nick barnes puppets

designing and making puppets for contemporary theatre

Puppet Making Course

How to Design a One-Person Puppet

3 Day Course

Not Currently Scheduled

The course…

This three-day course is a wonderful opportunity to create a one person operated rabbit puppet, inspired by one of the puppets we created for Dr. Dolittle. Led by Nick Barnes, the course covers a range of puppet making techniques using a variety of materials, including plastazote assembly from a given pattern, basic plastazote sculpting and simple armature construction in wood and aluminium. Limited to eight participants, it offers an opportunity to develop invaluable processes and skills for making beautiful and usable contemporary puppets and to learn some of the key principles of puppet design.

Throughout the course we will also discuss and compare other puppet making materials and consider other techniques for constructing puppet bodies and different types of joints, whilst at all stages considering the challenges relevant to constructing puppets for theatre.

Who is this for?

People who love making and people who love puppets!
Those who will benefit most will have some basic making skills and experience. Whilst aimed at industry students or professionals, we welcome serious enthusiasts who are making for interest and pleasure. 

What will you learn?

We will begin by looking at free form sculpting in plastazote. You will learn how to work with plastazote in sheet form, how to cut and assemble it and some techniques for creating shapes and 3D forms. You will be guided through the process of constructing a puppet head from a given pattern.

You will then be introduced to sculpting from a block of plastazote to create arms and legs. Finally, using the tools in the workshop and working from technical drawings provided you will construct the head support and armature for the finished puppet.

When you leave you will take a completed puppet with you which you can work on further to finish or modify for future use.*


The course takes place at our puppet making workshop in Hove, right next to Brighton on the south coast.

Surrounded by puppet prototypes, it is a great place to explore and discuss puppet making of all kinds, and over the three days, as time allows, we will delve into other aspects of making led by the interests of those participating.

We are approx an hour by train from London Victoria, or 80 mins from King’s Cross.

Click here for a map and travel details.


The course will be held over five days, with morning, lunch and afternoon breaks. We will work the following hours:

  • Friday 9am-6pm
  • Saturday 9am-6pm
  • Sunday 9am-4pm

What will I need?

All tools and materials will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own tools if you prefer. You will need your own respirator mask, if you are unsure whether your mask is suitable please read the information here.

What About Covid?

We intend to run these courses safely and with all possible measures to ensure that the working environment remains Covid free. More details about how we will do this can be found here.

Whilst we hope that the course will go ahead as planned, there may of course be reasons beyond our control for needing to cancel the course or prohibiting someone’s attendance. If this is the case you will be issued a full refund. For clarification please read the terms and conditions for participation here.

Any Questions?

If you have any other questions please feel free to email

*Whether you complete the puppet will depend on a number of factors, such as your own making experience and what degree of finish you are after. However, if you don’t leave with a finished puppet you should at least get to the point where you have everything you need to complete throject in your own time.

Please also note that you won’t make the exact rabbit puppet shown in the photo above. This took us 4 weeks to make! Your puppet will use the same head pattern but with a simplified body….however, you could always do more work on it in the future!