Punch update -
I found a couple of great online resources:
Punch show puppeteers, or "Professors" as they're called, seem to be very open and giving with helpful tips and info. Everything from free Punch scripts to where to buy a swazzle is covered. Punch is hardcore, open-source folk art. I dig this kind of thing!
I'm thinking of sculpting Punch and Co. out of Sculpey brand polymer clay. I was first exposed to Sculpey as a puppet building tool on a pilot I performed in. The puppet builder used Sculpey to create the eyes and nose for a cat character. Incredible stuff, very versatile.