If you are lucky, you received materials from us at your local library or from another cultural organization. In the activity kit bag with materials, you will probably find:
- a glove for the puppet’s body
- fiberfill to fill in the head
- yarn or other material for hair
- a few various pieces of fabric for costumes
- a few buttons and/or pom-poms
In addition, you will need:
- acrylic paints or markers
- cups for water and a few thin paint brushes
- a hot glue gun and glue
- protective gloves
You may also like to use pieces of fabric, scraps of rope, yarn, wire, felt, buttons, beads, or plastic cups found at home. Please feel free to add anything you wish.
If you want to build a glove puppet and you haven’t received materials from us, follow the gallery below to make a glove—the puppet’s body. I used soft cotton canvas, but plain-colored flannel or any soft woven fabric or fleece should do. Make sure it will be easy to put the hand in and take it out. You may want to lay down your (or your child’s) hand on a piece of paper and outline its contour using a pencil. Make sure pinky and ring fingers are together and as far apart as possible from middle and index fingers, which are also together. Then draw another line around, an inch further from the contour. This will be a line along which you will sew the two pieces of fabric together. You may also consider adjusting the shape of the glove a little so it will still be easy to put on, but the shape will be more symmetrical. Remember to add the shape of the head growing from the outline of the middle and index fingers. Draw one more line one-fourth of an inch further, so there will be enough fabric for a seam. When you have the paper pattern ready, use it to trace the contour onto the two pieces of your fabric. Sew the pieces together and the glove—the body of the puppet—is ready.
Using a wooden dowel (a wooden spoon or brush handle will also do), turn the glove (the one you received from us or the one made yourself) inside out so that the seam will be partly hidden inside the glove.
Use the fiberfill to fill in the head and, if needed, the tips of the hands. Again, the wooden spoon or dowel will be helpful. After the glove is turned inside out and filled with fiberfill you may want to paint it the desired skin color. Use acrylic paints mixed with water. It may be useful to experiment with the ratio of water to paint first on extra scraps of your fabric. Make sure the glove dries well before progressing to the next steps.
The gallery below shows how to make the hair. I used yarn, but many other materials like string, rope, twine, or ribbon could be used. Attaching the hair to the head is something that adults should help with. If you are a parent and choose to let your child use a hot glue gun, please make sure she/he wears protective gloves and long sleeves and assist her/him all the time during this work. Squeeze off glue in the amount of about half of a small spoon on the top of the puppet’s head. Let it cool a little. Using a piece of cardboard, check if the glue is still sticky. When it cools down a little but remains sticky, wear gloves to press the middle of the hair bunch into the glue. This way the knot that is tying the hair together will be reinforced by the glue. When the glue is cold, squeeze another small clump of glue behind the first one, and similarly attach the next bunch of hair. You may use one, two, or more bunches of hair. When the glue is cold you may add more of it to glue hair to the sides of the head. Then you may consider shaping the hair, making braids or ponytails, or trimming the hair.
If you got your bag of materials from us, the hair in the form of yarn wrapped around a piece of cardboard could look like the picture below. Following the guidance on the pictures above, cut the yarn. You will either do it on both sides of the cardboard or (if the yarn is not tied up on one side of the cardboard) in the middle on that side.
The following galleries show some possible ways of creating a costume. The first gallery shows how to make a dress. Just fold a piece of soft fabric in half and then again in half. Cut off the tip to create the opening for the neck and cut a small opening on the edge of the double-folded fabric for hands. Then trim the other side to make a circle. You may want to experiment first with a piece of paper, so you will know how big of cuts to make and how to position them to make the costume fit the body.
An apron may fit a dress.
Below you will see a few more examples of making simple costumes. Notice that when the costume does not have an opening in front, it holds nicely to the body of the puppet. Remember to put this kind of costume on from the puppet’s feet up rather than over the head. This way you will avoid the chance of ripping up the collar. You may want to sew, staple, or glue the edges of the costume.
You can choose to paint the face or create the facial features by using pieces of fabric, felt, pom-poms, buttons, and beads. For painting, I would recommend acrylic paints. If you choose to make the eyes, nose, and maybe cheeks or eyebrows by gluing cut-outs of the felt, fabric, buttons, or other elements to the puppet’s face, remember to wear gloves. Parents, please assist your child if you allow her or him to use a hot glue gun, or do this part of gluing for the young artist.
Consider further beautification of the costume and characterization of your puppet by adding patches, belts, ponchos, capes, hats, scarves, necklaces, or anything else you’d like. Think about using buttons, pom-poms, beads, and pieces of fabric, fur, felt, yarn, and more.
And when your puppet is ready, will you send us a picture? That would be wonderful and so kind of you! We would love to see your creation and post your picture here!
Below you can see puppets created during workshops at the three Massachusetts libraries: Whelden Library in Barnstable, the Falmouth, and Middleborough Public Libraries.
This program is supported in part by grants from the Fall River, Mid-Cape, Falmouth, and Middleborough Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.