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

Toby the Dog puppet. Hand puppet of the Dog character, from a Punch and Judy puppet set. White, fuzzy fabric body with black spots across it. Has a stuffed tail on its back, a stuffed leg on either side of its body and two long, floppy ears on its head. Wearing a dark blue ruffled collar, with a wavy line of silver trim along the bottom edge. Mouth, eyes and nose carved from wood. Heart shaped nose is painted black. Eyes have large black pupils and dark brown irises, with white spots in them. Mouth interior painted black and pink. Edges of mouth interior are beige and have teeth painted on them in white. Metal ring along top edge of body opening. Operated by inserting hand inside the body of the puppet to control its jaw movements.