Doll Making | Two Papier-mâché Hand Puppets

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Doll Making | Two Papier-mâché Hand Puppets

Playtime pals for children to make—two hand puppets, Tony the Organ Grinder and Toto the Clown, modeled from papier-mâché and dressed in scraps of felt, corduroy and printed cotton. Tony is ruddy-faced, beetle-browed, moustachioed—he wears a green corduroy shirt, yellow neckerchief, black hat, and red gloves. Toto’s merry face is white with red spots, black lines—he wears a green cap, gaily-printed shirt, and red gloves.


To Construct the Puppets: Newspaper; flour or wallpaper paste; deep pan; 2 soft-drink or similarly shaped bottles; 2 pieces of firm cotton cloth (such as sheeting) 5" or 6" square; 2 rubber bands; clay modeling tools (or flat kitchen or palette knife, orangewood stick, and larger stick rounded on the end); glue; tiny marbles, shoe buttons or similar type buttons for eyes (optional).

To Decorate the Puppets: Poster or enamel paints—white, yellow, red, black, brown and green; white shellac or colorless nail polish; brushes; denatured alcohol to clean shellac brush; a few strands of knitting worsted for hair, moustache, eyebrows, and whiskers (optional).

To Make Clothes: Scraps of sturdy fabric, such as percale or corduroy, for shirts; scraps of felt for hands and Tony's hat and neckerchief; ruffle for Toto's collar.

DIRECTIONS: Whole procedure, including drying, will take about a week.

To make Papier-mâché: Fold and tear two full sheets of newspaper in halves, then quarters, then eighths, then sixteenths. Shred these small squares, a few at a time, into strips about ½" x 6". Place in deep pan, cover with warm water, stir to loosen strips and let stand at least 24 hours, but preferably three days. When a wad, squeezed dry, holds its shape, paper is ready for mixing with paste. Mix about 1 cup of fairly thick paste for each head. Use about four or five handfuls of paper, squeezed as dry as possible, for one head. Put part of paste in a pie tin or other open pan. Tear apart wads of paper and mix thoroughly with paste. Success of the modeling depends on paste and paper being properly mixed. If mixture keeps falling apart you have either 1) left too much water in paper (re-squeeze it); 2) made paste too thin (add more flour); 3) used too much paste for amount of paper (add more paper); or 4) failed to mix paper and paste together sufficiently.

To Model Head: Center square of sheeting over top of bottle. Hold in place near bottom with a rubber band. (Some bottles are too gradually tapered for rubber band to stay in place. For such bottles, tie a piece of string loosely around sheeting near the bottle top.) This cloth stays inside the head permanently and should extend below the puppet's neck at least 1" all around. The dress is sewn to this extension.

Take a sizable ball of papier-mâché and push it down directly over top of bottle, forming an oval head and about ½" neck. Do not form neck too tightly around neck of bottle. Reinforce any weak spots with additional papier-mâché. With round-end stick, gently press in eye sockets about halfway down from top of head. Be careful not to punch them all the way through. Set in buttons, marbles or tiny rolled balls of papier-mâché for the eyeballs. With small pinches of papier-mâché, and using plenty of paste, attach ridges for eyebrows and lips; lumps for cheeks and chin; a nose and, finally, ears. It is easier to form ears before attaching them. Be sure to form them in opposite directions, making a left and a right ear. Shape and smooth entire head with modeling tools. Level base of neck with a knife. Check for, and reinforce, any weak spots—especially around eyes and ears. Be sure neck and top of head are thick enough not to break through. Add a cone shape for clown's hat.

Cover remaining papier-mâché mixture to keep it from drying out. Let head dry for several hours. Check again, and patch any weak spots or holes. Try easing head off bottle to stretch neck in case it has been formed too tightly around bottle. Mend any cracks this may cause.

Let puppet dry thoroughly in a warm place (but not over direct heat or in strong sunlight) for three or four days. Intense heat will shrivel and wrinkle puppet (fine for making an old wrinkled face). When outside feels dry, slip from bottle and lay head on its side to hasten drying of inside. When puppet is completely dry, inside and out, it is ready to be painted.

To Paint the Head: Be sure sheeting is securely attached to inside of head, adding paste or glue if it seems loose. Hold head on your finger while painting. Dry thoroughly between each coat of paint.

Paint Toto's head with two coats of white. Paint ears, mouth, dots on cheeks, and tip on nose red. Paint hat green. Paint eyebrows, eye pupils and lids, base of hat, and lines on face black. Paint a fringe of black hair around back hairline, beginning just behind the ears.

Paint Tony's head with one coat of white and one coat of flesh color (white mixed with a bit of red and yellow). Paint lower lip red. Tint ears, cheeks, and nose lightly with red. Paint eyebrows, eye sockets, and moustache brown. Paint eyeballs black. Paint a fringe of brown hair around back hairline.

Apply two coats of shellac or colorless nail polish to the dried puppets, taking care not to get any shellac on the cloth extension—difficult to sew through.

If you want to use yarn instead of paint for the hair, moustache, etc., comb out short lengths of yarn with a fine-toothed comb, cut to desired size, and arrange on puppet while the first coat of shellac is still quite sticky.

To Make the Clothes: For each puppet, cut two pieces of the shirt pattern from sturdy cotton; two full hand sections and two palm sections from scraps of felt. Turn under seam allowance at sleeve ends of shirt. Sew hands to sleeve ends of shirt back, thumbs up; palms to sleeve ends of front. Sew front and back of shirt together along shoulder and side seams, using flat or French seams on fabrics that ravel. Hem lower edge of shirt. Sew hand sections together around edge of palm. Turn under neck edge and whipstitch securely to cloth extension of head, as close to puppet's neck as possible. Cover clown's neck with a ruff, Tony's with a scarf.

Measure the circumference of Tony's head. Cut his hat brim and crown from scraps of black felt (see pattern diagram). Slash inside of brim, as shown, to fit head. Sew crown together along center back and top. Sew crown to brim over slashed edge. Glue hat to head. Shape brim.

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