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Making a Puppet: Part 2

Journal

News from Dowd House Studios: places to find our pottery, exhibitions, classes & workshops, new forms and exciting projects.

Making a Puppet: Part 2

Jenny Dowd

More from behind the scenes of making a giant pole puppet, plus the puppet in action!

(Check out my past journal entry Making a puppet to see how this all started)

Trying to reduce added weight, we decided to make the scales for the armadillo-ish beast out of cardboard. Strategically painting the scales with silver, black, and white helped mimic metal. I also made some special scales that were covered in shiny, scaly looking fabrics.

The scales were stitched on with wire, directly onto the fabric covering the armature. After connecting the neck, head, and tail to the body, the shiny scales went on as a transition. I ran out of time while attaching the big sequins, or more accurately, underestimated how long everything would take. However, in this case I think less is more. It was good to constantly remind myself that this very large creature would be seen from a distance, a little sparkle was better than none.

I had a little help… my parents arrived for a visit and were promptly put to work on the final details of the beast. (Thanks!)

And finally! The beast all put together. We designed it to be operated by 3 people: 1 person at the head, 1 at the body, 1 at the tail. In the end only 2 people were needed, the tail was stuffed so it would flop around with the movement of the body.

The performance happened on the lawn at the Center for the Arts where dancers from Dancers’ Workshop were joined by visiting artists from David Dorfman Dance.

There were 5 beasts featuring the Chinese elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal. I regret that I did not get great photos of them in action.

In a beautiful and touching performance, the beasts were compelled to work together in order to solve a problem.

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What a process and what a performance! I’m honored to have been part of this, I learned a lot and hope this is not my first & last puppet. But next time I might go a tad smaller…

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