.  After talking to a friend, I got a lead on a reputable factory that manufactures reticulated foam.  I jumped through a few hoops as a business to qualify for ordering directly from the manufacturer.  It took a few months and I had to make a large bulk order.  I now have my foam, plus some to share.  Check out my online supply store to buy your foam today before it runs out! Below are some photos of my new 35ppi foam.  I’m delighted that I have a supply of my own now!

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