Is puppet building art?
I have often heard people say "Are you kidding me? For a puppet?" when they hear the answer to the classic question "How much would it cost for one of those puppets?" The reality is that a good quality puppets costs money.
I will often hear the retort "It's only fabric and foam." Yes this is true. But would you go to an art gallery look at a painting for $3000.00 and then remark "It's only paint."? Of course not. The art is not valued for the simple materials it is made from, but rather the artistic energy put in to creating it.
One of the best building companies around is a company called Puppet Heap in the United States...Hoboken, New jersey to be exact. Their puppets are nothing short of beautiful. I have started collecting puppets myself from other puppet builders that I respect and if money was no object then Puppet Heap would be on the other end of my phone taking a few orders from me. Are their puppets made from anything different than a cheap factory puppet. Maybe some higher quality materials, but more than that they are made by truly talented artists.
Puppet builder Rick Lyon has done a great job summing up the differences between a mass produced puppet and a custom designed puppet here.
What ultimately holds true for me is the simple fact that a puppet which I desire to own has all of the same elements to any piece of art that I have ever wanted. There is a connection with the piece. Some way or some how that piece speaks to me (I will stay away from some easy puns). To me puppet building is an art. A way for me to express myself on many levels. Through my puppet builder eyes I am now able to see a whole new world of puppets and can truly appreciate this ancient art form.