File puptcrit/puptcrit.0602, message 310


To: puptcrit-AT-lists.driftline.org
Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 04:09:34 GMT
Subject: [Puptcrit] Ceramic marionettes and hand puppet heads


Like glass marionettes,  fired ceramic clay marionettes and hand puppet heads  have been made and used. Simplification of hand forms works better than delicate fingers obviously. Ceramic works better on small figures than for large ones. Susan French, actress (I saw her on StarTrek), puppeteer and ceramic artist made ceramic marionettes, partly as an experiment. They were small.

Low-fired clay Mexican Folk marionette toys on strings or a single wire to the head could still be purchased into the 1960s before Asian plastic imports helped kill off some wonderful folk arts including toy puppets (many originally inspired by wooden professional marionettes by Rosete Aranda (some of which were exhibited at Emory University, Atlanta, during the P of A Fest there in the early 1980s). 

Quite a few of the Mexican clay puppets are still on exhibit at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix from my collection.

Paul McPharlin published a small book which included illustrations of similar clay folk marionettes. They were used on home-made stages created from cardboard shoe boxes. Silent Screen Star, Ramon Navarro played with puppets like them as a boy in Mexico. He told that to Harry Burnett (Yale Puppeteers/Turnabout Theater) who in turn told me, so I could pass along the tidbit to all of you.

I don't recommend low-fired or high-fired clay for professional puppet work.

ALAN COOK

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