File puptcrit/puptcrit.0509, message 42

Date: Sat, 03 Sep 2005 14:09:51 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Dwiggins balanced marionettes

We ordered the big Dwiggins book way back when and devoured it.  It's a beautiful book.  We built a couple of puppets in the style.  It was a wonderful inspirational, resource for beginning puppeteers and although we use different materials and techniques now, it is still a must-have for any puppeteer's library (if you can get it).  If nothing else, it sets a high standard to aspire to.  
The MIT Festival was the first national we attended and we made the trip to see the Exhibit.  A docent showed us the printing stuff, too.  Is it still there?  And how accessible is it to the public?
Nancy Smith
Great Arizona Puppet Theater
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Sat, 3 Sep 2005 12:07:05 EDT
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Dwiggins balanced marionettes

Re: Dwiggins:

  I have three copies of the Dwiggins book and in my early years, devoured 
it, but over the years, I've discovered many better ways of making marionettes, 
especially if they are over 18-24 inches tall.  

   Solid wood marionettes are too heavy to work, transport by auto and 
especially by air.  (Current max limits by air are 62 inches..w+h+l...and 50 
Over weight, another $25-50, plus oversize another $25-50 each.  
International travel varies even more.

   Dwiggins's design was and is good, but now old fashioned, like using a 
windup victrola for your background music.  Still the book offers good antique 
advice and is a nice study in stringing...although also out of date with today's 

more modern considerations.  I was fasicnated from 1955 on to see the Roses, 
Proctors, Coles, Stevens, Herricks, and many other basically husband-wife 
teams perform marionette shows, many using Dwiggins' design.  They traveled in 
bread trucks, with trailers, etc. from (mostly) school to school. The setups 
more than an hour; it was fun but tough work....when considering they did 
their own bookings, marketing and performing.

    Times have changed, educational requirments have changed.  Seldom are 
schools interested in an old-fashioned fairy tale marionette show, unless the 
client wants it for nostalgia's sake.  Educational time is just too precious, 
requirements too stringent.  Everything in school must fit into the "Content 

     Dwiggins is a nice reference, but I would not recommend building a whole 
show that way.

   Just my observation, having been there, done that.  JIm Gamble
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