Puppet Building Weekend #1

It’s been four years ago since I built a puppet. That’s just weird… But anyway, back then my puppets were huge and heavy, and hard to operate. The main lesson I learned was basically how NOT to make puppets.

4 years ago

Since then I’ve been collecting patterns and materials for making “professional style” puppets. A couple of weeks ago I noticed in my calendar I had a weekend coming up without anything booked or planned. Extraordinary! It had “puppet building” written all over it, so yesterday I set out to build some puppets.

Day 1

I wanted to actually build three puppets. The patterns for these are found in the Forma Trio, available at:

project puppet main-logo

The Forma Trio came with some sheets of reticulated foam (scott foam), and I also ordered antron fleece. These are the materials used in certain muppets.

Building professional style puppets is kind of material heavy. You won’t get far with just antron fleece and scott foam. You need lots of other stuff too! Thus Day 1 ended up being quite stressful, as I ran around like a madman in Malmö, trying to find the remaining tools and materials needed to get started. I managed to burn quite a lot of money (= fun!) at these places:




Bauhaus logga



Of all these Clas Ohlson is clearly my favorite, mostly because they have almost everything (even the things you didn’t know you needed), and they’re cheap. And their stores are cosy.

Back home I brought up all the other stuff from the basement. Finally I was ready to start!

lots of stuff

My plan was to get as far as to dying the pieces and let them dry over night, so I could start the actual building on Day 2.

cutting patterns

However, just mounting the patterns on poster board took most of the evening.

late at night

By 4 am I had cut out one of the patterns and I just had to go to bed, or else I wouldn’t do anything the next day.

Day 2

pieces ready

I finished cutting the pieces, then it was time for the exciting part: dying them! I had no idea if the color I bought would work.

red dye bath

I started with red.

colored pieces

As you can see it worked fine for the foam. Not so great for the fleece.

And that was it, the weekend was over. After approximately 21 hours of work, this was as far as I got, which was not quite half as far as I had planned. I guess there has to be a Puppet Building Weekend #2, soon-ish.

I learned a lot from #1 though. For example:

Building “professional” puppets costs money.

You need LOTS of stuff, and there’s always something you forgot. For example, I lacked thin sheets of upholstery foam for the puppet bodies.

To not mess up your home or kill your back, you really need a house with some kind of hobby room, with proper work benches, a sink, good light and so on. I had none of these which slowed me down considerably.

Foam eats knife blades. Make sure to have a whole bunch of extra blades at hand!

Antron fleece doesn’t take dye well. I expected the fleece (the body, neck and arms) to take on a somewhat darker nuance than the foam (head and hands), but it turned out the opposite.


This type of color doesn’t really do the job. Need to find another way of dying the fleece for next time.

Puppet Snowman – the video!

Here’s the video!. It was shot from the back of the auditorium with a simple digital camera, so don’t expect any high defintion extreme close ups. It’s still a little bit out of synch – I tried my best – but it’ll do for now. Unfortunately for my English blog-readers the sketch is in Swedish, but it’s just a bunch of lousy jokes on the word “snow” anyway, so you can probably follow. Enjoy!

Puppet Snowman Sketch!

14 Dec 2008 I made one of my rare puppet performances at Bobbe Big Band’s christmas concert. It was a sketch featuring Carl-Johan Lennartsson, one of the song soloists, and a snowman.


Photo by Martin Nilsson. I created the puppet by transforming one of my music video puppets. Thus it started out yellow…


Photo by Tobias Lennartsson. Gradually the puppet took on the appearance of a snowman. The trickiest part was to dye it white. I emptied three cans of white (one can of spray paint and two cans of textile paint), and still a light tone of pee yellow remained…


Tadaa! Photo by Tobias Lennartsson.


Photo by Christian Berling. During the performance Christian’s excellent lightning whitened the snowman even further.


Photo by Christian Berling. The story behind the sketch was Carl-Johan Lennartsson playing the role as a soldier on his way back from doing service far away from home (His first number was “I’ll be home for christmas”). While waiting for public transportation of some kind in the middle of nowhere he’s overwhelmed with homesickness. If only there was some snow around, christmas spirit wouldn’t feel so distant. Enter the hallucination: an annoying snowman assaulting him with bad snow jokes. In the end Carl-Johan hates snow! He goes crazy and sings “Let it Snow”…

There is a video recording of the sketch, but the sound is out of synch. As soon as I’ve fixed this problem I’ll post the video on Youtube.