My son Keaton really loves puppets! He's been making them for some time and came up with the idea of making one with foam. I'm sure he was watching YouTube clips on how Muppet's were made and got the idea from there. The thing with Muppet's is that they use a solid piece of foam whist we used some 5mm foam and built up a structure. I kind of wished I knew this beforehand as it might have saved my fingers being covered in hot glue! On this build I did most of the cutting and hot gluing whist Keaton did all of the pictures and dictated what he wanted to write in the instrucable. I have only just finessed here and there.
So without further ado - I pass this on to Keaton.
The puppet is mostly made from foam and felt and a heap of hot glue. It was kind of made-up as we went along but it turned out really well. His name is Harold and he is an Arctic explorer from the South Pole.
The overall project wasn't too difficult (my dad did all the hard parts!) but it does take a little time and we had to think about each cut and glued section carefully.
If you decide to make your own I would go for black foam as it can be hidden easier behind the felt. One of the trickiest parts was adding the felt and trying to keep it as smooth as we could. Any parts that folded over we hid inside the hat and under his coat.
Check out the short video below of Harold in action...
Step 1: Things to Gather
1. Felt – any colour you want
2. Foam – I got a huge sheet of 5mm foam from Clark Rubber (in Australia) for $10
4. Buttons (for eyes)
5. An old hat
6. A piece of fur (for his coat)
7. Any old pieces of material to help make a scarf.
8. Small pieces of wood (for the shoulders)
9. Cable ties
1. Stanley knife
2. Hot Glue
Step 2: It Starts With a Mouth
The first step is to cut out the inside of the mouth. The puppet will be built around this section.
1. Cut out an oval shape and make sure it is the right size. I used a lid to work out the size and a ruler to make sure all the lines were straight
2. Next cut out 2 rectangle sections. They both need to be long enough to reach half way round the mouth section
Step 3: Start Gluing
1. Find the middle of one of the ends of the mouth piece and the middle of one of the rectangles. Mark with a pencil.
2. Use hot glue to stick the 2 middle points together. This will make sure that you have the rectangle parts centred. Keep on adding hot glue until you have the piece stuck half way around the mouth. This is the start of the head!
3. Make a cut through the middle of the rectangle piece, fold them over and glue – see images below.
4. The head till have a pointed section at the top and I cut this off. You don't really have to do this if you are using a hat as it will be covered.
Step 4: Adding the Chin
1. Add the second rectangle piece to the other side of the mouth. This will be the neck and chin.
2. To make the jaw, you need to make 2 cuts to either side of the foam. Mine were about 50mm long each. Then you can fold the foam over and glue.
3. Next make a cut through the middle of the foam as you did for the head piece and glue this together. Trim off the excess so your hand can work the mouth piece.
Step 5: Finishing the Head
The head part will have a triangle section at the top whichwill need to cut off. When you cut this off it should look like the head has been cut straight in half ear to ear. This will make it easier to glue on the back section of the head
1. Cut another rectangle section out and glue this to the back section of the head. Take your time and glue it carefully.
NOTE: Make sure that you glue the entire inside of the head again to make it strong. Hot glue and foam work really well together and once you have add it, it’s very had to remove.
2. Once glued on, make a cut down the middle and glue together. Trim off any sections which are in the way or restrict you from opening and closing the mouth.
NOTE : If you try to open and close the mouth, you might find that your fingers have nothing to push against. To fix this you will need to glue a couple of piece of foam inside the mouth section. One will need to go just under the bottom part of the mouth and the other just above the top part. You should leave too much of a gap between these pieces and the mouth section as you want your hand to fit tightly inside the section. Use a bunch of glue so they don’t move or rip as there will be a lot of pressure in this part of the puppet.
Step 6: Making the Neck
1. The neck is pretty easy to make. Just roll-up a piece of foam and glue it together. Don’t make it too tight though.
2. Next glue it to the bottom jaw of the puppet. You might have to make a couple of small cuts to it sits flush with the neck. Hot glue everything together.
Step 7: Add the Felt
Initially we added craft glue to the felt but this didn't work too well. We decided to hot glue it and this did the trick. The thing is not too use too much hot glue, you only need a little around the edges to make the felt stick to the foam.
1. First we did the mouth. Place the felt into the mouth and cut along the edges. It’s probably best to use some craft glue to hold in place and then add some hot glue around the edges to secure it down.
2. Next add the felt for the chin and jaw. It was tricky to try and make sure that the felt was smooth and that the folds could be seen. You can always hide any fold later with a turtle neck jumper, scarf, shirt or whatever you can find.
3. Lastly add the felt to the head. You can see that we had a large piece of felt sticking up. We cut this and glued it down and the hat hid any imperfections.
Step 8: Add Some Accessories
1. Find a good hat which will cover any imperfections and hot glue into place.
2. Next find a sleeve from an old top that you can cut and add this to the neck. We used an arm of a wizard costume that we had hanging around.
3. To make the eyes we used buttons but anything will do really.
Step 9: Shoulders and Coat
1. Make a cross out of some small piece of wood.
2. Roll-up some foam and attach this to the wood with some cable ties
3. To attach the cross to the arm section, we pushed some holes into the foam and used cable ties to attach the cross to the body section.
4. As our puppet is an artic explorer, we added some old fur to him so it looked like he had a fur coat on. This was attached by a piece of leather at the fount.
5. Lastly we had an old collar from the wizard costume which we used for his scarf and top of the coat
Step 10: Put on a Puppet Show!
So now your own your puppet, it’s time to put on a show. You don’t need a puppet theatre like my dad built; you could just use the back of the couch.
I really love Harold, and I even sleep with him at night!
Here’s a list of stuff that we would do differently next time.
- Try and work out a way to not get so many pointy sections in the foam. We managed to hide them but it was annoying.
- Make the inside of the mouth stronger. He is a little hard to work as there is nothing your hand can really push against. We did add some foam in the inside to stop this but we needed something stronger.
- Work out a way that his mouth could open wider.
- Give him some arms!