Ruadhán · Age 16 · Galway
“Iontas”, which means “amazement” in Irish, is the title of my artwork. I have photographed six of my puppets, which I have built myself, and which I perform myself, expressing amazement, as they each notice “something” and think “This is Extraordinary!” What do you think that each character is seeing, that is so surprising or shocking? I leave this to your imagination….!
I build my puppet heads by crafting reticulated foam sheet into a 3-D shape, and draping this with either fur or fleece fabric. The puppet mouth plate is made from a plastic sweet tub (Heroes and Quality Street plastic works best!) and this is covered with velvet, ultra-suede fabric, or polar fleece. Puppet noses are made from makeup sponges, which I cover with fleece, and I usually buy blank eyes, to which I attach velvet or plastic pupils, from teddy bear making suppliers. The puppet body is made from reticulated foam sheet, which I cover with fleece or fur, and I attach metal rods, which I buy commercially, to the puppet arms if needed. I use a combination of hand sewing, machine sewing, and various glues to construct each puppet. The characters who wear clothes are dressed from charity shops and from my childhood dressing-up box.
As each puppet evolves, it develops a character- and a voice! This artwork features Gary (the crazy green one), Snoof (the gentle pink one), Norman (the frog, with a Newcastle accent..), Scratch (the energetic rabbit, from the USA), Pamela (the diva, who calls everyone “Darling”) and Earl (the giant, who has a lovely Northern Irish lilt). Earl is a “live hand” puppet (meaning that his hands are gloves, with my hand inside), and Gary, Snoof, Norman, Pamela and Scratch are rod puppets.
I have developed my performance technique from years of watching Sesame Street and the Muppet Show, and hope to be a professional puppet-maker and puppeteer some day.
I like to experiment with a wide range of colours when making puppets, and different pile lengths for fur fabric. I especially enjoy working with long pile fur (Earl is made from this) as the fur wafts around in sympathetic motion as the puppet moves.