I recently had a chat with Zack Buchman, the creative force behind Furry Puppet Studio, and asked him some questions about his company and his puppet design process. I really respect his work and his devotion to his art. He’s also a fellow judge on this year’s Puppet Contest by Project Puppet. Here is part two of the interview:
PH: Character design is the most important element of puppet building. Take me through your design process. What are your main considerations when it comes to designing and building a puppet?
ZB: The first and most important part of my creative process is, well, doodling. I basically sit down and just draw whatever creatures come to mind. Later, when I’ve gained some distance, I look back at the pages I filled and start searching for the characters that best express the look my client is asking for.
I review and discuss with the client, and together we try to analyze what it is about that sketch that we like so much. We start the process from there; always trying to preserve the original essence of the doodle we both liked.
There are many considerations to the process of designing a puppet. You have to make it all make sense in the 3-D space, which sometimes is not a simple task. All the characters have to look good together as a cast, not individually. Another challenging task in the design process is making the character look interesting and appealing from all angles. Also, making a puppet with a strong, defined expression, yet will also allow the puppeteer to express a wide variety of feelings is not an easy feat.
PH: What materials do you prefer to work with and why?
ZB: I love working with materials I’ve never worked with before–experimenting with them, trying to find new ways to get the most out of them. We are ordering, on a regular basis, new fabrics from many different suppliers, hoping to find new jewels. New York is packed with the best supply stores in the country. Every time a new material is making its way onto the market, we’re the first to try it out.
An interesting thing we’ve found over the years is that we like our fleece to be manufactured in a certain way. We’ve found a factory overseas that was willing to work with us on creating our “dream fleece”. Today most of the fleece we’re using is being produced and manufactured specifically for us.