Assembly Points – Part 2

Hello, Peter Slight of the Puppet Challenge here.

I wanted to share a couple more making techniques with you. You can see what we have already covered in part 1 here

I found this extremely simple but effective method for making articulated limbs in ‘The Know How Book of Puppets‘. Perfect for dragon necks and Hydras!

Above: making the serpent

Above: making the serpent

This is something I came across that I had not seen done before and thought was rather nifty:

Above: Handy!

Above: Handy!

By gluing several pipe cleaners between the two fabric layers of a glove puppets hands, it can then make a gesture and hold objects. Which gives the puppet new performance possibilities.

Above: The Ringmaster in action

Above: The Ringmaster in action

Below: Types of control bar


A. The basic two-handed control

B. The rigid-cross control

C. The dowel-stick controls

The three types of marionette controls vary in degrees of complexity. B and C are pretty straightforward, but I offer the diagram below of the two-handed control (A) to help clarify it:

Above: Stringing the marionette

Above: Stringing the marionette

Charlene Davis Roth the author of The Art of Making Puppets and Marionettes has this to say on the stringing of marionettes:
‘I recommend 12-pound test black nylon fishing line for stringing marionettes.You can use waxed linen thread, macrame twine, or any strong flexible string. Try to use black string. When you string a marionette, be sure the controls are level at all times. On cloth puppets, stitch the strings through the fabric with a long sharp needle and make sure you stitch through the costume to the body fabric. Use square knots to secure the strings and trim off any extra lengths at the knots. For marionettes strung on the basic two handed control, string the shoulders first. This is a continuous string, running through the screw-eye on the underside of the main bar. Have the person who is to operate the marionette hold the controls at a comfortable height and measure the distance between the crossbar and the shoulders of the marionettes. Then cut a string double that distance plus seven or eight extra inches for adjustments. Stitch and knot the string to one shoulder, run the string up through the screw-eye, and ten stitch to the other shoulder. Always stitch shoulder strings toward the back of the shoulders, so they will be slightly behind the head strings – otherwise the puppet won’t have good head movement. Check again to see if the marionette is the right height for the puppeteer and then knot the string.
Keep the marionette suspended from the shoulder strings for the remainder of the stringing. Attach the head strings next, knotting them through the holes in the ears and running up through the holes in the control.Always allow a few extra inches of string in case you have to make adjustments later. Wrap the string around the notches in the control bar. If the notches are tight enough, they will hold the string after a few turns.
String the back next. Make sure the control is level with the ground and that the marionette is standing in a natural position before you secure the string.
Now string the hands. This is a continuous string from one hand to the other, so double your measurement and add a couple of inches. String and knot one hand through the thumb side of the hand, placing the knot halfway between thumb and wrist. Run the string up through the screw-eye at the front of the control and down to the other hand. Attach the string and knot it. Hands should hang naturally at the sides.
Last, string the legs. The string is tied just above the knee joint and runs up to the leg bar. Strings for the legs should be long enough to allow you to hook the leg bar over the main bar when the marionette is standing in one position.
The rigid-cross control has fewer strings, but the principles above apply generally. Since there are no shoulder strings, attach the continuous head strings first. Follow with the hands and finish with the legs.’


….phew…did you get all that?!
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any making queries and Clive and I will do our best to answer them. If several of you request the same information then we will try to cover it in another assembly points post.
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10 thoughts on “Assembly Points – Part 2

  1. Hi, I am the author of a blog about programming, and I am using a marionette puppet as an analogy for a point. I would like to use the diagrammed puppet image for the post. May I add the image with a link to your site to my blog? Thanks, Matthew

  2. Hello,
    I’ve just made my first marrionette, except the stringing. I made mine with jointed feet and hands, separate from forearms and calves. Is there a way to string this? I had visions of fancy footwork and articulated hands, but I think I may have made it a little more difficult by doing so. Can you help me? I can send a picture if you want.

  3. Spookily, I have been twiddling bits of pipe cleaner inside a little glove today wondering if it would look right! So glad to have official confirmation that this is ‘A Good Idea’! Love the idea for a dragon’s neck…perhaps tiddly little cups could be used to make rather agile legs?? Actually that sparked a vague memory…just checked – the legs of Bill & Ben the flowerpot men were made like that! HERE is a fabulous episode from the 1950’s!

    • Hi Shellie, yes it’s one of those simple clever ideas that you ‘can’t believe hasn’t been done before’ – well it might have been, but this is the first time i’d seen it! Sounds like you are thinking laterally with your own puppet development and looking past some of the more conventional glove puppet notions, which is really great. I’m looking forward to seeing your next creation!
      I like the idea of ‘tiddly cup’ legs, made me smile 🙂
      It sounds like Bill & Ben may have led the way with their own agile tiddly cup legs!

  4. Thanks for putting this together Peter, it’s very timely for me as I’ve just started toying with the idea of a marionette puppet 🙂

    • Hope you find it useful Phil.
      The instructions for stringing a marionette are quite long, but are actually pretty straightforward and logical once you start to follow the sequence.

  5. Pingback: Assembly Points – Part 1 | Clive Hicks-Jenkins' Artlog:

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