A great way to get started building puppets is by using a pattern. Traditionally there have always been a lot of puppet patterns available online, but in the early years of the Internet most of them were either terrible, or impossible to understand. Fortunately, this has changed quite a bit and past several years have produced a number of really great patterns by some very talented puppet builders.
Here are a few of the best free and paid puppet patterns that you can find online…
By far the most popular foam puppet patterns online are made by Project Puppet, which offers several patterns for making professional-looking foam hand and rod and “live hands” puppets. They are also a good source for small quantities of the reticulated or “Scott” foam preferred by many professional puppet builders and offer a number of free basic patterns and tutorials too!
For more information visit ProjectPuppet.com.
Complete Foam and Fleece Head and Body Pattern
Puppet builder James Kemp sells a complete foam and fleece pattern that’s a good and slightly more affordable alternative if you don’t have the budget for an equivalent pattern from Project Puppet.
For more information visit JamesKempPuppets.com.
“Purple-Necked, Black Bearded Blatch” Muppet Pattern
In 1969 Women’s Day Magazine published a feature about the Muppets that included a play, The Purple-Necked, Black Bearded Blatch, along with a pattern for four “Muppet” puppets that readers could make themselves. For a very long time this was one the only sources available on how to make “Muppet style” moving mouth hand puppets and countless different puppet patterns have been derived from it in the decades since it was published.
Several years ago Project Puppet’s Pasha Romanski retraced the pattern and blew it up in to a convenient and easy-to-print PDF that can be downloaded here.
Free Round Puppet Head Pattern
Another popular – and free – puppet pattern that has circulated on the web for years is this two piece round puppet head pattern originally created by Mike Moore. A downloadable version with a few basic instructions is available here.
The “Wedge Method”
One of the ways to approach building a puppet head to use what’s known as “the wedge method”. The basic concept behind the wedge method is to create a round shape out of a series of wedges (try to imagine the skin of an orange cut in to about 8 slices). By varying the number and shape of wedges you can create different shapes.
I’ll hopefully have a proper tutorial on this available here soon. Until then, you can download a free foam wedge pattern originally created for the now-defunct PuppetBuilding.com web site and read a more detailed explanation of this approach to puppet building (thanks to Tom at Puppeteers Unite for that link!)
Talking Lips Pattern
A pattern for a pair of talking black light lips that I created many years ago. It was originally made for the now-defunct PuppetBuilding.com web site and is still very popular, especially with Christian puppet groups. You can download the pattern for free.