The Squeaking Tribe

Mephistopheles – Large Marionette


Mephistopheles – (or Mephisto for short) is a demon featured in German folklore, originally appearing in literature as the demon from the Faust legend. In the legend, Faust makes a deal with the devil for eternal life and other powers though at the price of his soul and Mephistopheles is employed as the devil’s agent in striking the bargain. Since then, he has become quite a traditional character in his own right and has become a familiar stock character appearing in other works of arts and stories from popular culture.

Personally, I find him to be a far more likeable sort than the raging beasts of Hell and depictions of the Devil made manifest. Indeed, the Devil himself is a classic proponent in the history of puppetry, especially in the world-famous renditions of Punch and Judy whose stories almost implicitly represent most people’s thoughts regarding the traditional ‘booth show’. But I like to think of Mephisto as a somewhat sophisticated antagonist, one with a worldly style all of his own, which is why I return to him as a suave character, a smoky lounge-singing cabaret type with one hoof in the Inferno.

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Large-scale Artworks

Fully articulated marionettes and interactive Art!

When I first began making marionette puppets back in 1996 (22 years young), I was living with a potter and a drum-maker in the foothills of Adelaide, South Australia. With access to a whole range of clays, I found myself one day sculpting a hollow head and face. “If I added clay hands and feet,” I thought to myself, “I’d have the basic counter balances for a puppet!” Which prompted two simple questions: a) Of what little marionettes I’d seen, why did so many of them look so cheap and crappy, and b) Why did none of them work!?

My challenge clearly was to make a good looking puppet that would actually perform. As the Internet was yet to become a household fixture and Google not yet a technocrat’s pipedream, I resorted to local libraries whose resources on the subject was terribly lacking. Luckily, the process for making a marionette was a time consuming one with many separate factors; hand sculpting with clay which needed days (sometimes weeks) to dry before firing, sewing and soft-sculpture creation of the ‘skeleton’, costuming and assembling of the basic character, construction of an appropriate crosspiece before stringing and detailing the final finished piece. In all, a process that required a 3-6 weeks work, an opportunity of course which allowed a LOT of extra time for dreaming up new puppet characters to make!

Every marionette I made, I was learning and discovering new ways to make them quicker and more effective and with every idea that ensued, I was having more and more ideas of other puppets I could make. The avalanche of ideas which consumed me in that first year alone could keep me busy crafting for a decade at least; having kept that passion alive for over twenty-five years, I easily have enough ideas to fill multiple lifetimes!

From these humble beginnings, I have since developed a whole range of different interactive effigies which borrow from the traditional methods of Puppetmaking while at the same time improve on ideas of articulation to create marionettes which everyone can use and indeed, with a little practice, manipulate like a professional. Sharing this with others and inspiring a new generation of artists and puppeteers to reignite the tradition is probably the greatest joy in this life I have made and now share with my wife, Sara.


Doll-form/ full marionette height approximately 53/94cm or 21/37in.


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