Introduction: Bust-a-move Bot Push Puppet

Make this fun puppet that you move by pressing the lever.

Step 1: Into the Woods...

I stocked up at the craft store with bits and pieces made from the environmentally friendly and sustainable craftwood tree.

I already had a few large popsicle sticks, some dowels, bamboo skewer, a piece of 3/4 inch square stock and a piece of 1x2 stock to use.

I got some 1/2 inch round x 3/4 inch long compression springs to provide the bounce back for the lever. You could rig up some rubber bands or bungee cord if you don't have real springs.

You will also need some thin non-stretchy string or heavy duty thread to link the body parts. I later found a spool of nylon kite string to use. The one in the picture is waxed cotton thread which I found too stiff to work well.

Step 2: Put Some Spring Into It...

The first part is to make the lever mechanism that actuates the puppet. A push puppet is a bunch of parts connected with a string running inside of it. The string is initially taut and when you give the string some slack, the puppet parts fall apart under their own weight making it move.

The design I came up with was to use a lever instead of the spring pushbutton found under the base of a traditional push puppet. This allows you to place it on a flat surface like your desk and move the puppet instead of holding it in your hands.

I'm sure you can design this in any CAD (Computer Aided Design) software but I just built this as I went along.

I had some plywood planks. They would make a nice sized base for the push puppet. The plank cut in half would be enough to make a good raised platform.

I laminated 3 large popsicle sticks to make a nice strong lever.

I then cut a mounting block that the lever would pivot on. To keep the materials used mostly made of wood, I used the pin from one of the wooden wheels I had to fasten the lever to pivot point. You could use a nut, bolt and washer or a dowel with a stop piece.

I just drilled a hole at the end to pass the puppet strings through. You could also glue in a short piece of dowel to create a peg for the puppet strings to tie off to.

I mocked it all together to see how it would work. I fixed the spring in place by gluing a piece of dowel in the center of the spring so it would be mounted over a fixed peg. The lever had some notches cut in to fit the spring when it pressed down. The top platform glued in place limits the travel of the lever.

Make a few while you are at it. I was going to build a few different push puppets.

Step 3: Line It All Up...

Create your puppet figure by laying out all the parts and see how they look. I had various sized wooden beads to use for the arms and legs.

I had to glue up some thin strips of wood to get the pieces for the body and the head.

The feet had some square pieces glued on to represent shoes.

Drill holes where the connector string will pass through.

I tied off the string to the bottom of the lever and passed it through the upper platform. If you press the lever, the string should slack up to the puppet figure.

Assemble the puppet figure by passing the string through all the parts.

Pull the string taut and lock the end in place by gluing and jamming in a bamboo skewer to fill the opening on the endmost wood bead.

I let the puppet figure dry laid down so that it would all be aligned correctly in position having the string taut.

When the glue dries, trim off the excess and sand down to smooth if necessary.

Add some googly eyes or any other decoration if desired.

Your puppet is now ready to use.

You can glue some of the joints together if your puppet moves too wildly. Keep all the joints free so you really get a random flailing of the puppet when moved. You could also flatten some of the joints so that they mate together more closely.

So make your push puppet today and experiment.


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