Tiny Souls on Silken Strings: Handsome Devils Puppets
A tug of thread. A twist on the wind. The blink of a small, sightless eye that perceives all.
Hannah of Handsome Devils Puppets creates “strange petal-like people in moth-fragile moments” – curious creatures that come to life with the twitch of a string.
Featured previously on Dear Darkling’s Ultimate Gift Guide, Handsome Devils Puppets are deeply personal and highly sought-after. Some are inspired by films, books and individuals, whilst others are more whimsical and bestial creations.
When asked the question: “Why puppets?” Hannah writes,
Puppets are infinite. If you know love, they do. If you know sadness, they do. If you breathe, they do. You give them steps and they make them strange. They are sometimes silly, sometimes serious, always honest little vessels. I started making puppets when I felt I didn’t have a voice. I sculpted powerful, magical creatures to dance and sing and cry and give me that voice. When I feared death, they showed me it could be beautiful. When I feared life, they showed me it could be weird and wonderful.
Each puppet is hand-sculpted from polymer clay using a needle, an ink pen, and Hannah’s own nails, with reference photos for guidance. They are then handpainted and dressed in handmade garments. The process is filled with care and devotion: Hannah cradles each puppet and listens to its wants and needs. The creation and delivery of a puppet creates a tangible connection between Hannah and her clients – a marionette thread bonding the two together.
Handsome Devils Puppets are not static beings. They move and entrance, telling stories and capturing the imagination. Into Glow Out of Gloom was performed during the summer of 2017 at The Vacvvm in Minneapolis and at Black Veil Tattoo in Salem, showcasing not only the puppets, but also Hannah’s skill as a puppeteer and storyteller.
One of the stars of Handsome Devil Puppets’ Instagram is Pips the deer. Pips frolics and slowly blinks her eyes at the camera, full of life and wonder. Hannah documented the long process of construction with fascinating images and videos of the internal mechanics of this large puppet for her followers. Seeing unfinished puppets going through their creation process is a delight, and a testament to Hannah’s talent, perseverance and love for her Handsome Devils.
Whilst most of the puppets are commissioned, with likenesses being made strictly once, there are occasionally collections of pre-made puppets. The current collection, Ab Imo Pectore, features angelic babes in coffins and conjoined and cycloptic lambs. There are still a few remaining pieces available, for anyone who is fascinated with Victorian mourning practices or who simply feels a pull towards these ethereal beings.
The Handsome Devils Puppets are not just beautiful decorations for your crypt. They are alive and waiting for you to love them.
For more information, or to commission your own puppet, visit the Handsome Devils Puppets site.
Featured image by handsomedevilspuppets