Puppets are cute, funny, and they're all around the world! it's really interesting to see that almost every culture has the concept of puppetry, though they vary widely. When I saw the puppet contest I decided to make traditional south Asian (Indian sub-continent) puppets. This was my first attempt in making puppets so I was a bit nervous, because I don't know much about puppetry. four friends of mine helped me and I'm really grateful to them (Can't thank you guys enough! )
This instructable will show how to make a type of south Asian puppets (a bride, a groom and a little girl). I think the attractions of these puppets are mainly their colorful dresses, hand movement and funny speeches. The puppet masters usually tell traditional stories, folklore, rhymes and much more through these puppets. Anyways, let's start making :) I hope you like it.
Step 1: Materials Needed
To make these puppets you'll need:
1) Cotton fabric (to make the puppets and their clothes)
2) Sewing machine.
3) Threads and hook.
4) Pencil, pen.
5) poster color (for drawing the puppets faces)
6) Black thread (to make puppets hair)
7) Wire or heavy thread or plastic thread(if you don't want the threads to be visible)
8) Small beads, mostly golden and red (to make jewelries for the puppets)
9) Lace (to make a traditional hat for the male puppet).
Step 2: Get Started!
First, draw the body parts of the puppets on paper. The legs of these puppets are usually straight but the hands are angled at 90o -120o and the body shapes are usual. Height of the puppets should be around 8-10 inches (adult puppet) and less than 6 inches for the child puppet.
Make a template for the body parts and cut them out. Use them to make the fabric cutouts. The number of fabric cutouts for each puppets are:
4 for the legs,
4 for the hands,
2 for the upper body.
When you have the fabric cutouts ready for making the puppets, sew 2 similar pieces together keeping one side open and fill it with waste fabrics or cottons. Sew all the body parts together (make sure the hands are flexible, so that you can make them move easily with the string or wire). see picture.
Step 3: Clothes and Others
When you're done making the puppets body, the next thing is to make their clothes, accessories, attach hair, draw face etc.
Use black threads to make the hair. Attach the hair by sewing with black thread and a hook (see picture). You can set the hair as you want, but I think braids look beautiful!
Clothes and accessories we made for the puppets-
Little girl : a red top, yellow skirt and a yellow scarf (all these together are known as ghagra dress), small beaded necklace.
The bride : red blouse, red petticoat (like a skirt), red saree, small beaded necklace, bangles. You can take help from the internet about dressing the puppet in a saree, simply search for 'how to wear a saree'.
The groom: a kurta, a pajama, traditional hat, a rumal (hanker-chief).
Follow the pictures to make the clothes.
(these clothes might seem unusual to many!)
Draw the faces with pencil first and then use poster colors with small paint brush (5/0 and 10/0's) over the pencil outlines. Eyes of these puppets are usually basic lens shaped, big and black, the lips are red. You can add more details if you want.
Step 4: Attach String
Tie a string on the puppets head (for keeping the body in balance) and two strings on both hands (hand movement is important).
Use one hand to control the string attached to the head and other hand to control the hands. If you're an expert I think you can control all the strings with one hand!. You can use wire instead of strings as well.
You may also tie string to the legs but I think it isn't much important (as the puppets usually hop around!). As I've already said, this is a first time, so the puppets might not be perfect but I'm glad we made'em at last!