Happy New Year! As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm making some puppets for a new puppet ministry beginning at the church where I attend. I've never made puppets before, so it is a learning experience. I had so much fun making them that I thought I'd share the process. I'm actually planning on making some for Tater and Monkey, since they were so taken with them. These will be used by kids in the 3rd-5th grades, so I tried to size them to fit. You might want to make them bigger for an adult. These are easier than they look. If you can use a glue gun and a sewing machine, you can do it.
I found an excellent video tutorial here. So, check it out if you need clarification. Oh, and please give feedback in the comments.
1 yard anti-pill fleece (I can make four puppets from 1 yard)
hot glue gun
2" styrofoam balls
craft foam sheets (red for the tongue, black for eyes)
1" thick urethane foam sheet (the furniture quality, high density green stuff ) - 7 x 7 1/2 inches
poly-fil foam (for pillows)
thin corrugated cardboard - 4 1/2 x 6 inches
rubber cement or spray adhesive
1. Create a paper pattern for the puppet. You can play with the size and shape.
2. Cut it out and lay it on fabric (two layers). Most anti-pill fleece has a rough side and a smooth side. I used the smooth side for my people (see bottom) and rough side for the dog. I found that the rough side is easier to work with, and there isn't a noticeable difference between the two in the finished work. There are other types of fleece available at fabric stores, so make sure you're buying anti-pill. Pros use a product called antron fleece, but that can me difficult to find.
Draw around the form with a magic marker, leaving at least a 1/2 of fabric around the shape. I didn't include the fingers in this, since it's a dog. It's easier without the fingers, anyway.
3. Sew two pieces together following the outline. Leave an opening at the bottom. Cut out the form leaving about 1/4 inch around the edge. Be sure to cut around the stitched line and not the drawn line, since they may not match up exactly.
4. Turn inside-out. I used a chopstick for to push out the "paws."
5. Fill the hands/paws and arms with the poly-fil. Chopsticks or pencils work for pushing around the filling. A little poly-fil goes a long way.
6. Now the mouth. Cut a 4 1/2 x 6 inch piece of thin corrugated cardboard for the mouthplate.
Use rubber cement or spray adhesive to attach the same size piece of black felt to the cardboard. Don't use hot glue. You want an even coating of glue, so that the felt doesn't pucker. Score the middle of the cardboard so it folds evenly and round off the edges to form a mouth.
7. Determine where to put the mouth by laying the felt on the face of the puppet. At either sides of the fold, mark on the fleece with the pencil.
8. Using the marks as guides, cut a line across the face. Careful, only cut into one side of the fleece!
9. Insert the felt into the puppet. Overlap the fleece about 1/2 inch over the felt and begin gluing all along the edge with a hot glue gun. Dipping your finger in some water when pressing down on the area you just glued will save you from burning your fingers. Make sure things are lined up right as you work your way around the mouth. And you may have to snip a little more fleece to make it fit, but the fleece has some stretch to it. Don't cut too much at a time.
10. Now, get the urethane foam. This will be used to form the head. I had some thicker foam on hand, but I think the 1 inch thickness would be easier to work with. Cut out the 7 x 7 1/2 inch piece. You might have to trim it a little to get the head shape you want. Cut out a v-shaped notch in the center of one of the long sides.
Fold the foam in half at the "v."
Then fold the corners in and insert the foam in the head of the puppet. This takes a little finagling. The inverted "v" will be the back of the head. The front will fill in the forehead and cheeks.
11. Next, attach nose and eyes with hot glue. In my people puppets (below), I cut one of the styrofoam balls in half and covered it with fleece for a nose. For the dog puppet's nose, I used a black pom-pom. The eyes were also styrofoam ball halves that I hot glued on. For the people, I wrapped fleece half way around the dome for eyelids. I then added some craft foam circles I painted black, attaching them with hot glue as well. Keep in mind that hot glue melts the styrofoam.
12. I cut out a 2 x 3" piece of red craft foam in a heart shape for the tongue. The ears were simple ovals cut from a darker brown fleece. I attached those elements with hot glue as well.
These are the finished puppets. As you can see, I lined the mouths of the people with felt for lips. I did this because I went a little crazy with the hot glue on the first one I did and wanted a finished look to hide the globs. I added it to the rest of the people for consistency. I think they'd look better without "lips," but I'm learning as I go! Good luck!
I used (in order) yarn, a black marabou boa and fake fur for puppet hair. Also check these sites for more inspiration and information.