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A will o' wisp who leads the lost through the dark of the wood, Ami is a functioning marionette which combines soft and hard materials

Auditioning the Actor

'Wisp' refers to a stick used to make a torch, giving rise to the name of the mythical creature will o' wisp. While traditionally trickster spirits of European folklore that lead travelers to get lost, flipping this story on its head turns it into a guiding light in the dark. This friendly companion lends itself to a marionette show for kids, and lead to the name Ami, which means 'friend' in French. Leaning on the torch concept also lends itself to a blending of hard and soft materials: wooden interior (clay) and flame exterior (fabric)

Taking Measurements

Pattern forms were drafted out of clay and wrapped in masking tape which was sliced up into pieces to lay flat. These pieces were traced and trued into pattern pieces. First form was remodeled to achieve desired shape

Original pattern form took a literal approach to the flame appearance, but this lead to lots of small pieces and seams which would obscure the interior body. Next draft reduces flames to the hands and feet, and widens the torso to fit the interior body


Rehearsing the Lines


First pattern draft is overcomplicated, but sheer golden fabric does give a warm flame feel and leave interior body visible

To simplify the pattern and decrease seams, body flames were removed, darts were added, and number of overall pieces were decreased


First prototype of interior body tests out joints, controllers, and size. Strings are attached at top of head which is the heaviest piece, and at the limbs which are sturdier than the hands and feet

Odd shape of feet pattern pieces caused the fabric to bunch up, so it was reworked from the pattern form to preserve the flame shape


One of the pair of eye rings at each joint was sunken into the clay to decrease distance between limbs and limit movement. Final prototype was painted to look like wood

After interior body is finalized it's clear, there isn't enough length in the fabric limbs to fit it inside. Length is added along with small indent to arm and leg pattern to curve along joint bending


Fairy lights are wrapped around interior body to mimic flames, strings and controls are added

Lights, Curtains, Action!

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