Introduction: Burning Man Puppet in 3 Hours
Here I'll go over the steps on building a stringed puppet you can walk around before you set him on fire!
Dremel multitool with blade
Hand drill with drill bits
Pink insulation foam (any other color just won't do)
Cloth you can sew through
Wood rods (1/2 inch diameter by about a foot long)
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Step 1: Cut the Head, Hands, and Feet Out and Shape
Cut out the head. Burning man changes every year but the head is always cornered edges in one form or another. We used a kite design. Use your box cutters to cut it out. The feet were just eyeballed. From here you'll use a dremel to shape the feet (and head if needed). Use the sander bit. I will warn you, this can get messy if you're taking a lot of material off.
Step 2: Body Building
Lets start by building a torso! Using a Dremel with a wood cutting circular blade, cut an 18" dowel for the spine and a 6" dowel for the shoulders. At one end of the long dowel, measure and mark about 2 !/2" down. Next, mark the 6" dowel in the middle. These two marks are where the spine and shoulders will be attached to each other. Notch the dowels at these two marks by cutting about 1/3 of the way through the dowel and just wide enough for the other dowel to lay inside the notch. Since we are using 1/2" dowels, measure about 1/4" to the left and to the right of your marks to ensure a 1/2" where you are going to cut the notch out on both the 18" and the 6" piece. A wood chisel is handy to remove the excess wood from the notch once the cuts have been made. Now they can be fit onto each other similiar to how the corners of a log cabin lock together by attaching one notch to another. We used a wood screw to secure the two together and predrilled before attaching them together to make what looks like a cross. The upper part of the cross will become the neck and we attached a wood screw into the top of this so the head can be attached easily. Drilling a hole through each end of the shoulder dowel where the arms will be attached comes next. When we attach the shoulder to the arm, simply use string to thread through this hole and through the hole drilled into the end of the upper arm and the arms will dangle off the shoulders naturally. So how do we create functional arm and leg joints from dowels? You'll want to cut down about an inch and halfway through the diameter of the dowel. From here you'll use the hand drill and drill out a small hole about 1/4 inch down from the end of the dowels. Remember this is a joint and the 2 rods will be pivoting off it, so it's a good idea to put them together and get an idea of how it'll work. Once all the arms and legs are drilled and cut you can start to put them together. Now when building a puppet, keep in mind we are raising the knee caps so you'll want to add about 3 feet of string to each of these and tie them around the joints. To prepare the arms for mounting the hands, take two 2" wood screws and cut off the heads, which leaves you with only the threaded part. Drill a hole just big enough to screw the threads into the end of each arm dowel and each foam hand. I recommend taking a pair of pliers and screwing the thread end where the head of the screw was cut off into the arms first, leaving about 1" sticking out to twist the wrist aspect of the hands onto once the clothes are on. At this point, you can use the same technique on the top of the neck to attach the head. Next, cut two small sections of the dowel material, as these will be the ankle that holds the feet. We used about two 2 1/2" long pieces and created the same joint on one side of the newly cut 2 1/2" dowels as described previously. The other side of the 2 1/2" pieces will be inserted into a hole cut into the top of each foot. To do this, drill a hole where an ankle would normally attach to a foot just big enough to insert the 2 1/2" long dowel. We scribed the circle with a sharp pencil by placing these short pieces where we wanted the wood to be inserted onto the foam feet and tracing the circle, then drilled the foam out the inside of this circle with the dremel and a straight bit, removed the foam and glued the dowels into place. Once the glue has dried, the two feet with the ankles attached are ready to be mounted to the bottom of the legs. Now for the body itself! Cut a dowel about 18" long and Lastly, drill a hole just above each knee joint, wrist joint, and where the neck and should dowels come together and tie a string about 3 feet long to each by threading through the hole and tying a knot to secure. Remember, the clothes must be on first before attaching the hands and feet!
Step 3: Clothes!
lay out the body. The best way to do this is to put your clothing material (2 layers) under the layout and measure out roughly a half of inch to an inch off the body. The arms, body and legs should be at least an inch wide. Cut out the outline. From here you sew the entire outline. After this, turn the suit inside out.The hardest part will be the arms as they are not as wide as the pants.
Step 4: Put Clothes On
Once the suit is right side out, carefully insert each leg into the open shoulder/neck area at the top (remember, we did not sew the whole top of the suit shoulder area for making this easier). As you slide the legs down into the suit, start putting the arms into the sleeves. This will take two people if the suit is tightly fitting. Once the legs and arms are slid down into the suit, the neck/head can be attached to the shoulders and the top of each shoulder can be stitched closed by hand.
Step 5: Step 5: Attach Head, Feet, and Hands.
Final step is to screw the hands, feet, and head onto the body. Simply twist them onto the projecting screws for the corresponding piece.
Adjust as necessary, and use a method of your choice to control the puppet such as a standard cross-shaped piece of wood.
That's it - you're all done. Don't forget to stretch.