Puppet Maker Sam Duckor-Jones and his Musical Puppets
Ever since I was little, I’ve loved making things, creating characters, writing stories, and playing music. Some of my hobbies fell by the wayside – but once I started creating puppet characters, I never stopped!
Puppetry combines three of my favourite things: sculpture, animation, and music. I sculpt hands, feet, and faces from clay or papier mâché. Then I hammer nails into wood for the puppets’ bodies and their controls. Finally I sit down with some wool and a crochet hook – or a needle and thread, or scissors, paper, and glue – to fashion their stylish outfits. A puppet’s really a multi-media sculpture!
These puppets are all musicians. Each is unique, but their love of music unites them.
Can you see it in their eyes?
Lewis and Sam at Capital E in 2009. Photo courtesy of Capital E Children's Theatre.
There are as many ways to move a puppet as there are to build one!
Sometimes, it’s important to be exact with a puppet’s movements. For example, Mahalia’s mouth should open and close at the right times! And Ivan's conducting a whole orchestra, so he needs to stay in rhythm.
But Lewis doesn’t always strum his guitar at the right moment! The way he moves, and the way he holds his guitar, both help to create the illusion of a man who’s truly playing the blues.
Yes – animating a puppet is 50 percent technical skill and 50 percent attitude!
Issac the pianist, practising. Photo courtesy of Sam Duckor-Jones
Ivan performing at the Cuba Street Carnival in 2009. Photo courtesy of Tim Sissons