A typical moving mouth puppet will also have arm that can move in some way too. There are a few different ways to achieve this, but the most common is with Arm Rods.
There are a lot of famous puppets who have arm rods too. Such as characters like the beloved furry red monster Elmo from Sesame Street. As well as main characters from the Muppets like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.
Follow along below to learn how to make professional arm rods for your puppet.
- 3/32nds inch welding rod
- ⅝ inch dowel rod
- Rotary tool
- Coping saw
- 2 part epoxy
- Paper towel
- Spray paint
- Safety Equipment
- Face shield or safety goggles
Take the welding rod and cut it in half using the rotary tool so you have two pieces that are 16 inches long. Make sure to wear eye protection or a face shield to protect your eyes. After making sure the two pieces are equal, use the rotary tool again to take off the stamped ends of the rod. The metal does get hot, so be careful when handling any pieces that fall away.
To make handles, take the ⅝ inch dowel rod and mark off two 5 inch pieces. Use the coping saw to cut them away from the rest of the dowel. Sand down the edges so that they are smooth and won’t snag on anything.
Next, drill the hole to insert the rods. On each handle, make a mark off-center to show you where to drill. Then, slowly start drilling. Once you’ve started the hole you can go a little faster, but make sure you drill the holes on both handles to the same depth. Make sure to keep your fingers away from the drill bit as well. If you use a 3/32nds inch bit, you should get a snug fit.
Use the rotary tool to add three small notches to each side of the rods. This will prevent the rods from twisting in the handle.
Wearing gloves, mix the two parts of the epoxy. Most epoxy is a 50/50 mixture, but make sure to check your directions before mixing. Thoroughly and evenly mix the parts. You will also want to work quickly as epoxy has a short cure time. It does give off a smell, so be sure to use it in a well-ventilated area.
Dip the notched end of the rod in the epoxy. Insert into the handle and pull out to ensure even coverage inside the hole in the handle. Dip the rod in the epoxy again and leave it in. Use a paper towel to wipe up any extra epoxy so you won’t have to sand as much again later.
Once the epoxy has cured, sand all parts of the arm rod. This will help the paint bond to the rod better. Spray the rods with black spray paint.
Use pliers to bend the rods into a letter “P” shape.
Once you have done that, you are now finished with the arm rods. If you want to add fingers, please look at the instructions for poseable hands in Puppet Building 101 series.
Follow along with this video if you would like to know how to make hands for your puppets!
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