Giant Puppets in the Likeness of Specific People

The Face

1) Find and clip a newspaper, magazine or other photo of the person you want to puppetise. A clear head-on shot in black and white works best.

2) Go to a photo- copy shop and enlarge the image. Find a highquality copy machine that will enlarge. Some machines will enlarge more than others. Enlarge repeatedly until you fill the space of an A3 sheet (11”x17”), then keep enlarging until you have slightly more than one quarter of the image on an A3 sheet. Make sure there is enough of the image to overlap when you cut off the white edges and glue it together. Keep the image as light as you can without losing any of the dots. If it’s too dark you lose details. If you have access to an oversize copier then go on to step three. Otherwise, keep enlarging until you have one eighth of the image on each A3 sheet and skip step three. Cut off the white edges and glue them all together.

3) Some photocopy shops have “oversize” copiers that make enlargements and copies onto A2 paper (24” or 36” wide) for a few dollars or the equivalent. The oversize copier usually enlarges up to 200 percent (twice as big). Enlarge your last enlargement of the photo to the desired size. For a 3-4- metre puppet (10 to 12 foot) we usually en-large the head as big as will fit on A2 paper.

4) Cut the image out, rounding any rough edges. Sometimes it’s hard to see the edges— drawing them with marker or pencil can help. Trace two copies of the edge of the cut-out face onto blank cardboard without folds. Cut out the two heads with a sharp utility knife.

5) Paste the face onto the cardboard, trying to avoid wrinkles. Some of the wrinkling will disappear when it dries.

6) Make a cardboard tube to fit your puppet frame. Glue, staple or tape the tube vertically on the back of your facepasted- to-cardboard, once it is dry. Now glue, staple or tape your second piece of cardboard onto the other side of the tube, stapling and glueing the edges of the two sheets together.

7) Paint, using watered-down latex or acrylic paints. Highlight the light areas and darken the shadows. We often leave the texture of the photocopy visible through the paint.

The Costume

The simplest costume to make is a giant poncho. Fold over one big piece of cloth and cut a hole for the neck. If your cloth is not wide enough, sew together two pieces at their edges, leaving a hole for the frame to go through.

puppet1Contour or fringe the bottom edge. Add fringe or other decoration with white glue or hot glue. Cut a hole to look through. Staple, or attach the costume to the puppet with ties—see the picture on the next page.

Download the detailed instructions with pictures on how to create a frame

That’s the result of how it’s suppose to be operated:

puppet3

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