HOW IS A PURPLE ROCK PUPPET MADE?
By Rolande Duprey, chief puppet maker and clean-up artist.
Most puppets begin as an idea. Since there are no cameras inside a person's head, sorry, no photo of the idea! The idea defines how a puppet will be made. Will it be a marionette? Then it will need detailed drawings of the different moving parts. Will it be a hand puppet? Then it will need a drawing of the head of the character.
Then, a drawing is made. It might be a simple pencil drawing:
Or a complicated drawing:
But whatever it is, the idea takes shape on the page.
Some questions you need to ask yourself when you first start building a puppet are: What kind of puppet will it be? How big does it need to be? How many moving parts will it have? What colors should I use?
Then, to begin making the actual (three dimensional) puppet, a sculpture is made.
Sometimes it is out of clay, and then a mold is made.
For more information on how to make a head using a plaster mold, please click here.
Sometimes it is made out of foam,
like this little piggy.
Aunt Bitty is a foam sculpture covered in fabric and then costumed. The big wig is sculpted out of a thermal-plastic and then covered in fabric.
Aunt Bitty is called a "hand and rod" puppet because she is manipulated using a hand inside her head (operating her eyes and mouth), and a rod attached to her hands (not pictured here). The rod that moves her hands are sometimes both held in the puppeteer's hands and used sort of like chop sticks. For more information on rod puppets, click here.
Puppets are often
sculpted out of wood,
like my first marionette, "Mondo".
I like to use wicker, or cane.
This is an abstract marionette out of wicker.
This is a wicker kangaroo. If you would like to know more about wicker, click here.
This giant turtle was made out of wicker, covered with fabric.
The dragon below is another wicker sculpture, covered with silk and painted.
I've also sculpted puppets using experimental materials.
This unicorn and the butterfly below were both sculpted out of a type of plastic. If you want to see how I use this material, click here.
Here is a puppet head made of a whole lot of different
types of materials. The mouth and cheeks are made from an old electrical plug. There's wire and bits of metal and thumb tacks.
People enjoy using papier mache for puppets, and so do I.
From small puppets to big ones,
PAPIER MACHE IS A WONDERFUL TECHNIQUE!
The animal puppets in this production were made out of cardboard cut-outs with fabric glued on both sides. They were then painted.
Halja, a marionette, has a head, chest, and hands made out of neoprene that was cast using a plaster mold. Her legs, feet, hips, neck and arms are sculpted out of wood. There is a fabric connection between the chest and the hips that looks like skin. This makes it easier for the marionette to move and bend naturally.
Puppets made using neoprene are painted with acrylic paints.
Many of the puppets on this page are rod puppets, and connecting the rod to the puppet is a unique operation. For one solution, please click here.
Once the puppet is finished, the fun really begins. We get to use it! It's like making your own musical instrument, and inventing the sound that it makes!
For more information on puppet building
and supplies, go to one of these sites:
www.puppetbulding.com(some great videos!)
http://www.puptcrit.org/ (sign up and ask specific questions!)
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