A pattern for a basic head shape can be found over at the Instructables Site. It was created by Michael Schupbach and is released under a Creative Commons license.
Patterns For Sale Alright there you have the free options. They are not bad but often they lack some details so we would like to suggest Project Puppet's line of professional patterns and videos. They range in price from $20.00 to $60.00. Check site for current prices since they often have specials!
VIP Puppet Company You can do it puppet is $24.95+$5 S/H It has Chapters DVD, Patterns and eBook all the step by step details.
Creative Ministry Solutions aka One Way Street carries a variety of patterns from time to time. Along with other puppet building supplies.
This is another common question asked on the forums. This question is a bit harder to answer since there are so many styles of puppetry. We do have a few suggestions for you though. Since here at Puppets and Stuff we like to encourage original works so if you are looking for a replica of a trademarked character I am afraid you are out of luck. We do have a few suggestions for you though.
There are actually quite a few members of PandS who make puppets so let's start with them.
Out of the Box Puppets Julie is the owner of this company and is a regular here. They carry not only a variety of hand in mouth puppets for sale but also have supplies for puppet builders. Out of the Box Puppets primary focus is on hand in mouth black light puppets but they also offer walk about and non black light puppets.
Axtell Expressions Steve Axtell is the CEO and Creative Director of this company and is actually a member here but is not quite as active here as those listed above so it would be best to contact him through his site. Axtell Expressions has a vast selection of hand in mouth puppets and also offers animatronic puppets which is a popular request on the forums.
Not to sound to pretentious, but we here at Puppets and Stuff think this is a great place to meet other puppeteers and puppet lovers. That being said it is often nice to meet other like minded folks in person. There are two major puppet organizations that can help you do this.
Puppeteers of America Puppeteers of America (PofA)is a not for profit national organization that was formed in 1937. It is comprised of professional puppeteers, puppet builders, teachers, librarians, therapists, youth leaders, hobbyists and audience members who share a love for puppetry. PofA presents a national convention ever other year. It has local guilds across the US that present regional conventions on the alternating years.
Union Internationale de la Marionnette Union Internationale de la Marionnette or UNIMA is an international organization in which all those people in the world concerned with the Art of the Puppet Theatre associate voluntarily in order to serve through their art the idea of peace and of mutual understanding without distinction as to race, political ideas or religion. This would be the best choice for our members who are not from the US although they do have an American branch which was founded in 1966.
One of the most difficult task you may face after you've built your puppet creations will be calculating how much to charge for them. Andrew gave the most extensive answer to this question in the forums and even provided an Excel spreadsheet you can use to help you figure things out. To give you an overview you need to first calculate your fixed expenses, next determine your variable expenses and then you can determine your selling price. Andrew goes into more detail on each of these in the post I linked to. Don't forget that you need to calculate an hourly wage for yourself. Do not sell yourself short. Your time is worth something.
You'll soon realize that by using the above methods that your pricing of your puppet creations may be much more then what someone can purchase a puppet for from some of the larger commercial companies. This can make it difficult to compete in the market. You must realize that the larger companies can buy their supplies in bulk and thus lower their cost. They also often outsource the building of their puppets to overseas factories that pay much lower wages to their employees. If you want to compete with them you have to find ways to lower your own cost. Look for sales on materials and buy in bulk when you can afford it. Streamline your production of puppets. You can actually produce more if you use factory methods. Cut out the materials for more then one puppet at a time. Group the process of building into sections. You'll be amazed at how much you can cut down on the time it takes to build each puppet if you do this.
While we feel you should not under estimate your worth and time spent, often making puppets can be more of a hobby for someone. In these cases you may wish to lower your prices below what your calculations say they should be sold for. Don't get trapped by this though. If it moves from hobby to job you might need to re-think your pricing.
You must remember that the Muppets is actually a trademarked name of the puppets built and preformed by the Henson Company. It is not a type of puppet style. The style that Henson used for most of his Muppets is called Hand in Mouth puppetry.
Antron fleece is only manufactured in the US. There are only really two reliable sources for it that we have found. Even these sources have limited supplies as the manufacture does not mill it on a regular basis. There is a difference between Antron fleece and regular anti-pill or polar fleece you buy at your local fabric stores. The biggest difference is that Antron is nylon and others are made from polyester. Aside from the two sources listed below sometimes members have some yardage for sell that they post about in the forums so keep your eye out for these post.
UPDATE: We have now added a third source for puppeteers located in Australia.
Out of the Box Puppets Julie the owner is a member here and buys full bolts of the fabric when available from the mill and then resells it in smaller yardage. Check the site for availability.
Georgia Stage They sometimes buy bolts from the mill also then resell in smaller yardage. You must actually call them to check for availability and to place an order as they do not list it on their site.