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Process: Marionettes With Geahk Burchill

Jan 25, 2011

by objecked

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(Music by Eric Beug, Animation by Julia Pott)

While stringed puppetry dates back as far as 2000 BC, the term marionette was coined roughly around 1600 AD and means “Little Mary.” Gaining popularity during Roman times, the Christian church eventually adopted puppet shows as a way to covey morality plays. Eventually, puppet shows were banned from the church as performers started using comedy to influence the stories and subvert both church and state. Over time, the great traditions of trickery and magic have subsided to the more commonly known Punch and Judy style, usually geared toward entertaining children.

The Cast Iron Carousel Marionette Troupe explores the old tradition of telling darker and more beautiful stories, often unsuitable for children. A recent retelling of Steinbeck’s classic Of Mice and Men is a good example of the more subtle and complex appropriation of their work. Although the Cast Iron’s Carousel’s founder, Geahk Burchill, considers himself more of a maker than a puppeteer, he is very passionate about storytelling, shown in the attention to detail he gives to each puppet and set he designs. He’s also passionate about keeping the tradition of puppet design alive by avidly teaching affordable puppet design classes  at his studio in the St. John’s neighborhood of North Portland.

In this episode of the Process video series, Geahk demonstrates his incredible skill with the first incarnation of the character Asenath, an Appalachian witch who’s set to play a role in their upcoming play The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak. 

Summoned from his cloistered Massachusetts university to rural Appalachia by a cousin he has not seen in years, Ezekiel Whitlock finds himself embroiled in a the strange and dangerous doings of a mystical family torn apart by an ancient and terrible secret. Blood Keys, a Haunted Book, an Ethereal Sword and a beautiful mute girl all seek to entangle him in an eons old struggle between the Thursbanes and what lays in wait on the ‘Other Side’… The Doom that came to Fiddle Creak!

To give a glimpse of the breadth of work and projects of the Cast Iron Carousel, here’s a short musical story they did with Portland area band Ocelli.

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137 comments

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    TwinkleStarCrafts said 10 years ago

    That was amazing!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 10 years ago

    Wow...so cool!!!

  • auntjanecan

    auntjanecan said 10 years ago

    Very cool and interesting.

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 10 years ago

    Honestly, marionettes have always creeped me out a little. That said, this lovely video has allowed me to see the craftsmanship behind the dolls. Not so creepy anymore!

  • NotYourGrandmasAttic

    NotYourGrandmasAttic said 10 years ago

    Very cool! So creative and interesting.

  • Waterrose

    Waterrose said 10 years ago

    oh these are just cool! thanks for sharing

  • skinslover

    skinslover said 10 years ago

    beautifully twisted

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 10 years ago

    Very interesting process and working with marionettes seems like so much fun!

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds said 10 years ago

    UTTERLY AMAZING...such artistry...I am in awe!

  • corderart

    corderart said 10 years ago

    What an artistan! I hope you can visit the Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts. They have some very old puppes on display there. Some were used to entertain the troops during WWII. One is of Joe E. Brown that was used in USO shows. Thanks for sharing your exquisite talent

  • Mattie714

    Mattie714 said 10 years ago

    This was absolutely amazing and breath taking. This is probably my favorite "spotlight" segment that has been done. Thank you so much for sharing...

  • corderart

    corderart said 10 years ago

    that's "puppets not "puppes". I wasn't referring to little dogs!

  • ThePolkadotMagpie

    ThePolkadotMagpie said 10 years ago

    In my next life I'm going to make puppets! What a beautiful glimpse into this process. If any other people love marionettes: watch the movie "Illuminata." This piece makes the top 10 blogs to date. I have put Geah's work in many a treasury. I'm going to make one now!

  • BeatificBijoux

    BeatificBijoux said 10 years ago

    Oh, absolutely so cool! Thanks for sharing this!!

  • AmberGypsySky

    AmberGypsySky said 10 years ago

    This makes me miss shop class! Fantastic work! What skill this must take

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 10 years ago

    Breathtaking! True art. Thank you for this introduction.

  • SeptemberHouse

    SeptemberHouse said 10 years ago

    So inspiring - thank you for shedding more light on this artform!

  • maybudha

    maybudha said 10 years ago

    what amazing talent and creativity and craftsmanship!!

