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: Along with the smaller Muppet style puppets, you've also built some large walk-a-round's. What are some challenges unique to big puppets, and does working on a large scale change or affect your building process?
JW: I guess the main challenge is the size. Samson from the German Sesame Street was a real bear (pun intended) to work on.
As far as process goes it's pretty much the same, except you are now working as part of a large team. The body, hands, and feet are normally handled by the costuming department, and your work all has to come together as a whole. There are lots of meeting and fittings to make sure that all the parts work and move just right.