subscribe to rss feed
subscribe by email

Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Puppetry Resources for Beginners

Every now and then, I would emails from people interested in learning about puppetry but don’t know where to start, so I thought it would be a good idea to organize some links into a post. This post will be about Muppet-types, since that’s what people usually ask about.

To start learning puppeteering, it will be helpful to have a puppet to practice with. You can either make one, or purchase one.

Making a puppet

I built some puppets to use for practice based on the How to Make Puppets video series by Paul Louis Muller on eHow. I followed the method he covered in the videos for the most part, with a few modifications of my own. You can also find my own tutorials on this website for building a monster puppet with arm rods, a monster puppet with glove hands, and a sheep puppet. One thing I do want to point out that wasn’t really mentioned in the video was that rubber cement might be toxic (depending on what chemicals the manufacturer used) until dry, so you need have good ventilation and safety precautions in place. I prefer to just use hot glue, though it might not be as sturdy.

I’ve been making puppets just with fabric, cardboard, and poly-fil. If you are interested in building puppets out of foam, there are patterns out there that you can buy as well. Many people have purchased the Project Puppet patterns and build good looking puppets out of them. You can also purchase patterns from School of Puppetry. What’s good about this one is that there are videos demonstrating the puppet-building process, so you can follow along.

As for materials, I like getting them from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, because they carry a good selection of fabrics, which many craft stores don’t, and there is one in my area. I mostly just buy fabric there and get other random items (such as ping-pong balls, index cards, bamboo skewers) elsewhere.

Purchasing a Puppet

I am not particularly familiar with this aspect, since I build my own puppets. But eBay and Etsy should be good places to look. I was planning to buy a monster puppet from puppet builder Stacey Gordon of Puppet Pie, but her house got flooded. I am going to wait for her to unpack her stuff but I do like her puppets and want to purchase one from her.

Learning to Manipulate

Also on eHow is this video series on puppet manipulation. You can learn the basics from watching the video and just from your own trial and error. I also like the exercises and video demonstrations on puppeteer / instructor Amy Harder’s Puppetry Lab website. It’s really no longer updated, but there are goodies in the archive. I particularly like the videos because Amy shows interesting techniques in her enthusiastic ways.

Of course, the best way to learn is still from classes where you interact with an instructor face-to-face. That’s something no amount of video-watching can really replicate. With classes, you will be able to see things from different angles, and you will have a instructor giving you tips as you practice. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend Michael Earl’s TV Puppetry Workshop. You can also see my notes here to get an idea on what’s covered in class.

For those of you that’s starting to learn about this topic, I hope this is useful. Feel free to leave a comment or email me if there are other questions. :-)


  1. Na
    April 13th, 2010 | 11:31 pm

    Thanks for the plug :)

    That’s a good list for beginners. I think the hardest thing about telling people how to get started with puppetry is that there’s no right or wrong way to get in; not to mention all the different styles and stuff. It’s more a case of having too many options, and not being aware of it!

  2. April 14th, 2010 | 12:08 pm

    Yeah, I am pretty sure everyone started differently, but this is my list. I am also looking forward to the new videos from Puppeteers Unite which should be posted soon once their technical difficulty is resolved.

  3. Na
    April 14th, 2010 | 8:54 pm

    Ooh, I’ve been meaning to catch up with those videos, but with my own ones to do I sort of forgot about it! I’m looking forward to seeing them too.

  4. April 16th, 2010 | 12:26 am

    The first one was just posted. I am watching it right now and I think it’s quite good!

  5. Na
    April 16th, 2010 | 1:47 am

    Well then, I’ll definitely have to make some time and watch it myself. (Although part of me thinks, “hey, he’s copying my idea!” 😉 )

  6. April 19th, 2010 | 11:14 pm

    This is good–you should make a Squidoo lens on it!

  7. April 20th, 2010 | 2:08 am

    @Na: I have finished watching neither yours nor his. Got to find time too.

    @Michelle: Hm, maybe… :-)

  8. Na
    April 20th, 2010 | 2:33 am

    That’s ok, I haven’t finished doing the videos anyway, it’s taking me longer than I thought.

Leave a reply

CommentLuv badge