The Marionette Figure – Marionettes have been giving us pleasure for centuries. Those quaint little figures are full of life and realism and can be so very entertaining. The figures can, of course, be bought from shops but they are extremely expensive. Why not make the skeleton of a marionette figure, so that you can dress this up to suit any character. The skeleton is not very difficult to make, it only needs patience and very careful finishing and you can produce a most attractive and workmanlike doll.
The basis of the skeleton is usually jointed wood, somewhat on the lines of the diagram of the figure. You can use either flat fretwood (plywood) or soft wood for carving to a realistic shape. It is much easier to make the plywood figure to start with and this is how you begin. Cut out the arms, legs, hands and feet, also the trunk, shoulders and thighs as illustrated. The size is dependent upon the length of the doll you wish to make. For an experiment, we will make the limbs all ½ in. wide and rounded as shown. These strips of plywood are cut out by a fret-saw to the sizes detailed in the diagram. The joints are made with tiny brass rivets placed in the described position. Black thread is attached to the limbs at the points A, threading the end of the cotton through the eyehole of the rivets and making a small, but secure, knot.
Each piece of thread should be about 18 in. in length and the ends of these will be attached to the marionette manipulator described below. The head of the marionette can be made from an old doll and fixed to the neck as shown, so that it is quite rigid with the trunk. Your marionette is now all ready for dressing. The costumes are made from coloured materials.