In preparation for the Carnival, I’m doing a Marionette Monday: this means that today I’m bringing you independent artist who produces marionettes and I’ll also try and give you one or more stories you can try and stage with them. One of Eyvind Earl’s incredible concepts for Sleeping Beauty. The Queen, Carabosse and the Golden […]
In preparation for the Carnival, I’m doing a Marionette Monday: this means that today I’m bringing you independent artist who produces marionettes and I’ll also try and give you one or more stories you can try and stage with them.
One of Eyvind Earl’s incredible concepts for Sleeping Beauty.
The Queen, Carabosse and the Golden Vine Fairy
Nemezinda is the name of a shop selling “Waldorf inspired felted play mats, toys and fairies”, run by the Hungarian artisan Betti Horvath. She does mushrooms, felted animals and mats and a lot of other things, but she also does amazingly sweet marionettes. We can make a decent Sleeping Beauty ballet with them, at least the first act.
1. The Witch
It’s made with hand dyed silk, with green and blue colour transition, and she’s 40 cm long (without considering the strings). She will make for a wonderful Carabosse, the original wicked fairy-godmother before Disney came in and renamed her Maleficent.
2. the Queen and Princess Aurora
This couple of blonde marionettes are perfect for the role. And if Sleeping Beauty grows up, you can always re-cast the mother.
3. Violente, the Fairy of the Golden Vine
This red-headed marionette is perfect for the fairy of strength and backbone, who gifts the princess Aurora a forceful and commanding temperament.
4. The Liliac Fairy
The remaining marionette in Nemezinda’s roster simply has to be cast as the most important of fairies, the one who didn’t grant her gift yet and tries to save the day.
5. The other fairies
I don’t expect you to do all of them and lots of them are pretty useless, so here’s a bunch of other marionettes for the Corps de Ballet.
A Witch, her Devil and Lady Valentine
Czech Marionettes is a shop in Prague where you can buy hand-made marionettes, and they also have an Etsy shop. Their objects are organized by subject and level: they have ready-made marionettes for everyone, collectable marionettes, antique marionettes sold to support the teaching of puppetry, publications on marionettes, but they also have kits and components to build your marionette, and 3d models for your 3d printer, which I think is a capital idea.
You can find a lot of witches and witches on Marionettes.cz. And each is different. This one from Lenkz is unique in that her puppets are almost always nice with a dreamy look and a gentle smile. And that a witch can be good? Yes, for sure, but those in classic puppet ensembles are usually bad and scary. And this one meets it to the letter! And if you complement the puppet theater, you will definitely not step aside with this witch, it is easy to use, charismatic and very expressive.
We can pair her with some of the work by Mr. Václav Krčál, another master whose work is available on the website, under the hand carved section of the art marionettes.
Mr. Václav Krčál started began career as an amateur. His talent was discovered by one Prague theatre (now known as Minor) here he gained employment. He became an experienced wood carver/puppeteer and started collaborating with our top artists like Pavel Kalfus and Nori Sawa. In 1993, Václav Krčál decided to start out on his own as a marionette hand carver.
You can pair the witch with this Lucifer and see how they get along.
Welcome to the empire of the ruler of all Prague devils. This Lucifer is not any ordinary devil, he’s a legend well known from old historical Prague tales and stories. He’s the devil no one wants to mess with. With all the respect we have for him and his reputation, this marionette is a great piece of artwork with a special personality. His hand painted face done to the smallest detail perfectly reflects the devil’s character. The wood is carved and sharpened into very smooth lines and his rich outfit is carefully hand sewn.
Should this not be enough, on the Etsy shop you can also see an incredible lady Valentine, which I think would be a perfect third character in this tale we’re making up as we go.
This marionette Lady Valentine has style, even though her heart is broken, she’s a lady in any situation. Her porcelain white skin and deep blue eyes make her look very noble and charming. She’s wearing a long, black lace dress and a lovely hat with a feather and a veil over her face. This marionette is a real masterpiece. Each inch is handmade, including her hand sewn outfit and hand painted face. Her clothes are designed based on period models.
The Wind, Swans, a Mermaid and the Drowning Moon
Xenie Axamitova of Axa Marionettes is an artisan based in Prague and the work she does, along with her colleagues, is available on the eShop on their website. They also have a shop on Etsy.
On the website, marionettes are organized by materials and then by theme: you have animal and human characters in clay, marionettes in gypsum, some skeletons in hardened resin (my least favourites), and fairy-tale, fantasy or theatre characters in wood, my absolute favourites.
There’s a vast amount of characters I could have picked (and mind that some of these might be out of stock or no more available, because these are scheduled posts and some of them were written back in January when I decided to start doing this): let’s try and narrow it down to a top three (with a bonus).
1. The Wind
This semi-marionette symbolizes wind. It is carved in a delicate way to make it look tender. Its face and hands are long and narrow. Colors were intentionally chosen to give it the feeling of a light breeze. Each layer of fabric used for clothes is airy and thin. Hair is made from artificial fur.
