3-day workshop: An introduction

3-day workshop: An introduction to carving a puppet from wood.

27, 28, 29 July 2023. Devon, England.
Tutor: John Roberts.

This 3-day workshop is an introduction to materials, tools and techniques used to carve a wooden puppet. It is a hands-on course, so you will be working from the start with sharp carving chisels and fine wood.
3 days is not enough time to make a completed carved puppet – unless you are a VERY fast worker or make a simplified puppet (maybe with a skirt and no legs)… or you may choose to start on a fully articulated puppet to finish at home.

I will guide students through some key aspects:
Design of a puppet; Safe handling of tools; How to carve wood; Keeping chisels super sharp; Jointing techniques that produce a puppet that really works!
By keeping the number of students down to only 4, each person’s level of skill, aim and speed-of-work can be catered for.
Aspects that will not be covered include painting, costuming or operating your puppet. Many aspects will be covered in a simplified method, for example design, jointing and carving.
If you want to make a completed puppet, think about booking on an extra week. There is a £50 reduction in the fee for a second week.

John Roberts

John Roberts is renowned as a skilled maker of finely crafted puppets, with a particular interest in marionettes. For ten years he was a director at the famous Little Angel Puppet Theatre in London, touring around the world performing at festivals and seeing the best contemporary and traditional puppetry. 
In 1986 he became the first non-Chinese person to train in making and performing in China at the amazing Quanzhou Puppet Theatre.He is director/founder of Devon-based puppet troupe PuppetCraft.
For over 30 years John has taught puppet carving to adults.
Past students say: “An inspirational teacher… Most enjoyable…Excellent course…This man knows his onions…”

  • The workshop is in a shed built under a large oak tree… which has survived gale-force winds!
  • The shed is set up to provide a simple but comfortable work space with lots of light, good tools and fantastic carving chisels.
  • A band-saw is in a nearby garage – which reduces noise and dust in the workshop.
  • There is a small covered outside area to sit or work in, and a garden where you can relax… if you have time!
  • A small fridge is available for your use.
  • Tea/coffee making, toilet and basin is a very short walk away in my house.
  • Parking is nearby.

For adults: not for anyone under 18 years old.

Please bring:
Closed shoes or boots… as there is a lot of standing while carving and your feet need protection from falling chisels.
Rain-gear… as it is a short walk to the loo.
Something to eat for lunch… as we will only have a short lunch break.

All tools, wood and other odds and ends will be supplied.
Some specialist tools will be available for sale at the end of the week.
Tea and coffee will be provided.

Timetable:  Each day 9.30am to 5.30pm.

In my new workshop shed at my home: 1 Venton Oak Cottages, Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6DW.

By car, or by train to Totnes which is on the main line train from London (3 hours). A taxi from Totnes station costs about £15. Book your taxi in advance!

Accommodation is available at many B+B’s. Typically a single costs from £40 to £70 per night.Do sort your accommodation as soon as you can.I have a list of places past students have stayed at. Let me know if you want this list. Camping and Caravan: Please contact me for details.
Visit Totnes website has some accommodation listed.
If you do not have your own transport, book accommodation that is in/near Dartington or Rattery, or on the bus route between Totnes and Dartington on route to Plymouth (GOLD bus).

Food (not included): There are pubs and shops within 10 minutes by car.

Sightseeing and entertainment: You will be 15 minutes’ drive from Dartmoor, 45 minutes from beaches, 10 minutes from an excellent cinema on the Dartington Hall Estate, where there is also the wonderful “Summer School & Festival” of music.

Course fees £300.
£80 deposit is required: details be given when you book.
This includes all materials and use of tools. Accommodation and food is not included.
Extra week: If you book this workshop with any other week there is a £50 reduction in the fee for one of the weeks.

Cancellation: The course may be cancelled due to not enough students booking or unforeseen events….illness of tutor etc. – then naturally your payment, including deposit will be fully refunded.

To book
Email or phone to let me know you want to come on the course and I will send you a booking form.

Best wishes and I hope you can make it to a course.  

John Roberts
PuppetCraft and Yellow Van, 1 Venton Oak Cottages, Dartington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 6DW. Great Britain.
Tel: 01803-867778 Email: john@puppetcraft.co.uk
Mobile: 07973 442253 international phoning: + 44 1803 867778

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