Do you cherish playing with hand puppets when you were a child? Did your parents buy a puppet or did your mother show you how to make one?
A puppet can be performed on a stick or one finger of your hand. A sock pocket can be designed with a lonely sock that has been left behind by a runaway partner. Or fingers can be wrapped into a slightly closed fist, draw a set of lips and eyes and it is puppet ready. Add a speech to your character backed by a script to tell a story and the show is now live.
These three easy methods of making puppets have survived and entertained children and adults for many decades. Puppets are fun as they test our creativity, intelligence, and arts and crafts skills.
What is a puppet?
It is a gadget made from wood, paper, cloth, sawdust, straw, cotton, and other materials that can be shaped to describe a person, an animal, or an object. The puppeteer draws a puppet to life by moving its elastic parts his or her hand, strings, rods, or mechanical and electronic orders.
Nine Types of Puppets:
- Finger – Simple art on one finger which very young children enjoy.
- Sock Barr Tillstrom introduced puppets Kukla, Fran, and Ollie… Then Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop.
- Marionette (operated with strings) Ronnie Burkett and his marionettes, and Howdy Doody created by Buffalo Bob Smith.
- Ventriloquist: Edgar Bergen and character Charlie McCarthy. World famous today is Jeff Dunham with his latest dummy called Achmed the Terrorist.
- Body Puppet: The famous and popular play, The Lion King by Julie Taymor, is a great example of people being in the characters and operating the mechanisms to activate the puppets into action.
- Mechanical puppets: The use of small or miniature machines to operate individual parts of the puppet or doll.
- Pull string puppet: Dolls and puppets which work by pulling a string. The most popular variant of a pull string is baby dolls which speak when the string is pulled. Words like “I love you” are expressed or it could be an animal making sounds or speaking. Pulling strings Moves the mouth, arms, and head.
- Rod puppet: A single rod holds the head or body of the puppet upright or rods may be attached to hands or arms to create movement. The Muppet Show introduced Kermit the frog and Miss Piggy. Sesame Street introduced Cookie Monster.
- Shadow puppet: These are shadows of puppets that are created by shining a light onto a clear screen. Children have all experienced shadow puppets. Put your hands in front of a light source and see the shadow images cast against the wall. I bet you never knew these are puppet images.
Most puppet operators are humble people, but behind a mask, they are very bold and make wonderful entertainers. The mask, in this case, is the puppet which is the point for attention and exposure from the audience.