The Life of a Puppet

Right now, in the basement of the library, in the puppet workshop, a story is being brought to life. It is the story of Lorraine: the Girl Who Sang the Storm Away. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at this brand new show by Wishing Chair Productions in collaboration with Old Crow Medicine Show front man Ketch Secor.

This is Lorraine as she appears in the book by Ketch Secor and lovingly rendered by award-winning illustrator Higgins Bond. 

It is the work of in-house artist Morgan to translate that vision into a puppet design. The process begins on paper, where she draws lots of illustrations and plans.

sketch of Lorraine marionette

Mary Mary sculpts Lorraine's head out of clay, and makes a mold by submerging the head in custom-built containers—made from LEGO bricks—filled with silicon solution.

heads for Lorraine marionette

After the negative mold is made, the artists use a product called "Sculpwood" to press into the molds. This allows the troop to create two identical Lorraines, so there is a version of her playing her penny whistle and a version that is not. They do the same thing for her hands and feet. When the heads come out of the mold they are ready to be painted.

Meanwhile, the bodies (torsos) are made by sewing fabric together and stuffing them, just like a stuffed animal. The arms and legs are carved out of wooden dowels and jointed with pieces of metal.

Once the body is put together it's given to our costumer, Evelyn, who uses the drawings to fashion identical yellow dresses for the puppets.  

After Lorraine is assembled and dressed, they can start stringing the puppet. Library Pete makes wooden control bars based on the same design that Tom Tichenor used. Then he drills tiny holes through the hands, knees, and elbows, and tie strings to make them move.

Now Lorraine is ready to sing and dance, and play the penny whistle. Director Brian Hull is ready to begin rehearsing with the puppets, and bring Lorraine to life.

Come see Lorraine’s debut this Friday and Saturday, October 10 and 11, at 10:30 & 11:30am, or see the full show run.

Brian Hull and Ketch Secor (who also performs the score) adapted the show from the book, Lorraine: The Girl Who Sang the Storm Away.

Stay tuned for more Wishing Chair Productions behind-the-scenes stories in future posts!


This is amazing. I just saw the opportunity to go behind the scenes and am so sorry I missed it. Love the way you shared the process with photos, though. Planning to catch the last performance. Do I need to purchase tickets?

I missed it too, but I will keep my eye out for the next performance. The behind the scenes stuff was exciting and informative!

ghall's picture

Glad you enjoyed the post! 

We are lucky to have such a talented team of puppeteers. Lorraine will continue the first two Fri-Sat in November (Nov 1-2, 8-9) at 10:30 & 11:30 AM.  There is no charge and no ticket needed; we just recommend you arrive early!  The performance will take place in the Puppet Theater located in the Children's Department of the Main Library.  

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