The best custom-made puppets in the Midwest!
We make custom puppets for:
Pictured: Matt Hawkins | Illustrator & Puppet Artisan
Puppet: Teapot Mouse | Alice in Wonderland | Halloween Haunt at Worlds of Fun
Why choose us?
When puppets talk, people listen. Bring your storytelling ideas to life and engage audiences like never before!
Our custom puppets are handcrafted by highly skilled puppeteers, designers, fabricators and costumers. Our Director of Puppetry has more than 30 years of experience and leads a team of artisans with backgrounds in costuming, woodworking, props design, and more.
We understand the unique needs of puppets for stage productions, film, and classroom use and work with clients to ensure projects are appropriate to their medium and usage goals.
Get a Quote
Tell us about your custom puppet project! We use this information to generate a bid including labor, material costs, delivery fees and estimated timeline. We'll then send you a quote that includes price, process and schedule.
Puppet Design & Prototyping
We begin with a rough sketch of the character to give you a feel for the style and basic functionality, and collaborate together to refine the overall look. From there we create a prototype for your approval of scale and function.
The collaboration continues! As we build your custom puppet and decisions on aesthetics are made, we’ll reach out to share progress and obtain feedback as needed. Once complete, we do a final show-and-tell to make any simple adjustments.
No Legs Larry | Cedar Fair Entertainment Company
Puppet Designer & Artisan: Zachery Garner
Your custom puppet is finally complete! We’ll work with you to ensure your custom puppet is delivered safe and sound, communicating any delivery fees and the expected delivery date.
Don't just take our word for it...
Custom Puppets Partnerships
Check out this video to see one of our custom puppets brought to life! Spirit Marketing came to us to create a custom puppet to host Aramark's new virtual show for students. Ace shares fun facts about nutrition and encourages children to eat healthy.
Puppet Design, Build & Performance:
Director of Puppetry Arts, Mike Horner
Props & Set Design:
Director of Production, Erin Walley
Director of Puppetry Arts
What if Puppets wouldn't be possible without Mike Horner, our Director of Puppetry Arts. He joined the organization in 2006 as lead puppeteer and builder and 10 years later, Paul Mesner passed Mike the torch as artistic director. Today, Mike leads our entire team of puppet craftsmen, builders and designers, and also designs and creates puppets, props and sets for our touring shows and custom puppets.
Mike has over 30 years experience creating puppets for film and theatre, as well as set and prop design, performing and directing. His efforts were commended and supported by the Jim Henson Foundation, who has awarded What if Puppets several grants for our contributions to Puppetry for family audiences.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a custom puppet cost?
The cost of a custom puppet depends upon a variety of factors, including design, materials, process, mechanics, labor, shipping and timeline needs. We will take all these considerations into account when providing your quote.
How long does it take to build a custom puppet?
The time it takes varies based on the complexity of the custom puppet. For example, a hand-and-rod, moving-mouth puppet generally takes four to six weeks to build. Clients must approve the quote, pay the deposit, and give final approval to the design before building can begin. We recommend requesting your puppet needs at least 8 weeks prior to delivery.
I see custom puppets online for cheaper. Why not pick them?
If price is your primary concern, then the internet has options of varying quality and price points. Our costs reflect the quality of the designs, professional materials, functionality of our puppets, and collaboration with clients.
Does What if Puppets offer puppeteer training?
Yes, and recommend it! For theatrical productions, we recommend scheduling at minimum 4 hours for us to work with your puppeteers at the beginning of your rehearsal process. We also recommend adding time to your rehearsal process, as learning puppetry takes time. Depending on your project needs and locations, we can provide training in your quote. For video productions, we can schedule in-person or virtual trainings.
Can someone from What if Puppets perform my custom puppet?
It depends. For video puppetry, our artists are available for filming locally and nationally. For theatrical productions, we prefer to train your artists. You can hire us for puppet trainings, or as puppet directors for your production. As puppet directors we work much like a choreographer would for a musical, collaborating with the director throughout the rehearsal process.