Day 1: Decide to create an armature.
Day 13: As tired as a pile of poo. But an armature is born.
It took almost a week of reading up on and researching the how-to's of armature building, 4 days of shopping (finding small stuff sucks) and 5 days of trial and error to come out with a finished product. This was my first venture in creating an armature (probably should have started with wire) and I just dived into a ball & socket design with the help of the great info archived at www.stopmotionworks.com - linked there is a step by step tutorial of Sven's Brass/Steel B&S armature-machining adventures. Without that I probably would still be lost.
Even with all of this knowledge in my hands, building the damn thing was really tough. The tools I had were pretty crude with the exception of a decent drill press. I spent a lot of hours sawing metal rods/bars and hand-filing tiny square blocks of brass. The biggest problem I had was the brazing. I used 1/16" soldering wire as was recommended in Sven's tutorial, but my father also stuck this goopy looking slop that he said was necessary to meld the pieces of metal together. As we torched the brass trying to melt down the wire inside, the slop would boil and the rod/ball wouldn't sit still. In the end we would just stick the rod into the ball, heat it up, poke it with the wire, and file a little of the silver away afterwards. I don't know if you can see it in these pictures but the brazing job was really crude - haha.
In any case, we're pretty proud of the armature and to be honest we're really surprised it came out as well as it did. We knew coming in that this being our first, we would probably run into all sorts of problems and possibly even have to throw it out in the end. But it works.
The only thing I was nit-picky about was the foot. I wanted to try to make a joint at the toes as I felt that it alone gives a much more fluid look in walk cycles. I planned to have this armature done so I could practice as many walks as I could and I wanted as much motion as I could get. The feet took a whole day in itself.
It has been a looooong ride from planning to shopping to building... but I've learned so much from these past 2 weeks and I feel really privileged to have access to such great resources as LIO's www.stopmotionworks.com, and www.stopmotionanimation.com filled with great animators just feeding tips and tricks to those hungry for it.
I named this armature "Homer" for the inspiration of creating him came from a small scene of Homer Simpson that I wanted to try and animate in stop motion. Here he is: