Saturday, May 28, 2011

How I Made a Cable Operated Bird Puppet Part 2

or how to make a Cable Puppet part 2

I wasn't happy with the way the head turned.  I thought it was a little too heavy. So I went with an Easter egg instead.

I drilled a small hole in the pointy end of the egg and put the cable through. I thought I put enough hot glue on the end of the cable. but I didn't so after all of the feathers were put on the cable came loose and pulled right out of the bird and I had to start all over again.

Here I put a piece of string from the body to the head.  The only problem was this allowed the head to turn almost all the way around, which wasn't what I wanted.  I found out that if I put it closer to the cable it worked better.  

And the string kept breaking. ( I am rather rough with the testing I guess.) So I used some twine.  I put them real close together. (the cable and the twine I mean)  This gave the head a more normal turning radius, plus when I push on the cable the head looks up.

The Beak

For the beak I took a piece of yellow fun foam and cut out a square. 

I turned the foam so it was in the shape of a diamond. Next I put hot glue down the middle and folded the two corners in on each other and held them there till the glue cooled.

Then I folded up the edges again.  This gave it a very curved shape and plus only left the only raw edge at the very tip. 

 I did this twice.  A bigger one for the top and a smaller one for the bottom.

I glued these in place.  (you might or might not have noticed that the color of the tennis ball has now changed.  This is the second one.  The first one I forgot to take pictures of, and plus the cable pulled out.  I corrected that by hot gluing both the jacket to the body, and the cable end into the head. Massive amount of hot glue inside the head.)

When I push on the cable the head lifts up.

 Next I glued a few long feathers to his back.
Then I added a red feather boa starting on the base and going around and around.  Gluing about 2 inches at a time.  I did the head last (and separate from the body, because you know we want the head to turn.)

I also wet the feathers around his face and pulled them back so he could see.

Then I glued a black bead onto a white button twice and used these as the eyes.  Just a drop of hot glue on the back and stick them in place.
I put a few yellow and orange feathers onto his head to give him a little extra color and Ta-da he is done. All in all it took me about 3-4 hours from start to finish. I am going to try a different cable next time.  I think the bike cable was a little bit too heavy duty.  The head doesn't turn as smooth as I would like it to. But still for my first attempt I think he is pretty cool.

Continue to Part Three - How to make a cable puppet with moveable wings


Jump to How To Make a Cable Puppet Control Handle

Here is a short video clip of him in action.


  1. This is so cute, and very helpful! Thank you!
    Can't wait until I make my own!

  2. You are an absolute lifesaver! I've been trying to work out how to make a robin puppet for ages and my brain just wasn't clicking into place at all. This is going to be an amazing help!

  3. Thank you do much for this. I can't wait to try it out. You said you weren't fond of the bike cable, what would you recommend instead?

    1. Someone suggested model airplane controller cables. They are a plastic cable inside a plastic jacket.
      I haven't been able to test it yet and see how it works.

  4. Curious how you keep it on your shoulder...?

    1. It is just sitting there. The weight of the tennis ball is keeping it in place. I am probably going to make another one with some kind of clip or magnet.

  5. I dont understand how it moves its head side to side. I thought that you need more than just one cable to move it that way

    1. If you twist the bottom end, the cable turns in the jacket, which turns the bird's head. Then if you push in on the cable it lifts the head up.
      You can get a wide range of head movement from just one cable.

  6. great job but i have a question what is the round blk thinge is it a button and i dont see it in later photos

    1. Yes it was a button, but I ended up remaking it, and didn't need it.

  7. I wasnt sure about it but by god that is absolutely adorable!

  8. I wonder if it is possible to make a snake shoulder puppet using the same method.

  9. Thank you for putting this guide up, I use this method to make an owl, had a few problem along the way, but they were more trial and error things. The only real problem with it was went the head came off the cable, but it got fixed and it went down really well when i took it to the WB studios.