Over the past year we’ve noticed that lots of the puppets we’ve made in our Edinburgh studio are going to be used online, either as the star of a video or just for use in skype or facetime chats. We’ve even made a whole team of likeness puppets for one organisation, which would certainly make video conferencing with colleagues working from home more fun!
Puppets are a great way to engage children (and grown-ups too) when teaching, storytelling or coaching online or remotely, and can really help to get your message across in a fun way.
Our puppets can be used in online videos as well as live chats.
As well as creating likeness puppets of the human members of your team we can also make your mascot or character into a friendly puppet who can come alive on screen. We’ve made all kinds of mascots and characters into puppets – including a talking tuna can, a troll and lots and lots of different animals, not to mention all of the body parts for the lovely Senses glove puppet!
Here is a sneak preview of our Hypothetical puppets on TV – we’re delighted to hear them going down so well with the audience:
Who made the Hypothetical Puppets?
The six Hypothetical puppets were made by Mari Jones and Emma Forrest here at Picture to Puppet. Our Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster puppets will be joined by our Romesh puppet, our Rachel Parris puppet, our Jon Richardson puppet and our Rose Matafeo puppet!
We had a great time making the Hypothetical puppets because the comedians were so charismatic and interesting to caricature. We’re proud of our Romesh puppet’s distinctive expression, of our Rose Matafeo puppet’s big smile and of our Jon Richardson puppet’s open face.
You can find out more about our custom caricature puppets, likeness puppets and lookalike puppets here! If you’d like to find out a bit about the process of making likeness puppets, we’ve got a lovely video about it here (video courtesy of Becky Chan):
You can see lots of examples of other likeness puppets we have made here!
Here are some pictures of our Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster puppets:
Our Romesh Puppet
Here is our Romesh Ranganathan puppet! As with all our custom puppets, we worked hard to get the right head shape, and his squint. We even gelled his hair into shape and trimmed his beard to the right length!
Our Josh Widdicombe Puppet
In our Josh Widdicombe puppet, we tried to match his tousled curls, blue eyes and glasses.
Our Rose Matafeo Puppet
Rose Matafeo’s joyful expression was a pleasure to capture in our Rose Matafeo puppet. We also searched high and low for a tiny costume to match hers, and the right wig!
We focused on Rachel Parris’s Luscious lips when making our Rachel Parris puppet. Happy to hear her say it was the hair of her dreams! When we make caricature puppets, the challenge is is often to accentuate the person’s most distinctive features whilst retaining a close likeness.
Our James Acaster Puppet
Here is our James Acaster puppet! Sadly he’d had a haircut by the time the show came around, which reduced the likeness a bit. But it’s mostly in the eyebrows!
Our Jon Richardson Puppet
I got quite attached to our Jon Richardson Puppet, because he has such a friendly face!
Order your own custom caricature puppet from Picture to Puppet!
You don’t need to be a TV production company to order a fabulous lookalike puppet. We make lots of custom puppets, and can make likeness puppets (like these hypothetical puppets) based on anyone you like, just send us a photo to email@example.com. Our likeness puppets start from £175 for a glove puppet and £315 for a hand puppet. Why not jazz up your best man speech, or surprise a loved one?
Recently I have had lots of commissions for lookalike puppets – I’m sent a photo of a person and have to build a puppet based on the picture. Often the pictures are of celebrities and are used in TV shows and stage productions, and often they are commissioned by people who want a mini me puppet to look like themselves.
At the moment I’m working on a bulk load of celebrity lookalike puppets for a TV show called hypothetical. We don’t know when it’s going to air yet, but Ill keep you posted!
Recent Mini Me and Lookalike Puppets
In the mean time, here are some other lookalike puppets I’ve made over the last couple of months. I’m finding that the more lookalike puppets I make, the more I enjoy it, as I am always learning new ways to represent different facial features. Recently I have started making much more detailed facial structures by carving foam shapes and glueing them onto the foam skulls. I’m also figuring out more ways to show different hair styles, and I’m gradually adding hair dressing to the list of random skills I am picking up in the course of my puppet making career!
I really enjoy working on lookalike puppets of older people because their faces have so much character. Even though I rarely meet or even speak to the subjects of my mini mes, I find myself inventing personalities for them as I go along. I feel like this lady has a good sense of fun as well as lots of interesting stories and wise words to offer!
I think this chap looks very friendly and approachable!
These mini me puppets were commissioned as a wedding present for the couple in question. Don’t they look happy! I’ve done quite a few puppets for wedding speeches over the years, which Certainly makes for an unusual speech!
Marionettes here I come…
Im just heading down to Devon to start a marionette carving course, so next week’s blog post will be about marionettes! It’s taking me eighteen hours on a bus to get there, so let’s hope it’s worth it!
Back next Monday at 10am for more puppetry chats! In the mean time, you can find out more about our lookalike puppets here.
