Puppeteering with Folkmanis Puppets
Bringing your puppets to life –
“Oh, but I could never do that!”
With puppet in hand, proceed to the nearest mirror to try it on for size.
By following these few tips, you’ll soon convince friends that you’re
a natural puppeteer.
Insert your thumb in one paw, and the little finger
in the other. This leaves three fingers for the manipulation of the nose
and/or mouth. NOTE: even if you’re right-handed, you might find your
left hand more relaxed for puppeteering (or vice-versa.) This is a
common experience, and one we can’t explain. With the animal on
one hand, hold it in the crook of your other arm. This gives your puppet
a nice nest and conceals the secret of your participation.
Remember that nothing looks more awkward (or unconvincing) than a
puppet perched on the end of an extended arm and hand.
If your puppet has a snout (bears, beavers, raccoons, skunks) two
twitching fingers will produce a wiggling nose. Have your puppet crawl
up your shoulder, tug at your sleeve, scratch, twist around, or hide
in the crook of your arm.
For animals with tails, nest the puppet on your free arm, extending your
fingers of that arm toward the elbow of your “puppet arm.” Position your
thumb under the base of the tail and move it up and down to swish the
The sea otter, small panda, and cats look particularly endearing on
their backs, in the crook of your arm. From this position, have them
gaze at their audience, occasionally hiding their eyes behind their paws,
scratching, or nestling down for a snooze.
Props like rubber balls, oranges, small mirrors, cups, or wrapped candy
will awaken the natural curiosity of your animal. Insert your whole hand
through the hidden sleeve of the larger, cuddly animals for animated
"Rod arm" puppetry refers simply to operating a puppet as follows: with your dominate hand working the head and mouth (a) of the puppet, while your other hand operates the puppet's hands via long rods that hang from the wrists of the puppet(b). I. Most rod actions will be done with only one arm. Let the other arm hang limp. Don't try to do all your motions with both rods; you'll be limiting the believability of your puppet.
Most people gesture with one arm at a time. Have your puppet behave accordingly. When your actions have become smooth and you are comfortable in your performing, try shifting from one arm to the other by gently dropping one rod and picking up the other.
Practice this method until you are confident in your moves.
2. Manipulating two rods with one hand is not as difficult as it may appear. Cross the rods and, with your palm toward your body, place your little finger beneath the "X" formed by the rods.
The ring and middle fingers should curl snugly around the rods, while the thumb and forefinger are used for moving the rods (see illustration B).
By pressing them together, the puppet's hands move together.
Some two-rod motions fairly easy to learn are: a. Clapping Hands - Keeping the puppet's arms straight out, bring hands together and apart quickly. b. Bowing - Hold both arms out from the body.
Bring the outside arm (manipulated by the forefinger) across the puppet's stomach while turning the back of your hand toward yourself Use your thumb to bring the inside arm behind the puppet's back.
You are now ready to bow. c. Spreading Arms - Lift the rods as you release your grip with your ring and middle fingers. Open your thumb and forefinger as wide as possible while still retaining control of the rods.
The human arm puppet provides more realism to a puppet show. It can be operated by one or two puppeteers.
With one puppeteer, one hand will go in the head while the other goes through a sleeve. In this case, care must be taken to not let the "stump" of the unused arm show .
With two puppeteers, one will operate both hands while the other works the head.
To operate the hands, put on the matching gloves. Holding the puppet facing away from you, put your hand through the fully elasticized end of the sleeve and work it through to the other end. Pull the sleeve to fit around the wrist. (The puppet's elbow need not coincide with the puppeteer's.) If two puppeteers operate the puppet, the taller puppeteer should work the head.
The puppeteers should be positioned as close as is comfortably possible.
The best position will depend on the relative heights and arm lengths of the puppeteers.
A good position for kneeling or standing is the alternate leg position, where one kneels or stands slightly behind the other.
The taller puppeteer should be stationed behind his partner so that he can reach over him to work the head. Eight to twelve inches of depth between the stage and the puppet's body will provide space for arm movements.
