I wanted to launch the site with something a bit tricky that people might not have thought of doing. My daughter’s been watching Pinocchio, and so we decided on trying to make a string puppet. It was pretty fiddly, but I’m chuffed with the end product, and the kids were genuinely impressed when it all came together.
A word of warning – It took maybe 3-4 hours in total (including a break for lunch and to let the paint dry) so it isn’t a quick thing to do. After initial enthusiasm, the kids got pretty bored of making the parts, so I got left with that whilst they went off to watch telly. They did however like painting it. They have also really enjoyed playing with it – we’ll see how long it stays in one piece!
Here’s how we did it:
We started by getting an idea of what we needed to make. I figured we needed moveable arms and legs, a body and a head. That made 12 pieces in total (see the sketch above – I originally wanted the feet to be separate but got bored and did the shoes on the lower leg as one piece).
Making the pieces was relatively easy but time consuming. I had some old wallpaper in the shed (you could use any paper I guess), and then for each piece we basically just scrunched that into the shape we needed before wrapping around it a number of times with masking tape It used quite a bit of tape but meant the shapes had a base surface to paint on.
When we’d finished the pieces it looked like this. For the lower leg/feet, I just folded it and put enough tape around to make the fold stay in one place.
At this stage we needed to work out how to link them all together. I started by looping some old wire and taping it to the piece. For the body, I did once loop to attach it to the head, and then a big loop across the shoulders (see below). That one went okay, but when I tried to do it to the arms (the blue one below), it kept slipping out and it just didn’t have any strength. At this point, it was taking ages, the kid’s were getting bored and to be honest, so was I!
I needed a new plan, and found that using pipe cleaners was much quicker and easier. For the head, I put two holes at the bottom and fed it through to make a loop (see below), which I then knotted (same process at the top of the head). For everything else, I just made a circle with the pipe cleaner, tied it, squashed it into an oval and then taped it on. When we’d finished this bit, it felt like the hard work had been done. It looked like this:
Now for the good bit, the painting. Suddenly the kids were interested again. We just used basic kid’s paints from Hobbycraft, nothing special.
I tried to speed up the drying by using a hair dryer, but was told they couldn’t hear the telly, so gave up. This called for a well earned lunch whilst it dried.
A quick smile, eyebrows and some googly eyes later. Everything was dry and we began putting it all together. I made a selection of small circles with more pipe cleaners, and used them as a link to the two pieces it was joining. There’s probably better ways of doing this, but it held okay, and now we look like this:
Now for the string. I’m not sure whether string is attached to separate sticks on proper puppets, but I just crossed two bits of twig from the garden and wrapped string around it to secure (one stick slightly off centre, so the the front is shorter).
I then tied string from the top of the head to the front of the sticks, and attached more string to each of the wrists.
And Voila! All finished. It took some time, we’d all definitely had enough by the time it was done, but the kids loved the end product. Queue a mild head ache, but a sense of satisfaction.