This is my online home for my love of puppetry. Whether it’s my own personal creations and projects or things I just find fascinating in the world or puppetry and want to share.

Puppets? How did you get started in puppetry?

I’m still not 100% certain how this all came about. One night I was on the internet surfing like we all do, back in 2003 or 2004. Something got me onto the idea of ‘I want to build puppets, this is my destiny.’ and it began. Seriously that fast. I just felt an urge, a calling. Something inside of me that just naturally gravitated to puppetry.

Continuing on this initial urge I started with researching on the net, then buying books (The Foam Book by Grey Seal Puppets was my initial holy bible of puppetry), collecting tools and supplies, the WORKS. I must have spent close to a grand before even sewing a stitch or cutting a piece of foam. I’m an all or nothing personality which can be good or bad depending on the scenario.

Oh yeah, bought that sewing machine too with absolutely no knowledge on how to sew let alone thread the machine! That was an amazing conversation with a lady at Sears. “Sir what do you need a sewing machine for?” … “Puppets!” — I’m thinking I was her ONLY puppet customer that day/week/year.

…and a bit later it happened. I made my first “creation” and named him, Larry the Lizard. To this day I still have not completed Larry, he is just a head. Many flaws from the crappy shiny fabric I should have treated first, to a brutally squared off snout with no depth and shape. I could go on and on, we are always our own worst critics. But you always have your first! Larry the Lizard is my first. He was proof in concept that I CAN do this. I want to do this. And most importantly, I WILL do this.

The Mad Puppet Scientist is BORN!

From there I started experimenting with various shapes, patterns (both paid for and free online patterns), and really just any material I could get my hands on to experiment with. I went through so many sticks of hot glue and foam at this time because there is no other way to learn than just getting your hands dirty and doing it. Burned my fingers 1,000 times. That is a puppetry right of passage IMO. I can hot glue a ball of hot glue to another ball of hot glue now. That took suffering!

The next thing you know, I had a closet completely taken over in our small 2br apartment at the time. Filled to the ceiling with puppets and even more puppet building supplies. No regrets. My wife used to joke that she couldn’t open that closet because things would fall out. She wasn’t lying. You opened that door at your own risk!

Eventually real life took over… I had a kid and my availability along with my priorities changed. I shut it all down, packed everything up, shut down the website and YouTube channel I had at the time, and 5 years or so of life ticked by. Totally worth it and I have absolutely ZERO regrets on my decision. Family first. I did what I needed to do for that portion of my life. Add in a house move for good measure where I lost a ton of supplies that were damaged in the process.

Tough at first? Sure. I felt like I made a sacrifice in the beginning. I would occasionally pull a puppet out of a case to play with my kid, or let her play with them and figure out how they work. And something strange, and mostly unexpected happened.

She loved puppets too.

We did Sesame Place for vacation of course. Being in the Northeast it’s a quick drive and who doesn’t love the Sesame Street gang. While we were enjoying the shows my daughter said to me, “Why don’t you make puppets any more Daddy?” and at this stage in life, I didn’t really have an answer.

Well, I didn’t really have a GOOD answer. I brushed it off at the time with, “Enjoy the show sweetheart don’t worry about me.” and just kept enjoying the day. Truth be told… What she said stuck in my head.

Fast forward a couple months later and we started pulling more puppets out of storage. Supplies 1 by 1 started making their way back into the house from the attic. I even bought a craft table for the office and started working on things a little here and there, always making sure it included her. She produced half of the ideas and sent me on a build quest. I obliged. As she kept getting older (we’re up to 9 now) her own desire to participate on a level deeper than paper bag puppets has manifested and I’m excited to continue this journey now, with her by my side.

The next chapter begins, Steve’s Puppets is born…

For the last 3 years I’ve been quietly dabbling in all forms of puppetry. Sharing nothing. Learning again, experimenting, figuring things out on my own terms and in my own way. Sharing the experiences and learning sessions with her, so we’re in it together. We bought a Cricut to see how we can utilize it in 2D puppetry, and also a 3D printer to dabble in some puppet mechanics. Pandora’s Box… OPENED!

I even ran a class for World Puppetry Day at my kids’ elementary school when she was in Kindergarten. A simple Pete the Cat paper bag puppet for 40-50 kids and it was awesome. The need and desire for me to connect with puppetry is back, and I couldn’t be happier.

Where do we take Steve’s Puppets now?

Great question! We have a board of ideas. Some are simple, others complex. All will be fun to share with my kid. From simple paper bag puppets, to implementing 3D Printing techniques for making eyes and other mechanical bits our future projects will do wherever we go, and we will gladly share the experience with you.

Worldwide Puppet Domination. 🙂 Is there any other destiny to seek?

Steve Lichtman ZZTop With Family
ZZ Tops 50th Anniversary Tour with the family