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 before airbrushing on the pinkish flesh colour and adding red highlights. For other features such as the brows, eyes and mouth he uses a paintbrush and layer of acrylic paint.

Physical description

Hand puppet of the Judy character, from a Punch and Judy puppet show. Head and hands carved from wood. Components painted beige. Character has a protruding chin and long, hooked nose. Nose, cheeks and chin are rosy. Lips are red and eyes are light blue. Small red dots in the corners of the eyes. Character is wearing blue eye shadow, has long lashes and large black eyebrows. Dark brown lines on face to highlight nostrils, mouth, chin, furrowed brow, shadows under eyes and ears. Judy has short strands of yellow yarn for hair and is wearing a white, lace-like bonnet secured with a red checkered bow. Character is wearing a light blue, white-dotted dress, with lacy cuffs, and a white, lace-like apron secured with two red checkered ties. Metal ring along bottom edge of body opening.