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Preview: Diary of a Marionette Maker

Diary of a Marionette Maker

Updated: 2018-01-19T04:44:19.244+00:00


Bigfoot Marionette - Wood Carved Puppet


Here is a short bit of video for a marionette I made recently. He has blinking eyes and a tongue that pokes out.

You can buy more marionettes like this at

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How to make a carved wooden hand puppet - Special Offer


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Click here to visit Vimeo page

Carving a goblin marionette head


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New Carving Puppets Tutorial


I have finished editing the latest project, I need to do a nice trailer for it but until such times here is the link to make a nice carved hand puppet.
As a special opening offer (until the end of February) you can buy this tutorial to stream or download for just $9.99 - now thats a bargain.

Learn how to make a Witch hand puppet

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"> Carving Marionettes and other wooden puppets - Project 2 A Wooden Hand Puppet - Trailer from Tony Sinnett on Vimeo.

Dragon Marionettes


We have a couple of cute Dragon marionettes in our shop now, get your Christmas orders in now to avoid disappointment.

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Manipulating your 7 string marionette


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Skeleton marionettes back in stock


I have a few of the cast skeleton marionettes back in stock at

There is also a couple of special edition clear skeletons.


The Summer (help me buy more tools) Sale


Over at we have a sale on. Please take a look and grab a bargain (particularly on some of the wooden carved and performance marionettes) and help me invest in a couple of new tools for the workshop and build even better puppets.

It will also speed up the tutorials which I am running behind on at the moment. I am mid filming of building a skeleton marionette at the moment as that seems to be where the demand is.

Ghosts - CJ Martin - Marionette Video


Here is the video for Ghosts, the latest collaboration with Chris Martin. The marionette was made in my spare time and represents Chris in his younger Rock days. Filmed and shot in one day with some extra dry ice effects supplied by Chris.

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carving puppets info now at


If you want to learn how to carve marionettes and make other wooden puppets then I have put together a new site where you can find all the info and free to download patterns.

Please check out

Carving Wooden Marionettes - Video Tutorial


(image) NEWS:
The tutorial is available NOW to watch (or download) online here:

I have been working on a building tutorial for making wooden carved marionettes and its almost ready to go.
I hope to release the video shortly with a free to view version covering the basics along with a more in depth tutorial as a paid download.

The first version will cover the basic of building and joints which you can apply to your designs or you can follow along and make the character pictured (a four string and wire marionette)

I hope to make further videos working towards more detailed puppets if this one is successful. If you purchase the download you will receive a code to get you good discount on further projects.

Monster of the Sky


A worthwhile way of spending a little money if you have any spare and are into original puppetry in film.
There looks like a lot of work has already gone into this project and I'm really looking forward to seeing the end result.

Sam Koji Hale is a safe pair of hands given his recent endeavors, why not help him out?
You can visit the kickstarter page here:

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Marionette Puppet Shop - New Site


I have been busy with my camera and built a new store for marionette customers. Hopefully this will make it easier to order puppets from anywhere in the world. There are puppets from some great makers and a few of my hand carved ones too.

So in the coming weeks I can redesign my site to concentrate on the commissioned projects

