School of Fine ArtsBallard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
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The University of Connecticut (UConn) is a public research university in the U.S. state of Connecticut. UConn was founded in 1881 and is a Land Grant and Sea Grant college & member of the Space Grant Consortium. The university serves more than 30,000 students on its six campuses, including more than 8,000 graduate students in multiple programs.

Join us for Puppet-Building Workshops on Facebook Live!

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While the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is closed to visitors, we still want to bring you exciting puppetry-related events online!

We will offer short, puppet-building and craft workshops via Facebook Live every Wednesday and Friday at 2 p.m. ET!

All past workshops are available on Facebook and YouTube.

Upcoming Workshops: 

 

Wednesday, 7/8: “Direct Manipulation with Stuffed Animals!” with Abby Bosley (pre-recorded)

Join us for a pre-recorded workshop led by UConn Puppet Arts Program alumna Abby Bosley as she shows us how to turn your stuffed animals or toys into puppets! This workshop is a great two-person activity, so bring a friend! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed: stuffed animals or toys (preferably ones that can be manipulated or moved)

Friday, 7/10: “Toy Theater Aquarium Workshop” with Elise Vanase 

Don’t want the responsibility of owning fish? Come make your very own toy theater aquarium and fish out of a cereal box! Recommended for ages 7+.

Materials needed: cereal box, scissors, paint/markers, hot glue, tape, pipe cleaners

 

Past Workshops:

Wednesday, 3/25:  “Paper Puppets” led by Ballard Institute graduate assistant and UConn Puppet Arts student Felicia Cooper

Using paper, tape, and scissors, create fun and funky characters! Recommended for ages 4+.

Materials needed: paper, tape, scissors, markers, crayons, pencils

 

Friday, 3/27: “Fun Toy Theater Workshop!” with Ballard Institute Director John Bell

Make and perform a miniature 2-D puppet spectacle about anything your heart desires, using household materials and re-purposed images. See Great Small Works’ “Short, Entertaining History of Toy Theater” here: https://vimeo.com/41259631. Recommended for ages 7+.

Materials needed: a cardboard box (any size will do; small is good); cardboard (cereal box cardboard is best); colored paper; images from magazines, newspapers, or the internet; tape; gluestick or white glue; coathanger wire, barbecue skewers, pencils, or other like objects; scissors; if you want to get fancy: hot glue gun, pliers, string or fishline

Wednesday, 4/1: Simple Dinosaur Marionette Workshop led by UConn Puppet Arts graduate student Abby Bosley

Make a simple dinosaur or dragon string puppet using things you have laying around your home. Recommended for ages 7+ (adult help may be required as there may be poking sharp things into paper or plastic cups).

Materials needed: 2 toilet paper rolls (or a paper towel roll cut in half) or 2 paper cups (plastic also works); string, yarn, or ribbon; popsicle sticks, straws, sticks, or pencils; something for feet like bottle caps from soda bottles, washers, buttons, beads; masking tape; paper; pen; hole punch; scissors; markers; anything else to decorate your puppet (pipe cleaners, beads, tissue paper, fabric, etc); hot glue is optional

Friday, 4/3: Hand Shadows Workshop led by UConn Puppet Arts student Tracy Becker

Have you ever made hand shadows on a wall? Learn how to create hand shadow shows with shadow people, animals, and more! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed (besides your hands!): light source (flashlight, phone light, or lamp will all work, as long as the light is projected somewhere); wall or floor space to project shadows; paper and scissors is helpful for some puppets, but not required

Wednesday, 4/8: “Paper Shadows Workshop” with Tracy Becker

Make and perform simple paper shadow puppets with materials you already have at home! Recommended for ages 6+.

Materials needed: light source (flashlight recommended, but a lamp or phone light will also work); wall or floor space to project shadows; paper; scissors; handles for the puppets (this can be skewers, chopsticks, pencils, straws, popsicle sticks); tape or glue to attach handles; markers, crayons, or colored pencils can be fun but aren’t required; white fabric (can be hung up to make a shadow screen, but isn’t required ); optional to play with: any object that might have an interesting shadow, plastic wrap and markers are optional supplies to use as an alternative to lighting gel

Friday, 4/10: “Anything Can Be A Puppet! Object Performance Exploration!” with Felicia Cooper

Use household objects to explore movement, expression, and storytelling! We’ll discover movement patterns and gesture, working towards character development. Recommended for ages 6+.

Materials needed: anything around you (check in with a grown up if it doesn’t belong to you)

Wednesday, 4/15: “Rod Puppet Workshop” with Abby Bosley

Make a simple rod puppet with materials you have lying around your home! Recommended for ages 6+.

