Suitcase Puppet Theater Tutorial

Today I’m going to share my puppet theater tutorial from the project I made for American Crafter. It really wasn’t hard; the hardest part was figuring out which hardware to use.

Turn a vintage suitcase into a puppet theater, complete with storage. Great Tutorial!

I used

  • A vintage suitcase with hard sides made of wood. Mine measured 21×15 or so inches, but size isn’t that important. Bigger or smaller would still work
  • Two decorative hasps that I found at Home Depot on the aisle with all the hinges. They were about $3 each and they’re not very big – about 3 inches fully opened. They came with teeny tiny little nails to secure them and U shaped pieces that are meant to put a pin through to hold the hasp shut.
  • One sheet of foamboard
  • 2 sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper for the background
  • 3 sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper for the stage proscenium (the stage front – theatre teacher word :)
  • Mod Podge
  • Super glue
  • A piece of twine

OK, to start with I mod-podged 2 of the scrapbook sheets onto the inside of the suitcase lid. I wanted a background, but the main reason I needed to do this is because the inside lid looked like this:

Next I cut out a rectangle of foamboard for the stage, then I slashed it down the middle without cutting all the way through, and bent it into an L shape. This is just wedged into the suitcase, it is not attached to the sides. In the picture below I had the uncut stage front wedged up as well, so I could decide how wide to make each side of the stage proscenium.

I used some of the striped scrapbook paper and mod-podged it onto the top side of the stage.

For the proscenium, I marked it out like this with my ruler and then cut out the center with an Exacto knife.  If you look at the picture below, you can see that I had scallops all across the top of the stage. I actually cut those out, then later realized I could have just scalloped the paper and saved myself the time. So just cut straight across the top and learn from my mistake.

I mod-podged scrapbook paper onto the proscenium, matching the strips across the top and turning the stripes vertically and horizontally for more contrast. I wouldn’t use fabric here, as you want to keep this very lightweight.

To attach the hasps, I used the teeny nails (which I had to hold with needlenose pliers, and hammered the hinged end of the hasp between the lining and the suitcase.  You can just see the nails (the gold dots) in this picture. You’ll also see that the proscenium doesn’t touch the stage; this is to give it room to fold down.

The decorative ends of the hasps are supposed to be held in place by the nailed down U pieces and pins. But there’s no point in nailing anything to foamboard – it won’t hold. So I super-glued the hasps to the stage front. I like how they’re decorative and functional. It also helps that this is very thin medal and very lightweight board.

I did use the U pieces – I nailed them to the inside of one side of the suitcase and tied the twine between them to keep the lid upright.

And that was it! The project only took an hour or so to make after the hour I spent in Home Depot trying to figure out the best hardware to use to keep the front upright.

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Comments

  1. says

    I just picked up an old vintage suitcase off the street the other day even though I had NO clue what I was going to do with it. This is perfect! Thanks for sharing! – Cherie

  2. says

    Great idea! My kids are grown and I used vintage suitcases as memory boxes and filled them with their toys, artwork, and baby clothes I had saved for them. Easy and nice storage. They got them this Christmas. So much fun! I’ll have to look for more suitcases for puppet shows for when the grandkids get old enough.

  3. Trudy Graham says

    Melissa,
    Just a courtesy note to let you know I have pinned your “Suitcase Puppet Theatre tutorial” to a pinterest board with a collection of learning resources to complement the “Sock Puppets” app. If you have other posts suitable for this or other boards I am compiling, please email me. You can view my Pinterest boards at
    http://pinterest.com/fingerpprojects
    You may like to check back from time-to-time as the boards grow.
    Warm regards
    Trudy

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