nick barnes puppets

designing and making puppets for contemporary theatre

Puppet Making Course

Patterning and Constructing Plastazote Puppet Heads

5 Day Course

Not Currently Scheduled

The course…

Plastazote is a great material for puppet-making: lightweight and versatile, it can be patterned, carved, vac formed, heated, glued, textured, painted or covered to create all manner of puppets for indoors or outdoors, from the very small to the gigantic!

This five-day course is intended to offer an insight into a professional puppet making technique which has many applications. Led by Nick Barnes, it offers eight participants 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 week we will also discuss and compare other puppet making materials and consider some 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 the week 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 to create shapes and 3D forms. You will be guided through the process of constructing simpler shapes and forms in a freestyle way.

You will then learn how to take a pattern from a sculpt (a bear head) which you will be given to work with. We will enlarge the pattern and work through the techniques for assembly, to create a finished head.*

This technique has many uses beyond puppet making including creature or character costumes, masks, and cosplay etc., and offers unlimited sculptural possibilities for anyone looking to create lightweight puppets or wearable forms.


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 throughout the week 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:

  • Monday 9am-5pm
  • Tuesday 9am-5pm
  • Wednesday 9am-5pm
  • Thursday 9am-5pm
  • Friday 9am-5pm

What will I need?

All tools and materials will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own smaller hand 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, taking 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 the project in your own time.