Paul Foot and Skeleton Johnston - Marionette Puppet


In May Mr Paul Foot contacted me to discuss making a marionette for his next show - 'words'. He wanted me to build a puppet of the character 'Skeleton Johnston' and he wanted it to be as large as possible so it could be easily seen in the larger venues.We discussed the best way to achieve this given that it would have to be sturdy enough to withstand travel around the country (and possibly abroad) without damage. It also couldn't be so big it was difficult to operate as you don't really want to have your arms at more than a 90 degree angle for long periods of time holding a larger marionette. The weight was also going to be a very key factor.In the end we decided that the best option for durability - and ease of repair if it came to that - would be wood. I would have to make all parts as light as possible though given the size so this would mean hollowing out the head and ribs and thinning the arms and legs as much as I could.The character would stand around 90cms tall (not including hair) and this would mean the controller would be just over a metre from the ground which worked out about right for Paul's height. So after a scale and then a full size drawing I started the carving. I made the skull first and was quite happy with how it turned out.Next onto his hair, I figured the best way to create his crazy ice cream scoop style was with some hard foam unfortunately I had run out - as had my local store - and as this was an urgent project I wondered about using some expanding builders foam which I had on the shelf. First I inserted a long screw through the top of the head to give the foam something to bind to, then I squirted a good dollop onto his head. After letting it dry for a couple of hours I cut it with a hacksaw blade. As you can see it ended up with quite a few air holes in it so I wrapped the shape in masking tape, made a couple of small holes and squirted a good amount in again.This seemed to work, filling all the voids and making a nice tight foam.  A little final trimming and it was read for the cotton hair to be stuck on the shape.I created the ribs in two halves and hollowed the middle. Arms and hands were also carved from Limewood as were his shoes. I used some Idigbo for the legs and pelvis as this is quite a light weight wood but still sturdy. The legs were not shaped as other than a little bit at the ankles, just in case his trousers were to ride up. I used 3mm rod for all metal joints and some elastic at the shoulders.Once i'd made his trousers and braces, all that was left was the control. As you can see its a simplified rocker bar operating the legs, there is a wire through the top of the head for support and control. The jaw string can be operated with one finger on the holding hand.The operation of the marionette is quite simple but even so can give a lot of movement and expression.I delivered Mr Johnston to his new friend Paul Foot and spent the afternoon showing him the movements and giving a few puppetry tips. Paul was really quick in getting to grips with him and seemed happy that this would work really well in the specially created section of his new show.Here is Paul Foot with Skeleton Johnston.You can see them both at the Edinburgh Fringe at the moment and Paul will be touring with a lot more shows in October and November, see the dates here:[...]

'The Murderer'- Mike Marlin


Here is the video for Mike Marlin's song 'The Murderer'. It features my acting debut as the puppetmaker, not sure I'll be up for a BAFTA any time soon but it was a bit of fun. I also supplied a lot of the puppets and set dressing, with other props and puppets coming from The Little Angel Theatre and puppeteer Jessica Kay ( Puppetry was mainly by Jessica as a lot of the time I was in shot or in make-up but I did do a few bits and pieces. You should be able to spot 'Paul' making an appearance.

The video was produced by Valeria Meng and Roman Knipping-Sorokin (

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C J Martin - 'Paul'


Here is the latest music video produced in house. I was asked by Chris to produce some visuals for his song 'Paul'. We worked together on the concept and visuals. I built the two puppets, a skeleton and 'paul'.

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Making puppet videos


Thought i'd write a little about making puppet video seeing as I've had a few enquiries as to how to go about it.
Having spent a fair deal of time one side of the lens it was interesting to take on a project where I would direct and shoot the video. I recently posted the finished video for 'The River' and look for a new video coming soon.

 It is now so affordable to make good quality videos with just a little outlay on equipment.

Firstly cameras, I don't claim to be an expert on cameras, in fact quite the opposite but the technology has really come on in the last few years. If you haven't already got yourself a decent camera and want to have a go at making some videos I can highly recommend the Panasonic Lumix G range. I started out with a G2 which is an interchangeable lens camera thats slightly smaller than a DSLR. The camera's are great value as they will allow you to photograph your products brilliantly if you are a puppetmaker who sells there work too. This camera has been super seeded  by the G3 and more recently the G5 so if you want to buy new then go for one of those but if you are really on a budget you can pick up the G2 readily on ebay.

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If you think that you are going to take it a lot more seriously then a really good step up video wise is the GH1 and GH2 cameras. They are a little less user friendly for photos but have the best video for the price in my opinion. Its not just the quality is the ability to change all the shutter/aperture/iso settings and apply them to the video, a lot of cameras in the same bracket only allow that versatility in photo mode not video. The GH1 and 2 also have a hdmi live feed out so you can use a monitor to see how your puppetry is going, this is very useful if its just you. Grab a GH2 while you can as the GH3 is coming soon but this will be a lot more money.

