Flat and dimensional building materials shaped in a variety of ways.

Flat Materials

Flat materials can include, but are not limited to, card stock, bristol board, cardboard, plastics (polyvinyl chloride), felt, fabric, metals (copper, aluminium, aluminium foil, steel), wood, plywood (1 or 2 millimetres or 1/4” or 1/8”), leather, and various foam materials. These materials can be shaped by bending, hammering, crushing, casting in a mould, welding, riveting, screwing, nailing, stapling, gluing, and lashing.

An interesting example is the experimental work of Yves Joly. For La Noce (The Wedding), he built his characters from simple shapes: paper tubes onto which were glued a hat, coloured paper, tulle, a nose, carved hands, a pen, and round objects for eyes. In Tragédie de papier (Paper Tragedy), he used simple shapes cut from flat coloured paper and folded triangular shapes glued in place to create a nose. These heads were mounted on rods and the manipulator’s gloved hands became those of the character. With a vision that was original, simple, and powerful, Yves Joly cut off the head of one puppet with scissors, while another puppet was burnt with a torch. Another example of the creative use of flat materials, are the fabrics and rags sewn together by Dutch puppeteer Henk Boerwinkel of Figurenteater Triangel.

Cord, Filament, Tubing, Wire, and Rod Materials

Non-flat materials are also varied and can include natural materials (cane, palm, bamboo, reed, horn, wood), plastics, and metals (iron, copper, and aluminium, available in different cross-sections: round, square, flat, angle, T, and I). Construction techniques include, braiding, weaving, knotting, burning, heating, bending, shaping, milling and gluing.

In 1927, Alexander Calder, internationally known sculptor, exhibited toys constructed of wire and small objects such as rubber and wood at the Salon des Humorists. Using this same construction technique, he also created his famous Circus, with a track, tent poles, rigging, performing artists, and animals. Working in a completely different style, set designer Adam Kilian used rattan and the old techniques of Polish basket makers to manufacture puppets for a production at Warsaw’s actors’ theatre, Teatr Powszechny, of Wesele (The Wedding, a play by Stanisław Wyspiański directed by Adam Hanuszkiewicz), and striking costume puppets to represent “doctors” in the form of giant birds in Zaklęty rumak (The Magic Steed, 1960), a production of Warsaw’s Lalka theatre.