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

Hand puppet of the Crocodile character, from a Punch and Judy puppet show. Head carved from wood and painted dark green. Lower jaw painted off-white. Facial features outlined with black paint. Eyes have large black pupils and light yellow irises, outlined in gold. Sections of white teeth nailed to bottom edge of upper jaw. Mouth interior painted black, orange and yellow. Long pink, fabric tongue inside of mouth. Crocodile’s fabric body is emerald green down the back and off-white on the front. Bent fabric legs on either side of fabric body, where it meets the wooden head. Fabric is glued and stapled to head. Metal ring along top edge of body opening. Operated by inserting hand inside the body of the puppet to control its jaw movements.