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How to Make Hand Shadow Puppets

Find out how to Make Hand Shadows

Young Girl Having Fun with Hand Shadows
(Source: Younger Lady Having Enjoyable with Hand Shadows(Supply: ©Kryzhov/Depositphotos.com)

Shadography was a preferred amusement all through the Victorian Period, and it was loved within the early 1900s earlier than electrical lighting and newer types of dwelling leisure turned common.

If this classic artwork type is new to you, then watch the quick YouTube video under for an indication on learn how to make shadow animals with solely your fingers and a small mild supply.

My aged aunt as soon as shared with me her recollections of a customer to their farmhouse one night throughout the Nice Despair of the Nineteen Thirties.

The younger man had come off the railroad tracks begging a meal, and he entertained your complete household by exhibiting them learn how to make hand shadows. He had sat in entrance of a coal oil desk lamp, and the shadow puppets had been skillfully introduced on the kitchen wall.

The quaint oil lamps and candles merely gave off higher shadows than as we speak’s vivid mild bulbs that are inclined to illuminate your complete room.

Gentle Supply

The sharpest shadows come from a small, vivid mild supply. A single lighted candle was favored by the Victorians, however a small flashlight, or a small 5-watt, clear equipment bulb can be used to good impact.

Simply remember that the sunshine supply have to be small and vivid sufficient to throw a clearly outlined shadow within the darkened room.

Display screen

Merely use a white or very frivolously coloured wall for the display. A white sheet hung over a door can serve the identical objective. In its place, a white sheet might be suspended in an open doorway to allow the viewers to sit down in a darkened room in entrance of the display whereas the performer stays within the room behind the display.

Find out how to Make Hand Shadows by Félicien Trewey

Félicien Trewey Performing the Shadowgraph
(SourFélicien Trewey Performing the Shadowgraph(Supply: Open Court docket Journal, 1904)by Félicien Treweyby Félicien Trewey

One of many best performers of Shadowgraphy was the French entertainer Félicien Trewey (1848-1920). He realized learn how to make hand shadows as an artwork type, and he perfected many common hand shadow animals that different entertainers copied and added to their acts.

Although significantly expert in mime, balancing objects, and legerdemain, the “shadowgraph” in Trewey’s efficiency stunned and amused most. His superb measure of dexterity was described as “Treweyism.”

“The Artwork of Shadowgraphy: How It Is Performed” was revealed across the time of Trewey’s dying, and it accommodates a wealth of instruction for anybody eager to learn to make hand shadows. The how-to illustrations and directions under are excerpted from Trewey’s ebook:

Find out how to Make Hand Shadow Puppets

The next eight positions of the hand and fingers being exercised, will give to the newbie very helpful help. Figs. 1-8 under.

Hand and Finger Exercise by TreweyHand and Finger Train by Trewey

Probably the most handy distance of the sunshine from the fingers is 4 ft, and about six ft from the fingers to the wall or display on to which the shadows are to be thrown.

It is going to usually be discovered mandatory, as a way to acquire a fascinating impact, to show the fingers a little bit to the suitable or to the left.

The beginner ought to be cautious to cowl any mirror within the room which might mirror the sunshine and trigger two shadows.

How to Make Hand Shadow Puppets by TreweyFind out how to Make Hand Shadow Puppets by Trewey

Fig 9 — The Rabbit. Many works have been produced to clarify and illustrate “Shadows on the Wall,” and nearly invariably have begun with a rabbit. If there be any who have no idea learn how to carry out this, a look on the illustration will suffice to instruct.

Fig. 10 — The Swan.

Figs. 11 and 12 — The Wolf was carried out by Campi and Frizzo, however…

The Rabbit, the Swan, and the Wolf by TreweyThe Rabbit, the Swan, and the Wolf by Trewey

Fig. 13 — The Elephant, and

Fig. 14 — The Chicken, and

Fig. 15 — The Cat, had been perfected by Trewey.

The Elephant, the Bird, and the Cat by TreweyThe Elephant, the Chicken, and the Cat by Trewey

Fig. 16 — The Outdated Man

Fig. 17 — Good Nostril

Fig. 18 — The Countryman, and

The Old Man, Perfect Nose, and the Countryman by TThe Outdated Man, Good Nostril, and the Countryman by Trewey

Fig. 19 — The Grimacer had been carried out by others, however

Fig. 20 — The Volunteer, and

Fig. 21 — Robinson Crusoe had been Trewey’s innovations.

The Grimacer, the Volunteer, and Robinson Crusoe bThe Grimacer, the Volunteer, and Robinson Crusoe by Trewey

Fig. 22 — The Jockey, and

Fig. 23 — The Rope Dancer had been invented by Trewey throughout a go to to the Alhambra (a palace, fortress advanced situated in Granada, Andalusia, Spain).

The Jockey and the Rope Dancer by TreweyThe Jockey and the Rope Dancer by Trewey

On the similar time,

Fig. 24 — The Boatman, and

Fig. 25 — The Fisherman had been first produced.

The Boatman and the Fisherman by TreweyThe Boatman and the Fisherman by Trewey

Fig. 26 — The perfection of the Preacher.

Fig. 26a — Shews the mode by which the Preacher is carried out.

