By Nicole Caldwell for Martha Stewart
Shadow puppetry is a storytelling art form that dates back thousands of years to the Han Dynasty. Flat shapes cut from paper come to life when illuminated, and range from very simple to highly detailed. The puppets themselves are never visible, only the illusions they create. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make your very own shadow puppets with a few simple supplies.
Shadow puppets are fun to make for all ages. How thick -- and complicated! -- they are is entirely up to you. To make the shapes come alive, you'll want to train a light source like a flashlight on them, letting the puppets cast a shadow onto a wall or translucent "screen" for your audience.
- Dark card-stock construction paper or mat board
- White pencil
- Scissors or utility knife
- Bamboo skewers (thin sticks will work great too!)
- A light source (a lamp, bare lightbulb or strong flashlight is perfect)
1. Draw an outline of your shapes on the paper with the white pencil. Be sure to have clear, crisp lines -- the edges of your puppet’s shape is everything!
2. Carefully cut out your shapes. If you have complicated angles or very this card stock, a utility knife will be much more precise than scissors. Add little details like cutouts for eyes on your puppet -- this will add some drama to your finished product once it's blown up on the stage!
3. Attach your shape to the wooden post with tape.
For a stage, cut the bottom out of a large box, replacing the cutout with tissue or baking paper (secure with tape or glue). Turn the box on its side, with the tissue paper facing your audience. Put your puppet between light and stage and direct your light source through the box toward your audience.