Dear Readers, Customers
and all Lovers of marionettes!
We have decided to brighten our website with a series of interviews from our producers of marionettes.
We would like to introduce our first creative author Xenia Axamitova, who has been producing marionettes for over 20 years. She has been selling them through our website since it was established.
Her marionettes are quite big, 17-30 inches, and they aren´t assigned for theatre playing. Instead, the marionettes can be used as decorations for your home. Axamitova is well-known for her precision and attention to detail. She is dedicated to creating rich and varied ranges of clothes and accessories.
The basis of her puppets are always carved from limewood. Afterwards, the head and hands are made into plaster forms, then cast out. The marionettes are then dressed up in richly garnished clothes.
Can you describe how you began this work? What led you to creating puppets?
I have always had a special interest in handcrafts, especially sewing clothes. When I was ten I sewed dresses for my dolls and when I was twelve I started sewing dresses for myself. I wanted to be different and dress different, but at that time it was impossible because I was in socialist Czech Republic. So, naturally, after high school I applied to University to study scenography, how ever I wasn´t accepted.
Eventually, I got a job offer at the Jiří Trnka animated film studio at Barrandov in Prague. I worked there as an assistant and my duties included everything from drawing, producing puppets to creating scenery.
When was the precise moment you realized: Yes! Producing marionettes is what I want to do!
The first time I realized producing puppets was what I wanted to do, happened when I created my first one. In the Barrandov studio we had more forms for casting out so I borrowed one of the Sleeping Beauty doll which was made by a Japanese producer and I cast it out I really enjoyed that, so I think that was that moment.
Moreover, I like my job because it is a combination of all the activities that I love. I can model, I can paint , I can decorate and mainly I can sew. Everythig that I love. At Barrandow studios I worked for three years until the Velvet Revolution occured. This meant I was not eligable to get a diploma for the work I wanted to do. I left the studio and started to work as a freelancer.
“I have always had a special
interest in handcrafts, especialy sewing clothes. When I was ten I sewed dresses for my dolls and when I was twelve I started sewing dresses for myself “
Do you create marionettes for theatre? Is it possible to play with on a professional level? Or are they created mainly for decoration?
Certainly, I produce marionettes for theatre as well. Production of these marionettes is different, they should be lighter and generally have an original theater design. This kind of production is the most enjoyable, especially when the clients let me use my imagination.
Recently, I made a series of marionettes, including a beggar,a nun and a shoemaker for an American theatre. It was really wonderful.
That means, you make just one plaster form, which you never use again?
Exactly. I respect the rights of clients. Marionettes should all be original pieces of art, never use the same form again.
Do you go to the theatres where the performance is played with your marionettes?
Do you enjoy the performance in terms of the artistic experience?
I sometimes go to the theatre to watch the plays, but I feel a lot of responsibility for my work. If the marionette is well made, if it is easily manipulated, and if it fulfills all the criteria of a proffesional marionette, then I feel satisfied.
“I enjoy my job a lot. I enjoy the entire process of creating, from modelling, to making the forms, to painting the marionettes and even dressing them up”
And what about the marionettes, that are for sale in our e-shop?
It is possible to play with them, but they are not strictly created for the theater. They are heavy and big, so it is nice to have them as a decoration or for playing occasionally at home with the children.
Do you make everything on your own or do you have some help?
Currently, despite doing almost all the work on my own, I have two helpers. An old lady helps me with sewing clothes according to my concept, and a young boy casts the puppets out from my forms.
In the past, because I had three small children I could not pay attention to my creative work. Therefore, I was employing eight or nine people to assist me. In the end, they did most of my job and it was not good. These marionettes were all almost the same, the design did not vary. Now, having more time, I try to make original puppets, in various clothes and I enjoy my job a lot. I enjoy the entire process of creating, from modelling, to making the forms, to painting the marionettes and even dressing them up.
What relationship do your children have with your marionettes? Have they played with them?
For my children marionettes have been very common things. They did not understand them as toys and did not want to play with them. They knew that they were goods and that their mum was producing them.
Finally, where does your inspiration come from? Do you have any competition?
Inspiration comes from streets, from books, and from movies...I'm always looking around for more forms of inspiration.
I know my competition in Prague, I have my favourites but I never copy them. I think there is no reason for it, people want to have unique products. I think diversity is beautiful.
Thank you very much for the lovely inspiring interview. I wish you all the best in your future.
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