Paul Anthony's Marionette

HAND-CARVED MARIONETTE
Strings control the actions of this realistic wooden puppet.

SHOP OWNER: Paul Anthony
LOCATION: Riegelsville, PA

    For a lively woodworking project, it's hard to beat a carved, wooden marionette. A well-designed and constructed string puppet can walk, dance or gesture convincingly enough to startle even adults. Marionettes can be made of a variety of materials, but wood is a particularly suitable medium.

    I've made a handful of marionettes over the years, spending as much time on one as I spend on some pieces of furniture. Many of the same challenges are there: executing appropriate joints, carving, sanding and finishing. It can easily take a couple of weeks to design and construct a marionette.

    The 14-inch tall puppet shown here is carved from basswood, except for the hands and feet, which are made of cherry for extra strength. The design of the joints is based upon a system of articulation developed by William Dwiggins, a master puppet maker working in Britain in the first half of this century. The head is connected to the torso by two interlocked screw eyes, allowing it to swivel. The three-part torso, which is connected by a spine string and two side strings, twists in a very lifelike manner. The legs thread to the pelvis at two points, as do the shoulders to the chest. The remaining joints are all tenons set into notches and connected by thread. The shape of the tenons and depth of the notches determines the extent of movement.

...Paul Anthony

 

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