Puppet Challenge at the Artlog


Hello Peter Slight here, curator of the Artlog Puppet exhibition with the details of the challenge!

As Clive mentioned in his introductory post, the theme is ‘Folktales, Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends’, a subject close to many of our hearts and hopefully one that will stir some interest and fire imaginations! You can choose a timeless classic, a little known gem or a half-forgotten fable. Inspiration will be the fuel that gets you through this challenge. Just choose whichever story you feel like conjuring up a character for in puppet form.

There’s no restriction on the materials or puppet type, as I would like contributors to be free to express themselves and their ideas in whichever ways they feel are best suited to the task. This challenge can be as simple or complicated as you care to make it. Hopefully we can bounce a few ideas off of each other along the way, helping to push our creative practices to the limit.

There are no restrictions to the number of puppets each contributor may offer. The more the merrier as far as I’m concerned!

When joining the challenge, please tell us which character (or characters) you’ve selected, its origins and the reasons for your choice. Once participants are underway with the challenge we’d welcome work-in-progress reports supported by photographs, and we’ll share those here at the Artlog. (Though we’ll hold back from revealing finished puppets until the exhibition itself.)

If possible images of the figures ‘in action’ should be included in submissions, so we can show how the puppets are intended to work.

Our deadline is the end of June 2014 – so no rush to deliver. And we’ll post regular reminders too, just to keep everyone up to speed.

The online exhibition will include all the submissions offered. Depending on the number of them, we may have to mount it in several instalments.

Clive has mentioned that we will be offering occasional puppet puppet posts for inspiration and to show some different construction techniques, so there will be a bit of help if you need it. And you can send us questions if you get stuck. We’re here to help.

You can email your entries to me through the ‘contact’ link on the front page of my website here: www.smirkyherbert.co.uk

I’m really looking forward to seeing what contributors will come up with. I’m sure there will be lots of surprises!

Good luck and happy puppet making!


61 thoughts on “Puppet Challenge at the Artlog

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    • Of course Liisa! Welcome to the puppet challenge!
      We have already made quite a few posts about different puppet types to hopefully help and inspire you, Just type ‘puppet challenge’ into the search bar on the top right hand side of this page and then have a rummage! 🙂
      Clive and I are always on hand should you have any puppet related problems.

      • Thank you, Peter, I’m glad to be here! I am planning to do one or more versions of Väinämöinen, the main character from the Finnish epic, the Kalevala. I’ve never made a shadow puppet so might challenge myself with that. Since most of what he does in the stories is to work magic by singing, it seems like a workable choice — the songs/spells can be their own puppets. This is going to be fun!

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  15. This sounds like a great project, and I would love to enter a marionette for the exhibition. So many possible subjects to choose from. I’ll give it some thought, and if you’ll have me, I’m in !

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  17. Hello Peter and Clive,
    Is it too late to join in on the fun? My annual migratory travels having now been completed, I am finally in southern Arizona for the winter. While here, I’d like to give the puppet challenge a try! I’m interested in making a puppet – probably a marionette – of my take on the Chupacabra, a fairly recently described legendary cryptid said to be present in the southern climes of the Americas. If that falls within the theme, let me know and I’ll get to work on this right away while I am here in one place for awhile!

      • There, done. You’re up on the list. I greatly look forward to where your creativity takes you with this challenge.

        Just been at your blog, looking at the house as it is now. Oh Bev, what an act of love its restoration has been. It is SO beautiful.

        • Thank you! The house is really coming along and getting to the point where I can spend more time on creative details. There is still so much to be done, but it is no longer a spooky, derelict old place!

          I can’t wait to see the puppets that will be created for this challenge. I’m all fired up to get started on the Chupacabra and will endeavour to document its progress.

  18. Hi, I’d really like to give this a go too, if I may? I’d like to offer up a shadow puppet based on an English folk legend – possibly Black Annis or something equally cruel and mean. Your picture of a shadow puppet that incorporates fabric in a previous post has been v inspirational and has given me lots of ideas to explore:)

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  20. This is wonderful , Peter I’d love to be added to list of contributors .. I’m in the process of creating many shadow puppets for an Egyptian folktale puppet project and so I look forward to participating 🙂

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  22. Yes, we are up for the challenge as we have recently been thinking about the world of puppets and experimenting with our paper construction work ……and toy theatres are a big influence in TheBigForest hut. As for a character(s), mmmm….well….. we need to give that some more thought!

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  24. I feel a bit of a stalker on Clive’s page, just looking and admiring, but this project has brought me out of my shell…..I would love to give it a go, and I love the enthusiasm everyone is showing too. Now I’m off to see which character inspires me….is there a particular folk / fairytale you are working from?

    • Hello Lynne. Glad that Peter was able to draw you out of the shadows to join in this adventure. The idea was to make the challenge open in terms of theme, and so your character may be borrowed from whichever fairy-tale, folk-tale or mythology you feel most inspires you. My inspiration comes from my favourite film of all time, Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête. So I’ve set myself the challenge of making two puppets!

      My other idea was to use another film that added to the iconography of cinema, and in so doing became a sort of contemporary fairy-tale. I was going to make a puppet of Tippi Hedren being attacked The Birds! Ha ha!

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    • Fantastic! welcome aboard Lucy! 🙂 yes, glove puppets are great aren’t they?! so simple but effective. I will be posting some making techniques you might find useful soon (i’m sure Clive will be posting some too!)

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    • Thanks Phil! 🙂 glad you are looking forward to it, i’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
      i’ve just finished some illustrations for my next puppet post hopefully you will like those too!

    • Glad you like it Zoe 🙂 I tried to cram as many story elements into it as I could!

      and very glad you feel inspired to take part! We are spoilt for choice! but hopefully our forthcoming posts will prove helpful! 🙂

    • Hopefully we can tempt you to enter Lyn and maybe try out a new technique or two! 🙂

      Clive is always on hand with a wealth of advice and knowledge if you need it!

  27. Hello Peter….so glad to see the puppet challenge up and running! I know we’re going to have lots of fun and the inspiration to push ourselves on with new ideas and techniques…thank you for your idea and your willingness to be curator. I have an old Pelham puppets Pinocchio hanging in my studio….I’m sure I detected an excited wobble in his strings when I told him about this!

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