Sylwia Nowak

Etsy Shop: The Puppetmaker on Etsy

I was born in 1971 in Łódź. I attended an art profile high school, graduating in Textiles and subsequently gained a Master's Degree in Animation at the Polish National Film School.

Since 1998, I have worked the many artistic techniques that come together to form an animated film. My specialty are props and puppets for stop-motion animation.

In this capacity, I have worked on several dozen animated film and theatre productions. In my career I have had the opportunity to direct several episodes of a cartoon for children, to animate on a stop-motion and 2-D film, to create sets, models, props and eyeballs, but most importantly, whole puppets, building their bodies, sewing their clothes and finishing their hair and make-up.

I have worked with the Se-ma-for and Breakthru film studios, advertising studio 102, the Arlekin, Pinokio, Wrocław and Olsztyn puppet theatres and with several advertising agencies.

It is difficult to describe the range of my work on puppets with a single word. In general, one may call it 'finishing' the puppet, which can mean anything from building the body, to painting the skin or applying a fur coat, setting eyes and making the puppet ready for use on set.

Most often, I am given a naked, jointed skeleton, a silicon cast of the head and hands. The rest is up to me. Sometimes, however, the body has already been formed, and then my task is reduced to creating the outer coating and clothing according to design.

So, I sew costumes, shoes, I paint skin, I sew wigs, mustaches, beards, I make eyeballs and small props. In the case of animal puppets, I apply layers of fur and feathers, and attach the claws.

The work is rewarding, but very difficult, as the final piece must be meticulous in order to present itself well on camera. On the one hand, the puppet must be made according to the design and feel of the film, in a corresponding scale, on the other, whether it be clothed or furry, the character must lend itself to the stop-motion process. The puppet has to be strong enough to withstand the animator's constant touch. Combining these requirements can be a veritable challenge.