I'm a puppet maker with a degree in theatre. A former lighting techie, stage manager and producer. And I like to think that with puppetry, the only limit is your imagination. More...
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There are so many things to talk about when it comes to puppetry. There is lots and lots of information on this site. But where exactly do you start? The biggest problem with learning puppetry is that there is just no easy guide to puppets for beginners: not because it doesn’t exist, but because it simply can’t exist. There is no ‘one way’ to make or use puppets, so the options are endless, and any advice will entirely depend on what you need and how you’re going to use it.
That’s the problem with making recommendations: they will all be too generic for your needs. My point is this: you will not be able to learn the craft from one single book, nor one resource, nor one class or pattern. It’s far too complicated, if only because a puppet can be anything and do anything. Likewise, no book will say “this is how you get from A to B” or "how to make puppets step by step" because there are way too many variables to cover succinctly. Which is why this site is just so large.
To learn puppetry, you’re going to have to do a little work. It’s honestly not that hard, and if you start with the below links you’ll find yourself getting to know some of the basics before looking for more specific resources. Once you’ve gotten the basics in your head, you can break your main goal down into sections, and learn about each. Writing for puppetry is an entirely different skill to learning to build a puppet (and each puppet type has different skills required), which is again entirely different to learning to perform puppetry. This is why resources are often segmented and books written for more specific aims.
There’s no right or wrong way to make and use puppets: but there may be a better way according to your needs. This website endeavours to answer some of the most basic questions about puppetry - as well as being a growing base for tutorials, articles, videos, news and patterns for creating and using puppets.
Where to start is obviously the hardest part of learning puppetry, and I know the above is not exactly what you wanted to hear, but puppetry is about as diverse as sculpture: different styles, different methods, different materials… It’s extremely difficult for most puppeteers to answer this question for beginners. So I’ve found the best and only advice to give is to just dive right in. You don’t have to know what you’re doing, or have done it before: just have a go!
15 November 2010: This list is not yet finished, some links are still to be added and some of the ‘start here‘ article titles have not been added either. Please be patient whilst this is being updated.
Building a puppet
Buying a puppet
Australians may want to buy locally. Where? I explain here.