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Dream Tale Puppets

How to Build a Simple Tabletop Puppet

To build a very simple tabletop puppet you will first need:

  • a newspaper or two
  • a piece of cardboard about a square foot big
  • about a yard or little more of clothesline (or even better would be a little thicker rope)
  • painter’s paper tape
  • a piece of duct tape
  • a round dowel that is about 10–12 inches long and 7/16–5/8 inches in diameter
  • a sharp scissors


The galleries below demonstrate steps for building the puppet. This is a very simple way, but still, one that requires some basic manual skills and, most of all, patience.

So, you’ve made the first basic shapes of puppet’s shoulders, arms, hands, and head. You may accept this as it is and paint over it using acrylic paint. Painting it twice or three times just by using white paint would strengthen the surface. Remember to let the surface dry before painting a second time.

You may also consider, and I would highly recommend it, strengthening the surface of these elements by adding one, two, or three layers of papier mâché. To do this you will need:

  • newspaper or brown  paper bags
  • white glue
  • two small plastic containers (I like plastic containers from hummus)
  • glass of water
  • brush.

Next, you will need to paint the head and hands of your puppet. You will need any white acrylic paint to prime and then your choice of acrylic to paint the face and its features and make-up, hands with their texture and details if you wish, and shoulders. Multiple priming would strengthen the surface. Remember to let the surface dry before priming again. You may also consider mixing on the side white acrylic paint with a small amount of white glue. This will also add to the hardness and durability of the surface.

And finally, it’s time to make the costume that will also form the body of your puppet. I used an old shirt. I like natural fabrics, cotton or linen, but this is your choice. The costume hangs over the shoulders. You may play with one or more layers put a simple vest or poncho over the first layer, drape a cloak or coat.


The pictures in the gallery show how to make a simple shirt/dress and a vest on top and how to add hair by using yarn and a hot glue gun.

This visual manual originally accompanied the online workshop for children ages 10 and up organized by Polish Theatre Institute and will accompany online workshops that are being prepared thanks to the generous support of Fall River, Falmouth, Mansfield, Mattapoisett, Mid-Cape, Middleborough, and Carver Cultural Councils.

Polish Theatre Institute logo
Massachusetts Cultural Council Logo
Carver Cultural Council logo
Mansfield Cultural Council logo

Falmouth Cultural Council

Middleborough Cultural Council

Mattapoisett Cultural Council


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