IN-PERSON WORKHOPS @
Social-Distancing related Rules and Updates
Happy summer, we hope you have been staying safe and creative during closures!
We will be open for limited in-person classes by appointment, with heightened safety rules.
Please see our Social Distance policy page for more information on these changes!
Please note that some in-person classes may be modified or unavailable at this time.
Space is limited, so book ASAP!
OR... check out our online classes and get creative at home!
Workshop Class Index
Ages 7 and under
|Sock Puppet Duo | Beginning Puppetry|
For educators, home school groups, or special needs providers, who can’t make it into see us, we can come to you! Whether you’d like to do an entire workshop or a 1 hour puppetry project, we have got you covered!
Contact us at for info on how we can be of service to your group.
Please remember that for every 3 workshops purchased we try to give back to the community and offer a program scholarship to kids and teens in the Santa Cruz. By purchasing classes you learn a new skill and help pass it on to the next generation of artists.
Most of all you’re helping to make the world a cooler place one puppet at a time….
Our programs are more then a basic art class!
As a part of The Puppetry Institute, we incorporate Common Core standards in English Literacy and Math by pushing students to think and participate creatively and critically with their own creations. Students utilize mathematics to construct operational puppets, sets, and costumes, relying heavily upon geometry, algebra, and architecture, and the practical application thereof for each respective project.
Innovative applications and repetition of core mathematical concepts help students practice their math skills in both an academic setting, as well as in designing and constructing their puppets/projects.
English Literacy Common Core standards come in after the physical portion of the project is complete, where we ask students to develop personalities for their creations. Study is required for background information and stories, should students base their puppets in works of mythology, literature, media, etc. Each student will then be pushed to refer to their collective knowledge as each project culminates in a performance.
These final exams allow students to share what they have created. Structured as an improvisational performance, students are pushed to think critically and on their feet as they answer questions in character, absorbing the information given to them by their scene partner, and responding accordingly. Overall, students participating in classes at The Puppetry Institute follow the standards of Common Core according to their grade and/or skill level by participating creatively, constructively, and critically in the development of their personal projects.
Under Age 8
All children under 8 years of age should have an adult along for supervision!
This helps us ensure your child's comfort and safety within our workshop environment. Thank you!
Sock-Puppet Duo (ages 4+) -
Decorate a pair of sock puppets - one for each hand! Then, name them and create a story. This is a great way to introduce puppetry to younger kids!
Family Engagement Program (ages 4+) - $60
Create memories together with your family - as well as three simple puppet designs! This class is intended for children aged 4-7 and their families, to encourage a life-long love for creativity! Keep the puppets, and the knowledge to continue creating and performing at home!
Includes supplies and 1.5 hrs instruction
Make-A-Muppet (ages 6+)
In Santa Cruz for the day? Stop by and create a new friend, in only 90 minutes! Take one of our beautiful hand-made blank muppets, add your own creative flair, then get a crash course in performance. What do you get? A colorful character that is positively uniquely you - inside and out!
Includes supplies and 1.5 hrs instruction.
MUPPET STYLE PUPPETS: (ages 8+)
Learn how to create a professional Hand and Rod puppet from foam, fleece and recycled items. Learn professional construction techniques as well as character design and performance to create a puppet that would be at home in any TV show. Skills learned: soft sculpture/costume design/flocking techniques, pattern making/storytelling/character development/hand sewing, culminating with a performance. Class cost for humanoid puppet, $400. $440 for creature puppet. Includes all supplies + 20 hrs of instruction. scholarships available.
Beginning Stop Motion (ages 8+)
Using items such as sand, paper, and Legos kids can create a 45 second to 1 minute video using all techniques used in our more advanced classes. This class is only available TUES-WED-FRI-SAT from 11am-6pm.
Includes supplies, a DVD of finished project, 20 hours of instruction
STOP MOTION PUPPETRY (ages 8+)
Learn the basics in the exciting genre of Stop Motion Puppetry! Students create a 1-3 minute film using techniques employed in such movies as “Nightmare before Christmas”. Writing, character development, puppet design, set construction, and film techniques, are just some of the skills learned in this course.
Includes supplies, a DVD of finished project, and 20 hrs instruction and LAB time.
SHADOW PUPPETRY 101 (ages 8+)
Learn the art of creating stories from light and shadow! This is one of the original forms of puppetry and dates back as far as recorded time. We will cover building a portable stage, basic shadow puppets, and storytelling, culminating with a performance. Includes supplies and 10 hrs instruction.
Green Screen Camp (ages 10+)
Students will learn the magic of filming with a green screen, a technique used in special effects films from Star Wars to Avatar! Videos and stills shot against a green-screen can be superimposed on a variety of environments; from the surface of an alien planet, to the darkest jungle! We'll provide puppets, props, costumes, and video cameras! You provide the imagination for a 5 to 10 minute film, which you'll edit, add FX, and make a DVD to share with family and friends!
