How to make a glove puppet

A collection of photographs that show how to make a puppet

© Culture24

    • A selection of craft materials

      To make a papier-mâché glove puppet you will need:
      • Plasticine
      • Old newspapers
      • PVA glue
      • Cling-film
      • Paintbrushes
      • A selection of acrylic paints
      • Three squares of coloured felt or another fabric 15cm by 15cm
      • A4 sheet of paper
      • Pencil
      • Scissors
      • Pins
      • Needle and thread
      • Trimmings or decorations

      The head of the puppet

      Step 1: Soften a ball of plasticine in your palms. Once you have an egg shape, start thinking about the type of character you'd like to make. It might be from your favourite story or film.

      Front view of hands holding a face with prominent nose and ears, modelled in clay
      Shape the nose, ears and chin by adding smaller bits of plasticine to the egg shape and a cylinder at the bottom for a neck. Make sure the neck will be wide enough for your three middle fingers to fit into, as this is where you control the head of the puppet.

      Side view of hand holding a face with prominent nose, chin and ears, modelled in clay
      Make hollows for the eyes by pressing your thumbs turned inwards at the top of the nose. If you like you can play with the plasticine first and invent a character of your own.

      The great thing about plasticine is you can change the shape as many times as you like until you are happy.

      Step 2: You are now ready to start covering the front of the head with papier-mâché.

      The head needs to be made in two parts - the face and front of the neck first, and then the back of the head and neck second.
      Hands applying strips of newspaper to a head modelled from clay
      They will be put back together to make a whole head when both parts are dry - this is so the plasticine mould can easily be removed.

      Before you begin the papier-mâché, cover the head in cling-film to stop the paper sticking to the plasticine. Mix PVA glue with a small amount of water to make a runny paste and tear up small strips of newspaper, applying the glue mix to each one when it is attached.

      Cover the front of the head with about ten layers of paper strips, smoothing the surface with your fingertips. This part can be quite messy so make sure there is newspaper on the table you are using. Now you need to wait for the papier-mâché to dry.

      Hands removing a papier-mâché face from a mould
      Step 3: Once it is dry, pull the papier-mâché face away from the plasticine mould and repeat 'Step 2' with the back of the head.

      When this is also dry and has been removed from the mould, slot the two parts together - they should fit quite easily.

      Hands holding front and back halves of a papier-mâché head
      Now add two or three layers of papier-mâché over the join so that the head is secure and won't come apart.

      When this is dry you are ready to begin painting the face and giving it life!

      Step 4: Firstly paint the whole head with white acrylic paint.

      White paint being applied to a papier-mâché head
      This is another messy job so make sure there is newspaper on the table!

      When the white paint is dry, you can draw an outline of the features onto the face with a pencil. Think about the shape of the eyes, eyebrows and mouth to match the character of the puppet. Use coloured paints to paint the whole head and bring out its personality.

      Facial features being painted on to a papier-mâché head
      The Body

      Step 5: Draw a simple outline for the body of the glove puppet on a sheet of A4 paper.

      Hand drawing outline of a dress onto a sheet of white paper
      It should look like a wide dress with arms, which your thumb and little finger will fit into.

      Draw a neck that is wide enough to go round half of the neck on the head - use a tape measure to be sure. Spread your hand out on the outline you've drawn, to make sure it will be big enough for your hand to fit inside.

      Cut out the shape of the body, leaving a gap of half a centimetre from the outline for the seam allowance.

      Step 6
      : Lay your two pieces of felt or fabric right sides together and place the paper cut out on top of them.

      Pin the paper to the fabrics and cut the fabric around the outline.

      Paper cut-out of dress shape pinned to felt cut-out of dress shape
      Once it is cut out, unpin the paper outline and re-pin the fabrics together without moving them apart. It's now time to sew the body together.

      Using thread the same colour as the fabric, sew both sides of the body from the bottom of the skirt to the underside of the arm and from the topside of the arm to the side of the neck. Do NOT sew at the bottom of the skirt where your arm will be, or across the cuffs or the collar.

      Now you can turn the body out the right way.

      Green felt 'dress' trimmed with lace, with buttons and felt hands attached

      Step 7: You may want to add some trimming or decorations to the body.

      Pin these extra pieces to the fabric and sew them in place (but make sure you don't accidentally stitch the front and back of the body together!).

      You can also add hands to the puppet at this stage. Draw a shape of a hand onto a piece of paper, cut it out and pin to a different coloured piece of felt.

      Cut the shape out of the fabric, pin the hands just inside the cuffs of the arms and sew them securely.

      Step 8
      : To attach the head to the body, put glue around the inside edge of the collar and pull the neck of the head down inside the collar.

      Puppet's head being attached to 'glove' body
      If there's a gap between the fabric and the papier-mâché and the head looks like it might slip out, you may need to use some stronger glue.

      Glove puppet with green papier-mâché head and yellow felt hands, wearing green robe
      You can now play with your new handmade glove puppet or make more!

      All images are copyright of Culture24.
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