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Apprenticeship training course

Assistant puppet maker (level 3)

Supporting the design, manufacture and performance of puppets.

Qualification level
Equivalent to A level.
Typical duration
18 months
Apprenticeship category
Creative and design
Maximum funding
Maximum amount government will fund
for apprenticeship training.
Also known as
  • Assistant Puppet Maker
  • Puppet Maker
  • Puppet Technician
Skills an apprentice will learn
  • Build joints and mechanisms suitable for the type of puppetry and performance environment which may include leather hinge joints, wooden pin joints and plastic pipe joints
  • Demonstrate the basic mechanics of puppetry such as the relationship/separation between puppeteer and puppet, focus, reaction, use of breath and expression to give life to an inanimate object
  • Show how to hold and animate a puppet based on its type, such as rod, table top, bunraku, glove, shadow, muppet-style, large scale, and digital to ensure it is suitable for its intended purpose and environment
  • Select and use the most appropriate materials for construction such as paper, wood, papier mache, foam, wire, metal, rubber, acrylic and/or soft materials for the puppet’s desired use, weight, balance and desired longevity
  • Undertake construction methods such as carving, foam patterning, mould casting, soft sculpture, seam-stressing, metalwork, assemblage, large scale construction, animatronics, paints and finishes, suitable to the type of puppetry.
  • Apply relevant mechanics such as push pull cable and rod mechanisms, basic digital robotics, hydraulics, suitable to the type of puppetry
  • Use and maintain hand and machine tools appropriate to the type of puppet making, which may include pillar drills, hand drills, belt sanders, bandsaws, glue and air heat tools, hammers, pliers, grips and vices, knives and scalpels, files and abrasives, spanners, chisels, sewing machines
  • Make costumes for puppets using appropriate methods that allow for necessary movement and withstand the frequency and environments within which the puppets are used, which may include costumes in fabric, plastic or hand painted attire directly applied to the puppet
  • Modify a puppet's build to respond to design and/or environmental changes, such as changes in weather conditions, indoor lighting and heat, or a puppeteer’s size, using tools and materials that are appropriate to the type of puppetry
  • Work to agreed briefs and/or designs by creating accurate technical drawings of puppets using graphic illustration techniques that are to scale, which may include the use of CAD design software such a Rhino of Fusion 360
  • Build appropriate maquette and/or prototypes in line with the agreed project timeline to assess the puppet’s suitability for the intended performance/environment
  • Select and use the most appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Comply with Health and safety regulations including IOSH and COSHH
  • Apply relevant H&S considerations to a puppet’s build to prevent injury and aid safe, comfortable and efficient manipulation of the puppet by the puppeteer
  • Select and use necessary building and finishing techniques and materials to ensure the puppet’s appropriate resistance to damage caused by different conditions such as weather, heat and light, performance wear and tear, audience interaction and pest corrosion
  • Build basic storage cases using materials such as wood, plastic or metal, to aid puppet preservation before, during and after performances to reduce damage/corrosion, including during transit.
  • Confidently work alongside and support others as part of a project or permanent team to ensure the successful completion of a brief
  • Clearly present ideas and methods to aid the design and construction of puppets
  • Stay focused on the task at hand to fulfil tasks within agreed timeframes
  • Organise workload effectively to ensure time is used wisely and tasks are completed in agreed priority order

Full information on Assistant puppet maker (level 3) is available from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

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