DIY Shadow Puppets

On a recent trip to a very cool toy store, I found a lovely collection of shadow puppets for sale.

I was struck at how beautiful they were in their simplicity, and another thought: Why buy them, when you can

make personalized shadow puppets of your own


I found this great set of instructions over at

TLC Xpress

, which did an excellent job of explaining the steps to making personalized shadow puppets for your friends and family to enjoy. I see endless applications for us to use around the farm, from quiet winter nights with friends to arts 'n' crafts projects with children at events throughout the summer. Check out the instructions below, and remember to send us photos of your finished products at


  • Cutting board
  • Black card
  • White pencil
  • Scissors / craft knife / scalpel
  • Clear tape
  • Bamboo skewer 


Design your character. When designing your character think of its overall shape and how it will look as a silhouette. Keep it simple to start with, simplify the details/features. Look at other shadow puppets on the internet or in the library for inspiration.

Draw your character out with white pencil on black card

Cut out your character with scissors or a craft knife – you can also tear edges to create a softer more organic edge

Keep in mind that when cutting out your character it needs to be one piece, so you may need to create ‘tabs’ or ‘bridges’ to hold pieces together. You can also use clear cello tape to keep pieces together

You may want to create arms, legs or hands that move. In the video (as above) Steffen demonstrates how to create joins and moving limbs for your character

You do not want to see your hands or body behind the screen so attach your character to bamboo skewers

Additional exercises

Create a theater for your shadow puppet; the equipment you will need includes a box, a screen and a light. For a screen you can use a sheet of white paper or a large sheet of tracing paper. You can go all out and create an ornate theatre to surround your screen or use something as simple as a shoebox with a hole cut out of it and a sheet of paper taped on the inside to cover the hole.

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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.