I have been invaded by puppets!

Currently, our theatre company, Merely Players, is producing Disney's Little Mermaid in Durango, Colorado.

I am the technical theatre designer and builder.  During meetings with the director, we decided that the "Kiss the Girl" scene should be done with puppets.  We also decided that many of the young actors (middle and high school) would look great if they had head pieces of various sea animals.  So for the last week I have been up to my gills in polyfoam creating a batch of puppet performers. 

Time is at a premium now, so I may not have time to go through all of the steps for each puppet.  Instead, I will give ideas about the various puppets I am very rapidly assembling for use in this week's rehearsal.

Actually, I think it is better that you just look over what I am doing and come up with your own ideas.  You may discover materials and methods that you otherwise wouldn't think of if you just use this as a cookbook.

Step 1: Materials

Here's a partial list of materials that I use.  But you may come up with other ideas.

Super 77 by 3M - excellent spray adhesive
Hi-Strength 90 by 3M - much thicker spray which I don't like as much as the 77
hot glue
staple pliers - available from hardware stores, an indispensable tool
gaffer tape - not duct tape which turns to a gummy mess

foam core - I ask local frame shops to keep any scrap for me.  I usually get enough pieces to make all the puppets.
open weave fabric- black -  for inside the mouth
polyfoam - 1/2"  1/4"  1" thicknesses - I just bought large sheets from The Foam Factory
closed cell foam -
"landau" foam - used for automotive upholstery

craft paints
spray paints

styrofoam balls
plastic Christmas balls
clear craft Christmas ornament balls

large newsprint for making patterns
sharpie pens
sharp, good scissors
xacto knife
Invisible Glove

The Foam Book: an easy guide to building polyfoam puppets by Drew Allison & Donald Devet at Amazon

I really love the sea horse
Hey, this is a great Instructable! I love this kind of creative endeavor - when there's not really a 'set' way to do something so you just keep trying out methods and materials until they approximate what you're after! Also - those fish eyes.... I love'm. I've recently learned that yes, you can use simple print outs to great effect, especially if you put clear plastic in front of them (we've been making speedometers and other dials and clocks for prop car dashboards and the effect is quite lovely). Anyway, thanks for this tutorial, now I want to try to make a puppet!!
<p>Thanks. The fish eyes were kind of accidental, but look so much better than what they are. How about making a car puppet with speedometer and dial eyes? Sounds interesting.</p>
These are awesome! How about putting some of the finished pictures for the intro? You might get even more interest.
Excellent idea. Thanks.
These are so interesting!! I like the Seahorse one the most!!
These look great! So many good tips on the construction with foam.
These are phenomenal! The way you painted them gives them so much character. :D
After seeing your prolific and creative output, this is quite a compliment. Thank you.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a theatre designer and technical director. I work at Merely Players, a small non-profit theatre group in Southwest Colorado. Check us out on ... More »
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