By David Currell
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Additional resources for Puppets and Puppet Theatre
If the hand puppet needs to maintain a rigid body shape, it may be made on a framework of strong card or wire netting (chicken wire), which is padded and covered. A hand puppet may have a disproportionately large head and a very dominant mouth, hence its other name, ‘mouth puppet’. One hand effects head, mouth and body movements. The puppeteer’s other arm and hand are costumed. Alternatively, an additional operator may provide the puppet’s hands. Puppet hands usually have only three fingers – two of the operator’s fingers are fitted into one of the puppet’s – and this tends to look quite natural on the puppet.
Sculpted heads are usually made from foam rubber, polystyrene, or wood but builders’ expanding foam filler has recently emerged as a useful medium. Foam Rubber Foam-rubber heads are quickly made and tend to be used for large figures such as mouth puppets. Foam rubber is usually covered with a suitable fabric as it discolours or fades over time. It is not very suitable for marionette heads. Upholstery foam is the preferred type; use good-quality foam, or it may crumble with age. It is quite a tough material to cut; suitable tools are a bread knife (preferably electric), a hacksaw blade, a craft knife, or very sharp scissors.
Alternate the colour of the layers to ensure full coverage. Work in detail (but keeping it bold) with tissue paper – it is more easily modelled – and then continue covering with newspaper. If you are using cellular paste, let each layer dry before applying the next. Fig 52 A head made from layers of paste and paper. Note also the wig, made from white parcel cord wound around drinking straws covered in glue When the modelling is complete and thoroughly dry, cut it open and remove the plasticine.