Maker Spotlight: Laura Mathews And Her Dragon Puppets

Maker News
Maker Spotlight: Laura Mathews And Her Dragon Puppets

Name

Laura Mathews

Where are you located?

Nottingham, United Kingdom

What is your day job?

Artist, Sculptor and puppet maker, I also work 2 days a week at Nottingham Trent University as a lecturer and technician in the School of Art.

Do you attend a makerspace/fablab/hackerspace?

I am a member of the Nottingham Hackspace and got started in laser cutting doing decorative arts at Nottingham Trent University and later at the London Hackspace

TikTok | Website | Instagram | Patreon | Ko-Fi

What kinds of stuff do you make?

I make articulated animal sculptures and puppets. My work focuses on biomimicry and creating truly convincing impressions of life. I spend a huge amount of time designing each creature, studying the skeleton and muscular structures in depth.

How did you get started making stuff?

My first memory of wanting to make something was my toy horses as a kid, they were never articulated realistically, the legs didn’t have good movement, they didn’t have the right joints in them and it was really frustrating because I wanted to make them jump or gallop or move their head up or down and I actually have drawings from when I was young of this articulated horse, then I realised I could do that, I could make that on the laser cutter. I was always intrigued by biological mechanics- I remember my Mum having to repeatedly hide the dead blackbird I’d found in the garden because I kept finding and examining it, opening and closing the wings and marvelling at their beauty and precision. We also raised a tiny pink baby sparrow, which had fallen from its nest, into a fully-fledged adult. Watching the pin feathers slowly un-peel into a perfect flying machine was incredible, and hugely influential on my work.

What is something that you’ve made that you’re really proud of?

My latest work has been the culmination of a project I started in the first lockdowns during COVID in 2020, a family of magpies came to my window for food and I loved their personality and character. It has resulted in the Phoenix, which is my biggest and most complex puppet to date.

What is next on your project list?

I want to make a Unicorn, to continue my work on mythical animals, but also to explore accuracy in quadrupedal puppets, I want full control over all 4 legs independently as most commonly you see horses with 2×2 control on legs which isn’t able to accurately represent the true movement of a horse…

what is something you’d like to work with but you haven’t yet?

I’m thinking about a frog puppet, as well as the amazing legs, I will explore using a mechanically controlled sound by including a frog sound toy, a sort of ridged percussion instrument that would be activated by leavers and not by electronics. The movement and sound is translated from my own movements, from my muscles, controlled directly by my brain, that movement gives the personality to the creature rather than using an electrical signal or servos. People often ask me at Maker Faires “when are you going to make that into a robot?” Whilst I love robots, I also love the life I can put into a puppet through my own muscles. It allows me to become the creature and fly through the crowd or cause mischief when I am controlling my raptor puppet!

Any advice for people reading this?

Getting started making isn’t as hard as it might seem when you watch elaborate makes on YouTube and TikTok. Cardboard is easy to work with and plentiful and you can make almost anything you can imagine out of cardboard to get started layering shapes or making surfaces, curves and plains. You can make anything from puppets to armour to prop spaceship control rooms!

Are you going to show off at a maker faire in the near future? If so, which one?

We are hoping to go to Maker Faire Rome (the European Edition), I’d love to go to Nantes as I am a huge admirer of Les Machines de l’ile and I am hoping to get to Maker Faire in Prague as it a city that is well known for its puppets.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!
Tagged

I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at CalebKraft.com

View more articles by Caleb Kraft

ADVERTISEMENT

Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.

FEEDBACK