14 July, 2020: “Mermaid Marionettes” with Stan Middleton

14 July, 2020: “Mermaid Marionettes” with Stan Middleton

This weeks sessions was a making workshop with Stan Middleton, of the Puppet Barge. Stan invited us to make a mermaid puppet out of potatoes and other household materials, that we could then go on to use for marionette practice.

Ingredients List:

  • Two potatoes (medium potatoes are recommended – a new potato is too small however a baked potato is a bit too big!)
  • Two chopsticks (or pencils or garden sticks, or dowl)
  • A large sock or pair of tights (which you are willing to destroy)
  • String (thin string is recommended – sewing thread is a bit too thin)
  • A large long needle or piece of wire or metal BBQ skewers for piercing the potatoes.
  • Two beads which your chosen string can thread through.
  • Bit of tape (gaffa is best but sellotape will do)
  • Added extras (optional) – googly eyes , some wool for hair, a little hat… these can also be added afterwards.

Stan talked us through the stringing, weighting and balance needed in order to create one of these fellows:


He led a step-by-step workshop, teaching the various stages of dressing the potatoes, using a handy sock, and then stringing the puppet to a simple control mechanism using two skewers. He also demonstrated his technique for building a puppet wig, by knotting lengths of wool to a central strand, after attaching one end to a weighted object (in this case, a spare potato!)



And here were the results! An array of different potato-mermaid characters, all very capable of flopping around on land, or swimming with surprising elegance in imaginary water. Stan did remind us that potato puppets don’t last for long periods…so for brief spells of marionette practice only…unless you don’t mind the stench of rotten potatoes!


Our ‘Still Curious’ Tuesday sessions are enabled thanks to the generous support of Arts Council England.