On Saturday mornings, we like to go to the farmer’s market. Yesterday there was a stall where a woman was selling marionettes. No, really. And, of course, my boys wanted to play with them. The little old lady manning the booth will hand out puppets for any kid walking by to try out, so I couldn’t refuse. They had a lot of fun with them, we handed them back and thanked her and moved on.
On the way home, of course, the boys asked, “Mom, can we make puppets like those?”
And of course, I couldn’t refuse.
As I was gathering materials for our little marionettes, though, Charlie dashed in with a sock and a pipe cleaner and started trying to make a sock puppet… so we did that first.
Yarn hair, obviously. I convinced him that would work better than his pipe cleaner. Disturbingly, this puppet is named ‘Bit.’ As in, “I bit a person.” I asked. That was the example sentence he gave me.
Anyway, making a little marionette is fairly straightforward. We took two jumbo popsicle sticks and criss-crossed them (not exactly centered, generally you want more stick for the back of your puppet than the front). I used the glue gun to hold them in place, then wrapped around several times with yarn and tied securely.
Then I crafted a little dragon out of pipe cleaners. The thing you have to decide is which parts of your puppet you want to be movable, and you have a front, back, left, and right to choose from. For our dragons, obviously the wings were the left and right, and we hooked up the head to the front and the tail to the back.
The head started as a small ball of yarn which then had pipe cleaners wrapped around it. It was heavier than the rest of the dragon, and tended to overbalance the body. So, for Charlie’s dragon I added an oblong yarn blob to give the body a little weight as well.
Another little point to consider is that the strings will slide around on your sticks unless you secure them somehow: I opted for a thin line of hot glue at the top of each string to help hold it in place on the sticks. It seems to be holding up well.
So… make your own marionettes, and you too can have ‘dragon races’ and ‘dragon battles’ acted out via puppet. It’s fun!