I was asked to make a puppet version of the statue of the Italian explorer John Cabot that sits outside the Arnolfini on Bristol harbour side by my colleague Chris Brown. 1st I sketched the statue and took some photos. I then made a quick design for the puppet while discussing with Chris what he wanted the puppet to do and establishing how big it was going to be. Back in the workshop I made a full size pattern of the body parts and then sculpted them from foam. The legs and arm sections are strengthened by pushing wooden canes through the length of them and I used various combinations of material, wood and metal to hinge all the different body parts together. If you would like to know specifics about this please do get in touch. The hands are cotton with a wire frame inside and padded out with wadding. I made a trigger mechanism to make the mouth move and then having glued it all into place painted the head hands arms and lower legs with a mix of latex and acrylic. Chris wanted the puppet to look like the statue so I used various layers of colour to try to get it as close to this as possible. I then made the outfit using fabrics that were already close in colour and added hair made from wool. The boots have a wire frame to make the foot curve to assist a nice walking action and are filled with little plastic balls to add some weight.
The puppet took about 40 hours in total, and Chris is really happy with it. I’m looking forward to seeing the shows he is going to be doing on The Mathew, the rebuild of the boat that John Cabot crossed the Atlantic in and discovered Newfoundland, America.