James Wojtal is a talented puppet designer and builder. During his career he has worked on projects like Avenue Q, Bear in the Big Blue House, Crank Yankers, Saturday Night Live, Sesame Street (the American and various internationl versions), Mop-a-Top's Shop, Kermit's Swamp Years, Animal Jam, and more. In this interview I asked him to share his thoughts about puppet building.
SJ: As a builder, what do you think are the hallmarks of well-constructed puppet?
JW: That's a tough one, since I guess it is a bit subjective. Personally, it all starts with a good design. From their it's a matter of creating something that is flexible, durable, lightweight, and yet sturdy. I have done a lot of theater now so when something is going to be used over and over its very important to sweat those small details - building in supports to prevent your puppet from collapsing, and making it easy to get on and off. On TV you have a little more leeway, since often times you are building a one off, or a background puppet that may or may not ever be seen again - then you can sort of cut corners, but not really. You never know when that background puppet will be a breakout star, and you have to rebuild him or fix him.