I debated posting this project for a long time. I finally decided to go ahead since the construction techniques might be helpful for others to base ideas from, but I would like to first put forth a disclaimer:
This puppet was created a la public activism style, for a puppet class at a liberal arts hippie school. The figure this was created to represent was more politically active at the time, and is rather controversial. Thus, if you are a fan of this person, please forgive the political implications and take this for what it is - practice at puppet-crafting.
Okay, that aside, time for you all to meet my friend and accomplice Cora and our puppet... let's just call her Sarah.
She was made almost entirely out of recycled materials, though I think this board is more appropriate (sorry Mods, if you want to move us, I'll understand). The head is made out of cardboard, which is supported by a chunk of wood attached to a newspaper frame. The whole thing is sitting on a rather sturdy person (me), and I'm swathed in clothing we found in our school's free box, and a skirt made of a very ugly curtain. Oh, and the glasses are some scrap wire we found.
Our assignment was to create a puppet that was Bread & Puppet Theater style, meaning big and expressive enough to be seen from across a field. For anyone that doesn't know, Bread and Puppet Theater is an acting troupe from Vermont that does big outdoor plays to promote social awareness on various topics. Anyway, the detail of the assignment was to create this puppet, use as little detail as possible on the face but still have something that was expressive, and perhaps most importantly, able to travel. The final part of the project was to go on a parade through campus, which I have to say, was a blast!
Okay, back to Sarah. We kept it pretty simple, so much so that she didn't even have a back surface to her head. While being carried around by me, her arms were operated by Cora by wires taped to her cardboard hands. However, we did decide to challenge ourselves with one fantastic detail. She could wink.
This was accomplished by an overly-complicated string setup that pulled an elastic causing her cheek and eyebrow to slide together. Usually followed quickly by "You betcha!". Ahem.
In the first photo up there, Cora is actually pointing out how this works. You can see the elastic, which we found out unfortunately can't stand the friction of repeated use and tended to break on us. In the second photo, you can see the string hanging down through the frame to my arm height so that I could discretely make her wink. Although we couldn't have her wink as often as we had hoped, it did still get the response we were going for. Overall, she was a success; the only problem we had besides the failings of the wink rubber band was when the January wind picked up during the trudge across the campus lawn. She has a massive, sail-like head, but thankfully her wooden neck was sturdy and I managed to keep my footing.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Sarah, and hopefully she can inspire any big puppety projects you make in the future. I'm tempted to put together a tutorial on how to make a weight-supporting frame out of newspaper, if people think that would be helpful to someone other than the occasional crazy puppeteer like me. Thanks for checking it out! C&C most welcome on the crafting, not arguing the politics please. And here's one last action shot: