How to Make an Animal Marionette

by Erin Ringwald
Make an animal marionette to put on your next puppet show.

Make an animal marionette to put on your next puppet show.

Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

The idea of making your own functional marionette may seem like a daunting task for anyone other than professional puppeteer. However, making a marionette with things from around your home takes little time and effort. Use dowel rods, drinking cups and string to create almost any animal to fit your needs. Use your finished marionette animal to put on a puppet show or hang it in your room as a decoration.

Items you will need

  • Drill
  • 2 dowel rods
  • Large, plastic drinking cup
  • Awl
  • Knitting needle (optional)
  • Five small, bathroom drinking cups
  • Medium-sized drinking cup
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Yarn (optional)
  • Stickers (optional)
  • Googly eyes (optional)
Step 1

Use a drill to make three 1/8-inch holes in a 1/2-inch dowel rod that is 12 inches long. Place one hole 1/4 inch from the end of the dowel rod. The second hole in the center of the dowel rod and the third hole 1/4 inch from the other end. Repeat the process with a second dowel rod of the same size, to create two control arms.

Step 2

Punch six holes in a large plastic drinking cup to create the body, using an awl or a knitting needle. Place one hole 1/2 inch from the bottom of the cup to create a neck hole. Place two more holes on the opposite side of the bottom of the cup, 1/2 inch from the edge, spaced 2 inches apart, to create the front leg holes. Punch one hole on same side of the cup as the first hole, 1/2 inch from the top edge of the cup to create a hole for the back of the control arm. Place two more holes on the opposite side of the cup, 1/2 inch from the top edge, spaced two inches apart, to create the back leg holes.

Step 3

Punch a hole into the bottom center of four small, bathroom-drinking cups to create the legs. Repeat the process with four more drinking cups. However, also add a second hole on these four cups 1/2 inch from the top edge of the cup, to create the feet.

Step 4

Punch a hole into the side of a medium-sized drinking cup, 1/2 inch from the top edge of the cup. Punch a second hole parallel to the first, on the opposite side of the cup to create the head. Create the neck by punching a hole into the bottom center of the cup.

Step 5

Cut four 8-inch strings for the legs. To create each leg, feed one string through the hole in the bottom of one of the foot cups. Tie a knot in the end of the string, inside the cup. Tie a second knot, 4 inches up the string. Feed the string through the inside of one of the leg cups. Repeat the process with the other three foot cups and three leg cups to create four legs with feet.

Step 6

Attach one leg to each of the leg holes in the large cup body by feeding the ends of the 8-inch strings through the leg holes and tying a knot in the end of the string to secure them. When feeding the string through, ensure the cups are hanging upside down below the body.

Step 7

Cut four more pieces of string, each 30 inches long. Tie a knot in one end of each of the strings. Feed the first string through the inside of one of the foot cups and out the hole near the top of the cup. Repeat the process with the other three strings and other three foot cups to create the strings to attach to the control arms.

Step 8

Cut a 24-inch piece of string. Tie a knot in the end of the string. Feed it through the inside of the body-cup hole near the bottom of the cup. Pull the string to the outside of the cup and tie a knot in it 4 inches up. Feed the neck cup on the string, passing the string through the inside and then out the bottom hole. Tie a knot 1 inch up the string and feed the loose end through one of the holes in the head cup. Feed the other end of the string through the other hole in the head cup to create the end of the string to attach to the control arm.

Step 9

Cut a second 24-inch piece of string. Tie a knot in one end of the string and feed it through the hole in the back of the body cup.

Step 10

Feed the head string through the center hole in one of the control arms. Tie a knot in the string to secure it. Pass the two foot strings through the left and right holes on the same control arm. Pull the strings through until they are even with the head string. Tie a knot in the end of the strings to secure them. Repeat the process with the second control arm and the back-body string and the two back-foot strings. Trim away any excess string.

Step 11

Decorate the animal using acrylic paints, yarn, stickers, googly eyes or any other craft supplies you desire, to create the desired animal.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images