When I started making puppets and masks I didn’t know how to take it when people said “wow that’s creepy”.
When making masks, I felt that creepy was good. I was able to hide my own eyes in the construction of the head, and instead made over sized puppet eyes. People said that they couldn’t help but look at my puppet eyes while talking to them, and found themselves looking around for my real eyes. I also learned that I could direct the gaze of the eyes around the room and make people feel like the mask was really looking at them.
When making hand puppets, I was on the quest to make a puppet that was not creepy, but I struggled to figure out how. Perhaps this is a big reason so many puppets are made out of foam and fabric, because they ultimately look more like stuffed animals than like real creatures. The paper mache style of puppet I have always loved is much more affordable than foam, and allows for much more detail, but it features that frozen face that so many people have trouble with. I would give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to experiment with this style of puppet, but doesn’t want to make it creepy: make animals, not people. It is much easier to make an animal and make it stylized and weird and still make it cute. Audiences have a much higher expectation of what people should look like. When we don’t meet those expectations we can fall into the “creepy zone”, and funny enough, when we make those expectations too well, we can also fall into that zone.
Eventually I just gave up, and decided to see how creepy I could make some of my puppets. My puppet of President Trump is an excellent example of this. People find themselves watching these videos and suspending their disbelief, and they believe that this really is the president, in some surreal way. I made other puppets of public figures, but not all of them I feel were successful. I made an Alex Jones puppet, but his head was so large that it wobbled in an un-realistic way. I made the “Undead Corpse of Andy Rooney” and people have said that this puppet is cute. All of these experiments are up on my social media, so please watch and enjoy, and please leave your comments. On Twitter I am @puppetpaul and on Instagram I am @paulspuppets.
My new spider marionette is the creepiest puppet I have ever made. It is a spider the size of a pit bull, and has four eyes . For my son’s trunk or treat I built an elaborate haunted house out of cardboard and let kids come inside and see the giant spider. Kids of all ages took pause, and never once did I hear the words “that’s fake” or “that’s not scary”. Creepy can be good. A lot of those kids came back a second time to scare themselves again.