Creating props for industry

We recently spoke to Stewart, an FdA Prop Making and Special Effects student, who was commissioned by Worthing Theatres to produce two puppets for their production of Pinocchio. Below, Stewart shares the process of making these amazing puppets from concept to final product. 

The brief

Back in January I organised a video call with Matt Pike from Worthing Theatres to figure out exactly what they needed. They were looking for two puppets, Pinocchio and the Cricket.

Pinocchio would be a simple dummy that Geppeto could put together at the beginning of the show. He would need to look like wood, have some mechanism for attaching the limbs and have some way to move him on stage.

The Cricket would be in a cage an actor could carry, oversized for visibility and have a mechanism that would allow for some movement to sync with recorded dialogue.


A small set back

Unfortunately that was as far as the project moved until March as we were, of course, back in lockdown and out of the studio! 

However as soon as we were back in the building I worked on getting the Cricket mechanism and body created.

The building begins

I had an idea to get his head to lift and turn based on a retractable pen and sculpted a body with clay to replicate with Plastazote foam. I also vacuformed his wings and eyes and gave him antennae made simply from cable ties! 


Pinocchio was also constructed from Plastazote foam around a big plywood handle to make him easier to move, with webbing in his joints and strong magnets to attach his limbs to his body. I scored in a wood grain texture with a rotary tool and used a drybrush technique to paint more grain on the surface. I was assisted in the construction by my classmate Nicolas Ferrard.


The puppets come to life

Getting these puppets put together and up on stage was an amazing experience, I was so glad that Worthing Theatres loved them and the personal message from the Director was a real surprise! The opportunity to work with real clients as part of the course is invaluable and has really helped me get a foot in the door for when I finish.


Production photo credit: Simon Vale

"Thank you so much for the care, love and attention to detail that you have put into the props. In short, brilliant, outstandingly made and visually creative to a very high standard. Many congratulations on outstanding high quality work." - Peter, Production Director for Pinocchio.

To find out more about our Propmaking degree course, click here.

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