How to Make Hands for Your Puppet

Learn how to make hands for your puppet from Joe Vena of the Children's Museum of the Arts in this stop motion animation tutorial from Howcast.

So you have a wonderful puppet ready to go here. Perhaps you would like to add some details. A really wonderful, sometimes challenging, detail to give your puppet would be hands so that the puppet can grip things, pick them up, raise up a finger with an idea, give a thumbs up, etc. I don’t use the heavier aluminum wire for the hands. Instead I use a kind of a craft wire. You can find this in most art stores. It’s a rubber-coated much lighter wire. It does the trick for the hands. You don’t want to weigh your puppet down too much with more aluminum wire. So I take the puppet here. We’ve built in a loop to his arm already. This is going to be a three-fingered sort of a cartoon hand.

So much of building your puppets and building your armatures is trying out new things and figuring out how it works. There are definitely some great ways to do this, but there’s always room for new ways. In this particular way, I’m going to loop in the wire and twist it so that it’s locked somewhat onto the hand. In a moment, we’re going to add some masking tape here as well to really stick it together. But I want to get one loop going on one side like that, and then I’m going to bring it in just a bit and do another loop here on the other side. This will create basically two loops, two places where you can cut to create your four little digits there, three fingers and a thumb.

Once you have this shape, you can go ahead with a bit of the masking tape, always good to have your masking tape around. If it’s thicker, you can rip it into thinner strips. Then you want to go in there and lock that wire into place a bit. Simply looping the wire won’t always do it. You’ll need to involve some adhesive from time to time. You can even tape into that whole hand there. Just make sure your wire stays locked down. Now take a look at the loops and consider finger and thumb length and where they fall on the hand. You don’t necessarily want them too spread out, although it all depends on what it is that you are making. If it’s some strange creature, of course, You decide how those fingers and thumbs should go. I want the middle finger to be the longest, so I’m just going to adjust slightly here. I want to make sure my thumb comes down a little bit lower, so I’m going to bring that down. The more you work with wire and armature building, the more you will learn about what you like to do, how you like to do it. Once I have these loops in a place that I’m happy with, I will start to cut them.

I make a cut in the middle of the first one here, somewhat in the middle, and bring up one finger and one thumb. Because I want a taller middle finger and a shorter pinky finger on this cartoonish three-fingered hand, I’m going to make sure I cut so that that is taller, the middle finger, and shorter at the pinky. These are fairly long fingers, but we can go through and adjust those as well. And there you have it, a wonderful hand with working fingers for your armature. And you can then cover that hand with clay. You can paint it. You could also do tiny bits of fabric or even paper to be glued onto the hand. The sky is the limit. But give yourself a hand.