Want to create a quick puppet? One of the easiest ways to create a character is using paper and masking tape. I really like this method as the paper can bring charm to a character as you build up the shapes and colours. Paper is very forgiving, you can remove and add to it over time to get the shape just right.
To start, draw the outline of your puppet in the actual size you want it to be. This will be your guide whilst shaping the paper. It makes life easier if you draw the front view and the side profile of the puppet so you have two angles to guide you whilst you are making a 3D character. Remember you are in charge of how it is going to look, it doesn't have to be realistic - you have creative license to change the usual proportions.
Now find some scrap paper, newspaper, old magazines, the excess brown paper from that massive amazon box that contained a DVD - in other words, any spare paper you have to hand. Scrunch it up and begin to shape it into the character you are making. Make the head and body parts seperately to each other - you can join these together later.
Once you are happy with the shape, use masking tape to cover all the paper and keep it fixed into the shape you have just sculpted. Place the masking tape over the paper tightly. Remember to keep checking all angles as you proceed, you can add in more paper anytime if it needs more shape. You could also use card or cardboard cut out shapes to help with any long shapes such as ears.
Its usually easier to decorate the different parts of the puppet before joining them together. You have several options. You could cut up coloured paper and collage the colours onto your puppet using glue. Coloured tapes, postage tape and washi tapes are great quick colour fixes if you have them. Or you can of course paint each section. Which ever you have access to.
Are you going to make part of the puppet move? You can add lolly pop sticks, garden sticks, even a spare pencil to the back of heads or arms so you can use these as a lever to move your puppet. Or you can roll up extra paper and strengthen it with masking tape to make your own handle. Join parts of your puppet that you would like to have movement with a flexible material such as string, wool or ribbed cardboard.
Playing with the shapes and sizes of the eyes brings about a whole range of impressions - depending on what you want your puppet to convey. The eyes are a really important aspect of your character as they let people understand where your puppet is looking and also helps an audience connect with it. Cut out temporary eyes to get the size you want and then place them on your puppet. Play about with it to see where gives the best focus for your character. Look at it from all angles until you are happy with the placement.
I sometimes use this paper method to make a prototype before making a permanent puppet. Then I can be sure that the size and movement is correct before committing more time to a more complicated make.
I used this technique earlier in the year when we had a R&D (research and development) week with Barmpot theatre for a new show they are producing. This was a week to create a temporary cast of puppet characters and make sure they are the right size for the audience and give the movement the actors needed. These prototypes will then help when creating the longer lasting puppets for the show. Unfortunately lockdown has put a pause on this show but hopefully you will be able to see it next year.
Feeling confident and want to go bigger? Get hold of some cardboard and see what you can do
Good luck and if you do create your own puppet and want to share it, use the hashtag #createon