I've been making this life-size puppet and exploring fear and old age, with the very generous help of puppeteers Ronan McMahon and Beth Frieden. On Saturday night we showed the results of our projects during Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival, and tonight we are at the Tron in Glasgow.
Here's a quick look at the making process -
I was designing this build as I went, which I have never really done before, drawing the shapes I had made and trying to get an idea of what character the puppet would have. At first I had planned to make a scary creature, but as the project developed it became clear that this build was more like a very old person. I researched ancient humanoids, elderly people, insects and exoskeletons and representations of ghosts in folklore.
In performance, the character of the puppet begins as vulnerable and slow moving, then switches to demonic and fantastical.
The torso and limbs are willow withie structures, designed to draw the outlines of the figure.
The body was painted in acrylic using layers of dry-brushing to build up a worn look.
Eyebrows, hair and some body detailing were made from painted string.
These were covered with tissue paper mache to bind them, and to build texture ready for painting.
The head was carved from polystyrene, then papered and painted in the same way as the body.
A semi-transparent skin for the neck and parts of the body was made using scrim, which was frayed and roughly painted.