The theme of the trickster runs very deeply through the mythology of most human societies. From Loki, to Brer Rabbit; from the Native American coyote spirit to the Monkey King in China. We need the trickster animus to express the outcast.
Through the folklore of Europe runs the stories of Reynard the fox, Isengrim the wolf, Tybalt the cat, Chanticleer the cockerel and Bruin the bear. Fast talking and clever, tricky and dishonest, Reynard is a reflection of our clever and unscrupulous selves. We need him to find an easy way, to take the blame, to show up our own vanities.
After it became clear I was going to struggle to create Bloduewedd in the form I wanted, I cast about for ideas to take the Puppet Challenge forwards. A friend suggested Fantastic Mr Fox and so Reynard began to take shape. He started out as a rod puppet drawing..
Which then began to take shape as a felted form. Step by step the head took on a personality.
This stage takes a lot of work, repeated stabbing with the barbed needle to sculpt and add each layer and colour to get the required finish.
Once the face was right and the eyes had given the overall character to the piece he needed to be extended. Now the body had to be made, mostly in sections.
The way the body hangs is very hard to get right. I did a lot or reading in Currell’s book on Marionettes and Jurgens book on rod puppets. Not to mention long trawls through the internet.
Felt is not that heavy and it was quite hard to get the weighting of the legs and arms sorted out so they had a natural look.
Finally he had the right balance. The next step was to cloth him and then get him ready to string.
Before finally trying him out for the first time: