The marionette, also called string puppet, takes practice to master; its limbs are manipulated from above by threads attached to one or more control handles. They’re also quite entertaining—some are capable of imitating almost every human or animal action. Instructors at Denver’s Art Garage assembled this simplified design for kids and parents to try at home.
Skill Level: Recommended for ages nine to 12 with parent help.
You Will Need:
- 48-oz yogurt container or other plastic tub
- Electric drill with an ¹⁄₈-inch bit
- One 13-inch wooden barbecue skewer
- Wire cutters
- Seven craft sticks (It’s a good idea to have extras in case any crack during drilling.)
- Glue gun
- Scrap fabric (cotton works best)
- Fishing line
- Foam sheets, construction paper, or felt (for the eyes and mouth)
- Drill a small hole through the center of the bottom of the yogurt container. Flip the container over and drill two more holes on opposite sides of the container about a half inch from the top. Thread the skewer through the two holes. With wire cutters, snip the ends of the skewer so it pokes out just an inch from each side of the container. Set the clipped ends aside for later.
- Measure and cut out enough fabric to cover the yogurt container, leaving a little extra at the base to fold over. Wrap it around the container, using hot glue to secure it, and poke holes through the fabric where the skewer ends are so they can peek out. Trim and fold any extra fabric over the base of the container and glue.
- Cut out a circle of fabric, enough to cover the bottom of the container, and secure with hot glue. Poke a hole through the center of the circle, so a fishing line can go through the hole in the container and the fabric.
- Drill holes into both ends of four of the craft sticks, about a quarter-inch from the tips. Drill slowly to avoid breaking the craft sticks. Thread one of the clipped skewer ends through the ends of two craft sticks so they make a long leg with a knee joint (see above). Repeat with the other skewer end. Tip: If your clipped ends are fairly long, trim them to about one-inch pieces so the top and bottom of the leg aren’t too far apart. Put a dab of hot glue on the ends of each skewer piece so the craft sticks don’t slide off.
- Take one end of a “leg” and attach it to the container by threading the skewer through the top hole of the craft stick. Put a dab of hot glue on the end of the skewer so the leg doesn’t slide off. Repeat with the other leg.
- Out of the cardboard, cut two foot-shaped pieces, about four inches long and two inches wide. Mark a small rectangle at the heel of each piece and carefully poke through that space with the end of a scissor blade. The opening should be just large enough to fit the end of a craft stick (leg) through. Fit the feet on both legs and secure them with hot glue.
- Using three more craft sticks, drill a hole in only one end of each. Glue the undrilled ends of two craft sticks to create a line. Then glue the third craft stick end to the middle (where the other two sticks meet), creating a “T” shape.
- Measure a piece of fishing line starting at one knee joint and reaching to the top of the container, plus four to five inches; cut two. Wrap the end of one fishing line around the right knee joint (if you are facing the front of the puppet) on the skewer (between the two craft sticks) and make a knot. Thread the other end of that line through hole “a” (see diagram) of the “T” bar, and knot. Repeat on the other side of the puppet, threading the fishing line through hole “b” on the “T” bar.
- Measure and cut another piece of fishing line (the height of the container plus four to five inches). Knot one end of the line on the skewer that’s threaded through the container. Thread the other end of the line through the hole in the top of the container, and then through hole “c” of the “T” handle, knot and secure with dab of glue if needed.
- Make eyes and a mouth out of construction paper, felt, or thin foam sheets. Glue them to the front of the container. Be sure all connection points of the skewers, craft sticks, and fishing line are secure before playing.