Hi there fellow animators. I have tried a few things out that haven't gone to plan, so I thought I would share there and maybe see what mishaps others have encountered.
1. Using Jila mints as eyeballs. Jila mints, for those who don't know, are (or at least use to be) small round hard mints. They are the perfect size for eyeballs and they are perfectly round and white. This seemed ideal to me as Dalrin balls are extremely hard to get here in Australia. Drilling them was tricky, but not impossible using a high-speed rotary tool. I decided to make 12 eyes, so set about drilling, painting and varnishing them. A few shattered in drilling, but there are plenty in the $2 box to replace them. I created a stand for painting and varnishing. The first big mistake was varnishing over the paint. The varnish melted the paint and smudged it. Undeterred I varnished first and then painted. They actually looked pretty good. The big failure came when I came to use them. The very first time I inserted a spike into the hole in the centre of the eyeball to move it the whole thing shattered. This was the same for every one I made. I now make all of my eyeballs from Sculpey.
2. Using Sculpey Bake & Bend to make hands. Sculpey Bake & Bend is similar to regular Sculpey, but it is bendy after it has been baked. I thought this would be ideal for hands with movable fingers. I used wire to make a skeleton of the hand and ensure the fingers would stay in position during animation. The Sculpey B&B is quite sticky compared to regular Sculpey, and therefore harder to use, but still a nice product. The end result certainly looked good (it retains the look of plasticine), but ultimately it just isn't bendy enough for this application. I think it would have been ok with much larger hands, but the hands to suit my 8" puppet were just too small. The hands I made will go from flat to curved, but not enough to give the appearance of holding something. So, not a complete failure, but I'll be going back to experimenting with latex.