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More to follow soon

The Pond - 'The River' Music Video


Here is the first video entirely to be produced by me from my workshop. I built the marionette and set, directed, puppeteered and edited the production.
Raven Kaliana, Richard Sinnett and Rachel Montford helped with the puppetry and building some of the shadow puppets.

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Making a marionette - Knee Joints


The Leg (Knee) Joint

Here are some ways to make a knee joint:

Slot cut with a router.
If you have a router or have access to one (maybe ask a carpenter or your local woodshop and they may do it for you) then you can cut very accurate slots for the knee joints.
(image) Firstly you need to think about the grain direction. To make the best joint you should try to get the grain of the wood running in the same direction as the slot. In this picture I have highlighted the grain direction for you to see. So here i will be cutting the slots on the sides that I am holding.

Next you need to get your router and select a cutter with an appropriate diameter for the slot you are cutting. In these pictures I am using a very small cutter as this is for a small marionette. Mark the depth of cut you want to make and then set the depth stop on the router. You will probably want to make the cut in a few passes rather than strain the cutter with a single cut.

Now repeat the process for the other leg. You can now cut the leg shape from the block.

The Hinge Method

For larger marionettes you can use a backflap hinge. At you local hardware shop, find a couple of appropriately sized backflap hinges. You will need to cut an angle on the back of the lower and upper leg of at least 45 degrees (you may want a bigger angle for more movement). Now you can attach the hinges to the back of the leg or a nicer way is to cut a slot into the legs which will hide it away. If you want to hide the hinges away you will need to mark where the holes for the screws are so you can fix them in place.

Am Mosleh - Tales of Uncle Mosleh


On May 9th I was flown out to Doha, Qatar to be lead puppeteer and puppetwrangler on a new show produced by Baraem a part of Al Jazeera Childrens Channel . The show entitled  حكايات العم مصلح or 'Am Mosleh'  (Tales of Uncle Mosleh) was to be the first string puppet show produced by the Channel.I arrived at about 2:30am to a very hot Qatar. Being English i'm not used to temperatures in the 40's and nearly 50's, so it was a bit of shocked when I departed the plane. however I was met by a driver from the channel who drove me to my air conditioned hotel apartment. Later that day I was driven to Baraem's studios in Education City , a developing part of Doha, where I met a lot of the producers and crew.There were 5 of us operating the marionettes, myself and my brother Richard doing most of the movements with voices, lip sync and additional puppetry provided by Wael Awad Ali, Hanane El-Dirani and Tamer Mostafa. Over the following 5 weeks we filmed 15 episodes.I was lead puppeteer but also spent a lot of time trying to get the most out of the basic puppets. I repaired, adjusted, restrung and repainted all of the marionettes at one point or another.I could write pages of detail about the various elements of the show and the problems inherent, but in short we worked hard to overcome them as best we could and produced a nice result.If the channel gets the go ahead for a second series then the producers and directors know much better now how we can make big improvements next time around, so fingers crossed.The show is about an old carpenter – Am Mosleh who works with a group of puppets to narrate captivating stories and tales from all over the world. The stories acted out by the marionettes are variations on classic folk tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks, Red Riding Hood and Aladdin.It is being premiered on the Baraem TV Channel as well as Al Jazeera Children throughout Ramadan. If you are in the UK you can get Al Jazeera Children on Sky 823You can see some behind the scenes pictures here: follow this link for an episode of the show::Am Mosleh - Episode 3 - 'Three Sheep'[...]

