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How to Make a Marionette (The easy method)

The art of the marionette is almost a lost art. But it is a very old art that has survived and you can partake of it by making a marionette out of simple around the house materials like newspaper, tape and string. I show you how to make a nice little marionette in this tutorial.

A marionette is a puppet that is controlled by strings. And the term "marionette" is lost to time but it is believed that it originates from the term Marioletta which was a word for small statues of Mary.

And if you need a theatre for your show I also have a tutorial showing you how to make a marionette theatre right here.



Here is a picture of the marionette we make in this tutorial. It is a knight. We do a simple stringing on this marionette. It is just a three string setup which is easy for beginners to control. One string goes to the head and one string goes to each of the arms. There are lots of different ways to string up a marionette and I have a more effective and more expressive eleven string set up right here if you want to check that out. Eleven String Marionette setup.

The completed marionette of a knight


The unpainted marionette

This picture gives you a good idea of how the marionette is made. I simply rolled up strips of newspaper then wrapped in masking tape.

Making a humanoid character is a great way to start out with marionettes. You can, just with a little bit of practice, bring a character like this to life.

But, as you are working more with them you should keep in mind that you can create all kinds of different characters and creatures.






A dragon marionetteThis picture shows a dragon marionette during a performance.







A marionette

Can You make a marionette like in this tutorial? You sure can! Here is one that was made by Evan. It came out fantastic and he added some cloth as clothing! Get creative with your marionette and have some fun! My thanks to Evan for sending in this picture










Let's Build the Marionette

The basic segment of the marionetteThis picture shows the basic segment of the marionette. This is the upper thigh. It is simply rolled up newspaper with a wire in the middle. In the case of this particular one I have also coated it with paper mache which is optional.






Wrap newspaper around wireYou create a segment like this by forming a piece of wire so it has loops on each end then putting it on a strip of newspaper. (This is actually several strips of newspaper). Then you roll up the newspaper and tape it so it holds its cylindrical shape.

Simple as that! You can make two upper legs, two lower legs, two upper arms and two lower arms.

After that you crumple newspaper and wrap it in tape to make the head and the torso.





wire the joint segments

Now that each limb segment has a wire in it you can assemble these limbs together with a small piece of wire or even twist tie. It should be nice and loose so the various segments move freely.








The various jointsHere is a large picture to show you where the various joints are. The red dots are the connected joints. And there is one more extra loop on the top of the head so you can run a string to that.

There are a lot of options you can do with this. For instance, I have hands that are jointed to the forearms. But you could make your marionette a little simpler by just making the hands part of the forearms much like I have done with the feet and lower legs.








Stringing the marionette

Once you have painted your marionette and make any accessories like the sword then you can string it up. You do this by creating a cross of wood. One string goes to the head and one string goes to heac of the wrists.













How to hold the marionette

When you string up the marionette you have to get the string lengths about right so the head is upright and the arms are by the figures side. So adjust and cut the strings accordingly before you attach secure them to the wooden cross you made.

OK! You have made a marionette and now you are ready to put on a show!

I do have some advanced techniques you might want to check out. These will make your marionettes more realistic looking.

NextCheck them out here: Advanced Marionette Making Techniques











Pinocchio Wooden Marionette

Welcome to the world of "Original Wooden Marionettes". Our Marionettes are all carefully designed and crafted by hand with careful attention to detail. Our Marionettes always take "center stage"! They can make a magical decoration in any child's room, yet they are sturdy enough for real child's play. For hours of enjoyment and dramatic play, we think that you will find that they are quite simple to use. All of our Marionettes stand approximately 15" tall excluding the strings. Your Marionette is from a large family, all awaiting to be part of your family. Designed for ages 5 years and older.


Making and Manipulating Marionettes

Making and Manipulating Marionettes is a superb guide to a craft and performance art that has fascinated audiences for over 2,000 years. Handsomely illustrated throughout, it presents precise instructions for the making of marionettes, both for plays and for acts in the variety tradition. All aspects of marionette design, construction, and control are covered, and there are rare insights into specialized designs and stringing techniques. Contents include an introduction to the marionette tradition and the principles and practicalities of marionette design; advice on materials and methods for carving, modeling, and casting puppet parts; detailed explanations for marionette control, stringing, and manipulation; step-by-step instructions for the construction and jointing of human and animal marionettes; and professional secrets for achieving a wide range of special effects.


Marionette making bookMarionettes: How to Make and Work Them

The complete book of marionette craft. Solid, easy-to-follow advice and over 400 illustrations.





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