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Stix to Bones- Skeleton Puppet

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Picture of Stix to Bones- Skeleton Puppet

Among this Summer's stock of popsicles and ice cream bars were some chocolate bars with curvy sticks. They looked like great material to make something with, so i saved them. Along comes Halloween, and all of a sudden the sticks are starting to look a lot like bones, so that inspired me to try making a skeleton out of them. It was just going to be a decoration at first, but then i thought it would be more fun to try and make a puppet.
 
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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You can make this as simple or elaborate as you like, so what you end up using after the basic skeleton is put together is totally optional. This is a list of the things I used-

Popsicle & chocolate bar sticks
Skinny and heavier skewer sticks
Brads- I also thought of using button pairs & wire, but wanted a consistent overall look on the joints and went with the brads
White paint- I just used acrylic paint & brush, but if you have any white spray paint around, it will save you LOTS of time
Additional decoration- I used water colors and colored pencils to define the bones and skull
Glue
Tape
Sandpaper
Drill & 1/16"bit and a larger size bit that looks about 1/5" thick
Something to cut sticks with- I used tin snips & wire snips
Round nose pliers
Not shown-Scissors, Exacto, Craft Thread, For Hat- black felt, ribbon, rose

Step 2: Drilling Holes

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The first thing is drilling the holes in all the sticks.

4 sticks get three holes each- 1 at each end and 1 in the center- shoulders & hips
6 sticks get two holes each- 1 at each end- upper arms & both legs
4 sticks get one hole each- 1 at one end- lower arms (& hands)

1 regular popsicle stick gets a hole at each end- main spine
1 regular popsicle stick gets 1 hole at one end (the other end gets cut down to hold the head (in the picture, that other hole is an error)
I used an additional piece of reg. pop. stick (not pictured) to make a link between the main spine and the hips for better proportion. It is not quite 2" long and is drilled at both ends

To keep the skinnier/smaller pieces from splitting I put some tape on and made a hole with the 1/16" first, then used the other bit.

Step 3: Hands & Feet

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I cut short pieces of Skewer for the fingers and toes then glued them to the ends of one hole lower arm sticks. For the feet I used modified sticks (general how-to coming up).

Step 4: Making Joints & Mods

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To make knees, ankles, feet, round off ribs, or make any other mods, I trimmed the stick to roughly the shape needed with the trusty tin snips, then finished it with sandpaper.

I made 4 knees, 4 ankles- they are the same size, so it's 8 joints), 4 feet, and 5 ribs

Step 5: Paint All White

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Paint all the sticks and pieces white on both sides- as noted in the supply list, spray paint will save lots of time

Step 6: Assembling Body Parts

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These photos are out of order, but I thought it would be good to show these steps now.

The feet each have big toes made from the larger size skewer. I glued a little piece of pop stick next to the big toe to bring it all up to level, then glued the top foot piece over the bottom one with the toes.

The fingers are all the same thickness, so all that's needed is to swing the top front arm piece over the bottom and glue down.

The ribs are 5 modified regular popsicle sticks, slightly graduated, glued onto the main spine.

Step 7: Getting it Together

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I assembled the arms and legs first, then attached all the appendages to the main spine.

After putting the brads through, I used a round nosed pliers to roll them under and keep them out of the way. This is also how you can adjust the tension- for floppy, don't roll the brads down tightly, for 'holding a pose' tighten them up.

Step 8: The Head

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On a piece of foam core I drew a skull (around 2"x3"), cut it out with an Exacto, then went around with a scissors to smooth the edges (and again with the scissors a while later to make it a bit smaller).

I slipped a sharp knife into the center foam part of the skull to make room for the popsicle stick neck, put some glue on the stick and slid the skull on.

Step 9: The Hard Part's Over!

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So with all the pieces put together, here is the basic skeleton- this photo doesn't show the trimmed down head.

I used water colors and colored pencils on this instructable, but it could be as simple as touching up the brads and putting some features on the face. On the other hand, the possibilities and variations are many...

Step 10: String it Up


Originally I planned on attaching strings on both the elbows and knees, however, lack of forethought reduced me to only the elbows. The backs of the brads were getting all tangled with the longer knee threads, which I really hadn't considered, so I eliminated them for now.

I used 'Craft Thread' which is kind of like embroidery floss, but it's cheaper, the stick for the strings is a big skewer.

For the head, tie a piece of thread to a pin and glue it. Run some more glue down the rest of the pin and push all the way into the foam layer of the skull, trim end.

Tie a piece of string to the top brad of each of the elbow joints on the backside, put some glue on the knots . In order to keep the strings all the correct lengths, tape down the arms and legs, before bringing the strings up to the stick. Mark the stick where you want the strings to go and notch the marks so the strings don't slide. Tie and glue the strings on the stick.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

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Thinking of Dia De Los Muertos, I decided to give this guy a top hat. All it is is a piece of felt with a strip of ribbon and teensy white rose, with a piece of junkmail cardstock. for backing.
ChrysN2 years ago
Awesome, great job on the hands and feet.
dismissie (author)  ChrysN2 years ago
thanks ChrysN- the hands & feet were tough!
Awesome! I love puppets!
dismissie (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
thank you Penolopy-
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