Introduction: Moai Easter Island Statue Puppet

When you want a Night at the Museum and can't get out...

Does anyone know where Easter Island is?

What's more fun than hooking this thing up to Alexa? Imagining that you wired this up to Alexa and making it talk...


Step 1: Cardboard, Scissors, Glue...

and maybe one or two large paper shopping bags.

This puppet was built entirely from cardboard. Just grab a few clean boxes from the recycling bin and get ready to upcycle them. Remove all tape and glossy labels. Use only the plain brown box type as coated or printed boxes don't take to glue as well.

I have a heavy duty set of shears to cut and trim my cardboard pieces.

Step 2: Digging In...

The entire design was freeform and really thought out as I went along. I just referenced a picture of a real Moai statue and went from that.

Start out with the base and build it like a bowl. Glue up a loop of cardboard the size of your base. Fill in with cross strips to establish the bottom. Fill in with more pieces pressed in to fill out the open spaces.

Keep on layering and gluing cardboard until you feel the structure is sturdy enough for use. It will all get stronger and stiffer when the glue completely dries.

I then formed the main head part.

To connect the pieces, I made a ring and collar so the head would mate into the base like a juice blender.

The top of the head is just another bowl shape that fits over the top.

I wanted to animate the puppet so that the mouth moves and the brow moves.

To accomplish this without adding complicated mechanisms, there is a lower lip part on a stick and a top brow bowl that would pivot on top of the head.

Cardboard does not make for good bearing or wear surfaces so I glued in a few pieces of wood popsicle sticks.

The opening where the lower lip stick pivots in is surrounded by popsicle sticks to reinforce it. The two "batman" ears were also reinforced with popsicle sticks.

Step 3: Get Ready to Rock...

All the basic forms were papier mache'd to give it a continuous surface.

You can use ordinary newspaper torn into small pieces dipped into a glue solution for the covering.

Brown kraft paper or the heavier paper found in paper shopping bags make for a nicer material to use for papier mache. You have to do less layers and get better coverage over the bumpy parts.

I actually just spread glue directly on the back of small pieces of paper and applied as I went along. You use more glue but get the papier mache done faster since you don't have to wait a couple of days for a fully saturated papier mache object to dry out.

After all was dried, I had to figure out how to pivot the high brow. I had wood reinforced ears so I could drill a hole to thread a pencil through (they make for great substitute for a dowel) to make some sort of rod to pivot on. The pencil was secured in place with glue and covered with some more bits of paper.

When dry, time to paint.

The rock look is simulated by a base coat of a darkish red brown. From there, drybrush in layers with black and brown and a random mix of the colors. Dry brushing is just taking a bit of paint on the brush like it is almost "dry" and brushing with it. A final drybrush with dabs of white finish the eroded rock look.

Take the cues from where you see striations on the rock from natural formation or carving to where weathering takes place as rain washes down.

Step 4: Walk the Talk...

I took a piece of stiff wire to wind around the pencil so it could be the hinge support for the top of the head. The free ends of the wire were taped to the inside of the top head bowl.

I then attached a string so I could pull it to move the top head bowl. The weight of the top head bowl naturally makes it fall forward so pulling on the back of the top head bowl makes it lift up.

I extended the lever stick that moves the bottom lip so that it would be easier to use.

You can incorporate better mechanisms for animating the puppet. You could even automate this with servos and actuator motors.

Scale up for a giant Moai, all built from cardboard.


Cardboard Contest 2017

Runner Up in the
Cardboard Contest 2017