Wood Into Flesh and Blood

IMG_3941.jpg

IMG_3886.jpg

In my designs for the tabletop-puppets of Hansel and Gretel, made to guide master puppet-maker Jan Zalud in the complex task of building our wooden actors, I sketched unclothed versions so that the proportions of the characters could be seen.

IMG_3878 (1).jpg

Items of clothing were of the stick-over variety used for old-fashioned paper dolls, offered more by way of a starting point for puppet wardrobe supervisor, Oonagh Creighton-Griffiths.

IMG_3743

IMG_3718.jpg

IMG_3883.jpg

Costuming puppets is a rather hard to define and alchemical skill. It’s the final, transformative stage that comes before entrusting the wooden actors to the puppeteers who will give them life. Flesh and blood performers can take ownership of what’s worn on stage to the point where the warmth and shape of bodies moulds garments so that they stop being ‘costumes’ and become clothes.

IMG_3736

IMG_3876.jpg

But for the inert, wooden actor, the wardrobe supervisor has to take things several stages further in order for the illusion of the character’s history to be present. It requires a forensic approach to detail, because all the clues of subtle ownership and everyday wear and tear have to be crafted into garments worn by actors unable to add any history of their own. Care must be taken so that miniaturisation doesn’t become a distraction. Meticulously crafting a miniature zip, while impressive at a technical level, has the potential to be a distraction from the puppet’s performance. So there needs to be a careful shorthand, paring away extraneous detail while leaving just enough to be convincing. It’s an illusory craft, because it mustn’t draw attention to itself, which is harder than it sounds.

IMG_3935.jpg

Oonagh and I will meet our puppet actors for the first time in London later this month. We’re greatly anticipating the moment. I’ve wanted to collaborate with Jan Zalud for the longest time, but the stars didn’t align for us to do so until this project. Oonagh and I will be able to closely examine Hansel and Gretel and take measurements of them. Her task of compiling photographic references began several weeks ago, but once she can see exactly what she’ll be costuming, the work of bringing wood to life can begin.

 

IMG_1682.jpg

SaveSave

7 thoughts on “Wood Into Flesh and Blood

  1. It’s a shame none of Jan Zaluds puppet making courses are close enough for me to attend!

    But I am going to attempt to make a skeleton puppet this weekend under the tutelage of a puppet maker based in Henfield – i’ve chosen to have a go at a Pelham style skeleton!

    (No clothing issues with that – except it may need some kind of small hat?!)

  2. That’s really impressed JHJ as someone who’s always enjoyed the works of the Andersons.
    Love from us both B & Jxxx

  3. Clive, your energy is astounding! I’m amazed by the breadth of your talents, and gift for collaboration, as usual. The new people look wonderful and—as someone who is currently engaged in making costumes for fashion dolls—your comments about miniaturization are right on track. I look forward to seeing more as your project goes forward!

  4. Another great adventure Clive! How marvellous this will be. Looking forward to seeing all the steps. It is fascinating to learn about this. Thank you for sharing and explaining so beautifully. (As usual!)
    Xxxx

  5. Great drawings!
    Great fotos!
    I had to snicker, thinking of God molding the first….🙃!
    Just think if he’d had Oonagh as costume designer!

    Greetings from the Black Forest.
    Gallagher

  6. How interesting and actually it’s ‘bringing wood’ BACK to life isn’t it?
    VERY happy for you.
    Love as ever (from Four Feathered Falls via Pinnochio and not forgetting Lady Penelope!)
    B xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s