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How to start making puppets?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by charlynoa, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. GabeFirestone

    GabeFirestone Well-Known Member

    hmmm... also on the contact cement topic:

    i have no respirator or anything like that, and don't polan on getting one anytime soon (aren't they expenisve?) anyways, i was wondering what i could do... right now, i'm using hot-glue for everything but inserting mouthplates... for that i use super glue (which works AMAZINGLY!)

    any suggestions would be much appreciated!
  2. SesameKermie

    SesameKermie Well-Known Member


    For an idea on a basic puppet, try PaulyPuppet's tutorial on ExpertVillage
    http://hobbies.expertvillage.com/videos/building-a-moving-mouth-puppet.htm That will give you a blank character. If I'm not mistaken, you were referring to "anything" muppets. They work kind of like a Mr. Potatohead set---you make lots of miscellaneous body parts, eyes, ears, noses, hair, glasses, etc. Then attach the hook side of some velcro and position them on the puppet. Voila! Instant character.

    I'm not too clear on marionette making, but I'm sure there are plenty of tutorials out there.


    When I worked with contact cement, I just set up a worktable out in my yard. Respirators can be expensive, but as long as you have adequate ventilation, and limit your exposure, you should be OK.

    Hope I helped,

  3. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Sorry Jason, but absolutely you're absolutely not OK without a respirator. I agree it's very important to use a well-ventilated area, but even opening up a can of contact cement or applying to foam you're inhaling vapours.

    I can't stress this enough - you need to be using respirators if you're using contact cement. Gloves too. I know lots of people choose not to do that, but even many of the manufacturers of these products will tell you how important it is.
  4. SesameKermie

    SesameKermie Well-Known Member

    Fair enough. I defer to your wisdom, Buck. I haven't been making puppets as long as you have.

    Thanks for setting me straight.

  5. wes

    wes Well-Known Member

    yeah before i knew it was bad, I used contact cement with out a respirator and it made me sick. I was floating on a cloud wondering why everything was so funny and weak afterwards, my family told me i need a respirator and thet got me a fan to put in the window.
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Sorry if my last post sounded harsh, it's just really important to follow safety guidelines and err on the side of more safety, not less. I'm always blown away by the fact that a lot of well-known builders in puppet making videos tell people to use contact cement but don't use proper safety equipment. It's very irresponsible.

    If anyone is going to do a lot of puppet building and work with potentially harmful chemicals it's a very good idea to take a WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) safety course. I think WHMIS is a Canadian thing but there must be equivalent courses in the U.S. and other countries.
  7. GabeFirestone

    GabeFirestone Well-Known Member

    thanks, but i already know that i can't use contact cement without a respirator. my question still remains: what else is there? :rolleyes:
  8. ChickyBoy37

    ChickyBoy37 Well-Known Member

    You know this may be very useful for me, BTW how do you attach the Rods to a Puppet's Arm?
  9. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    My method for making (removable) arms is explained here. If you search the forum you'll find lots of old threads with other methods as well.
  10. Pork

    Pork Well-Known Member

    My puppets mouth is quite difficult to move...I've already finished it's head so I suppose there's not much I can do about it now is there?
  11. Pork

    Pork Well-Known Member

    and about making the arms....long and movable is what I'm looking for right?
  12. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    Long and movable if you want long and movable. Whatever fits the character.

    As for the head, there's still a bit you can do to make the mouth easier to move, I'm sure. If you can, figure out what's causing it to be so stiff. It'd help to try and explain how you can fix it.
  13. Pork

    Pork Well-Known Member

    I think the foam is a bit thick...and it doesn't squish easily. Also I have a question about attaching arm rods to the puppets arms...how can I get them to stay on...is hot glue alright? I do want it to be permanent.
  14. wes

    wes Well-Known Member

  15. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    You could try cutting it in places to make it move better. It's kind of a crude solution, I suppose, but it's worked for me.
  16. Pork

    Pork Well-Known Member

    thanks for that...also...what would I use to make the rods? wire? if so what thickness is best?
  17. wes

    wes Well-Known Member

    I use steel rods that you can get from lowes or home depot, you can fin it near the angle iron, you want some thing small but strong enough to hold the weight of the hand.
  18. SJohnson

    SJohnson Well-Known Member

  19. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    I'm sure it's been said here, but when i start a new puppet, the first thing I do is about three or four drawings of the character. they don't have to be GOOD drawings. its just an exercise to help envision the character before I start building and cutting up expensive materials!

    You'd be amazed at what simply sketching out an idea can do for you. It really helps to start the building process in your head. It also helps to understand the geometry of the character's body. A long thin tubular body is a whole different affair than a round, bulbous body... so that gets you started thinking about HOW you're going to actually build the structure.

    Being familiar with hand-stitching and machine stitching and the relative merits of both is another first step.

    Getting familiar with foam, hot glue, fleece, etc. is another step.

    I know how frustrating it is to have somebdy tell you that the way to do what you want to do is to start someplace else, but the puppet building thing is a process. Most people can't just pick up in the middle of that process without getting hoplessly turned around. Some can, but vey few.

  20. wes

    wes Well-Known Member

    spcglider, Good point!!

    I sometimes forget that everyone else may have not built puppets before and jump right in. There dose need to be basics

    Drawings are important and you need to have a basic idea. I love drawing puppet even as a small child I would draw puppets. I now use legal pads to sketch on and to jot down ideas for puppets.

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