July 8th, 2014

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria and Highland Soldier Marionettes à la Planchette

I was recently commissioned by a Punch and Judy professor to make a pair of marionettes à la planchette depicting an elderly Queen Victoria and a contemporary Black Watch Highland soldier. It proved to be a huge amount of work, but I am very happy with how they turned out.

Marionettes à la planchette are designed to dance to music like jig dolls; the most important difference being that they are operated by a string tied to the performer's leg, which allows the performer to stand up and play a musical instrument (or two) at the same time. Their feet make a tapping sound when they dance, providing an additional percussive element to the performance (with practice it's possible to vary the strength of the taps to emphasise the beat of the music). There are drawings dating back centuries showing street entertainers performing with this type of puppet, often featuring two puppets on one string. Apparently they are commonplace to this day in parts of mainland Europe. See the Pipe and Tabor Compedium for some nice historic illustrations. Also this lovely engraving from 1821. Collapse )

I am willing to consider commissions to make more marionettes à la planchette, however you should be aware that many hours of work go into crafting puppets with this level of detail (particularly if they require an intricate costume like Queen Victoria's). I can also make simpler, less realistic puppets and jig dolls. If you are interested, please drop me an email (alex at alexholden dot net).