I have finally completed my puppet. She is a representation of the Handless Maiden, a story which resonates with me for various reasons.
My puppet belongs in the segment of the story just after things have started to go wrong - again - for the heroine. She has given birth to a beautiful baby whilst her husband, the king, is away fighting battles. But through a trick played by the villain of the story (sometimes the devil, sometimes an evil female relative), the Handless Maiden (though she is a maid no longer in this chapter of the story) has been thrown out of the palace and set to wondering the forests once more.
Her clothes become torn and caked with mud. Her child, tied around her by a kindly servant, grows hungry as she struggles to feed him with her handless arms...
Here is the baby -
I made him as a simple doll. He isn't really a puppet in that he cannot move. His head is fimo and his body is foam.
I added hair to the maiden - tangled fake fur.
And she is ready to come alive.
There are several design problems with this puppet. Firstly I failed to add a rod for her head, and so I must grip her neck to hold and move her. I think the proximity of my hand interrupts the imagery a little.
I also made her arm rods a little too short meaning that, again, my body is a little close and disruptive as I move her. I can easily lengthen them when I get some time.
Clive told me that female Banraku puppets have no legs. I was pleased that my intentional omission has presedence, although I have yet to figure out quite how the japanese puppeteers create the illusion of feet walking. This puppet does really require two people to move her properly.
I feel like I have learnt a great deal by taking part in the challenge - not only about puppets but about creative practise. I thought my making days were behind me for the time being, as my daughter takes up almost every waking (and attempted sleeping) moment I have. But I found ways to snatch ten minutes here, half and hour there, and have completed my first ever rod puppet.
I can't wait to make more and improve my designs...