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Puppet Makers (PM) support the design, manufacture (making) and performance of puppets for theatre, film, TV, carnival, animation, applied puppetry and outdoor arts. They may work for a single Senior Puppet Maker or as part of a wider technical and performance team led by a Creative Director. They are responsible for the care of their puppets at all times, including how they are handled, stored, transported and used during a performance/production. They must know how to repair puppets and choose appropriate materials for manufacture to aid their preservation.
PMs must know how to design puppets suitable to the performance/production using appropriate technical drawing methods, and must be able to manufacture puppets to their own or others’ designs, selecting the most suitable materials for the conditions the puppet will be used in, for example: weather tolerant if used for outdoor performances, of sturdy structure if used for immersive/audience interactive performances, or resistant to heat and light damage if used in close proximity to theatre lighting. PMs must understand the best application and likely lifespan of different materials and be confident making puppets from a range of materials such as paper, wood, papier mache, foam, wire, metal, rubber, acrylic and soft materials. They must understand the required movement of puppets depending on the performance, and apply design and build methods to ensure said requirements can be met. This may include the application and use of traditional strings, robotics or digital programming.
PMs must be confident in the use and maintenance of hand and machine tools and materials relevant to their puppetry setting(s) such as those outlined above. Detailed understanding and adherence to Health and Safety requirements at all times is vital.
Alongside the design and manufacture of puppets, PMs must also have awareness of the performance of puppets for live and recorded productions, and as such must have knowledge of creative performance principles to ensure puppets can be animated in line with performance scripts.
Typical job titles
Puppet Maker, Assistant Puppet Maker, Puppet Technician.
Duty 1 Make puppets perform in line with production requirements
Duty 2 Make puppets from a range of materials suitable for the environment/type of performance they are intended for
S4 S5 S6 S7 S8 S9
B2 B3 B4 B5 B6
Duty 3 Design puppets in response to a given brief
K8 K9 K10
B2 B3 B5 B6
Duty 4 Meet Health and Safety compliance requirements
S12 S13 S14
Duty 5 Preserve and conserve puppets to aid their desired longevity and use
B2 B5 B6
Duty 6 Work as part of a team to agreed deadlines
S17 S18 S19 S20
Duty 7 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding about puppet making as a craft and puppetry as a creative performance aid
K1 K2 K3 K4 K5
K1: Understand the history of puppet making and performance including the contexts within which they have been used and how audiences engage and empathise with puppets
K2: Have awareness of the types and scales of organisation that commission, use and/or apply puppetry
K3: Know how to operate as a freelance puppet maker which may include project management, utilising online platforms, networking
K4: Understand the costs associated with different materials, where they’re sourced from and how these are selected to meet budget requirements.
K5: Understand how to minimise waste when using materials to comply with the organisation’s sustainability policy.
K6: Know which materials to use appropriate to the nature, purpose and frequency of the puppet’s use such as paper, wood, papier mache, foam, wire, metal, rubber, acrylic and soft materials
K7: Understand building techniques and materials used in the production of protective cases for the safe storage and transport of different puppets before, during and after a performance, to aid their preservation
K8: Understand basic anatomy and bio-mechanics such as skeletal structure, muscles, and tendons in humans and wildlife
K9: Understand the use of joints and mechanisms appropriate to a puppet’s planned usage/purpose
K10: Understand the most appropriate design method(s)to use to best respond to the design brief which may include technical illustration, CAD and/or Virtual Reality design
K11: Understand health and safety requirements associated with the environments within which puppets are used such as outdoor settings, film and TV sets, Theatres and other indoor venues, which may include audience and staff safety and security, compliance with noise regulations, working at height, basic electrics and handling workshop equipment
K12: Show understanding in a range of conservation methods to support the sound restoration of puppets relevant to different materials e.g. wood, metal, acrylic
K13: Propose how to safely handle puppets according to their build to minimise general wear and tear or long term damage to them
S1 Build joints and mechanisms suitable for the type of puppetry and performance environment which may include leather hinge joints, wooden pin joints and plastic pipe joints
S2 Demonstrate the mechanics of puppetry such as the relationship/separation between puppeteer and puppet, focus, reaction, use of breath and expression to give life to an inanimate object
S3 Technically operate specific types of puppet such as rod, table top, bunraku, glove, shadow, muppet-style, large scale, and digital to ensure it is suitable for its intended purpose and environment
S4 Select and use the most appropriate materials for construction such as paper, wood, papier mache, foam, wire, metal, rubber, acrylic and/or soft materials for the puppet’s desired use, weight, balance and longevity
S5 Undertake construction methods such as carving, foam patterning, mould casting, soft sculpture, seamstressing, metalwork, assemblage, large scale construction, animatronics, paints and finishes.
S6 Apply relevant mechanics such as push pull cable and rod mechanisms, basic digital robotics, hydraulics
S7 Use and maintain hand and machine tools appropriate to the type of puppet making, which may include pillar drills, hand drills, belt sanders, bandsaws, glue and air heat tools, hammers, pliers, grips and vices, knives and scalpels, files and abrasives, spanners, chisels, sewing machines
S8 Make costumes for puppets using machine and hand crafting tools, that allow for necessary movement and withstand the frequency and environments within which the puppets are used
S9 Modify puppets to respond to design and/or environmental changes
S10 Work to agreed briefs and/or designs by creating accurate technical drawings of puppets using graphic illustration techniques that are to scale, which may include the use of CAD design software such a Rhino of Fusion 360
S11 Build appropriate maquette and/or prototypes in line with the agreed project timeline to assess the puppet’s suitability for the intended performance/environment
S12 Select and use the most appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
S13 Comply with Health and safety regulations including IOSH and COSHH
S14 Apply relevant H&S considerations to a puppet’s build to prevent injury and aid safe, comfortable and efficient manipulation of the puppet by the puppeteer
S15 Select and use necessary building and finishing techniques and materials to ensure the puppet’s appropriate resistance to damage caused by different conditions such as weather, heat and light, performance wear and tear, audience interaction and pest corrosion
S16 Build and manage appropriate storage cases to aid puppet conservation before, during and after performances to reduce damage/corrosion, including during transit
S17 Confidently work alongside and support others as part of a project or permanent team to ensure the successful completion of a brief
S18 Clearly present ideas and methods to aid the design and construction of puppets
S19 Stay focused on the task at hand to fulfil tasks within agreed timeframes
S20 Organise workload effectively to ensure time is used wisely and tasks are completed in agreed priority order
B1: Be pro-active about learning new techniques, ways of working and improving personal knowledge
B2: Work with colleagues to trouble shoot in a methodical way
B3: Respond constructively and maturely when things don’t go as planned
B4: Remain calm under pressure
B5: Take and respond to instruction
B6: Seek solutions to problems and takes advice from those with relevant expertise
B7: Friendly and approachable at all times and open to sharing learning
English and Maths qualifications
Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.
Occupational Level: 3
Duration (months): 18
This standard will be reviewed after three years.
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