How to Make a Muppet - Style Puppet for $25

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Introduction: How to Make a Muppet - Style Puppet for $25

Have you ever wanted to build your own Muppet - style puppet? Well we'll show you how for only $25! Watch this video below and subscribe to iTunes and if you still want a more detailed description, read on!



First, you'll need to buy a few things to make it. Here's a shopping list:

1. A good-sized piece of Styro Foam or soft Foam. (This is going to be used to make the all important puppet head. So keep that in mind when deciding on a size. They usually come in blocks or spheres)

2. One yard of stretchy fleece. (Color of your choice, this is going to be the puppet skin.)

3. Some children's clothes. (I know it feels creepy, but go to Good Will and buy your puppet some clothes.)

4. Something to make the eyes. (I've used white plastic bottle caps, construction paper, chap stick caps, and those stick on googly eyes. Be creative!)

5. Some black and red felt.

6. Something for the hair. (This could be a cheap wig, pieces of felt cut into strips, or just a hat!)

7. Hot glue gun, or spray adhesive.

8. A needle and thread.

Step 1: Building the Head

While this is the most important part of the puppet, it is not terribly complicated. If your using soft foam you'll have to get your hands on an electric turkey carver. If you have styro foam a turkey carver or a steak knife will work. First cut the basic shape of your puppet head out of your block or sphere of foam. Start small and make incremented cuts. Eventually a new puppet skull will emerge. Much like people, puppets come in all shapes and sizes. So don't be afraid to use wacky forms!

Step 2: Making the Eye Sockets

Once you have the basic shape you can start cutting out eye sockets and a mouth. For this particular puppet (Gary) I chose to cut out where the lower jaw would be and add it later using cardboard. Giving Gary that "flappy" mouth look. Don't forget to cut a hole for your hand to go. I like to cut a little groove for my thumb and fingers to slip into. This makes manipulating the mouth much easier.

Step 3: The Puppet Skin

Next comes the puppet skin. You can use hot glue or spray adhesive. The latter provides a stronger bond, but is harder to work with. Cut a piece of fleece that is big enough to cover your puppet head and start gluing it to the middle of the face. Make sure you glue the fleece deep into the eye sockets. Moving out from the center, keep readjusting, stretching and gluing until you have cover the face evenly and securely.

Step 4: The Nose

For Gary I chose to give him a big nose. So the next step was to carefully cover that egg shaped shnoz with fleece. This was a huge pain, so with future puppets I would glue a piece of scrap foam as a nose BEFORE I started applying the fleece. This method is easier, but makes for a much less prominent nose.

Step 5: The Face

Next came the eyes and the bottom jaw. All done with hot glue, felt, fleece, some cardboard, plastic water bottle caps and a lot of love.

As you can see I also added some black felt for the inside of the mouth and a red felt tongue. I was too lazy to deal with hair on this puppet. So like many other bald men in Hollywood, Gary will be donning the baseball cap in place of hair. Using some more fleece I created a neck and covered up any patches where foam was still visible.

Next Add ears, eyebrows, mustache or anything else you want your puppet to have. Maybe an eye patch!?

Step 6: The Clothes and Body

Next comes the clothes and puppet body. I found that a t-shirt and a button up shirt work great for boy puppets. I glued the puppet neck to the collar of the T-shirt, and then just buttoned up the outer shirt like normal. To give your puppet body some "meat," crumple up newspaper or use some extra foam and stuff it into the T-shirt.

Step 7: Puppet Hands

Now if your puppet doesn't need to hold anything or use their hands, then you're done! However, adding a puppet hand is really easy and will make your puppet much more convincing. Lay your hand on a piece of the fleece we used for skin. Rest you middle and ring finger close together and all other fingers spread apart. Using a pen trace around your hand to make the outline of a 3 fingered hand. Cut that out and set it over another piece of fleece, trace and cut. Now using a simple stitch sew around the edges. For tips on sewing check out ThreadBanger.com. Turn it inside out and like magic you have a puppet hand you can wear like a glove.

Congratulations you're the next Jim Hensen! For tips on framing for puppets watch Backyard FX 2. The easiest way is to use a table or windowsill to hide the puppeteer.

Questions and comments are always welcome. Thanks everybody!

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34 Comments

Very useful. I used this instructable and a little of my own creativity and came up with this. His name is Franklin
 
First puppet.JPG

that looks really good!

Franklin! HA thats great

You AND your puppet are both adorable!

You guys should make a batarang we want to make one for school

Hey, looks like I've been uhh...volunteered shall we say to construct possibly two of these for some friends in what will probably be a most rapid fashion. The catch I'm facing is one of them is gonna need to be a Cookie Monster styled puppet. Any thoughts on what would be a more furry/shaggy material for a Cookie Monster? Otherwise, this tutorial looks awesome for my purposes. Thanks Indymogul!

I know you posted this years ago but figured I'd answer in case anyone else was wondering the same thing. Fabric stores sell a wide variety of fabric and amongst them is usually a fair range of faux furs often in some pretty wild colors. For best results go to a big fabric store that has a lot of stock. They'll be more likely to carry something in blue.
For people inclined to crafts, one could also go the route of knitting / crocheting a tube out of some blue "eyelash" or "fun-fur" novelty yarn.