Adventures in Puppet-Making 101: Finger Tubes

Finger tubes provide a place for your fingers to rest in the same position all the time. Their function is to increase the amount of control that you have over the mouth of the puppet.
The foam was bought at a local sewing/craft store. It is pricey so look for a sale. The section I got is 30 inches by 4 feet. The index finger tube was a piece of foam 0.5” by 4″ x 5″. The middle finger was a 0.5“ by 4” by 5.5”.  The thumb was 0.5″ x 4″ x 5.5″. I applied hot glue to one edge of the foam rectangle and then simply rolled it up on itself so that the glue at the edge contacted. Once cooled, I then placed the tubes onto my fingers and trimmed them to the size of my fingers. With the finger tubes on my fingers, I put the mouth flap in my hand.  I then marked on the back of the mouth flap with a pen where the tubes rested.  I then tacked down the finger tubes with hot glue being sure that the tubes were aligned with the marks.  At this point, it is important to put your fingers in the tubes and work the mouth.  It should feel comfortable, your wrist should not feel strained and it should not take a lot of effort to open and close the mouth.
If all feels well, then reinforce with the hot glue all along the edges until they are well mounted.  I then covered the tubes with a layer of Sculpt or Coat and placed linen strips over that. More sculpt or coat was worked in to be sure to bind the linen to the tubes.  The thumb tube had to be altered by cutting away at its proximal end.  There was too much foam and it was restricting the range of motion of the thumb which in turn affects how wide the mouth will open.  This was not noticeable when initially checking for finger positioning with the flap in my hand because my fingers were not actually attached to the flap so as you open and close the flap your thumb moves about. Something to watch out for.

The 1 inch overlap of linen that was not glued down when initially making the mouth comes into play now.  Once the linen that had been measured and placed over the finger tubes had dried, the overlaps were wrapped over and glued down with sculpt or coat. Throughout this process, this 1 inch flap helped to protect the felt inside the mouth from getting all covered with glue or sculpt or coat.
Stitch Test: Taking two pieces of foam, regular sewing thread was passed through with a large curved upholstery needle.  Taking a good half-inch bite through each piece proved that they held together fairly well.  A stronger waxed thread would be more ideal.  This might be a good idea for reinforcing areas.  Note that pulling the thread tightly causes puckers and lifts a line of pulled tight foam so this is might be used for slight deformation under a cloth skin.  Straight on top of foam it looks like Frankenstein stitching.
Next time: the head and modifications.