Video transcript
Shadow and bunraku paper puppetry - 01. Making a simple shadow puppet

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ALICE OSBORNE: Hello, I'm Alice Osborne. I'm a puppetry director and a puppeteer. And today I'm going to take you through some simple techniques for making shadow puppets.

Here's the first one-- the simplest you can make. It's just a shape on a piece of paper that I'll cut out. So here's the shape.

And now I'll cut it out.

If you're working with very young students, it's great to get them to draw the shape. And if they need help cutting it out, it's really nice if you can follow their lines exactly so that the particular aesthetic of that student shows through into the puppet, rather than becoming a kind of more adult aesthetic.

And then this is the slightly more tricky part-- making the hole in the middle of the flower. So young students will need help with that, if they're making a flower. But they can make anything. You can also use hole punches if that's easier.

And then shadow puppetry is black and white, because you just see the shadow through the screen. So you can add colour by using coloured cellophane.

I'll just cut off that tiny bit of masking tape that's showing through.

And then you need a rod for your puppet, because this flower might grow out of the ground. So puppetry is all about animating the puppet, making it move. So this is a barbecue skewer. Pointy end-- you might like to chop that off for young students. And then we just attach the rod to the stem of the flower.

The larger your puppet is, the easier it is to attach things like this, because you don't have to worry about the masking tape showing. And it's important to use cardboard that's not too flimsy. A thicker cardboard is better, as long as you can cut it easily, and the students can, so that it's got some sturdiness.

So that's the first, and simplest, puppet-- a cut-out shape with a rod stuck on so that you can operate it, so that it could grow. OK. That's number one.

Number two, again, we start with a simple shape. This time it's going to be a mouse. So we start like we started with the first one. Cutting out the shape. But I'm going to show you something that adds movement without doing a moving part that you have to puppeteer. So it adds incidental movement to the puppet. And that's by using a material that moves by itself.

So I've got this feather here, and it's got its own movement to it because it's not fixed. And so we stick that on. You'll get more animation with your puppet. It'll have a bit more life in it, and that's what we're going for with puppetry, is to get as much life out of the puppet as possible.

So this is, again, for really young students, or for anybody, but you can get a better effect because there's a moving part without much more complication.

And I'll show you another technique for making a rod with this one, which is trickier to make but gives you a much better result in the puppetry.

So with this one, you see that it's fixed, so you have to be right near the screen to make it work. But with this rod-- so you take your rod, get your masking tape, and you leave a bit overlapped. So rather than fixing it to the rods, you leave a little bit at the top, which is going to make a hinge.

So the rod only comes up to there. And I've got a spare bit of masking tape folded over. Stick that down there. Just neaten that up a little bit. Stick that there. And then you stick only over the hinged part-- so just open the masking tape, not over the rod.

And then you've got this moving part that gives you a lot more options for your puppeteering, which I'll show you later with the screen.

The third puppet I'll show you is more advanced, and it's a puppet with moving parts. So today I'm going to make a human figure-- a profile of a human figure.

Now, you'll get your students to draw your figure or their puppet that they want to make. So they might draw a person like that. But here's the complicated thing-- they actually need to separate it into parts, because we're going to make these parts moving. So they have to have a little overlap.

So I'm going to separate into the things that I want to make. So first I'm going to have a head with a little neck. Then I'm going to have a body-- a kind of kidney body. An arm, which is going to have a bicep and a forearm. And a leg that's going to have a thigh, and a calf, and a foot. So I've separated it out, and we'll cut those and then we'll overlap them.

So they might make-- whatever you're working on-- say you were making a dinosaur, you might like the dinosaur to have a moving jaw. So you'd just have to create the bottom half of that jaw as a separate piece with room for overlapping so that you can attach it. Or it could be a bird that has moving wings, so you draw the wings separately to the body of the bird.

So this is for older students.

And then in the operation of these puppets, you can work in teams as well. So when they have moving parts, you might have two people working on them in the operation to get all the parts moving at once. You can be as complicated as you like. You can have one moving part, or you can have several. Simple is often best, particularly with shadow puppets.

Now, again, the slightly tricky part of making a hole. This time it's for the split pins. So I've got split pins here, which we're going to use to attach the different pieces to each other. And a safe way of making the holes is to get some thick cardboard as a base and then just to pierce with scissors or with a metal skewer. And make your small holes like that.

And now with the split pins-- so split pins, you can get them from stationary shops. The shorter the better. If you have a long one, it can show through on the puppet and destroy the line of the puppet.

So I'm attaching the head and the arm into the same hole. So I'm putting the split pin through the head, the shoulder, top of the arm. And then I'll do the forearm. And we need another hole here, at the hip.

For the thigh. I'm attaching the lower leg now. And just pull the two parts of the split pin apart. They're also called fasteners, if you're trying to source them-- fasteners or split pins. And now the ankle.

And now we have a moving figure.

So we've got our puppet, and now I've got some raffia to add some texture and interest. So I'm going to use this for hair. I'm going to use this for hair.

So of course this is completely up to the artist who's making their puppet. You could do this in whatever way you want. Whatever the imagination of the student wants to do.

And any time you can have anything in a shadow puppet where the light shines through, it's a really good idea, because you get variation.

And now we need to do the rods. So I'm wrapping the masking tape around once or 1 and 1/2 times, and then attaching the two parts. Just reinforce that a little. And I'm repeating that. I'm using the pointy ends so that they're now concealed, which is safer. Or you can cut off the pointy ends. That's also a good idea-- before you start the lesson.

OK. So the same technique that we used before with the mouse. We're making a hinge. So you leave a little bit of an overlap at the end. I'm neatening this up because this is quite a skinny puppet. But if you had a larger puppet, it wouldn't be necessary to cut those bits off.

Tidying up the rod-- or the masking tape. And again, just tidying up the masking tape here.

That's one rod. And I'll put the other one down here on her calf. There's the second rod. So that's your human figure. And I'll show you what that looks like behind the screen later.

So now we have our simplest puppet, the one with the moving part-- slightly more complicated-- and the different rod, the hinged rod, and the advanced one, which has got lots of moving parts.

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