A course in troll sockpuppets/Feeding a troll
Adding a hand to a puppet increases its expressive range and gives the puppet a way to carry props. Here we build a hand that several of the advanced puppets will use. It makes puppeteering a two handed endeavor, with the puppeteer holding a wooden dowel. A sleeve conceals the puppeteer and connects the hand to the puppet. As a starter prop this lesson also creates a puppet-sized pizza, since in order for a community to develop a really serious trolling problem a troll has to get fed.
As noted in Lesson 1, Bauer's troll hands are thick and sharp nailed. The puppet version of the hand reduces these details to a thumb and three sharp green fingernails. A large palm is needed to provide an attachment base for props.
Rather than beginning with the hand, this construction begins with the prop and then sketches a hand with sufficient proportions to support the prop. The pizza needs a structural base that begins with cardboard. Ordinary cereal box cardboard was used for this puppet. Cardboard from shirt packaging is also good for puppet props. The appropriate size of the pizza depends on the sock and the puppeteer's hand.
Hold the sock for comparison and choose a circle approximately the same diameter as the width of the puppet's head. For precise sizing a compass is ideal, but tracing a cylindrical household object is a functional substitute. It is strongly recommended to use different pairs of scissors for cutting cardboard and for cutting fabric. Cardboard dulls the cutting edge and makes it difficult to manipulate a pair of blades over softer materials.
Once the cardboard base is ready, cut matching felt sections in light brown. Trim into matching circles and glue to the cardboard. Wait to dry.
Add a slightly smaller circle in yellow to resemble pizza. Center within the pizza base and glue into place. Add red fabric paint circles to represent pepperoni. Pepperoni may be added gently while glue is wet. To create a crust, use wire cutters to trim a brown pipe cleaner slightly longer than the circumference of the pizza. Wait to dry completely before proceeding to next step.
Wrap the pipe cleaner around a cylindrical object to bend it into a circular shape the same size as the diameter of the pizza. Bend ends with small pliers and make short wraps to complete a stable circle. Flatten any bends that may result in the wire. Glue pipe cleaner to pizza and wait for glue to dry.
Sketch the outline for a troll hand on another piece of cardboard, using the pizza and the sockpuppet to estimate sizing. Allow a moderate length past the hand itself for a wrist and part of a forearm. Unlike the pizza base, the cardboard troll hand will be used only as a tracing model and serves no structural purpose. Cut out the tracing model with cheap scissors, then select felt in a color that resembles the sockpuppet color and make two hand tracings onto felt. Cut the felt with good scissors.
Use 22 gauge wire and/or pipe cleaners for structural support when sewing together the hand. Bend with pliers to reinforce the thumb, palm, and wrist. Synthetic pillow filling will buffer the wires and fill out a soft thick hand.
Begin sewing with tight overhand stitches from the wrist upward away from the thumb side, adding wire and pillow stuffing while stitching the fingers. At least two wires should extend downward from the wrist beyond the length of the felt. Be sure all wire and hand stuffing is secure before closing the natural base of the hand. Insert a wooden dowel up the arm to the wrist. Complete the stitching, closing as much of the arm base as feasible.
Upon completion of initial stitching the troll hand is ambidextrous. Before adding finishing touches, decide on the puppet's hand preference. Note that the puppet's hand preference is opposite of the puppeteer's hand preference. Puppeteers manipulate the mouth and face with their dominant hand, using the non-dominant hand for the dowel that supports the puppet's hand. So a right-handed puppeteer will control a left-handed puppet.
After selecting a hand preference, bend wrist and paint green fingernails. After paint dries sew pizza to the palm.
Soft knitted fabric such as an old t-shirt is ideal for a puppet sleeve. The sleeve must be long enough to wrap around the arm and conceal the puppeteer's hand, allow a naturalistic distance to the puppet body, and wrap around the puppet body like a shirt. Vertical fabric edges should be concealed. Cut and hem by hand or machine. Hand stitch the sleeve to the puppet wrist, then wrap around the puppet body and secure with a few stitches. Attchment of the sleeve to the wrist is permanent, but attachment to the body needs to be removable if the puppet will be wearing troll costumes that do not use a hand.
Wrap extending wires around dowel and protect hands from scratching by bending and crimping the ends of the wires with a small pair of pliers. Then enjoy the pizza: you've just fed a troll.