Family fun, Making tutorials

Sea shell spider puppet

Wondering what to do with all those empty toilet roll tubes now the panic buying is over? Here’s how to make a friendly spider puppet… (ours is called Sean)…

Sean started life as a six-legged bug, but as he ended up looking more like a spider we added two extra legs. In the instruction photos you’ll see he only has six legs, so don’t let this confuse you when you’re making your eight-legged creature. Of course, if you would prefer to make a six-legged bug instead you can do that!

You will need:

  1. 1 or 2 empty toilet roll tubes
  2. A corrugated cardboard box
  3. A sea shell (if you don’t live by a beach or have a shell lying around, fear not! A circle of thick cardboard from your cardboard box will do the trick)
  4. Tape, preferably gaffa or other strong tape
  5. String
  6. Stickers for the eyes
  7. Something to poke holes through the feet (compass, crochet needle, pen etc)

Start by making your spider’s legs. Cut the toilet roll tube lengthways then flatten it out so it’s a rectangle of cardboard. Measuring along the long length, divide the cardboard into eight legs of equal width and cut these out. I made my legs double width then folded them over to make them thicker, but ended up only getting six legs out of one toilet roll tube. If you have an extra toilet roll tube you can do the same as me, or if you just have the one you will want to make your legs a bit thinner than Sean’s. Now bend each leg in two places to make a foot at one end and a section at the other end where you’re going to attach it to the body.

You might want to colour your spider’s legs in or leave them the colour of the cardboard.

Now attach the legs to the underside of the shell, which is going to be the body, using gaffa tape. If you don’t have a shell, cut out a circle of cardboard from your cardboard box and attach the legs to this. I chose a shell from the local beach on my daily exercise walk, and I love its delicate patterns, and the fact that it was once home to a sea creature! If you’re making a body out of cardboard you can colour it in and create your own patterns.

Sean before he got his final two legs

Now it’s time to attach the strings to your puppet! Make a hole in the foot on the second and fourth leg on each side. I used a compass to make the hole, then a crochet needle to widen it. Cut eight equal lengths of string. Thread one through the top of each of the foot holes and tie a knot on the other side to secure it. I used the crochet needle to pull the string through the holes. With the remaining four pieces of string, attach them to the underside of the body using gaffa tape, one either side of the third leg on the left side of the body, and the same on the right.

Time to make the control to attach the other end of the strings to. This kind of string puppet is called a marionette. From your cardboard box cut three rectangles, one longer and two shorter. With each rectangle, roll it into a tube, going with the grain of the cardboard. Use strips of gaffa tape to secure each tube. Now lay the three tubes out as shown in the image below and attach the two shorter tubes to the longer one using gaffa tape.

Finally you can attach the strings to the control, as per the image above. The right middle and left middle front and back strings are the ones you stuck to the bottom of the body in front of and behind the third leg on either side. Don’t stick the strings to the control with tape, just wind them round and tuck the ends in. This way you can lengthen or shorten the strings as and when you want to.

For the final touch, add some eyes. Stickers work great for this, or you could make some eyes out of paper and glue them on, but if you’re using a shell for the body you may need a stronger glue like PVA rather than a glue stick. I stuck some little gold stickers left over from Christmas on to two decoupage pads, which I then cut into circles, peeled off the backs and stuck on.

Et voilá! You have your very own spider marionette. If you take pictures of your spider in your garden or around your house we’d love to see them, so feel free to tag us if you post them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook:

Instagram: @noseyhedgehogpuppetry, Facebook: @noseyhedgehog, Twitter: @NoseyHedgehog

We’ve just started sharing these making tutorials and will be working on some video ones soon, so if you have any feedback we’d love to hear it. Were the instructions clear? Is there anything we didn’t include that would have been helpful? Please leave your comments below and we will try to take them on board for the next one.

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