Friday, 11 February 2011

Copy Carving or Duplicarver!

A reply from Tony Sinnett has enlightened me to how carving may be approached differently in the industry. In an earlier post I showed a clay sculpt of Bing Crosby. Appently this model is used as reference to ruffly shape out the head in wood using a copy carver.
The below video shows how it works. The operator holds a stylus onto a master copy of what they want carved in this case a bass guitar body and moves it around the form of the object.
The stylus is connected to an arm with a router on the end that moves in the same direction as the user. Following the master forms shape with the stylus the material on the bed next to it is cut in exactly the same shape. Its basically a human controlled CNC machine and you can even buy a similar attachment to go on your normal hand held rounters.

From what Tony explained to me this must be how some marionette makers can produce such accurate recreations of heads in wood and also mass produce puppets parts on a small scale.

John Cox's Creature Workshop - Giant doll puppet

Below is a making of/behind the scenes video of a giant  30 foot tall doll created by the team at John Cox's Creature Workshop where the stringed and animatronic controlled girl features in an minute long ad for Allens Confectionary Company.
The workshop have a long list of props and puppets made for major film titles:
  • Speed Racer car
  • Parrot and crocodile in Peter Pan
  • George of the Jungle
  • Inspector Gadget
  • Scooby doo monsters
  • Pitch Black
Comtact Details:
4214 Queenlands,
Ashmore City,
Po Box 540,

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Puppet Trust Centre

The Puppet Centre Trust library and archives house one of the most extensive collections dedicated to puppetry in the country. Back catalogues of journals and a slide collection of puppetry photographs, which include collections from American puppeteer Alan Clarke and Hogarth puppets from the UK. On the international side there are photographs of shadow puppets from the Far and Middle East to folk puppets from many European countries. The website has a very good links page of A-Z marionette and puppet company websites.

A visit to the Puppet Centre Trust would be very beneficial for my research into the history and making of marionettes. Some there may also help me to source a puppetry company to contact for a visit or work experience.

Contact details:
Puppet Centre Trust,
Battersea Arts Centre,
Lavender Hill,
SW11 5TN
020 7228 5335
'The Puppet Centre Trust, founded in 1974, is a development agency for puppetry working at a national level. The overall mission for the Puppet Centre Trust is ‘to develop and promote the art form of puppetry within the context of contemporary performance practice.'

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Pickled Image & Green Ginger Production Company

Pickled Image

'Pickled Image is a production company specialising in puppetry for live performance and theatre. Since 2000 the company has created a distinct trademark style, which has become the brand for all its productions.'

'Over the years the company has gained international recognition for their darkly humorous visual productions and has won many awards for their work. Proud to be at the forefront of British puppetry the company is continuing to create exquisite puppets and performances, which are enjoyed all over the world!'

Green Ginger
Green Ginger makes award-winning theatre for both streets and stage, creates short puppet films and 'mockumentaries' and offers accessible educational workshops tailored to suit any age group or ability. Since its formation in 1978, the Company has had a commitment to puppetry in the widest sense and its practitioners will use any tools and effects they can put their grubby little hands on to realise its surreal and absurd imagery.'

Green Ginger acts as an umbrella organisation under which freelance theatre makers work together to write, design, teach and perform. Its members regularly collaborate with organisations such as Aardman Animations, Ecole Superiere National de la Marionnette (France), Welsh National Opera and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and the Company receives invitations for commissions and consultancies for stage, TV, film and community projects.'

'Green Ginger offers a new form of cultural exchange through films in which attitudes both real or imaginary can be aired in safety through the anonymity of puppets.'

Pickled Image and Green Ginger are a good example of marionette making and puppetry skills still being used in today's industry. What maintains this need opposed to other forms of modern production are their individual style and an old fashion sense of live theatre and interaction with the audience.

Contact Details:
Pickled Image Ltd
45 Carlyle Road
Vicky +44 (0)7974 147 521
Dik +44 (0)7816 559 203

Green Ginger
Tobacco Factory Theatre
Raleigh Rd

Tel/fax: +44 (0)117 9225599

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Wood polishes, waxes and oils.

Common wood finishes include wax, shellac, drying oils (such as linseed oil or tung oil), lacquer, varnish, or paint. Other finishes called "oil finish" or "Danish oil" are actually thin varnishes with a relatively large amount of oil and solvent. Water-based finishes can cause what is called "raising the grain" where surface fuzz emerges and requires sanding down. 
 Danish Oil
Oils provide a traditional finish for both interior and exterior wood. The hard drying oil forms a protective barrier to protect the wood, while nourishing the wood preventing it from drying out. Danish Oil is a blend of natural oils and resins that penetrate the wood to provide a tough, durable, waterproof finish that has a satin/low sheen finish. 

Bees Wax
Waxes provide a traditional way of colouring and protecting wood. They have a natural appearance while nourishing and enriching the wood that come in both clear and coloured waxes. Can be used for a soft sheen finished or buffed to a deep shine

French Polish
Contains pure natural shellac that gives a traditional high gloss finish with a depth of colour. French polish can be more forgiving than other finishes in the sense that unlike lacquers, it can be efficiently repaired.

Theres is a very helpful table on wiki comparing many different types of finishes under:
  • Appearance
  • Protection
  • Durability
  • Safety
  • Ease of application
  • Reversibility
  • Finishing Qualities