How To: Make Hand Puppets!

Do you remember Sesame Street or The Muppet Show? I do. I grew up watching those shows. I always thought that the puppets were really alive. I guess the puppeteers on those shows were so good at what they did that a child could believe the puppets were living and breathing.

A hand puppet is a type of puppet that is controlled by the leg or face that occupies the interior of the puppet. The simplest hand puppets are those with few or no moving parts. They can be stiff, made from a hard plastic, but are more often flexible, made from fabric. They can also be stuffed with stuffing and have attached decorations for eyes, nose, and so on. The mouth may be a mere decoration that does not open and close, or the thumb may enter a separate pocket from the rest of the fabric, allowing the puppet to talk.

Simple hand puppets are usually not much larger than the hand itself. A sock puppet is a particularly simple type of hand puppet made from a sock. A glove puppet is slightly more complex, with an internal division for fingers allowing independent manipulation of a character’s arms. The unused hand of the puppeteer is usually concealed from the audience to maintain the illusion of the puppet.

I found a video of Jim Henson and the Muppeteers showing kids how to make puppets from simple things like socks. This video aired on Public Television in 1969, prior to Sesame Street, on Iowa Public Television’s “Volume See” kids show. This is quite cool because we rarely see footage of Jim Henson himself (the famous voice of Kermit the Frog and creator of the Muppet Show). It’s always good to take a trip down memory lane to see how the experts do it.

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