Jabberwock Puppet

800px-JabberwockyMy First Commissioned puppet design project!

A friend from Drop of Sunshine Entertainment asked me to create a Jabberwock puppet for her steampunk themed production of Alice in Wonderland/Through the looking Glass. I’d only made one other puppet in my life, and it was a hand puppet.  This one needed to be larger and operated by pull-strings. Additionally, I hadn’t read the poem of the Jabberwocky for years and years. So, after I agreed to help, my research began with locating the actual poem.

 “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

So, from these requirements, I had to answer the following questions:

The Burning Questions

Q. What does a Jabberwock look like?
A. John Tenniel had initially illustrated the character in Lewis Carroll’s book with the following look:

800px-JabberwockyHowever, I didn’t think I’d be able to accomplish the look on my meager budget of 50 dollars. I decided to focus on the descriptors given in the poem:

  • Jaws that bite
  • Claws that catch
  • Eyes of flame
  • The fact that the creature has a head, since it gets cut off.

Q. How large must this be?
A. Somewhere between the size of a dog’s and a horse’s head. (I chose 24″ long, by 5.5″ inches at the back, tapering to 3.5″ at the snout.

Q. What are the requirements/limitations?
A. Do not use the color blue, Make the head detachable so that Alice can chop it off. Make it have a steampunk feel. Must be durable enough to fall to the floor.

Q. When must it be complete?
A. In three weeks
I decided to try to mesh several different types of animals together.  I’m going for a mixture of a horse and a vulture.  I’ll add dragon-like stuff later.

Points of Visual inspiration

I remembered an origami model of a horse’s head created by origami artist Eric Joisel.

Here is the image:


Also, I was inspired by the ugliness of the California Condor

California Condor 8Both of which produced some initial sketches below






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