My visit to a puppetry workshop

Over my first year in cardiff I have made friends with some people at the royal welsh college for performing arts. They are on a theatre design course and get taught how to build props, costumes and much much more, all for the theatre. Their last project for the year is PUPPETRY! Their workshops are off limits to non students but I managed to wrangle myself a visit to look at some of the techniques they were using to build the puppets. I just wish I had, this opportunity earlier in the year as the things I learnt on this visit really opened my eyes about professional construction techniques and it was too late to start changing my materials and processes. When doing my initial research into puppetry and construction I found little information on construction techniques. everything was very broad with next to no materials listed, at the time i was frustrated and baffled as to why this was. After visiting the workshops and seeing how specialised they skills are I see now that these are well guarded trade secrets; as things like weight and movement are so important in puppetry (especially on a large scale).

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This was a thrird years final peice and i was so amazing by its complex and extravegant design! the structure was made from cane called withy, it comes it straight sticks and has to be soaked before being used to create the frame and shape. the skin was made form layers of tissue paper. all this meant the design was extremely light. i wishe i had known about withy at the start of the year and had time to source some as the main draw back of the dragon is its weight. meaning more puppeteers are needed to operate him. however the less one can see the puppeteers the more convincing the character becomes, which is what puppetry is all about! Inside was a body harness and the arms legs and teeth were fully operational. The best thing about this design was that the eyes also moved! As both arms would be occupied the eyes had a mouth control! this meant when the puppeteer moved their head up and down it pulled the eyes! This is such a genius design I was so impressed.

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