I’m happy hope you’re happy too.

David Bowie Handmade Puppet
David Bowie Handmade Puppet

This blog post is a little explanation on how I make my latest Makers Medley Challenge doll. The challenge for April was marionette and I decided to make the blue Pierrot clown outfit that David Bowie wore for his Ashes to Ashes video.

There were several stages and techniques involved in this doll and it really let me play with some techniques that I hadn’t used for quite a while.

One of the main ones being my soldering iron. I have one with a very fine point that is great for cutting shapes out of fine chiffon stuff and as long as the material is polyester or man-made, it melts the fabric to cut it and as the fabric cools afterwards it fuses the fibers together ensuring that the cut cannot fray. This was perfect for all the little triangle/leaf decorations on the costume. If I had had to sew a seam on each one it would have made them way too bulky.

wet felting a hat for the puppet
wet felting a hat for the puppet
attempts at getting the hat right
attempts at getting the hat right
using a soldering iron to cut out fabric shapes
using a soldering iron to cut out fabric shapes

I used another quite different technique for his hat. I wanted to make a smooth cone with a turn up and a nice round top like the original, which would have been a felt cone shaped with hot steam and pressing. So I decided to make a felt cone from wool fibers using wet felting. I made a cone shape out of an old pop bottle and stuck a ball of tightly crumpled up silver foil on the top to make the smooth top curve.
Next, I laid wool fibers over the shape and tightly wrapped them with a spare bit of chiffon to hold them in place while taking turns to dip in very hot, then very cold soapy water and rolling the shape backwards and forwards in my hands until the fibers had fused together to form a hat. This I did three times until I was finally happy with the thickness of the final piece of felt.

His body is made from polystyrene balls shaped a little (messy business) and then covered with air dry clay after having wire pushed through the pieces to enable them to be joined together with jump rings for assembly. I drew out a body shape and used this as a guide. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought about the size of the jump rings and they added an extra ½ cm to the body size when I first assembled him. This added to the head being wrong which I will come to shortly, meant he looked quite out of proportion. So, I had to get smaller jump rings, not really a big issue after all. 😉

drawing for layout and size of the puppets body parts
drawing for layout and size of the puppets body parts
almost there

In the video it is very hard to see the costume clearly so I did a rough sketch and hoped for the best.

sketch of Bowie's costume
sketch of Bowie’s costume

His head size though still irks me a little. You see I nearly always make my dolls with large heads compared to real human proportions. This guy I planned out just going on proper proportions though and it was only at the end I realised that now in my eyes at least he appears to have a really small head. One day I may re-make it and give him a bigger head, if I get around to it.

David Bowie Handmade Puppet in Pierrot outfit
David Bowie Handmade Puppet in Pierrot outfit

Our next challenge is Flying Creatures, so, I’m off to get my thinking cap on for that one. Follow me on Instagram to see work in progress and be there on reveal day, 1st May ’19.

Bowie in Action

‘Till next time

Ally