Banraku style puppets

This was a 10 week course by Martin Pearson, who has worked with Horse & Bamboo. It was organised by Mid Pennine Arts as part of its Funkaar project and held at Brierfield Youth Centre.

The puppets stand 2 feet high and are worked by the puppeteer standing their feet in those of the puppet, allowing it to walk. Rods are used to move the arms and head. The head is moulded from a clay sculpture.

Also taking part were Sam Keay and Chris Beaton and we were working together on characters for a potential story.

Design notes

Head moulded in clay and then scrimmed, filler and smoothed. 360° pivot, dowel, hook screw/eye head joint. Dowel neck. Foam and plywood shoulders. Arms and legs from pipe lagging. Hands – Dowel – wire frame with built up paper scrimmed, filler & smoothed. Wrists – 180° movement, swivel wrist, screw eye. Wooden pelvis, wire pivot. Plastic sheet on bottom. Leg lift 70°. Felt knee and elbow joints, 180° movement. Feet are slippers – human foot into puppet foot.

Martin first showed us a boggart puppet he had made, showed us his design and let us have a play which was incredibly useful to let us know what we were aiming for.

Journal notes

The puppets we made went on to appear in Re creations work, first in Rainforest Magic and later completely revamped in Granny and the Big Bad Wasteful Wolf.

Whip-up a puppet

Looking at simple puppet making – shadow, gloves, finger, sock, banraku, rod and more.