Papier Mache
Almost any kind of paper can be used for papier mache. I like to use heavy paper (as in paper bags) because it is stronger, and therefore requires fewer layers, and can be smoother. Colored paper, cloth, or shiny wrapping paper can be used in the last layer instead of paint. Use larger pieces on flatter areas, and smaller, thinner pieces on rounded areas. If the paper wrinkles or refuses to lie flat, your pieces are too large. Paste can be wheat-paste, wallpaper paste (I like Metylan cellulose; read the cautions, some cellulose irritates the skin and some doesn't) or cornstarch cooked until it thickens according to the instructions on the box. Adding white glue to any of these pastes makes them stronger and more water-resistant.

Staple Pliers
It is possible to put together giant puppets without staple pliers (handheld staplers), but they are extremely useful. Both Arrow and Bostich make staple pliers, and Bostich has a number (800) 343-9329 under Stanley Fasteners to tell you where the nearest outlet is. I like the Bostich B8 with the long (3/8") staples. Florists use them, and will usually know where to find them. University Stationary (Cambridge, MA) will ship both staples and stapler. Contact Gail Seidman, University Stationary, (617) 547-6650, -6651 , 311 Mass. Ave. Cambridge, MA 02139.

Other Materials
Cloth: Cloth is the usually the most expensive element of any giant puppet construction. Your local theatre will know the nearest sources of cheap cloth. I like lining cloth, which is light and shiny and comes in bright colors.
Gohn Bros. (PO Box 111, Middlebury IN 46540-0111 / (219) 825-2400) sells quilting cloth to the Amish; their cloth is as cheap good cloth as I've found. A possible cloth substitute is plastic from Bear Claw Plastic (Bland Co) (800) 527-7189. It comes in various colors, 44"x160' $14-15 plus shipping per roll. It's translucent, so looks good fringed and layered. Attach it with hot glue.
Wood: cheap strapping or firring is usually good enough for most puppets. A.M. Leonard garden supplies sells bamboo up to 8' long, and in bulk: (800) 543-8955 (also the nifty Felco folding saw, for carrying around to parades.) They will also special-order 10' and 12' bamboo, but it takes a while for it to get in.
Wire: You will need heavy wire for puppets, probably 9 gauge or 12 gauge (the higher gauge numbers are, the lighter the wire). The big chain hardware stores have central warehouses where they can order heavy wire for you; you may need to find a sympathetic hardware guy, though.
Paint: school supply houses carry cheap bulk acrylics; try School Specialty (800) 628-8608 or Nasco (800) 558-9595. On no account paint outside puppets with tempera.

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