Mini Me Puppets

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.

Charles Barkley lookalike puppet

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!

Mini me puppet custom puppet

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!

Mini me puppet

I think this chap looks very friendly and approachable!Mini me puppets

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.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Puppet Repair

Puppet repair in the Edinburgh Fringe

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.

The bear Puppet I repaired for the Edinburgh Fringe
The Bear, now fixed, takes to the stage

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.

Contact us if you have any puppets in need of urgent attention! Or visit https://picturetopuppet.co.uk/ to find out more about Picture to Puppet.

Story Book Character Puppets

Puppets I have made to order from illustrations

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!

Personalised mouse soft toy

 

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!

 

 

The dog ate my teddy: Leith Toy Hospital Junk Rescue!

Leith Toy Hospital on Junk Rescue!

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!

Sad shredded pieces of stuffed dog

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!

Working on a puppy puzzle

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!

stuffed dog junk rescue

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?!?

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Read more about the toy hospital here

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Get in touch to find out how we can rescue your favourite toy!

Celebrity Puppets

Celebrity Puppets and Caricature Puppets

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

Caricature Puppet 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

Celebrity Puppet 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

Barack Obama Puppet Political Puppet

Possibly my favourite of my celebrity puppets so far, the Barack Obama puppet looks the most approachable!

Dr Phil Puppet

Dr Phil Puppet Caricature 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

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.

Donald Trump is also available as a pin cushion from my Etsy Shop! You can vent your political frustrations and keep your sewing box tidy all at the same time! https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PictureToPuppet?ref=l2-shopheader-name

Find out more about our service making custom puppets to order.

Toy Hospital Events at Leith Festival 2018

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.

Here is a facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1796276187101034/

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

Here is a facebook event – share it with your friends! https://www.facebook.com/events/337920420067298/

 

Teddy Bear’s Pic NicRelated image

https://www.facebook.com/events/1964736027189801/

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

Teddy Hospital Button
Leith Toy Hospital Button

Click here to find out more about Leith Toy Hospital and the bear repair services we offer.

Puppets with moving hands

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.

Find out more about our custom puppets  or come and visit the Picture to Puppet workshop at 64 Constitution Street in Edinburgh.

 

Leith Toy Hospital: Big Ted gets a makeover

teddy bear in need of repairs
Big Ted on his arrival at Leith Toy Hospital

When Big Ted came into the Leith Toy Hospital he was in very sad shape. He’s been in the same family for three generations, since 1940! He was showing his age a bit, as he was missing his nose, mouth, and an eye, and looking slumped over and under-stuffed. The bottoms of his feet were coming apart and his stuffing was showing! His ears were worn through, and his old yellow cardi wasn’t doing him any favours either. Big Ted needed a full makeover!

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Baboon’s Big Gig

Picture to Puppet’s Talking Puppets Make the Scene

At Picture to Puppet, we are always very proud when we build a puppet who goes on to do great things! I was somewhat loth to part with this lovely cuddly baboon puppet, but it is great to see that he is now a highly successful DJ, and he is the first of our talking puppets to have his own mixing deck!

We went to see him on Friday and it was great! We felt like embarrassing proud parents at the school Christmas play. We took lots of pictures and a video:

 

 

 

Wuh-Oh’s Baboon

Along with his friend and fellow DJ Pete (AKA Wuh-Oh), Baboon loves experimenting with time signatures, dabbling in quirky chiptune, fusing jazzy rhythms or sampling whatever takes his fancy.

Thanks to Pete’s careful tuition, he has even become an accomplished pianist, a fantastic feat for a baboon. He plays synths and keys live on stage and, most importantly, he makes dance music that gets everyone at his gigs dancing, including himself. He’s even been on Radio Scotland!

You can Follow Pete and Baboon on facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/wuhohmusic/

 

Build a Puppet  – Character Creation by Picture to Puppet

 If you need a custom talking puppet made to order, Picture to Puppet can help! All you need to do is send us a picture or a description of your ideal puppet – if you can dream it, we can make it!

All of our puppets are handmade by us in our Leith puppet Studio at 64 Constitution Street. We make talking puppets, glove puppets, cuddly toys and Jack in the boxes.

Find out more about our build a puppet service here!

Contact us now to find out how we can bring your ideas to life!