Finding, or should I say hunting, for puppet supplies has always been a challenge. One of the coolest things over the past decade has been the meteoric rise of the cosplay community. It has unknowingly made puppet supplies so much easier to obtain. Not to mention a lot of new materials now at our disposal. Thank you to all my friends in the cosplay community for making it so much easier to get the supplies we all need!
3D Printing has had a similar effect. You can download STLs (free at many places like Thingiverse) and print them for a couple of cents to understand how puppet mechanics work, and then figure out how to fit it to your own applications. Puppetry has a growing number of free STLs available and there are no limits to what you can create on your own. We purchased an Ender 3 pro about a year and a half ago with no regrets.
Exciting times for sure and it’s part of the reason I feel pulled back in. Being able to easily get what I need without long wait times, shipping, etc. Back in 2005-10 it was much different. Even finding foam and fabric (beyond crap local store variety was either hard, or required larger bulk purchases putting it out of the common builders reach.)
Even getting Poly Foam has become easier. I have ordered Poly Foam from The Foam Factory in Macomb, MI for years and love them. Still my go-to choice for all of my bigger orders. They have everything you can imagine, and they pack it by sucking out all the air so you get a box 1/8th the size, snip the plastic on the corner, and watch your foam stock RISE. I fully recommend them for large orders.
Sometimes though, you need something today. No order and ship delay, that day/hour/whatever to either complete a project or get one started.
American Excelsior Company from Arlington, TX is available in many craft shops locally. Not as many cut choices but if you need something fast it can be a fantastic option. This is the type of thing 10-15 years ago I had zero hope in finding locally. I just didn’t have any stores carrying foam.
Even the places you would expect like carpet stores / furniture repair shops, etc. would either not have the sizes I wanted, or even worse, often times they would just not sell to me because I was not in their line of work and they just didn’t understand why I wanted a couple yards of 1/2″ foam.
No lies, it was weird at times explaining that I needed this to build puppets and mascots.
Cosplaying became such a huge thing it took the weirdness out of everything. Strange way to look at it? Maybe. But there is power in numbers and the sheer size of the cosplay community made getting supplies easier. Just this week I picked up 1″ EVA foam rods from a Michaels. FROM THEIR COSPLAY AISLE!!
You can also find a lot of EVA foam rods, half rods, bevels, scales, cones, and more from this EVA Foam Amazon link (and thank you for helping keep Steve’s Puppets alive using our Amazon links)
Puppet Supplies are now officially everywhere.
This was an impossible find just 2-3 years ago without making orders online. They also had sheets of denser foam, worbla thermoplastics, and even some various tools that are just as often used by a puppet builder.
We are dead-on in the middle of an art renaissance and it is freaking fantastic. I am absolutely thrilled and excited to be around for this, and seeing what should be such simple things become available to the masses.
Yes, I bought those dowels. The last 2 left. They make amazing puppet bones!
Keep crafting and living your dreams.