At Picture to Puppet and Leith Toy Hospital, we get lots of different teddy and puppet repair jobs through the door. Nevertheless, last night I was slightly surprised by an emergency call out to mend a huge bear with a broken jaw! Thankfully it wasn’t a real one, but an enormous and very beautiful puppet used in a fringe show, a stage adaptation of Rayomnd Briggs’s “The Bear”. I’ve got very fond memories of having this lovely book read to me as a child, so was excited to have the opportunity to work on the stage version and carry out a puppet repair in the Edinburgh Fringe.
When I arrived, the bear’s jaw was hanging open and he couldn’t close it. After a while I figured out that the rod that the mechanism hinged on had snapped, an integral piece of foam had come adrift and the elastic had lost its elasticity over time. It took most of the evening, but thankfully I had the bear roaring happily again in time for his next show! Luckily, spending Wednesday evenings contorting my body into bizarre positions inside the head of a polar bear is all in a day’s work here at Picture to Puppet.
I have often been asked to create custom talking puppets or cuddly toys based on book characters. Often publishers or illustrators order one off puppets of their own characters so that they can do workshops in schools, or a custom soft toy just for themselves. Other times they are looking for animal puppets or toys made in bulk to sell as merchandise. Here are some examples of story book characters we have created.
Willie the Wolf – A talking puppet with blinking eyes
Another book character I have made up as a custom muppet is Willie the Wolf, who had blinking eyes as well as moving eyebrows. He is very charismatic so I had a lot of fun making different expressions with the moving eyebrows and blinking eyes. You can see lots of videos and examples of blinking eye puppets here: https://picturetopuppet.co.uk/mechanisms-extras/
Little One – Custom Soft Toy Polar Bears
This beautiful book is entirely illustrated in charcoal. The drawings are simple but full of life and energy. The author and illustrator of the book commissioned me to make these soft toys based on her drawings. I used a variagated long pile fur fabric to represent the charcoal shading and trimmed it around the face and legs.
Animal Puppets from “What’s Wellington”
These lovely characters are from “What’s Wellington” by Jacqueline Lough.
And here are the animal puppets, which we brought to life! The crocodile has false teeth, which you can zip in and out of his mouth. (It turns out that Wellington is an Echidna).
They are custom made hand puppets, or talking puppets with moving mouths. The illustrator of the book was very excited to see her ideas brought to life.
Cinderella’s Mice – Cuddly Toys from your drawings
This client wrote and illustrated stories about Cinderella’s mice for her son, and this sweet plush custom made to give to help act out the stories! If you’ve got a story and would like us to make a custom soft toy based on your drawing, have a look at our custom soft toys page for some more examples!
Custom Monster Puppet – Horace the monster who likes reading
Horace is a lovable monster who likes reading! He’s out and about now doing workshops in schools and is having a great time! Find out more about our service making monster puppets and other custom puppets to order here!
Some of the most rewarding jobs at the toy hospital involve rescuing something that looks completely beyond repair. Does that sound like something that could be on a TV show? Well, we have some very exciting news: Leith Toy Hospital is going to be featured on the CBeebies show Junk Rescue! Their focus on sustainability and creative re-use will be a perfect match for the work we do, bringing old toys back to life. We both would have loved this sort of show when we were little, and the junkyard looks like heaven for crafty kids! We’re very excited to be featured on the show, which will be filming later on in the summer.
We’ll let everyone know when to watch us on TV, but for now, here’s a recent story from the toy hospital where we restored something that looked like junk. It was a very sad case of a stuffed dog which had been shredded by its living counterpart. Our patient came to us as a bag full of stuffing and fabric scraps, and at first we couldn’t imagine how it could ever be put back together!
Shredded dog restoration
First of all we discarded the old stuffing, and put the fabric pieces through the wash on a gentle cycle, inside a pillowcase. They were a bit dingy and doggy-smelling before, and came out much improved. Once the pieces were dry, we got to work figuring out how they all went together. Fortunately, the shredding was pretty neat and there weren’t any pieces missing. First we mended the tears in each separate piece, then put them together like a puzzle. It was a fun challenge to work out how they all fit together!
When the whole thing was re-assembled, we added stuffing, and it was amazing to see a cute stuffed toy take shape from what had been a pile of scraps! He’s home again now, and safely out of the reach of mischievous puppies!
Have you ever had a pet destroy a favourite toy? What sort of junk would you most like to be able to rescue? How excited are you to see Picture to Puppet on Junk Rescue?!?
As part of our job making custom puppets to order, we quite often get asked to make celebrity puppets. We did these four caricature puppets recently based on four American political figures: a George Bush puppet, a Barack Obama puppet, an Arnold Schwarzenegger puppet and a Dr Phil Puppet. They’re all handmade talking puppets.
I really enjoy making caricature puppets, especially of figures that everyone recognises. It’s a challenge to work the puppetry mechanisms in whilst thinking about keeping the facial features recogniseable.
