Here we go: Andrew's World Famous Tennis Ball Rod Puppet.
(Also known as "the puppet design that saved my college German Language grade.")
One day, while trying to teach Holly how to play fetch I noticed that the springy tennis ball our reticent dalmatian refused to run after had a curious "seam" that almost looked like a down-turned mouth. Since Holly was having more fun destroying a pair of Pamela's boots than playing fetch, I took her tennis ball to my puppetry workstation (our dining room table), grabbed a nearby x-acto knife, and cut open a portion of the seam.
I mounted the ball on a dowel, gave it facial features, and dressed it in a red hood. I gathered together a few random puppets I had laying around, pounded out a short play script ("A Not So Grimm Fairy Tale"), and enlisted fellow theatre major Scott Black in the ensuing madness. We had to present a "final project" in our German Language class, something about or involving German culture. Dr. Mitchell, our Yoda-like professor, was absolutely delighted by the little puppet play, and Scott and I got passing grades. The play was in English.
The design has evolved a bit over the years. Little Red Riding Hood (wish I had a picture!) had no arms and no body to speak of, just a red felt hood that hinted at structure underneath. I've solved the problem of body and arms using simple items you can find around the house.
[NOTE: Do not follow the bellow instructions. They are grossly irresponsible and dangerous. I mean, using an x-acto knife in the way I describe is absolutely insane! Don't do it.]
16" long, 5/8" diameter dowel rod
Plastic or metal ring, 1" diameter
An empty 25 oz liquid dishwashing soap bottle
Strut hanger (wire hanger with paper tube)
1/4" stretch elastic (or ribbon)
Googly eyes, pom poms, yarn, etc. (puppet face making stuff)
Small nail, small screw eye
Tools (hammer, cordless drill, etc.)
Feeding the fishing line through the bottle is a pain. I have yet to come up with the perfect solution for this. Once it's fed through, I tie on a little plastic ring.
From the paper tube I cut two 3" pieces, two 2" pieces and two 3/4" pieces. I string these arm pieces together, and attach to the body.
The bent ends of the arm rods insert into the puppet's hands.