I have a very long and somewhat bizarre history with hand puppets. I find them to be a very interesting form of art, but there is something almost creepy about them, and sometimes I find them a little bit off putting, I am not sure why. It really depends on the individual puppets, and who is making them speak. Perhaps that is why they make the perfect subject of today’s Strange Stuff Saturdays post.
In my earliest recollections, I know that I watched Mr. Rogers Neighborhood on television, perhaps it was the mid-seventies. I was just a little girl, and children’s television was a new genre. I remember when Mr. Rogers would transition into the land of make-believe by following that little trolley car, there were the creepiest looking puppets in this “make believe” land. Even as a child I knew it wasn’t really a dream state, it was just that dude Mr. Rogers in another part of the studio, talking to a bunch of creepy puppets. I was particularly weirded out by King Friday. I have no idea why, but I knew his voice was the same as Mr. Rogers.
At the same time, Sesame Street was taking off in popularity. I found those puppets, a version of hand puppet, to be really adorable, and I was always trying to figure out how they were controlled. I understood that they were puppets, but I often got lost in the magic, since the voices seemed so original and the characters were all very well defined. They didn’t bother me at all, and to this day I love Muppets in all forms.
My mother was always very crafty, and we did several projects that involved making puppets. We used wooden spoons to make a very simple puppet with a face on the spoon end, wrapped up in a tea towel. I remember her buying “DAS“, which was one of the first commercial clay products for home use. It would air dry to a solid but light finish, and then you could paint it. My mother had us all make “Clown Heads” out of DAS, with small plastic eyes and mouths you could stick right into the clay before it dried. We then painted them, and she actually sewed up a bunch of tiny clown costumes for the puppets. It was a bit creepy, but still a fun activity. You can apparently still buy DAS. Who knew.
For one of my siblings birthday parties, my mother decided that my twin sister and I should provide the entertainment, in the form of a puppet show. I don’t remember what the story was, perhaps it was “The Frog Prince”, but my father built a huge puppet theater for us to stand behind and work our magic, I can’t imagine it being a very successful show for an audience of children no older than 5 years.
So here we are, I have a mixed bag of childhood memories involving hand puppets. Some good, some weird, and some just strange. So I decided to take a look about Etsy to see if anyone had some great hand puppets, made by hand, that I could share with you and thus redeem myself from ‘puppet ambiguity’ in decades past. I was surprised at just how much I loved looking at these charming and odd puppets, they just look like a whole lot of fun. I could see them being used to make up some silly and fun stories with children and family members, or perhaps used in a classroom setting. I could also see a drama department at a local high-school going crazy for some of these puppets, I can only imagine how insane that puppet show would be. Some of these sweeties would just be fun to use for play.
However you see yourself using hand puppets, if in fact you can see it, I just had to show you some of these amazing Etsy finds. If for no other reason than to make you smile, you need to check out these amazing puppet makers. This is just the smallest collection of puppets, there are many more to be discovered at these and other Etsy shops, so take a wander over with the links provided under the images and take a little look-see at what other marvelously strange and wonderful puppets you can literally get your hands on, and in, as the case may be. Call me a puppet convert, I just can’t help but love this crazy band of characters.
NOTE: All images and products in the post are the intellectual property and copyright of the individual artists and Etsy stores indicated. No infringement is intended. Please follow the link under each image for more information on each puppet, including price, availability, and shipping rates.