Walking Bird Puppet Workshop with Green Fools Theatre

It's Day 14 and today we’re joined by puppet-master (literally!), Dean Bareham of Green Fools Theatre in Calgary. Green Fools are pioneers of Alberta’s puppet theatre community and we’re thrilled to have Dean teach us how to make our very own Walking Bird Marionette!  

This is quite the creative undertaking. Feel free to print off the instructions while you watch the instructional video.

Tools  

  • Scissors 
  • Pliers (to cut wire) 
  • Measuring Tape 
  • Spoon or fork for mixing Papier Mâché 
  • Bowl or plastic container 
  • Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks 
  • Paint brushes 

 Materials  

  • 120 ml [½ cup] flour  
  • 120 ml [½ cup] water  
  • 60ml [1/4 cup] white glue  
  • 60 cm [2 ft] Thin Rope or Thick String for Bird Legs 
  • Brown Kraft Paper 
  • Vaseline 
  • 30cm (1 ft.) rebar wire or galvanised wire 16 – 18 gauge  
  • Tin foil  
  • 2 – 30 cm [12”] Dowels. 1 to 1.5cm [1/4” to 3/8”] thick.  
  • White Latex House Paint, or White Acrylic, or Primer 
  • Assorted Acrylic Paints   
  • 3m [10 ft] Fishing Line – min 6lbs test or higher. No more than 20 lbs test.  
  • (optional) scrap cardboard (cereal boxes work great!) 
  • (optional) Feathers  

INSTRUCTIONS 

  1. Cover your workspace with paper or plastic.  
  1. Cut a 46cm [18”] and a 23cm [9”] piece of thick string. 
  1. Fold the 46cm [18”] piece of string in half and tie the 23cm [9”] piece string to the middle of the longer piece.  
  1. Tie knots onto all three ends.  
  1.  Use a piece of tinfoil and make a ball around the junction of all three strings. Keep adding tinfoil until you get the desired bird body shape. You can add wings if you like, made out of tin foil or cardboard.  
  1. Build your bird feet and head in the same way, wrap the tin foil around the knots on each end. You can use some paper rolled up into a cone or some cardboard to make a pointy beak if you like. Hot glue this to your tinfoil head.  
  1. Make some eyes, you can use small foam balls, or make your own out of masking tape. Hot glue the eyes on.  
  1. With your pliers, cut a 4cm [1 ½’) piece of wire and make 4 small U shapes, stick them onto the tinfoil with hot glue or tape.  Place them on the top of each foot, one on the tail of the body, and one on top of the head. Make sure to leave an exposed wire loop to tie your strings to, from controller later.  
  1. Cover all the tin foil with the masking tape and make sure to align your head and feet in the right direction forward.  
  1. Make some Papier Mâché. Slowly stir the flour into the water so it doesn’t get lumpy until its thick and creamy. Add ¼ of white glue. Mix thoroughly.  
  1. Put some Vaseline onto your hands.  
  1. Work Papier Mâché into the brown kraft paper and rip into small pieces and layer over all the masking tape, at least two layers. Make sure not to cover the wire part sticking out that you will attach your strings to later. Let dry, at least two hours in front of a fan or overnight if its air drying.  
  1. Take your two dowels and hot glue them together in a cross or a lowercase letter t-shape, (or an airplane with no tail). This is called an Airplane style controller.  
  1. Wrap some masking tape around the joint where they cross and then Papier Mâché it well. Let Dry.  
  1. Once your puppet is fully dry paint (prime) all the Papier Mâché with white latex house paint or acrylic. Paint your controller as well. I prefer my controller to be black, so it disappears. Let dry completely, at least an hour.  
  1. Choose your colors of acrylic and paint your puppet. Add wing, tail and head feathers if so desired.  
  1. While the paint is drying cut 4 x 61cm [24”] pieces of fishing line.  
  1. Tie the 4 stings onto each end of your Airplane controller. Hot glue or tape them into place.  
  1. Tie a string to the body tail wire. Then tie a sting to the head. Adjust so his head isn’t too tight. Tie the strings to the feet so that they both hang even and touch the ground at the same time. It should look like this:
  2.  Bird Marionette
  3. You will have extra string, cut off the extra and glue or tape the knot to the controller. 
  4. You can make your puppet walk by rocking the controller back and forth.  
  5. Best of Luck! Enjoy! 

The City of St. Albert has worked with content developers to provide creative prompts that align with provincial public health measures, and guidance to protect the health system and the community by slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Don’t forget to take a picture of your participation in today’s activity and share it with us online! Use the hashtag #40DaysofPLAY to be entered to win a prize from one of our Festival partners. 

 

Greenfools Theatre

 Long-time collaborators of our festival, Green Fools Theatre Society develops, creates, teaches, and promotes the arts of mask, puppetry, circus, clown and physical theatre. They create socially empowering work for audiences of all ages.  

Green Fools are pioneers of Alberta’s puppet theatre community and we’re thrilled to have Dean teach us how to make our very own Walking Bird Marionette!  

Green Fools logo

Follow all provincial public health measures when participating in 40 Days of Play activities. 

Last edited: May 11, 2021