Puppets have been popular for hundreds of years, which isn’t surprising because they are so much fun. You can move them around and make them talk, just like actors in a play. This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to make a papier maché head and clothes for a puppet.
You will need newspaper, torn into small squares; wallpaper paste without fungicide; plasticine; a teaspoon; some small stones; an empty liter plastic drinks bottle; poster or acrylic paints; paintbrushes; scissors; wool for hair; some soft fabric that does not fray; a toilet roll tube; a dinner plate; a pencil; a pair of scissors; glue; cello tape; felt; and scraps of ribbon and braid.
- Cut around the top of the plastic bottle to make a hole that you can fit two fingers through. Put some stones in the bottle to weigh it down, so it’s steady to work on.
- Roll the plasticine into the size of a tennis ball. Stick it on top of the hole. Make a “neck and shoulders” by working plasticine around the hole in the bottle.
- Model a “face” with an extra-large nose, a long chin, and hollow eyes. Try to make your puppet look as if it’s “talking”.
- Dip the paintbrush into the prepared wallpaper paste and pick up a piece of newspaper on its tip. Smooth the paper on to the head and cover the piece of paper with paste. Continue this process until the entire head is covered with glued newspaper pieces. Set aside and allow to dry thoroughly.
- Continue this process, adding six more layers–letting it dry after every two layers. When the paper maché is completely dry, gently ease the head off the bottle.
- Using a teaspoon, carefully scoop most of the plasticine from the head cavity. Scoop out as much as you can; if you leave too much inside, the head will be too heavy.
- Depending on the subject of your paper maché puppet, paint the various colors in stages and allowing each color to dry before applying a contrasting color. Accentuate the facial features, e.g. nose, cheeks, chin, eyes, and ears. Apply thick glue to the portion of the head where you want to stick on the “hair”. Make a wig by cutting clumps of wool in equal lengths and folding in half; add extra glue to the head and stick the pieces on until your puppet has thick, woolen hair.
- Make some clothes for your puppet. Use the dinner plate to trace a circle onto the piece of fabric. Cut a hole in the middle, which is big enough to fit snugly around the puppet’s neck.
- Cut along the side of the toilet roll rube. Ask a friend to roll and tape the tube to fit around your index and middle fingers. Glue the tube inside the puppet’s neck.
- Glue the circle of fabric around the puppet’s neck. The hole in the middle may be bigger than the neck, so you may need to bunch up the fabric to make it fit snugly.
- Cut two slits at the front of the circle for your thumb and third finger to poke through.
- Make a hart and scarf–if you like–from scraps of fabric and braid. Make cardboard props, like flowers or books.
- To work the puppet, put your first two fingers through the neck and your thumb and third finger through the slits.
- Make other “members of the cast” and put on a puppet show.