I was recently inspired by the movie "Being Elmo" which clearly demonstrates how awesome Kevin Clash is. I'm also a middle school Art Teacher, so I decided to take a stab at making my own puppet. I was lucky enough to find all the supplies necessary in my 30 year old classroom. What follows are the basic steps in making a puppet. Enjoy!
The first photo is "Steve" and the second photo is Steve's brother "Odelle"
Step 1: Find Materials
Begin by finding your materials.
Foam, skin tone micro fleece, cardboard or matboard, string for hair, sticks, felt for mouth/eyes, hot glue gun, and a sewing machine.
sounds like a lot, but remember it's just a bunch of simple things put together to make an awesome thing.
Step 2: Create a Template and Cut Out Your Foam
If you've ever seen a football, then you'll kind of understand this a bit more. To make a 3D shape out of 2D material is quite a task for some people to understand. Anyhow, Once you trace this 1/2 footballish shape, you'll need to cut it out 4 times. 2 will be stitched together to make the upper part of the head and the other 2 will make the bottom jaw.
*Once I build the sister puppet to this, I'll add more detail photos of this process. I realize it needs more.
Step 3: Stitch the Skin/ Add the Nose
Once you've created a decent head shape, you'll want to measure the circumference to get an idea of how to cut/sew your skin. I basically made a giant pink sleeve that fit snuggly around the foam. Then I took a razor and cut out the mouth. This will be covered later as well as the top of the head so it's ok if it looks a bit raw.
Then I took a small piece of foam and cut a triangle to make a nose. I wrapped it in skin tone micro fleece and then simply hot glued it onto the face. Make sure to hold firmly while the glue dries because it will strengthen the bond.
Step 4: Finish Up the Face Parts
Next you'll need to measure the mouth opening so that you can cut a piece of mat board that will fit in there nicely. Before you glue the mat board piece in place wrap it with black felt and hot glue the wrap around edges. Then grab some red felt or whatever color you please for the lips and hot glue that into place. Once the red lips were in, I glued in the black felt wrapped mat board piece. Add a little tongue and presto you have a mouth.
The eyes below are just made out of felt pieces that are wrapped and hot glued to a nice oval piece of mat board. I added a touch of acrylic paint for some flashiness and then I hot glued the eyes onto the head. Bam, I made a face.
Step 5: Time for Hair.
I was debating wether or not to buy a wig at this point.... Then I remembered how my mom taught me to make poof balls out of yarn. So I took a piece of cardboard and cut it to about 4 inches. Take the string of your choice and wrap it like crazy around the cardboard. Once you feel like the lock of hair is good enough, go ahead and take a small cut of the string and slip it between the cardboard and all your crazily wrapped string. Tie it off and then cut through all the strands of string to make a lock of hair. The second photo below may help you visualize a bit better.
Once you've made a dozen or so locks of hair, you can begin hot glueing them on. Try to overlap them as nicely as possible. If you feel like your puppet needs a haircut then go for it.
Step 6: Begin the Body
At this point, I just went to the store and bought a $6 kids shirt that had long sleeves. I've created a neck for my puppet by making a smaller sleeve of skin tone fleece and hot gluing it onto the bottom of the puppet head. I left the neck long so I would have plenty to underlap inside the neck of my puppets' shirt. Then I hot glued the neck to the shirt. All attached.
To make/ fill the sleeves, I just took some more foam and cut it to length and wrapped it with tape to shape it a bit. I also took my razor blade and sliced the foam at the elbow enough that it would bend but not tear apart. Then I just stuffed this arm into the sleeve.
Step 7: Hands
The simplest hands can be made by starting with a mitten shape. Make sure to turn your fabric inside out before you sew. Go ahead and sew it along the line, then cut it all out about 1/2 inch to a 1/4 inch outside your stitch. Flip that inside out and you'll have a skin tone micro fleece mini mitten. I decided to stuff some stuffing into the hand and then I stitched the lines between each finger. That way the hand has a bit more shape to it. Then I just slipped the hand mittens over the end of each arm and hot glued it in place.
Step 8: Finish Up
You should now have a pretty simple looking puppet. You may want to add some dowel rod sticks to control the hands a bit. These I just hot glued in place.
Name your puppet and give it some sort of story and personality. The puppet I made is named Steve and he sells coney's and soda for $3 each. He now has a brown bandana head band and is sort of a hippy surfer mix. He's a dreamer and doesn't want to leave anyone behind and his favorite word is "dudes". Good luck on yours and have fun.