Hand Puppet

About this object

History of use

Punch and July is a well-known puppetry tradition in England, UK. The first recorded show took place in London in 1662, but the tradition dates back to 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte and the character Punchinello. The performance is a series of skits full of humour, violent episodes, political satire, and puns, with audience participation encouraged. The main characters are Mr. Punch, his long-suffering wife Judy, their baby, and a host of set characters: the Policeman, the Devil, the Ghost, the Doctor, the Crocodile, Joey the Clown, Toby the Dog, etc. (from Shadow, Strings & Other Things, 2019).

Specific techniques

Brian Davey first draws a layout grid and outlines the contours of the puppet’s head on a block of lime (linden) wood. He then carves it out using a combination of electric band and hand saws. For the hooked nose and pointy chins, he carves these features separately from oak wood and then attaches them to the lime wood head with a mortise-and-tenon joint. After sanding the puppet’s head by hand to a smooth and silky finish, Brian paints it with a primer and several layers of acrylic gesso. For other features such as the brows, eyes and mouth he uses a paintbrush and layer of acrylic paint.

Physical description

Joey the Clown puppet. Hand puppet of the Joey the Clown character, from a Punch and Judy puppet set. Head and hands carved from wood. Hands are beige. Face is painted white with a red nose, lips and triangles on the cheeks and forehead. Red lines and dots are painted around the light blue eyes. Black eyebrows painted in a semi-circle over eyes. Three large, black pom-poms glued to top of head for hair. Character is wearing a white ruffled shirt over its white fabric body. Shirt has frilled collar, epaulettes and hemline. Ruffles are trimmed with silver, red and dark blue wavy lines. Sun-like shape in centre of shirt. Shape is a red circle, with a dark blue outline and silver triangles protruding from it. Metal ring along bottom edge of body opening. Operated by inserting hand inside the body of the puppet to control the head and hands.