  • catchalljewelry

    catchalljewelry said 10 years ago

    Now this is awesome! I never realized how life-like marionettes could be... simply amazing

  • myzoetrope

    myzoetrope said 10 years ago

    This blew my mind! Such a great behind-the-scenes.

  • macraMe

    macraMe said 10 years ago

    Great work!!! Congratulations!!

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 10 years ago

    beautiful!

  • dimplesdragonflies

    dimplesdragonflies said 10 years ago

    Extraordinary! I couldn't take my eyes off your process! Incredible!

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 10 years ago

    Awesome post! So creative and talented!

  • seacucumbermama

    seacucumbermama said 10 years ago

    Very, very interesting video. The artist is amazing.

  • Asianexpressions

    Asianexpressions said 10 years ago

    Amazing!

  • JudiPaintedit

    JudiPaintedit said 10 years ago

    Morbid and creepy to me, but in a very cool way!

  • thepapermoonstudio

    thepapermoonstudio said 10 years ago

    Great..thanks for posting!

  • SpinningCastle

    SpinningCastle said 10 years ago

    I am so proud of Geahk!!! Geahk is my friend and we worked together for many years. It is so wonderful to see him flourishing with his marionettes here on Etsy. He is an amazing artist, truly talented and I am just so happy that more people can see his artwork and craft! I can attest that he puts his heart and soul into his puppets, they are indeed, masterpieces in miniature. Congratulations, Geahk! <3 <3 <3 ~~Susan

  • ikabags

    ikabags said 10 years ago

    Amazing work with big love ! Beautiful , congratulations !

  • lindapaloma

    lindapaloma said 10 years ago

    Magical, amazing, mesmerizing. I'm reduced to speechless, starry-eyed wonder.

  • GeahkBurchill

    GeahkBurchill said 10 years ago

    Ironically, my internet is acting up and I can't watch the video. Thanks Susan and everyone else for your incredibly kind words. I am honored and a-glow! I just wish I could see what everyone else could!

  • GeahkBurchill

    GeahkBurchill said 10 years ago

    Ironically, my internet is acting up and I can't watch the video. Thanks Susan and everyone else for your incredibly kind words. I am honored and a-glow! I just wish I could see what everyone else could!

  • lovinganvil

    lovinganvil said 10 years ago

    so wonderful...

  • blueroompottery

    blueroompottery said 10 years ago

    Wow, so talented!!! I grew up watching shadow theater in Greece, and I can see what a pro you are!! All the best!!

  • CoolStuffByDesign

    CoolStuffByDesign said 10 years ago

    Very cool puppets!

  • DarwinsDress

    DarwinsDress said 10 years ago

    WOW!!! The puppets are so amazing!! I loved to see the witch come alive thru your ART! Thank you for sharing your incredible craft!

  • OliveLongstocking

    OliveLongstocking said 10 years ago

    Artistry at its absolute best !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire said 10 years ago

    Geahk, I loved watching you work: draw, carve, sand and paint the puppets! I'm impressed that you haven't held any antique puppets and just came up with designs yourself. Wonderful, thanks so much for sharing with us! ~Jennifer Potter

  • littleprintsdiaperco

    littleprintsdiaperco said 10 years ago

    Stunning! I have so enjoyed watching you dream this masterpiece & bring her to life. What a treat!

  • lightbeams

    lightbeams said 10 years ago

    The work of two wonderful artists on display: Geahk, the supremely talented puppeteer and his amazing marionettes are the story; the equally gifted writer/videographer/musician, Eric, the storyteller. Two talents merged to create one of my favorite "Process" videos to date. Kudos to both of you!

  • ChristinaThomasArt

    ChristinaThomasArt said 10 years ago

    cool!

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 10 years ago

    Oh wow! Those are amazing!

  • shannonbatescreates

    shannonbatescreates said 10 years ago

    This is stunning. Thank you for sharing! :)

  • erichale

    erichale said 10 years ago

    Being John Malkovich! That is amazing!

  • suzanneartist

    suzanneartist said 10 years ago

    It's inspiring to know old-world art tradition lives on and people appreciate this remarkable artistry.

  • BingoBox

    BingoBox said 10 years ago

    Beautiful work - from the music, the amazing puppets and the film. Cheers !

  • Squarekitty

    Squarekitty said 10 years ago

    That is just amazing! Haunting, etheral and incredible. I love it how Geahk makes every puppet from scratch by his hand alone; inspiring stuff! An art form that must not die out. Great music, too.

