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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

Marionette Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 6, 7

In week 6, we added more elements to the practices we regularly do. This time, in addition to the walking, turning, looking, sitting stuff, we also added some kneeling and jumping onto a bench. For the kneeling stuff, you really need to get a feel for the weight distribution of the puppet in that particular posture. This is because you most likely need to let go of the tension in the leg string if you want to do any hand gestures. At that point, you are going to want to have left the puppet in a way that it’s propping itself up. Jumping onto a bench is tricky too. You want to jump just high enough so that the feet don’t get caught, but you don’t want to jump too high either since that will most likely prevent you from landing its feet at the right spot. Tricky, but fun stuff.

The day before the week 7 (and final Beginning level) class, one of the knee joints fell apart so I had to give it a knee surgery (with duct tape!) The shoulder strings went out of alignment during the process, somehow, so I cut the strings and redid them. Not sure if I did the repair correctly, probably not since the way the new strings were felt different. I wasn’t using the right strings either so it would be a temporary fix that just need to last one day.

In week 7, we had the final exam (of sorts). Basically we did a random drawing of who would be doing which homework assignment (each a short choreography) in front of everyone. It is hard to wade through Hollywood traffic during those hours and make it to class on time so I am often late. When I walked in, everyone else had just finished theirs so I was told which one was left as soon as I walked in. And then I just did it. It was the one that was just assigned last week so it was the one I had the least practice in. I did pretty well, I thought. Maybe it helped that I did not have time to over-think the performance.

Afterwards, it was more of a Q & A, where we got to ask whatever we wanted. We got the opportunity to learn more about the way it was behind the scenes since our classes had been more focused on techniques and drills. I was also able to ask about how to string the puppet. For this kind of puppet, the shoulder strings should be the primary ones supporting the weight. The head strings should not be totally tight, like mine are right now. However, they cannot be too loose either since that would make the neck twist incorrectly. So it will be a tricky thing to do. I am basically doing the shoulder strings last while they should be done first. With that in mind, I shall think about how to do the strings again.

A few more weeks until the intermediate class starts!


  1. March 28th, 2013 | 7:06 am


    First of all, I can’t believe you ended up walking and having to do the test immediately. Whoa! I would’ve freaked, but I see your point about not “overthinking.”

    It’s amazing to read the detail that goes into working with puppets, especially the marionettes. With all those string to coordinate, the idea of making the puppet jump up on a bench is really amazing.

    I enjoy your puppetry posts so much. You’ve taught a lot about something I knew nothing of. It’s fun to read about what you do and the different types of puppets. Thank you:~)
    Sara recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: RebirthMy Profile

  2. March 28th, 2013 | 11:17 am

    I think I have performed on stage enough times that it’s harder for me to freak out in these situations. Or maybe it’s my personality. Not sure.

    Sara, thank you for always dropping by to visit. I appreciate it very much!
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Marionette Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 6, 7My Profile

  3. March 30th, 2013 | 8:11 pm

    It’s great to see you pursuing what you’re passionate about with such determination, Kelvin — I mean, I imagine that puppeteering is probably not something you chose because everybody else was doing it, but because it called out to you, individually, for one reason or another.
    Chris Edgar recently posted..For Your Listening PleasureMy Profile

  4. March 31st, 2013 | 4:26 pm

    You never know. My siblings grew up watching puppet shows like I did. For some reason I am the only one that sank so much time into studying puppetry. :-)
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Marionette Workshop (Beginning): Weeks 6, 7My Profile

  5. Naomi
    February 17th, 2014 | 3:04 am

    Thanks for posting your workshop notes and thoughts. I’m learning a lot about how marionettes work and are performed, stuff that isn’t usually posted on people’s blogs. :)

  6. February 17th, 2014 | 8:54 pm

    Yeah, and I’m sure that you, of all people, know that puppeteering can be hard to describe with text. Sometimes you just need to be there.
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Merry Christmas! Deck the Halls!My Profile

  7. Naomi
    February 20th, 2014 | 5:12 am

    Yes, very much so. “The ankle joint moves this way, and the elbow goes over there, and the wrist does this – no, not the puppet’s wrist, your wrist…” Yeah, so much easier to show it than to describe it.

  8. February 20th, 2014 | 11:45 pm

    Oh yeah, and there is that. Whose wrist is it anyway… 😀
    Kelvin Kao recently posted..Merry Christmas! Deck the Halls!My Profile

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