Almost any kind of paper can be used for papier mache. I like to use
heavy paper (as in paper bags) because it is stronger, and therefore
requires fewer layers, and can be smoother. Colored paper, cloth,
or shiny wrapping paper can be used in the last layer instead of paint.
Use larger pieces on flatter areas, and smaller, thinner pieces on
rounded areas. If the paper wrinkles or refuses to lie flat, your
pieces are too large. Paste can be wheat-paste, wallpaper paste (I
like Metylan cellulose; read the cautions, some cellulose irritates the
skin and some doesn't) or cornstarch cooked until it thickens according
to the instructions on the box. Adding white
glue to any of these pastes makes them stronger and more water-resistant.
It is possible to put together giant puppets without staple pliers
but they are extremely useful. Both Arrow and Bostich make staple
pliers, and Bostich has a number (800) 343-9329 under Stanley
Fasteners to tell you where the nearest outlet is. I like the
Bostich B8 with the
long (3/8") staples. Florists use them, and will usually
know where to find them. University Stationary (Cambridge, MA)
will ship both staples and stapler. Contact Gail Seidman,
University Stationary, (617) 547-6650, -6651 , 311 Mass. Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139.
Cloth: Cloth is the usually the most expensive element of any giant puppet
construction. Your local theatre will know the nearest sources of
I like lining cloth, which is light and shiny and comes
in bright colors.
Gohn Bros. (PO Box 111, Middlebury IN 46540-0111 /
(219) 825-2400) sells quilting cloth to the Amish; their
cloth is as cheap good cloth as I've found.
A possible cloth substitute is plastic from Bear
Claw Plastic (Bland Co) (800) 527-7189. It comes in various colors,
44"x160' $14-15 plus shipping per roll. It's translucent, so looks
good fringed and layered. Attach it with hot glue.
Wood: cheap strapping or firring is usually good enough for
most puppets. A.M. Leonard garden supplies sells bamboo up to 8'
long, and in bulk: (800) 543-8955 (also the nifty Felco folding saw,
for carrying around to parades.) They will also special-order
10' and 12' bamboo, but it takes a while for it to get in.
Wire: You will need heavy wire for puppets, probably
9 gauge or 12 gauge (the higher gauge numbers are, the
lighter the wire). The big chain hardware stores have
central warehouses where they can order heavy wire for
you; you may need to find a sympathetic hardware guy, though.
Paint: school supply houses carry cheap bulk acrylics; try
School Specialty (800) 628-8608 or Nasco (800) 558-9595. On no
account paint outside puppets with tempera.