Types of Puppets

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Hand Puppet (Glove Puppet)

There are many variations to a hand puppet. If the puppet does not have a movable mouth, three fingers on one hand become the neck and two arms. This type of puppet is often called a glove puppet. If the puppet has a movable mouth, traditionally the thumb serves as the lower jaw; the four fingers form the upper mouth.

Rod Puppet

Sticks or wire rod manipulate rod puppets attached to the neck and hands. In most cases, these controls come from below.Rod puppets mayalso be worked with rods from above, or any direction necessary for good movement and performance.

Shadow Puppet

Mostly rod puppets, they are made flat and cast a shadow when the puppeteer manipulates them between a light source and a screen (often a piece of muslin stretched like a canvas). A shadow puppeteer learns to move the puppet in and out of the light so its shadow grows and shrinks and goes in and out of sharp focus. Traditionally, these are made from animal hides that are painted and punched with decorative designs. Colored acetates are often used to create colors in the puppet's projected shadow.

Hand and Rod Puppet

This is the style made famous by the Muppets. The puppeteer uses his hand to move the puppet's mouth while rods attached to the puppet's hands animate the arms.

Hand and Glove Puppet

Also used frequently by the Muppets, this puppet is like the hand and rod puppet except human hands become the puppet's hands. This type of puppet may manipulate, pick up and put down, objects. For both hands to work, two puppeteers are needed: one on the mouth and one hand, an additional puppeteer on the second hand.

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Marionette (String Puppet)

One of the most difficult forms of puppetry to manipulate effectively, marionettes hang on strings. Usually there are eight basic strings to a well-designed marionette. However, some marionettes can have thirty or more. A good marionette performer learns how to use gravity to give the puppet life and weight. To work a marionette well, one must practice.

Ventriloquist Figure

Just don't call it a dummy. Only Paul Winchell may do that. He's one of the great ventriloquists in show business. Ventriloquism is lots of fun, but it too takes a great deal of practice. The puppet has a slotted mouth that works on a trigger. A good vent figure will also have multiple eye movement and eyebrows. Shari Lewis, Edgar Bergen, Jimmy Nelson were all well known and loved -famous Ventriloquists.

Stop-action Puppet/Stop-motion Puppet

Articulated dolls with movable and posable joints, stop-action puppets are as old as filmmaking. Still very popular today, stop motion puppets are everywhere. Willis O'Brien, George Pal, Ray Harryhausen and many others made them an important part of motion picture history. Today, animators like Wil Vinton and Nick Parks continue making magic by moving puppets frame by frame. The animation only can be seen when the sequence is run. This form of puppetry takes a lot of patience and a willingness to redo. Stop-motion artists prefer the title"animator" to "puppeteer."