Materials needed: newspaper; tape; a toilet paper roll or paper cup: markers; string, yarn, or ribbon; 3 chopsticks, skewers, straws, or pencils (for your rods); scissors; hole punch; colored paper, fabric, pipe cleaners, cardboard, beads, or anything else to decorate!; optional: Hot glue

Friday, 4/17: “Sock Puppet Workshop” with Maggie Flanagan

Make a fun sock puppet with your stray socks and a few items you can find around your house! Recommended for ages 6+.

Materials needed: sock; cardboard and felt; construction paper or markers; items to use for eyes (buttons, plastic Easter eggs, ping pong balls, or egg carton); any decorations you’d like to add: feathers, pompoms, and beads; hot glue; optional: you can use bits of fluff and cut up rags to make puffy noses/heads/bumps

Wednesday, 4/22: “Mask Making Techniques” with Abby Bosley 

Learn to make two different types of masks: one using folded paper or cardboard and one that is made up of just a single cereal box and glue! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed: cereal box (or any box); hot glue, but any glue will work; scissors; scrap paper; tape; hole punch; string or elastic; scissors; anything else to decorate (paint, markers, etc); optional materials: X-Acto blade or box cutter

Friday, 4/24: “Stop-Motion Workshop” with Tracy Becker

Learn how to make your very own stop-motion movie at home! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed: phone or tablet; objects for stop motion (This can be anything! Toys, clay, paper, or any type of puppet will all work); optional additional materials: cardboard, a tripod, lamps or flashlights, or any other decorations you might want to use; recommended apps: Stop Motion Studio Free Version: https://www.cateater.com/ or StikBot Studio 2.0: https://stikbot.toys/app/

Wednesday, 4/29, Friday, 5/1, Wednesday, 5/6: “STEAM Workshops!” with Felicia Cooper

Join us online on Wednesday 4/29, Friday 5/1, and Wednesday 5/6 for a three-session exploration of STEAM in Puppetry! The culmination of an independent study by graduate student Felicia Cooper, these workshops will give an overview of the engineering principles that appear in the puppet design process. Learn about simple machines, methods of attachment, three-dimensional sketching, and using repurposed materials. In the spirit of the maker movement, we will engage in the iterative process and creative thinking as we celebrate the intersection of puppetry and STEAM education! Participate in one, two, or all three of the sessions. Recommended for ages 7+.

4/29: Session 1: design with recycled materials and work from two dimensions to three to make a prototype puppet! We’ll talk about dimensions and the planning process. For this one, you’ll need tape, recycled materials, cardboard, newspaper, paper, pencil, and a ruler. 

5/1: Session 2: Learn about simple machines and how they’re used in puppetry! We’ll engage in an iterative process and think through problem-solving together. You’ll need a spoon, a cup, recycled materials, and a curious mind. 

5/6 : Session 3: We’ll apply what we’ve learned in sessions one and two to create a puppet that waves hello! In this session, we’ll discuss methods of attachment, design feedback, and weight transfer. You’ll need recycled materials, newspaper, tape, a dowel or stick, and scissors.

Friday, 5/8: “Ask A Puppeteer!” with Abby Bosley and Tracy Becker

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a professional puppeteer? Now is your chance to ask soon-to-be UConn Puppet Arts graduates Tracy Becker and Abby Bosley any puppetry-related questions you might have! We encourage you to send questions in advance via email (bimp@uconn.edu) or Facebook! Tracy and Abby will also be showing off puppets they have made and explaining some of their favorite materials to use.

Wednesday, 5/13: “Paper Fortune Teller Puppets” with Elise Vanase

Do you remember making paper fortune tellers in school? Come see how this classic game can be turned into a puppet! Recommended for ages 7+.
Materials needed: paper (preferably thicker); paint or markers; scissors; hot glue (best option, but glue stick or tape will also work)

Friday, 5/15: “Picasso-Inspired Abstract Masks” with Elise Vanase

Embrace the world of abstract in puppetry! Inspired by the iconic painted faces of Picasso, we will create funky handheld masks out of geometrical shapes. Anything goes in creating these—you can’t mess it up! Recommended for ages 7+.

Materials needed: cereal box/thin cardboard; paint; paint brushes; hot glue (best) or glue sticks; scissors

Wednesday, 5/20 and Friday, 5/22: “Two-Part Ping-Pong Ball Hand Puppet Workshop” with Elise Vanase

Hand puppetry doesn’t have to be complicated! In the first part of this series, learn how to make an effective hand puppet using just a ping-pong ball (or other available object) on your finger. We will also explore methods of personalizing this puppet! Hold on to what you created because in the second session of this series, we will explore performance techniques for these puppets using fun exercises! Recommended for ages 5+ (with adult supervision when using the X-Acto knife).

