Paper Puppet Palooza

During my research for my film I had a closer look on mechanical paper art. I stumbled upon a lot of blogs and other websites (of course) where a lot of gifted people show what they are able to build from paper. One of those made me stay for longer and finally buy a book called Paper Puppet Palooza.

A scan of my Paper Puppet Palooza book.

Paper Puppet Palooza: Techniques for making moveable art figures and paper dolls by Norma V. Toraya. Quarry Books, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-59253-484-5.

Norma V. Toraya is a New York based artist who works as an animator director for companies located in the United States and Canada. On the internet she’s known as Crankbunny and – referring to her text about the author on Paper Puppet Palooza –

When her brain wants a creative vacation from animation, she makes paper puppets and pop-up paper novelties.

I decided we had enough in common so far and so I bought her book and read more about her work. This book is truely wonderful. I appreciate her style which is weird and lovely at the same time, and her models containing an amazing amount of details. She offers two coloured cut out paper puppets within the cover of her book but I don’t brought myself to cut into this beautiful artwork. Besides all the lovely paper puppet templates she employs for explanation, she also describes which tools she uses and what techniques works best for her in her absolutly unique way.

Up to now I myyself worked with a single hole paper punch compared to those you’d might have in your office and normal brass brads (they’re also called split pins, packaging clamps or brass fasteners or sometimes just thingies). Punch and clamps fit together very well but the brads are 0.6 cm in diameter which is a tiny bit too large for my purpose. I searched for smaller ones to draw the attention away from the pupppet construction and back to the action. Finally I found different kinds of clamps in a local art and craft shop in the scrapbooking section.

Single hole paper punch, eyelet tool, split pins.

Single hole paper punch, eyelet tool (on the right) and split pins in several sizes like 0.6 cm (the brass ones), 0.8 cm (the big black ones) and 0.4 cm in diameter (the tiny and coloured ones).

The tiny ones are just 0.4 cm in diameter, have a really flat head – and hey, they’re colored! Yes, you’re absolutely right: I could just paint them with acrylics or like but it’s nice if I don’t have to. The black ones came in two sizes and I’m going to use the bigger brads for the shadow puppets because you eventually won’t see them anyway. I also bought an eyelet tool which produces small holes of equal size. For the bigger brads I still can use my normal paper punch.

The final crankbunny puppet from *Paper Puppet Palooza*

The crankbunny of Paper Puppet Palooza has a total of five joints.

I wanted to see how the crankbunny puppet works in real life. I copied it from the book on glossy paper and glued it to the inside of a packaging cardboard box to make it stronger and less bendable, cut it out and followed the instruction to put all the single parts together. As you see, the coloured cramps fit in very well.

The most interesting part here is the crankbunny’s tail because it isn’t stiff but has three joints to move it somehow realistically. In contrast, the head and the arm only have one each. That was very helpful to me since I’m constructing one of the shadow puppets right now. So, back to work!

02. October 2009 by Jessica
Categories: Stuff | Tags: , | 4 comments

Comments (4)

  1. OMG! LOVE LOVE LOVE! This is really up my ally! I’ll go look for a copy too! LOVE paper puppets! I’m planning to make white silhouette shadow puppets for a brief live action sequence at the end my series, as if the 3D puppets were in a girl’s imagination.

    LOVE what you’ve found!

  2. Hi Shelley,

    you’re absolutely right, this is great, isn’t it?

    And the book itself is like an exhibition of her artwork, and very well presented. With her work it seems to as it is all of a piece…

    Every day since I bought it, I’ve taken it it from time to time and just’ve looked at its pages because it’s so great to watch.

  3. ‘thingies’ ! Oh I just love ‘thingies’ And thanks a lot for the hint about the book – another one for a long list, but as you recommend it it gets into pole postion…
    And didn’t Terry Gilliam do a lot of paper puppet animation in his days within Monty Pythons (I don’t have sound at the moment here at the ‘puter – so I can’t really look up good videos AND be sure it’s a good animation with fart-sounds added…). But just as a hint/guess… Wooohooo ! Thingies !


  4. Hi Michael,

    and yes, *thingies* are great! ;)

    Monty Python did a lot of cut-out animation, i.e. in [*Monty Python and the Holy Grail*]( which I had seen again lately. It’s interesting how they combined the different kinds of movie-making like life-action and animation to achieve different layers of reality. Animation always describes something *meta* within this movie. To me, this suits very well here.