Tag "marionettes"
Trick Marionettes Will Enliven Your Puppet Shows (Nov, 1936)



By Florence Fetherston Drake

MARIONETTES that will perform all sorts of amazing tricks can be made without difficulty, once the secret of their construction is understood. Ball tossing, for instance, is a simple trick. Then there is the skeleton that disjoints his limbs and throws his head into the air, and the dwarf who grows into a giant. Various adventures of Alice in Wonderland also can be portrayed.

For ball tossing, drill a hole through a wooden ball and run both strings through it, passing the ends through the palms of the marionette’s hands and knotting the ends, as in Fig. 1 of the drawings. Tie the other ends to an extra 12-in. stick. By tilting the ends of the stick alternately, the ball will fly up and down. There is less friction if the string is waxed and the hole in the ball is burned through with a red-hot wire, instead of being drilled.

Amazing Skill with Unseen Strings gives life to Most Famous Puppets (Jun, 1933)

Amazing Skill with Unseen Strings gives life to Most Famous Puppets

Thirty Operators Working Eighteen Miles of Wire and String Are Needed to Give a Performance with the 800 Animated Actors that Are Cleverly Molded of Wood

By Robert E. Martin

EIGHT hundred performers, moved by miles of wires and string, are now touring the country presenting the most elaborate puppet show of history. Known as the Teatro dei Piccoli, “The Theater of the Little Ones,” the organization has spent eighteen years in Italy building up its cast. Tap dancers and opera singers, witches and clowns, , bull fighters and pianists, acrobats and jubilee singers, and even a Mickey Mouse give animated performances, amazingly lifelike.

The Art of Making Lifelike Marionette Bodies (Feb, 1936)

The Art of Making Lifelike Marionette Bodies

Materials and tools . . . Various types of joints . . . Costuming . . . How to string puppets . . . Hints on their manipulation

By Florence Fetherston Drake

Lifelike MARIONETTE bodies may be made in several ways for use with heads of the type described last month (P. S. M., Jan. ’36, p. 57):

1. Sewed and stuffed with kapok or cotton, and weighted.
2. Papier-mache shell bodies, filled and weighted.
3. Of wood (scrap pieces and dowel sticks) whittled to shape.
4. Best of all, carved from softwood, but this takes more knowledge and artistry than the others and therefore should follow experiments with one of the simpler methods.

Pinocchio the Puppet (Feb, 1940)

This would be even cooler if there was a string to make his nose grow.

Pinocchio the Puppet



PINOCCHIO, the wistful puppet created by Geppetto, the wood carver, in Walt Disney’s second full-length production, is an inviting subject for either a homemade puppet or an amusing and companionable little doll. The accompanying illustrations show how to go about making one patterned after the original, which was created by the Disney model department as an inspiration to the animators drawing Pinocchio.

If you are an expert wood carver yourself, the head might be fashioned from a solid block of soft white pine and the nose inserted (Fig. 1), but a surer way to achieve a fair likeness is first to make a clay model. From this a plaster-of-Paris mold is taken, and the head is cast in plastic composition wood (Figs. 2, 3, and 4). The hat is made in the same way as the head and glued on.

From Block to Blockhead in Two Days’ Time (Aug, 1938)

From Block to Blockhead in Two Days’ Time

There’s no such thing as mass production in the dummy-making business. One day your friend Charlie McCarthy was a chunk of wood. Next afternoon he was Charlie McCarthy, ready to talk if someone would think out loud for hint. In two days a block becomes a blockhead, without benefit of factory methods. Every dummy is made to order, chiseled to fit the personality desired by the ventriloquist; only one machine operation takes place, the slitting of the dummy’s chattering chin by a handsaw. The rest is hand work. Above, you see a dummy’s brain: the finger controls which manipulate chin and eyeballs. From top down around the page are the first stages in a dummy’s life a cube of basswood or buckeye; chiseling out the face contours; shaping the mouth; screwing the head together after installing “brains,” and sawing the chin.

Marionettes Go Hollywood (Oct, 1937)

Marionettes Go Hollywood


MARIONETTES in the guise of chorus girls and movie stars dance and strut before a starlit background in one of the most novel scenes ever devised and filmed in Hollywood. Cleverly carved and costumed by skilled craftsmen working under the direction of Russell Patterson, famous artist, the puppet entertainers were accompanied in their marionette musical comedy by a curious symphony orchestra made up of weird animated instruments that played themselves.

Most of the dummy performers, which are featured in the recently completed film “Artists and Models,” are about three feet high, with bodies shaped from sponge rubber and hinged moving parts carefully carved from wood. Each marionette was operated by a maze of invisible strings manipulated by groups of operators working out of the camera’s range on platforms built above the stage.

Mechanical Secrets of Marionette Shows Part I (Feb, 1932)

I previously posted part two of this series. You can view it here.

Mechanical Secrets of Marionette Shows
by TONY SARG As Told To Alfred Albelli

When watching a marionette show you’ve probably wondered what made the little mechanical actors appear so lifelike. In this unusual article, Tony Sarg, world’s leading puppeteer, takes you behind the scenes and explains the mechanical marvels which create the amazing illusions of reality you behold on the stage.

MEET the most fantastic troupe that ever strutted across the American stage!

These actors play to capacity audiences in the biggest theatres, yet they don’t get a single red cent for their work!

The Secrets of Making Marionettes Part II (Sep, 1934)

You can view the first part of this series here.

The Secrets of Making Marionettes


ARTISTS’ oil paints, obtainable in tubes, offer the best medium for painting marionettes. Flat white paint is used as a ground color to cover all exposed parts. When dry, white enamel is used to get a gloss on the teeth and eyeballs, using a small camel’s-hair brush as in Fig. 30. To get flesh color, mix burnt sienna with flat white paint, sometimes adding small quantities of red, yellow or blue to bring out various skin shades. Apply a spot of vermilion in the center of each cheek and blend it into the flesh color of the face. The lips are painted with a suitable mixture of vermilion and burnt sienna. Shades of blue or brown, or a mixture of both, are used to make eye shadows and lines to imitate wrinkles in the face and hands.