Get creative! Make your own animal puppets inspired by the puppets of Skellig

Friday 15th March 2019

Our family show Skellig features four amazing puppets designed by Frankie Bradshaw (Skellig Set and Costume Designer) and Matthew Forbes (Skellig Puppetry Director).

There’s a Jack Russell made from a man’s bag with a leather camera case for a face; a cat with a clock for a face and a spring for a tail; and two owls with bodies made out of buckets and heads made out of pans. All of the puppets are made from ‘found objects’ and are designed to look like they’ve appeared out of things found in Skellig’s home and the world of the play.

They were constructed right here at Nottingham Playhouse by our fabulous Deputy Head of Props, Alex Hatton.

Now it’s your turn!

Follow our guides to make your own marionette animal puppets using objects found around the house and a few basic craft items. We’ve made a Jack Russell puppet inspired by the one in Skellig but we’ve also made a horse to show you how, with a bit of imagination, you can turn the design into any four-legged friend you like. So have a play and share your unique creations with us on social media @nottmplayhouse #Skellig #AnimalPuppets.

Jack Russell Puppet – Step-by-Step Guide

You will need:

3 x toilet roll tubes; 3 x lollipop sticks; brown string; 2 x small buttons (tip: you can also use googly eyes or beads); masking tape; glue; scissors; hole punch; paint; paintbrushes; pallette; pencil

Step 1 – Make the head

Take a toilet roll tube and cut four evenly spaced slits around the bottom, approximately two thirds of the length of the tube. Curl each slit over each other to make a long rounded nose shape and secure with masking tape. Use a pencil to lightly draw the dog’s face, marking out the eyes, nose and patch. Paint in your desired colours and leave to dry.

Step 2 – Make the ears

Take another toilet roll tube and cut it in half length-ways to make a flat piece of cardboard. Draw and cut out two ear shapes, leaving an extra flap at the top of each ear to secure them in place on the head. Paint the ears and leave to dry.

Step 3 – Make the tail

Take a lollipop stick and ask an adult to cut off the bottom third. Paint this as the tail and leave to dry.

Step 4 – Make the body

Take the final toilet roll tube and paint this in your desired colours for the body and leave to dry.

Step 5 – Add the features

Once the paint is dry, glue on two buttons for each eye and glue the ears in place. Ask an adult to cut a slit at the back of the toilet roll body and slot in the lollipop stick tail.

Step 6 – Make the legs

On the underside of the toilet roll body, punch two leg holes at the front and two at the back. Cut two equal size pieces of brown string. Thread one through the holes at the front and the other through the holes at the back. Tie a knot on each end of string to make the dog’s paws.

Step 7 – Assemble the puppet

Punch two corresponding holes in the top and bottom of the head. On the upper side of the toilet roll body, punch a hole at the front and one at the back. Secure the two remaining lollipop sticks together in a cross shape with a piece of brown string. Cut another piece of brown string and tie one end to the front of one of the lollipop sticks. Thread the string through the holes in the head, the hole in the front of the body and back out through the hole in the back of the body. Tie the other end of the string to the back of the lollipop stick.

Enjoy your new Jack Russell puppet!

Horse puppet – Step-by-Step Guide

You will need:

2 x toilet roll tubes, 2 x lollipop sticks, brown string, white string, 2 x small buttons (tip: you can also use googly eyes or beads); 4 x beads, masking tape, glue, scissors, hole punch; paint; paintbrushes; pallette; pencil

Step 1 – Make the horse’s head

Take the first toilet roll tube and cut off a third from the bottom. On the remaining piece, cut 8 × 2cm slits around the bottom and curl each slit over each other to make a rounded nose shape. Secure with masking tape, also covering the hole left at the bottom. Use a pencil to lightly draw the horse’s face, marking out the eyes, nose and any other design features you want to include. Paint in your desired colours and leave to dry.

Step 2 – Make the ears

Draw and cut out two ear shapes from the leftover toilet roll third. Leave an extra flap of card at the bottom of each ear to secure them in place on the head. Paint the ears in your desired colour and leave to dry.

Step 3 – Make the body

Take the other toilet roll tube and paint in your desired colour to make the body. Leave to dry.

Step 4 – Add the horse’s features

Once the paint is dry, glue on the buttons for the eyes. Glue on the ears by folding the flap on each ear and attaching them to the underside of the top of the horse’s head. Cut five equal sized pieces of white string and attach these to the underside of the top of the horse’s head to make the mane. Drape them over the front of the head. Cut out five slightly longer pieces of string and attach these to the underside of the back of the horse’s body to make the tail.

Step 5 – Make the horse’s legs

On the underside of the toilet roll body, punch two leg holes at the front and two at the back. Cut two equal size pieces of brown string. Thread one through the holes at the front and the other through the holes at the back. On each end of string, thread on a bead to act as the horse’s hooves and tie a knot underneath each bead.

Step 7 – Assemble the puppet

Punch two corresponding holes in the top and bottom of the head. On the upper side of the toilet roll body, punch a hole at the front and one at the back. Secure the two remaining lollipop sticks together in a cross shape with a piece of brown string. Cut another piece of brown string and tie one end to the front of one of the lollipop sticks. Thread the string through the holes in the head, the hole in the front of the body and back out through the hole in the back of the body. Tie the other end of the string to the back of the lollipop stick.

Enjoy your new horse puppet!

(P.S. This horse can easily be made into a zebra, giraffe, unicorn or even a pegasus who can fly like Skellig! Or why not come up with your own brand new design?)

We can’t wait to see your puppets. Share your creations with us on social media @nottmplayhouse #Skellig #AnimalPuppets