Ideas,inspirations and a beginning


I found an interesting image on google of a Slavic ‘Childs’ costume representing winter, and I have used my puppet so far and drawn over it on my ipad…

Things I have learnt so far
Size matters, I think I next time I would make my puppet larger. Glove puppet size has made fabrics feel stiff and lumpy whereas they would flow more easily on a larger puppet.

I am concerned that I have made a doll and not a little character which is what I think puppets are. My puppet is stiff and lacks something…..

Limbs, get the proportions right.

Weight..I may be wrong, but my puppet is quite light, I am wondering if she were a little heavier it would give her more personality….
All this is fascinating, I am enjoying all the planning and ideas that are going into this little puppet.
And the last photo is my puppet so far. She will change a few times before she is finished I’m sure.

4 responses to “Ideas,inspirations and a beginning

  1. Here are a few thoughts. First things first. You’ve got some wonderful visual ideas going on here. Your creation has a really elegant yet creepy feel, and whether doll or puppet, it’s a pleasure to behold.

    I can’t tell by looking at the image what type of puppet she is or how you intend to work her. Do I recall you saying she was to be a glove-puppet? Puppets can be worked in any number of ways, and when making one you need to be considering the quality of movement you want, as well as the appearance. Your original drawing had those stick-like arms and clawed hands, which I thought would lend themselves wonderfully well to movement as a rod puppet.

    I suggest you play with your puppet, in front of a mirror if possible, to see what movement there is in her. The puppet of Jane Seyes I made for The Mare’s Tale earlier this year was handled directly by the two puppeteers. There were no control rods, wires, strings or levers. In some ways she was a doll, but one that was rather loose-limbed. I designed and made her to be manipulated by puppeteers in full view of the audience, and in their hands, the little creature gave a performance that moved many to tears. She was not overly heavy, and was carefully jointed to be able to do all the things we required of her. The range of movements evolved as I made her. I kept experimenting with what I could get out of her, adjusting as I went along. I spent a lot of time getting the range of movements in her head and neck right, because they were vital to her character. Also her arms and hands. I worked on her shoulder, elbow and wrist joints a great deal, because it was important to have delicacy and elegance in them, and when they were in repose, I needed them to hang gracefully. The puppet’s performance was captured and projected onto a large screen by an onstage video-crew, so she was huge in her close-ups. Oddly enough, the audience tended to forget about the operators. Here’s the puppet shortly after I finished making her.

    Different types of puppets require different weights. Marionettes in particular need a lot of weight to ground them and stop them from appearing to be ‘floaty’!

    A rod-puppet is usually operated above the head of the puppeteer, and therefore mustn’t be too heavy for comfort. The arms and hands of rod-puppets are crucial, as they give most of the characterisation in terms of movement. So the length of the arms is sometimes exaggerated, and whatever costume is used must never impede gesture.

    Glove-puppets are lively little fellows, ideal for knockabout comedy, such as in Punch and Judy shows. But their arms, operated by the puppeteer’s fingers, are usually quite stumpy, and lack the proportions needed for ‘elegance’. This can be overcome by making rod-puppet-style arms, and operating them from behind or beneath with control wires.

    Here you can see glove-puppets made by Jan Galud. For the most part their arms are quite stumpy, though in a couple of photographs you can see an elegant woman character with longer arms operated by control wires. The operator is holding the puppet with her left hand, and her right is operating the two wires controlling the puppet’s hands and arms. She is holding the ends of the wires behind the puppet. Providing the wires are attached correctly to the hands of the puppet (not at a rigidly fixed angle, but allowing some swivel) the puppeteer can get a wide range of movement from a holding position like the one illustrated in the photograph. The wires for rod-puppets are slender, though must be stiff enough to hold straight while allowing for a little flexing. All is trial and error in puppetry matters, and you must keep handling the puppet as you create it, envisaging the performance you want.

    Hope all this helps a little.

    • Thank you for all of the valuable tips and links Clive!

      I have made her a glove puppet with rods for her arms….the trick will be to make the rods looser as you suggest, she is very stiff at the moment and I hadn’t considered making the rod connection more flexible…thank you.
      Her general movement is stiff, her head and neck are fixed, I thought it might look more regal, but it has limited her, and I will make my next puppet more supple.
      I am still considering her my ‘sketch’ puppet and will have another try after the festive season is over, but she is giving me a great deal of enjoyment ( and frustrations too, as the devil is always in the details…) I look forward to seeing all the other puppets developing .

  2. I think it’s a good idea to regard any work as being the step to the next one. I consider everything I do to be transitional, and it prevents me from ever getting stuck. Sometimes works that were terribly disheartening at the time I made them, turn out to feel ground-breaking long after the event.

    Also bear in mind that the puppets can feed other work. I use maquettes for my narrative paintings, and I’m currently using the puppets of The Mare’s Tale as studio models.

    I did a post at the Artlog today about your Snow Queen.

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