Goodnight Lenin - Wenceslas Square


Last year I was commissioned by Chris Keenan from Prime Objective and Stephen Spencer from Nice Monster Studios  to build a couple of traditional wooden marionettes for a music video. It was stressed from the start that this wasn’t a big budget affair (few music videos are these days) but when they outlined the idea and sent me some concept drawings I thought it sounded like a fun project so I agreed to be involved. As there wasn’t a budget to speak of I was able to do the build and testing over a period of a couple of months, using my spare moments to pick up the chisels or work on some joints. The marionettes themselves were quite small, around 33 cms in all with a large proportion of that being the heads which were even more oversized than usual. The small scale made the joints and movements tricky. The girl character in particular had issues,  her lower limbs had such negligible weight that gravity wasn’t enough to overcome any slight friction from the joints and I had to add little lead inserts into her arms just to get some feedback when puppeteering.Stephen had decided that he wanted moving and blinking eyes and moving mouths but he knew that not only would this be expensive it would make the marionettes more difficult to operate. Being a animator and director he wanted to try a new technique of using CGI to overlay the eyes in post production. To achieve this I had to shape the heads and eyes to which we would later fit tracking markers. The markers allow the computer to position the eyes correctly to the angle of the head.Whilst  I was busy making the puppets Carina Stuart and Emily Woodall were working hard creating the sets. In a stroke of good fortune Emily had just finished her degree and was living back with her parents who happened to be just down the road from me so I was able to visit her with the mockup puppet and also loan her one of more or less the same size to use as a guide for the props.The shoot itself was done at Second Home Studios in Birmingham, owned by Chris Randall who made us all welcome and worked hard for the two filming days doing….well just about everything that needed doing. The first day (Friday) was for getting all the puppetry shots so I was to be there for 8am. Living in Sussex meant a very early morning to get to the Birmingham studios in time.. As with most filmed projects, getting the first shot always seems to take an age and this was to be no exception, I think it was nearly 12 before we had anything done. Emily and Carina had built a lovely booth type theatre for the puppets and I was working from a gantry behind. It was a real stretch for a couple of scenes and I had to add some extensions to the controls to get the puppets to the front as my arms weren’t long enough. I wonder how many puppeteers have ever wished for longer arms (or more arms for that matter). The other tricky part was to do with the trackers on the heads. The angle of the head I relation to the camera had to be within certain limits so you could pick up the detail on the markers so this added another difficulty. Anyway we all worked hard throughout the day, and night, wrapping up at 11:30 in the end.Over the weekend I had some niggling thoughts in my head about a couple of the shots we had done and how they could be bettered, unable to let these go I rang Chris Keenan and asked if I could come back on Monday not only to help the band with the puppets but also if we had time to have another go at a couple of moves. Chris was more than happy [...]

Puppetvision - The Movie


If, like me, you have enjoyed reading Andrew's Puppetvision Blog then why not pop along here and help him make a film promoting the art of puppets and puppetry from around the world.

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I can't remember when I first found Puppetvision but it must have been near its beginning which means I have been checking in for the last six or seven years. In that time I have found Puppetvision the be interesting, inspiring and helpful and I have been lucky enough to be mentioned a couple of times, the first time being with the Levi's puppet viral ad.

I was also able to say hello, albeit very briefly, to Andrew when he came to London last year.

So if, like me, you have enjoyed years of content (and the odd nod in your direction) FOR FREE then why not pay a little back and donate, you can donate as little as $10.

Joanna Wang - The Bug


A few months ago the lovely Joanna Wang contacted me about carving a wooden mask for a music video. I was very busy at the time so wasn't really able to fit it in, but Joanna kindly moved the shoot date so I could finish what I was doing.

It was an interesting job, I'm always a bit uneasy about carving portrait style as it can often be a tricky affair, however Joanna wanted a slight caricature quality to it so that helped. The mask of Nixon was carved from Lime wood.

You can see the video for the song here:

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Also take the time to check out more of Joanna's music on her Channels:

And here:

Puppeteering at Barefoot Books - New Oxford Store


I will puppeteering at the Grand Opening of the new 'Barefoot Books' store in Summertown, Oxford from 7pm Friday 7th of October. If you are nearby come along for some fun.

Conducting Threads


A year or so ago I made a couple of marionettes for a independent short called 'Conducting Threads'. I also puppeteered on the shoot but the puppets only appear briefly at the end. 

Anyway, "Conducting Threads" will be screened this Monday the 10th of October at "Choice Cuts" a collaboration between the East End Film Society & Cafe 1001. 
The screening is at 7:30pm, Cafe 1001, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL.