Photography by Hep Svadja
Photography by Hep Svadja
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Yank the string on this simple puppet and the arms and legs go up. It’s a straightforward design that can be made at home with cheap and easy-to-find supplies.

Project Steps



There are 5 parts: two legs, two arms, and the head/torso. Create your own character design or trace a pattern onto your cardboard, then paint. Use an awl to poke holes through the pieces where you want them to connect.



Rivets let the arms and legs move freely. You can use brads or box rivets for this purpose, but you don’t need to buy special hardware. I decided to jury-rig some wire-and-cardboard rivets. Cut out four small cardboard circles. Use your awl to poke two holes into each circle (like buttons), then carefully bend short segments of wire to go through the holes and wrap them together on the other side. Use the rivets to attach the legs and arms behind the torso.



Place the arms and legs as you would like them to hang in their starting positions. Connect the two arms together with one string, making sure there is no slack and that the ends aren’t too close to the rivet. Tack down each end with glue. Use a second piece of string to do the same to the legs. A third string should be tied to both the arm string and the leg string, with a long tail dangling below your jumping jack. Now when you pull the string the arms and legs will pop out. Attach a loop of string to the very top of the jumping jack to hang or hold it.


Design your own jumping jack character or use enlarged photos of your friends to piece together. Traditionally, these dolls have been made from both paper and wood, but the same design will work with other materials. I did mine in cardboard — what fun materials can you find to make yours from?