You can decide which wind this gets to be and, as we have seen in some of the Norse folk tales I’ve been bringing you on Sundays, the Wind is often a character in these kind of stories.
At the Back of the North Wind, a children’s book by George MacDonald would be of no help, because the North Wind is a caring female, but you can try and see if his behaviour in East of the Sun West of the Moon fits the description (I retold the story here). Depictions of the North Wind in The Lad who went up to the North Wind (I retold the story here) usually have it stronger and larger, but I think this might work. Or you could try and use it as the helping North Wind in The Three Princesses of Whiteland (I retold the story here).
Should you wish to do the Lad who went up to the North Wind, you’re going to need at least a boy, and an old woman (you can cast her in the double role of the mother and of the inn-keeper).
2. Black Swan
Do you want to do some magic performance? This Black Swan marionette is exactly what you need. She will perform her magic even when she quietly decorates your home.
If you want sadness to take a hold on you, this is the best marionette you could possibly pick. Made famous to the public by the tragic movie with Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel, and used as an expression to depict a highly unlikely and impactful event because of the book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the black swan is Odile, a central character in The Swan Lake ballet and opposed to the heroine Odette, the White Swan. In the tale, Odette is a princess and was transformed into a swan by an evil owl-sorcerer named Rothbart. The black swan in question is Rothbart’s daughter, whom he transforms into a maiden in order to steal the prince’s heart and prevent him to break the spell. It ends badly and pretty much everyone dies.
You are going to need lots of white dancers and a Prima Ballerina, alongside an evil wizard and a dumb prince. They have you covered on the first two accounts: I think this black wizard will do as Rothbart and they have beautiful ballet dancers (you’ll just need a way to highlight your Odette). On Etsy they also have a pink one, in case you want to go crazy.
3. Bead Mermaid
Number three, but my absolute favourite of the selection, is a wooden green mermaid with floating hair and seaweeds and an Indian look about her.
Bead Mermaid marionette can take you to the deep sea fantasy, where you can swim with her and meet all her kingdom’s creatures. Let yourself be carried away on the waves of a fairy tale.
This marionette is intended for advanced puppeteers, but if you have will and want to learn to play with marionettes after few days of exercise you will progress and play well.
It would be a waste to use this beautiful marionette in something like Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid (spoiler: the original story sucks and the mermaid dies for no reason). Giving her oriental look, you can try and have a look to the stories involving Suvannamaccha, featuring in some versions of the Ramayana: her name literally means “golden fish” and she’s a mermaid princess popular in Thai folklore. She tries to prevent Hanuman from building a bridge to the island fortress of Lanka, but eventually falls in love with him.
This is a unique sculpture, meaning you have only one chance to buy it and you will own a unique piece. It lets you put more than one into the cart, but that has to be a mistake. I’m fairly certain she will be gone by the time I publish this, so I’m putting it here as a “bonus content”.
The home of this fairy are night sea waves where she calmly floats. Her clothes are full of reflected stars in the sky.
The arms have wire connections which makes it possible to adjust for different positions via small holes in the lower part of the body. Arms are joined at the shoulders, elbows and wrists for smooth and elegant movement.
This marionette reminds me of a rather weird and unique fairy-tale, The Buried Moon, which first appeared in More English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. It tells the story of a wandering moon, who falls into a pool and is then trapped underground by some swamp evil things, and is then freed by a man. For this story you are going to need a snake and a will-o’-the-wyke, a bog surrounding and a stout man to free your heroine.
Zombie Leia and the Corpse Queen
Mary Laine is the name of a New Zealander mixed media artist who creates “One of a kind art dolls and marionettes” and here is her Etsy shop. She works by the sea in an old diesel mechanic’s warehouse in Wellington and her work is incredible.
With one of her creations, made of hand sculpted kiln fired clay, acrylic paint, wood, wire, and fabric, you can try a Zombi Star Wars.
For a new twist in the story, you can try and pair her with this Zombi Queen, made of hand sculpted kiln fired clay, acrylic paint, wood, wire, and fabric, inspired by the Corpse Bride (artwork in the header).
The story of the Corpse Bride has fascinated people for nearly 100 years. In this series, Mary Laine has reimagined several versions of the Corpse Bride. For more information on the true story: https://historycollection.co/the-real-corpse-bride-carl-tanzlers-horrifying-obsession/.
TiteresMdC has a workshop and store in Ávila (here‘s the website, here‘s the Etsy shop) where they produce and manufacture wooden toys, puppets and marionettes. With their marionettes we can make a decent fairy-tale, especially giving that their dimension is fairly small (15-25 cm) and their price is reasonable, so we can buy a bunch of them.
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches’ mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg’d i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver’d in the moon’s eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar’s lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe (30)
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.