Includes supplies, DVD of finished video, and 20 hrs of instruction.
Monster Character Design (ages 10+)
Create original fantasy monster character designs that fit into fantasy RPGs, monster-collector card games, si-fi comics, and beyond!
Students will learn to create monster character designs to fulfill a role to enrich original fantasy stories and games. Bring elements together in a balanced way to create a memorable and unique design. Students will create four monster design references, and then create a dynamic and impactful piece of art that looks as if it were out of a trading card game, RPG monster manual, or retro video game!
Table Top Puppets
Workshop participants will be constructing simple table top puppets! Students will learn easy construction techniques as well as instruction on how to bring them to life with the flick of a finger. As well as skills in design, character/story development, sculpting, and costuming. Includes supplies and 12 hrs instruction
Learn how to design your own original Fantasy cosplay outfit and accessories employing techniques used in major Hollywood and theater fabrication shops. We'll be using a variety of fabrics, re purposed clothing, L-200 foam, “Worbla” and found items. A basic knowledge of sewing/crafting helps, but not essential. Skills learned: Costume/fashion design, distressing/aging techniques/flocking/hair punching/ life casting/mold making. Includes all supplies and 20 hrs on instruction.
FACE PAINTING 101 - $200
Learn the basics of the art form that will get you invited to all the best parties and events! Professional Makeup artist Star Hagen-Esquerra will show you the basic techniques and tricks of the trade. Students will learn 3 basic designs and take turns practicing what they've learned on family members and each other. Weekends 3 to 5 PM Class limited to 10 students Includes professional face painting kit
CREATURE SHOP 101
Exercise your inner monster in this fun and informative class! Students will design & fabricate their own creature puppet! This class teaches skills in advanced creature shop techniques used in a lot of the large effects houses. Sculpting, mold making, casting, airbrushing, painting techniques, mechanics, and movement scholarships available. Time 20 hrs instruction Supply cost $200 & up depending on size...
LATEX MASK MAKING:
Learn how to sculpt, mold, and cast your own latex mask. Learn the same techniques that the contestants use on the hit show Face Off! Even if you've never touched a piece of clay before with our techniques we can teach you how to make an amazing creature mask. Skills learned: life-casting/mold making/latex casting/clay sculpture/ painting/airbrush techniques/ hair punching. Includes supplies & 20hrs Lab Time
Every creature and every fantasy character from film, CGI animation, and video games starts off as a Maquette! These are sculptures that give developers a three dimensional look at the character from every angle. Maquettes are made from oil based clay which never hardens and can be painted with acrylics. In this class students will be able to develop a bust or 12 inch figure of a character of their design. Includes supplies & 14 hrs instruction
CHARACTER/ CREATURE SCULPTURES 101
This workshop teaches you basic blocking/sculpture techniques. You'll create a life size head of your own design from reusable oil based clay.
This is a advanced class and recommended to students who have taken our latex mask/Character Sculpture cast. This course will cover full facial life-casting, sculpture, 2-3 piece mold making, and silicone prosthetics. This is a six week class twice a week for 3 hrs. a day. Includes supplies & up to 30 hrs instruction. At least two week advanced notice required to obtain supplies.
Create a miniature fantasy world using Fimo, found items, and a variety of different mixed media inside inside a shadow box! This 1 day 3 hour class is a great way to spend the day exercising your creative muscle. Includes supplies &16 hrs Instructuction
COSPLAY PROP CLASS
This course teaches fundamentals in prop making for cosplay. Chose from 2 different foam weapons, wings or smoking wizards staff. Using professional fabrication techniques and materials you will design and construct accessories that will be the hit of any con! Includes supplies and 12 hrs of instruction
GIANT PUPPETRY - $500
In this workshop 15-30 students will be broken up into teams of five. Each team will learn to work together to construct a giant puppet(up to 12 feet high) for bragging rights and star billing at a performance for the winning puppet. This is a lot of fun for families, social groups, and business teams! Learn giant puppet design, character development, storytelling, and most importantly how to work together as a team. Cost: 500.00 for a group of up to 5
PUPPETRY FOR TEACHERS AND THERAPISTS
From arithmetic to zoology there is really nothing you can't teach as well as engage students then a puppet in the classroom. Puppetry can also be extremely helpful when used in therapy. You will learn how to design, construct, and find your puppets voice while finding a way to integrate your character into your teaching/session plans. This is a 3 day seminar open to teachers/therapists.
Cost 300.00 20 hrs Instruction
See up-to-date pictures of students completed projects on our social media pages!