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’s not really a set of rules to storing your puppets - obviously it depends on your space, your budget, and your puppet. However, the following will help you figure out how best to store yours. Obviously, stuffing your puppet into a bag as in the title image is probably not the best way to go about it!
First thing is to make sure that your puppet, no matter what it is, is kept in a dry non-dusty space, out of the way of dirty hands, messy pets, or feet that they can trip on. Keeping them in sunlight is not a good idea, because it can, a) warp materials, b) melt materials/glues, and c) bleach the colours. Obviously, any contact with water may damage the materials as well, which is why when cleaning them, you should always obey the maker’s instructions on care and use; most will tell you to use a damp cloth in order to clean the puppet. There’s also always a chance that puppets can catch on fire - though many puppet makers use fireproof materials, there’s no avoiding using some fire-catching ones - so make sure to keep anything away from electrical equipment where possible.
For the actual storage part, you should generally keep in mind the following:
For shadow puppets, you’ll want to store them in a flat place, like a shelf at the top of your cupboard - a good way to store them is in an old suitcase, where you can easily keep them together. For marionettes, the best way to store them is to carefully wrap a piece of cloth, or tie, around all of the strings, and then gently place the marionette into a bag. It is ideal to hang the marionette by its control, preferably in a closet, or somewhere out of the way; however, those with little space can carefully lie the puppet down on a shelf. The reason you wrap something around the strings is to make sure that they don’t tangle whilst in storage, or when you move the puppet later. It saves a lot of hassle having to untangle them in the future.
When storing any puppet with a mouth, you may want to consider using a puppet stand, to help keep the puppet upright and avoid getting the mouth caught on something and tearing the materials. I’d say that puppet stands are also good for finger, sock and glove puppets too, but this item is generally used for showcasing your puppets rather than storing them. However, if you place the stand within a plastic bag, it does make for a reasonable way of storing these types of puppets. Also make sure that your puppets are protected from sweaty hands.
|Sterilite 18878004 88-Quart Wheeled Latch, Box See-Through with White Lid and Peacock Latches, 4-Pack|
You will also want to consider storage than can double as a transport case: some people even use roadcases (used for moving heavy equipment, generally seen in any TV show being moved by a ‘roadie’ on tour with a musical group) to store their puppets in. Obviously, that’s a little more expensive, and space-consuming, than what any average person needs in their own home. What I do is go to any storage or supply shop and buy big cheap plastic tubs. Many of them come with wheels and lids, and can be stacked, which work perfectly for any room in any house. I have about 10 of these, all with different puppet materials or creations in them. And you can buy them in different dimensions, even ones that fit under your average bed frame! The added benefit of these tubs, is of course, they also fit in my car; so all I have to do is pack one of them with my puppets, and off I go!
I don’t recommend using cardboard boxes for storage. Why? Because they are oh so easy to tear when picking them up, they don’t come with wheels for easy transport, and because they are also just as easy to damage in wet weather.
Don’t forget, you can also create your own storage unit for your own needs. If you’ve built a set for your puppet show, consider adding in storage space to the set, or adding wooden boxes backstage. If you travel with your show, you could just outfit your vehicle with special racks and boxes so that you can easily and quickly bump in and out. Here’s some great ideas for storage from Childrens Ministry Vault.
You may also want to check out this article on where to find puppet repairers in Australia.send feedback / have a question?
Australians may want to buy locally. Where? I explain here.