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. 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 features, such as the eyes and mouth, he uses a paintbrush and layer of acrylic paint.

Physical description

Ghost puppet. Hand puppet of a Ghost character, from a Punch and Judy puppet set. Head and hands carved from wood. Components painted white. Character resembles a skeleton. Hands have black lines painted on them to imitate bones. Black lines on face to highlight chin, cheek bones, eyebrows and teeth. Nose and eye sockets carved out. Interior of nose cavity painted black, interior of eye sockets painted grey. Googly eyes inside of eye sockets. Puppet is wearing a white, hooded robe. Metal ring along bottom edge of body opening.