George Bush Puppet
The George Bush Puppet boasts a tiny suit jack, bushy eyebrows and a very distinctive nose! A big chunk of my time as a puppet maker seems to be spent cutting out and shaping endless different noses, and no two are quite the same. People often imagine ordering a custom puppet is a build a bear style process of choosing lots of bits and having them put together. But in fact, every single component is made to order in the studio. For each one of my custom puppets, I make an entirely new foam head templete, a new nose, new eyes and new eyebrows, just by looking carefully at the picture and drawing them out freehand.
Arnold Schwarzenegger Puppet
Some of our custom puppets have simple round head structures, whereas others, such as this Arnold Schwarzenegger puppet, have a more complicated facial structure. In these cases I spend a long time sculpting blocks of foam and shaping the fabric around them.
Barack Obama Puppet
Possibly my favourite of my celebrity puppets so far, the Barack Obama puppet looks the most approachable!
Dr Phil Puppet
People often want to incorporate text or a logo on the puppet. We personalise puppets with transfers, and this Dr Phil Puppet boasts the slogan “Dr Feelgood.”
Donald Trump Puppet
Our talking puppets are available as half body puppets (as in the first four examples) or full body puppets such as this Donald Trump Puppet. The half body puppets are slightly cheaper and are just missing the legs. Our full body talking puppets include real shoes. I spend ages looking around shops for the closest match to the picture you supply.
This week is Leith Festival! There are lots of fun and varied events happening all around Leith, so be sure to check the programme, which you can find here: http://leithfestival.com/ At Leith Toy Hospital we’re running lots of fun teddy hospital events – a drop in toy repair clinic EVERY DAY, a teddy fur cleaning workshop and a teddy bear’s pic-nic on Leith Links.
Teddy Hospital Drop in Clinic
Every afternoon, 3-6pm, Monday 11th- Friday 15th June, here at 64 Constitution Street. We are doing 30% off on all repairs this week! Just bring your teddy or soft toy through for a chat about repair options and we’ll do small repairs while you wait.
Workshop: How to safely clean your favourite teddy
We’re doing a workshop about how to safely clean your teddy’s fur. We’ll be working with foam and various brushes to get rid of stains and discolouration and get the fur back into good condition, without damaging the toy. Bring along a teddy thats looking a bit grubby. For all ages, children must be accompanied by an adult. There is only space for ten people, so get your ticket now from our eventbrite page: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-to-safely-surface-clean-your-teddy-tickets-46710640784
Everyone is welcome at our free teddy bear’s pic nic. We decided to have it in the workshop because the weather is horrible!
Bring along your teddy, your family and some Pic-nic food to share and come for a chat. Everyone is welcome, ages 0-100!
If teddy has any ailments we’ll do free “consultations” and chat about possible treatments at the teddy hospital.
You don’t need a ticket for the pic-nic, feel free to just stop by. We can fit about 20 people in the studio on a first come first served basis.
Leith Toy Hospital
Click here to find out more about Leith Toy Hospital and the bear repair services we offer.
There are two ways we make puppets with movable hands, arm rods or hand pockets/ arm sleeves. Arm rods only move the arms, whereas arm sleeves allow for movable hands and fingers. Arm rods attach to the arms and you can use one or two at a time, with a bit of practice. With our arm sleeves, the hand comprises a glove which you can put your hand inside and work the fingers.
Puppets with living puppets style arm sleeves
If you’re looking for really good control of the puppet’s hands, try our living puppet style arm sleeves or hand pockets. They’re super easy to use because it’s just like moving your own hands. It makes the puppet really life like, and allows it to do all kinds of things like sign language, picking things up, playing musical instruments and more!
Custom Puppets with one movable hand/ arm sleeve
The puppet has one or two gloves for hands, so you can use one of your hands to operate the mouth and the other to work one hand. It’s great for gesticulating while talking and makes the puppet much more convincing. In the video above, the puppet has one movable hand and is being worked by one person.
Puppets with two movable hands
Alternatively, two people can operate the puppet together, one person can do the mouth and the other the hands. Below is an example of a custom puppet with two arm sleeves, operated by two people. This is great for sign language puppets!
Let us know if your hands are particularly big or particularly small when you place your order, we will make sure that the puppet arm sleeves fit your hands.
Pablo the puppet (above) also has blinking eyelids and movable eyebrows! You can find out more about these optional extras here, or hang on for next Monday, when I will talk in more detail about blinking eyes and how we do them.
Custom Built Hand and Rod Puppets
Arm rods easily attach and detach from you puppet’s arms using elastic bands. With a bit of practice, you can move one or both of your puppet’s arms while moving the mouth with your other hand.
Here you can see an example of one of our custom likeness puppets with an arm rod.
We had a tragic case come into Leith Toy Hospital recently, of a sweet little stuffed bunny who had been mauled by a dog. He was all full of holes, and his arms were nearly chewed off. He required urgent care to be put back together, and ended up with a dashing new suit into the bargain!