Materials needed: ping-pong ball (if you don’t have a ping-pong ball, you can sculpt a head using newspaper and masking tape!); X-Acto knife; things to decorate (such as permanent markers, paint, googly eyes, paper, yarn, etc.)

Wednesday, 5/27: “Colorful Coffee Filter Dancers” with Elise Vanase

Make a basic stop-motion figure out of coffee filters and pipe cleaners! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed: pipe cleaners, scissors, coffee filters, elastic bands, tray/plate for coloring, markers, water, a stop-motion app (such as Stop Motion Studio https://www.cateater.com/, it has a free, basic version or paid plans)

Friday, 5/29: “Make a Milk Jug Head!” with Elise Vanase

Learn how to make a large puppet head with just a milk jug, paint, and a dash of creativity! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed: empty milk jug, paint, paint brushes, paper/plastic bag shreds (for hair), stick/dowel/rod

Wednesday, 6/3: “Wrist Puppet Workshop” with UConn Puppet Arts senior Elise Vanase

Come turn your hand into a walking puppet with just a few simple materials! Recommended for ages 4+.

Materials needed: old sock, scissors, hot glue or tape, cereal box cardboard, markers, yarn (optional), pipe cleaners (optional)

 

Friday, 6/5: “Egg Carton Heads” with UConn Puppet Arts senior Elise Vanase

Hold on to your empty cardboard egg cartons, because they can be cut up and rearranged into interesting puppet heads! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed: egg carton, glue, scissors, markers or paint, popsicle stick

 

Wednesday, 6/10:Jellyfish Puppet Workshop” with UConn Puppet Arts senior Elise Vanase

Make an ethereal jellyfish with life-like movements out of just a paper bowl and a plastic bag! Recommended for ages 5+.

Materials needed: paper bowl, scissors, plastic bags, paint or markers, yarn, tape or hot glue

 

Friday, 6/12: “Make a Puppet of Your Pet!” with UConn Puppet Arts senior Elise Vanase

Do you love your pets as much as we do? Come make a rod puppet of one of them! Recommended for ages 7+.

Materials needed: newspaper, masking tape, paint, yarn or string, 3 one-foot-long sticks (chopsticks, skewers, unused pencils, or even straws will all work!)

 

Wednesday, 6/17: “Clothespin Puppet Workshop” with UConn Puppet Arts senior Elise Vanase

Did you used to pretend that your clothespins could speak? Come turn them into talking puppets with us! Recommended for ages 4+.

Materials needed: cereal box cardboard, hot glue, paint/markers, pipe cleaners, yarn, clothespins

 

Friday, 6/19: “Toilet Paper Roll Marionette Workshop” with UConn Puppet Arts senior Elise Vanase

Start making use of all of those finished toilet paper rolls and turn them into a marionette! Recommended for ages 6+.

Materials needed: two toilet paper rolls, spare cereal box cardboard, three popsicle sticks/skewers, hot glue, yarn/string, pipe cleaners, markers/paint

Wednesday, 6/24: “Cardboard Party!” with UConn Puppet Arts graduate student Felicia Cooper

Cardboard has unlimited possibilities! Learn methods of attachment, ways of folding, scoring, and slicing that can be used in a variety of ways! This will be an exploration of material and techniques, and we’ll build a simple puppet from a cereal box! Recommended for ages 8+ (or adult supervision-potential sharp stuff!).

Materials needed: cardboard, hot glue, tape, utility blade, scissors, water, and markers

Felicia is leading this workshop with the support of the Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts.

Friday, 6/26: “Trash Monster Puppet Workshop” with UConn Puppet Arts senior Elise Vanase

Make a gnarly monster that looks like it came straight from the trash can (in a cool way!). Recommended for ages 8+.

Materials needed: two small cardboard boxes (granola bar boxes work well), newspaper, hot glue, masking tape, paint/markers, clean trash that can be used for decoration (plastic bags, garbage bags, bottles, cans, wrappers, etc!)

Wednesday, 7/1: “Paper Maché Workshop” with Ballard Institute graduate assistant and UConn Puppet Arts student Felicia Cooper

Paper maché and puppetry go together like PB&J. Paper Maché Professional Felicia Cooper will share her time-tested techniques. Recommended for ages 6+.

Materials needed: brown paper bags/craft paper, newspaper, toilet paper, cornstarch, vinegar, baking soda, white glue

Felicia is leading this workshop with the support of the Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts.

Friday, 7/3: While no new workshop will be posted on Friday, 7/3, we encourage you to revisit past workshops posted on our Facebook and YouTube channel!  

Follow the Ballard Institute on Facebook,Twitter, orInstagramfor updates on upcoming performances, forums, and workshops online!

 

 

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