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DECEMBER 12, 2013

This is a fun project.  The reason I rated this ages 8 and up was the bodily mathematics that had to be figured out.  The pompons on strings and craft sticks is a good one for the little ones, but there are already lots of tutorials out there for that.  This one is geared toward my elder. It is also a project in progress with lots of mistakes to be made along the way.  I have decided that I love the problem/solution part of these projects we undertake, so am going to just post as we go along!

I have looked at several DIY tutorials, as well as the professional crazy cool and inspirational site puppets in prague. ( we are of Czech decent, ourselves)  I was hoping to find something in the middle that was a wooden puppet with human like movements without ANY wood carving skills or tools. What we are hoping to accomplish is to use a wooden artist mannequin, some sculpy, and maybe some weights? and costume to create a seven point marionette.

Materials:  12 or so inch artist mannequin that was very underused and colored on, twine, wooden beads with holes, tiny screwdriver, sculpy clay, tin foil, craft sticks or wooden slats,duck tape and fabric.  All of this was found around our house. (paint and costume comes later).

Mannequin to marionette by Miala

So long mannequin, hello parts.  This part should be done by an adult or able child, as the springs and screws on some of these can be very tight.  Unscrew the screws and pull the parts apart.  It takes a very small screw driver and don’t be afraid to pull those springs until they can unhook from their homes.  You will not need the base and metal stand.  Please excuse the crappy photos of the parts, we did it fireside.

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We used twine to re-string the parts back together.  We DID put the screws back into the hands and feet to loop the string through and work it back up to the middle.  Make sure you leave a little movement slack and not pull the string totally taut.

photo (63)We had added the knee and shoulder joints from our stash of wooden beads, but decided these were not necessary and that just the main “bones” of the body were needed.  So these can be left out.  The head tied in as a separate part on the top where the string is hanging off.

Now, you will have a super floppy marionette.  At this point, we held it by the head, did some moving around and it was …well not want we wanted.  It bent sideways at the knees and twisted around at the waist.  Little smartie pulled out the duck tape and started to figure out the way to make them bend in only one direction.   I brought up some scrap lace from a project and we ended up with this crazy gal as our base.  She is eventually going to be  an elf queen, so it is sort of humorous she is wearing purple zebra duck tape as a base layer!  We took tiny strips of lace (or you can use a very thin fabric) and taped them down with some slack on the front of the knees and both sides of the thighs.  Now her legs can swing around a bit at the hips, but only bend to the back at the knees. The piece through the middle just kept the body from turning side to side.  Her feet were also turning round and round, so we just taped them in the right direction.

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As weird as this thing is…both girls are loving it.  So much more to come soon.


JANUARY 5, 2014

We completed our odd marionette, and it turned out beautifully!!!

Here is how we finished it up!

After finishing the body, above, I decided the wooden head would not do, so we un strung it, and made a new one using sculpy.  We reattached it with the original string.  When sculpting the head, we make holes both horizontally and vertically through the head, as well as a little loop on the back to tie the thread to. Notice the elf ears and big eyes for our woodland elf queen.

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We baked the sculpy as directed (20 mins or so at 285 degrees in the oven).  Then came the fun part, painting her face with acrylics. I definitely had to help with the small details here.

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Then we had to wrap lace around the neck and make a costume.  I did not feel like taking the time to sew a whole little dress for her, so we just cut a rectangle of satin with a whole in the center and tied/glued it onto her!  Maybe the next one will have a nice interchangeable wardrobe, but not for our first try gal.   I used some yarn and glue for the hair, and glue and ribbons for the rest of the outfit.

Stringing her up was a bit of a challenge, but using some online directions, we strung her hands, head, knees, and back using popsickle sticks like this:

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And we are done!  The strings got tangled the first night we played around, so I have to restring with a way to untie them from the top easily to untangle!!

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I found this picture of a vintage marionette theater, so I think we will maybe use a tri fold board or boxes and try to make one similar 🙂

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