My Story / I love puppets

My puppetry career began when I was five years old, and my father took me and my sister to a traditional Czech arts and crafts shop. There, I discovered a whole new world: marionettes. I immediately gravitated towards a witch puppet, while my sister chose a skeleton.

Many years later, when I was around 18, I had the opportunity to work at the Jiří Trnka animation department of Barrandov Studios in Prague. Barrandov Studios, founded in 1931, is the largest film studio in the country and one of the largest in Europe. It has been the production site for several major Hollywood films, including Mission Impossible, The Bourne Identity, and many others.

One day, my influential colleague and friend, Karolína, suggested, “Let’s try making our own marionette.” This moment changed my destiny, and my life was forever transformed. Initially, I started by crafting puppets from clay, creating one-of-a-kind originals. Later, I began making original puppets and casting multiple copies in plaster. In the next stage of my journey, I learned the art of carving puppets from wood, becoming a skilled carver. However, another challenge awaited me: mastering marionette engineering, a somewhat mysterious field. I had to understand the puppet’s anatomy, consider the proportions and weights of all its components, and choose the optimal joint technology to maintain the marionette’s perfect balance. A professional marionette naturally maintains its default balance, allowing the puppeteer to control it with minimal effort and without struggling, which is a unique feature that most marionettes on the market lack.

As my skills grew, more interesting assignment offers began to arrive. The first one to contact me was Rose, a lovely lady from Indiana, USA. Her enchanting plays took place on the stage of a little puppet theatre in a local church. We synched up immediately, so Rose offered me a lot of creative freedom in how to interpret her quirky requests.

This and similar other projects open up a flood of custom orders.The marionettes based on real people were the next chapter. This is when NRK, Norwegian Broadcasting, approached me with quite a challenge. Would I be able to make a marionette of Usaim Bolt and Ole Einar Bjørndalen? Both actors starred in their televised broadcasts. That meant— my little Usaim on strings, acting side by side the real Bolt.

And then came the real challenges. The first was cooperation with Barae TV in Qatar. The team; eight of us in total, worked long hours; sleeping only a few hours a day. In a month and a half, according to schedule—at a really deadly pace, we designed, carved and dressed 29 puppets. I was present at the filming and prepared puppets for individual scenes. The following season I had to fly to Qatar again. I was the only one team member who was able to do the proper maintenance and puppet preparation for the filming. That same year we made marionettes and 2D puppets for the musical Robin de Bois in Paris. The story of not sleeping and hours spent on work was repeated. Again, everything was done on time. The next year I was in Egypt, where I played with marionettes that I made for a film.

Sometimes, the work is demanding, sometimes exhausting...but always fun. Puppet and marionette creation makes me happy; it amuses and fulfills me. If I could travel together along with my puppets, I would fly across all the continents and see the whole world, from Alaska to New Zealand.

Following this, I faced the ultimate series of tests. The first challenge was a collaboration with Barae TV in Qatar, where our team of eight worked tirelessly, sleeping only a few hours a day. In a month and a half, we carved and painted 29 puppets according to a tight schedule. I was on set during filming, preparing puppets for individual scenes. In the following season, I had to return to Qatar because I was the only team member capable of properly maintaining and preparing the puppets for filming.

That same year, we created marionettes and 2D puppets for the musical “Robin de Bois” in Paris.
The story repeated itself—long hours and little sleep, but everything was completed on time.
The next year, I found myself in Egypt, where I manipulated marionettes that I had created for a film.
Sometimes the work is demanding, occasionally exhausting, but it's always fun. The art of puppet and marionette creation brings me joy, amuses me, and fulfills me.
If I could travel the world with my puppets, I would explore every continent from Alaska to New Zealand.