The Perfection of the Preacher, and the PerformancThe Perfection of the Preacher, and the Efficiency by Trewey

The Animated Pantomime: Invented by Trewey

Fig. 27 — The Policeman is the “follower” of the servant woman. He knocks on the door, and the woman seems on the upstairs window, and after an alternate of compliments, the woman withdraws herself from the window and reappears on the door.

She offers to the policeman a drink from the bottle; and he, after wiping his beard, kisses her and retires.

The Girl and the Policeman Pantomime by TreweyThe Lady and the Policeman Pantomime by Trewey


The Paterfamilias was the oldest male in a family, the pinnacle of a Roman household.

Fig. 28 — Then comes the itinerant musician, taking part in a doleful air upon the clarinet. Paterfamilias involves the bed room window, and motions the participant away, however the musician derisively strikes up a vigorous tune, and Paterfamilias now makes his look armed with an extended broom with which he thrashes him.

The musician nonetheless persisting, Paterfamilias subsequent produces the water jug and pours the contents upon the pinnacle of the luckless serenader who rapidly makes his exit.

The Musician and Paterfamilias Pantomime by TreweyThe Musician and Paterfamilias Pantomime by Trewey

It will likely be observed that the little equipment, such because the helmet for the policeman, the broom, and so forth., are little articles which can simply be lower from pasteboard, and, the place mandatory, hooked up to the figures by the use of an India-rubber ring fixed to the properties.

The water jug, nonetheless, have to be an precise little vessel as a way to comprise sand, which when poured out, offers all the looks of a movement of water.

The beginner, with perseverance, can obtain all the outcomes set forth on this ebook, and with a little bit ingenuity might probably invent others, and the amusement afforded will show ample reimbursement for his labor.

Find out how to Make Hand Shadows by Henry Bursill

Hand Shadow of a Camel by Henry Bursill
(Source: Hand Shadow of a Camel by Henry Bursill(Supply: Hand Shadows by Bursill, 1859)

Henry Wayte Bursill (1833-1871) studied at London’s Royal Academy of Arts from 1854 to 1863 and have become a famous sculptor, medalist, and modeller.

Shadowgraphy was Bursill’s longtime amusement and in 1859, he revealed “Hand Shadows to be Thrown Upon the Wall,” a small ebook that featured a collection of his authentic designs. Within the preface, he wrote:

“A few of my sketches had been made years in the past, others when a pupil on the Academy. Certainly, the Shadows have usually been displayed on the partitions of my studio, a lot to the amusement of fellow-students who would, I’m positive, at any time bear witness to their originality.”

When you love the artwork of shadowgraphy, you’ll love Bursill’s ebook. It features a assortment of illustrations that reveal learn how to type figures of animals, birds, and other people just by utilizing your fingers to solid shadows.

Obtain Hand Shadows

Get secure instant access to your FREE PDF COPY of

Get safe instantaneous entry to your FREE PDF COPY of Henry Bursill’s 21-page ebook Hand Shadows that you may obtain and print out for straightforward studying.


Inform youngsters that they are going to be making shadow puppets with their fingers. 

  1. Have youngsters work in pairs and invite them to consider shadow puppets they will make utilizing one or each of their fingers. Encourage them to make puppets that may transfer. 
  2. Have every youngster display his or her hand puppet within the mini theater. Then see if their companion can imitate his or her hand puppet.  


A Pioneer SamplerA Nice Residing Guide

This ebook is definitely the inspiration for our making a shadow puppet theater! Within the ebook, the Robertsons spend a chilly winter's night across the hearth watching to Granny solid shadows on the wall as she tells a foolish story about hobgoblins.

That is such a beautiful option to be taught in regards to the American pioneers. The ebook facilities across the Robertsons, a backwoods household of 9. Participating tales about their lives educate in regards to the way of life of our American forefathers and moms. Interspersed among the many tales are factual pages with lovely line drawings and exercise solutions. An enchanting ebook!

Thanks for visiting. I hope that your puppet theater is a grand success!

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Moon Pageant: Shadow Puppets

Rejoice the Mid-Autumn Moon Pageant by staging a shadow puppet present primarily based on the Chinese language Moon legend that explains the origins and traditions of the competition.


  • Watch out if utilizing candles, lamps are beneficial.

    Thanks! Useful 29 Not Useful 12

  • Watch out when reducing out the cardboard-box and paper.

    Thanks! Useful 14 Not Useful 24


Little Pink Driving Hood: Shadow Puppets

These shadow puppets will let your youngsters make their model of Little Pink Driving Hood and stage a shadow play at dwelling or within the classroom!

Key Science Ideas

  • A shadow is made when an object blocks the sunshine.
  • You possibly can change the form of a shadow by transferring and turning your physique or the thing making the shadow or by transferring the sunshine supply.

Shadow Puppets Youtube Video Tutorial

You might even get the youngsters to sit down behind a cardboard field and placed on a Shadow Puppet efficiency! You may make a crab, rabbit, bull, moose, elephant, and snail to call a number of.

You’ll love the gathering of concepts featured on this video. Click on Play above to view now ^

Another great idea is getting the kids to use thei

One other nice thought is getting the youngsters to make use of their toy animals to create shadows that they will then hint on paper. We discovered this concept on Above & Beyond.


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