The Rainbow Serpent puppet for Biami


(Duncan Smith, artistic director of the Wiradjuri Echos, with Biami‘s Rainbow Serpent. Photo credit: Angie To)

I  recorded some of the build for Biami, the creation story of the Wiradjuri people, this time last year, (see previous posts) but didn’t get to blog about the Rainbow Serpent until now.

The serpent was about 4 metres long, and operated with rods by four to five people. After worrying about how I could make it twist and turn enough to be truly serpentine if it was designed to have solid body, I had what I think of my ‘warhorse’ moment of inspiration (!), and decided to make it impressionistic, with a skeleton outline instead. So it was made with coiled flexible foam backing rod, and  two midline connecting lines of the same material.


Then I wrapped coloured cloth around the outlines. The design was effective and light, and enabled the serpent to snake and dive sinuously over the audience, carving out the Australian landscape according to the creation story.



And now a kangaroo mask


Today I’ve been making a kangaroo mask. This is for the Biami production I blogged about yesterday. I decided to use paper mâché even though it’s a little time consuming. For something fairly small like this it’s fine, and I am pretty quick. I like doing paper mâché very much and find it meditative. I’m not sure on the final finish yet – fur or felt?


Goanna puppet


I’ve been making some puppets for Biami, the creation story of the Wiradjuri people, by Duncan Smith and Maitland Schnaars, which will be performed  for the Kids, Creatures and 100 Harlequins – Centenary Children’s Week Celebration on 25 & 26 October in Glebe Park. (It’s part of the Centenary of Canberra project.)  Today I finished the goanna!



The Rhyme of the Ancient Merino

It’s great to see the complete realisation of Dave Jones’s The Rhyme of the Ancient Merino.

At sail on a sea of wheat, the Ancient Merino and his aging theatre troupe struggle to eke out an existence in a hostile environment. When a the threat of modern technology looms they must adapt or fade into obscurity.

The animation is an allegory for the story of ‘the 50 year history of the Arapiles Community Theatre, and the recent influx of new arrivals and the changes that has brought about’ in the small regional town of Natimuk, Victoria. Traditionally a service hub for the surrounding farming country, Natimuk is also the closest town to Mount Arapiles, a mecca for rock climbers, so it is an interesting mix of farming people, climbers and an arts community. In October it will again be the centre for the Nati Frinj.

I love the puppets in this; they’re life size and  made from bits of old farm machinery. And I like the little details like the snails.

Erth’s The Dream of the Thylacine

This is a great behind-the-scenes video for Erth‘s The Dream of the Thylacine which will run at Carriageworks in Sydney 25 Sept to 5 October. In particular it shows super talented puppet maker Bryony Anderson talking in some detail about how she thought about the project, and her process in building the thylacine puppet, down to how and why she came to make the fur from potato sacks!

Also take a look at this amazing spider made by Bryony and friends, using only stuff from the dump.

Mushrooms and monsters

Last April I made these four muppet characters for a student film project. I never saw the resulting video, so I can’t say how it went! The Mushroom King technically isn’t really a muppet; instead he was made to dangle on a string, and his mouth is moved remotely using a bike cable.

I’m trying out the WordPress gallery here. It annoys me that you cant’t see the tentacle monster’s one eye in the thumbnail, but once you click on the thumbnails the gallery viewer itself is quite cool. Time will tell if I persist with using the galleries!

Mechanical cardboard creatures

Lucas Ainsworth & Alyssa Hamel have a Kickstarter appeal going for these cool mechanical creatures made in kit form out of cardboard. The animal moves either with a manual winding mechanism, or by itself if you build in an additional the gear kit.

(via @dugnorth)

Xolo will be in Liverpool too

Xolo, Royal de Luxe


Here’s a great photo of Xolo, Royal de Luxe‘s giant dog!  It’s just been announced that Xolo will be appearing the Sea Odyssey Giant Spectacle in Liverpool in a couple of weeks time, along with the Little Giantess and her uncle, the deep sea diver.


Handspring Theatre Company’s Crow

Handspring Theatre Company's Crow puppet


Handspring Puppet Company UK, the sister company to Handspring Puppet Company South Africa, has a major new dance theatre production called Crow premiering in mid-June as part of the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival in London. It is inspired by Ted Hughes’ 1970 poetic work Crow.

Crow witnesses God’s creation in the Garden of Eden and adds his own dry trickery to the events. Droll, lonely, adaptable, laughing, watching, instinctive and curious, Crow is in all of us, and in these poems Hughes presents the songs he would sing. – London 2012 Festival

The prototype puppet looks cool! (via the

Handspring Theatre Company's Crow puppet

As does the illustration for the promotional material:

Illustration for Handspring Theatre Company's Crow