What are conversion puppets.
Conversion puppets are puppets that are generally converted from stuffed animals. Sometimes the quality is better than purchased puppets. If you are on a budget, don’t mind putting in the extra work it takes to convert these stuffed animals, and you want something that is unique without the pricetag of a totally unique creation from one of the big end puppet designers, this may be a great option for you. In the very least, it gives you a physical representation of what you are looking for when you go to the big designers to create your one of a kind $2000 creation.,
I personally enjoy doing this because growing up, one of my favorite stories was The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco. If you don’t know that story, you are truly missing out.
“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
I see life in old toys and feel, in a way, I am giving it new life and helping it to become real, even though “it doesn’t happen all at once.” When I am finished, this once, inanimate object can now speak.
This is the simplest conversion out there. All you are doing is adding a mouth. Find a plush toy that has a simple mouth that can be opened up.
Next you want to make a mouth plate that fits the opening that you just made. I will go into detail about mouth plate creation in a later post.
Attach a sleeve around the mouth plate. When you are finished, it will resemble a snake puppet. The reason for this is to create a way to access the mouthplate without reaching through stuffing or batting.
Create an entry hole in the puppet where you will insert your hand to access the mouth then remove just enough stuffing to insert your mouth plate and sleeve, making sure that the mouth plate is properly positioned and the lower end of the sleeve exits the other hole that you created.
Make sure to have the end of the sleeve exit outside of the body a couple of inches to give you enough material to stitch to the body to seal the hole, create a professional opening and make it easy to insert your hand.
Now, you want to replace just enough stuffing material that it feels solid without making it difficult to access the mouth plate. Stitch the opening of the sleeve to the opening you made as an entry point.
For the final step, attach the mouth plate to the mouth, making sure to create a solid seem all the way around. Spot-glue it securely in place then sew around the entire mouth creating a secure hold. Sometimes you may have to add additional support around the interior of the mouth depending on the material that the toy is made of.
And there you go, a successfully converted toy that easily equals some of the more expensive puppets that you buy online.
In my next post I will continue our discussion on converting toys into puppets with conversion #2 by going one step higher and actually replacing parts of the toy to create an operational puppet, so be sure to check it out because
“Once you are real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
The Velveteen Rabbit
Bye for now.