The puppet director should stand in front of the stage to guide the puppeteers in their positioning. Do actions with these puppets just as if they were real people on stage. They are simply an extension of your personality, so have them do what you would do on stage.
HOW TO OPERATE VENTRILOQUIST PUPPETS
According to Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, the word ventriloquism comes from the Latin words venter meaning “belly or paunch,” and locutus meaning “to speak.” Accordingly, ventriloquism would be the act of “speaking from the belly.” In actual fact, ventriloquism is the art of speaking in such a manner that the voice appears to come from a source other than the speaker.
As with magic tricks, the real skill of the performer is measured in how well he or she is able to distract the audience from observing certain “tricks” that are being done right in front of them. Generally, a Magician must rely on carefully practiced “slight of hand” routines.
A Ventriloquist, on the other hand , has his dummy
Our large Full-Body Puppets can be used just like a Ventriloquist's dummy.
These puppets are designed to sit easily on the puppeteer's lap but may also be carried in the puppeteer’s arms. Head and mouth movement is easily accessed through a slit in the puppet's back. Reach into the opening and grasp the inside of the mouth with your hand. Twist your wrist to make the puppet look to the left and right. A new puppet may be somewhat stiff until you have operated it for a time and “loosened it up.
” Next, try making the puppet nod it’s head back and forth.
Now, using the included arm rod, make your puppet gesture while opening and closing it's mouth.
Practice doing this while turning the puppet’s head from side to side. Now you are ready to practice the art of ventriloquism.
We recommend that, if possible, you do this in front of a large mirror so you can see how you and your puppet look while practicing.
Say the alphabet from A to Z, in a loud clear voice, but try not to move your lips while doing it.
A was easy and sounded good, but B sounded like E (if you didn’t move your lips).
The next letter that you will have trouble with is M, and then P, and then W.
Not too bad, only 6 out of 26 letters are hard to do!
The problem is that there are many important words in our regular conversations that contain the same difficult sounds as these letters have.
Try saying “Pocahontas broke her umbrella in Picadilly.”
If you can say that without moving your lips, you’re a lot better at it than we are.
You could try saying the same thing while avoiding difficult words as in “An Indian girl got wet in England,” but this is generally impractical.
Here is where your puppet comes in. Without moving your lips, have your puppet say A, B, C, but when you say B, have your puppet rock to one side suddenly, turning it’s head so as to say the letter in another direction. The eyes of the audience will follow the puppet’s motion and miss the slight movement of your lips as you pronounce the B.
A good rule is “The more energetic or erratic a puppet is, the more distraction it provides.
” Lastly, change your puppet’s voice so that it doesn’t sound exactly like yours and speak the puppet’s voice as loudly or louder than you do your own voice.
Cleaning InstructionsCleaning Recommendations for Folkmanis Puppets:
Furry Plush Puppets (Sheepdog, Horse, Timber Wolf, etc.)
DO NOT PUT IN WASHER OR DRYER. This will destroy your puppet. Furry plush puppets are surface-washable only. Do not submerge the puppet in water. Use lukewarm water and sponge with Woolite® or other mild laundry detergent to wet and lather fur. Rinse surface with sponge. Be careful not to wring or twist the puppet, or you may end up with lumpy stuffing. Dry by gently squeezing between towels, or hanging from clothesline to drip-dry. After it’s dry, brush with wire dog brush to fluff the fur. When brushing face, be careful to avoid scratching the eyes or pulling out the threads in ears, nose, or mouth areas.
Velour Plush Puppets (Ladybug, Dragon, Large Pig, etc.)
DO NOT PUT IN WASHER OR DRYER. With the larger velour puppets, surface-wash with a sponge, mild detergent and lukewarm water. The smaller velour glove puppets can actually be submerged in lukewarm water to wash. Do not wring or twist puppet. To dry the puppet, gently squeeze between towels or drip-dry from clothesline. Do not brush the velour puppets.
Please e-mail questions we will respond ASAP. Call 336-835-4344 if you have a deadline.
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