  • andbytheway

    andbytheway said 10 years ago

    they are all so beautiful!

  • tfamily5

    tfamily5 said 10 years ago

    fabulously creepy!

  • jascamille

    jascamille said 10 years ago

    Puppets have always fascinated me and yours are so beautiful. I love that you are a master of each step from the sketching to the costumes.

  • konieyjaine

    konieyjaine said 10 years ago

    beautifully twisted

  • CrayonHall

    CrayonHall said 10 years ago

    wow! amazing work

  • phydeaux

    phydeaux said 10 years ago

    A beautifully filmed glimpse into such a fascinating creative process! I just loved this and am entranced by Geahk's amazing talent - every bit handcrafted! Excellente!!!

  • LalisLittleWorldOn

    LalisLittleWorldOn said 10 years ago

    It's very difficult to express all the admiration I feel toward this amazing artist...this is so incredible...all I can say is sincere thank you for sharing this with us!

  • SRPLdesign

    SRPLdesign said 10 years ago

    Great Work!I like it!

  • DIVINEsweetness

    DIVINEsweetness said 10 years ago

    goosebumps! so disturbingly beautiful...

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 10 years ago

    I always think puppetry is an amazing skill, not just in the making but also the performing. Fabulous!

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 10 years ago

    aww this made me go aww

  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt said 10 years ago

    What a treasure you are! You have! You offer! You deserve as much positive recognition possible. I shall spread the word...

  • kathyjohnson3

    kathyjohnson3 said 10 years ago

    You have so much talent, thank-you for sharing that interesting video, you truly are a master!

  • JiLLDough

    JiLLDough said 10 years ago

    Thought the puppets and the craft itself was amazing.Your very talented keep it up so it never dies.

  • opendoorstudio

    opendoorstudio said 10 years ago

    incredible workmanship! I love the old world feel! great life!

  • trinityrocks

    trinityrocks said 10 years ago

    Wicked cool!

  • PokeberryPatch

    PokeberryPatch said 10 years ago

    That is something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. Just breath taking to watch your puppet to come to life--thank you so much for sharing the video!!

  • pottersong

    pottersong said 10 years ago

    I like all things old fashioned! Puppet's can be such fun for the young and young at heart!

  • fabrye

    fabrye said 10 years ago

    Wow! Lots of skills going on there!

  • weirdwolf Admin

    weirdwolf said 10 years ago

    Showing the construction of these puppets was just as magical as any of the work of Jan Svankmajer, the Brothers Quay or Jiri Trnka. What gorgeous puppets and what a stunning video!

  • blissfulbathandbody

    blissfulbathandbody said 10 years ago

    Wow! Thanks for the video I just loved, loved, loved it....what an awesome craft!

  • chickfamilyink

    chickfamilyink said 10 years ago

    This is my favorite video yet.

  • TheSpotlessLoop

    TheSpotlessLoop said 10 years ago

    Wow! Such an amazing quality! Incredible! :D Congrats!

  • Slovly

    Slovly said 10 years ago

    I love it!

  • NotCarvedInStone

    NotCarvedInStone said 10 years ago

    Truly amazing! As an art doll artist, I truly appreciate your work, from an artistic, a historic and creative view point. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 10 years ago

    Wow. I love this.

  • mtraub

    mtraub said 10 years ago

    Definitely one of my favorites! The intricate movement in a single hand was kind of mind-blowing.

  • IStandConnected

    IStandConnected said 10 years ago

    I'm floored - truly. So many talents wrapped into one creation. Ocelli's music is amazing too. Thank you for this.

  • LauraGourmel

    LauraGourmel said 10 years ago

    so beautiful. Great work, great characters!

  • StoneWall777

    StoneWall777 said 10 years ago

    Wow!, God has so gifted you. The video was very interesting. I don't know the meaning you were trying to get across, but it seemed (There was a lot of pain and death due to fiction(lies) and the boy was reaching for truth. I hope I didn't get that wrong. Anyway, it really spoke to me. I wish I lived closer to you, I would love to learn that art! Thanks for sharing

  • TheWitchsPlayground

    TheWitchsPlayground said 10 years ago

    Beautiful work! Love your appalchian mountain witch! Reminds me of home!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage said 10 years ago

    Interesting article. Wonderful craftsmanship!

  • streetnoodles

    streetnoodles said 10 years ago

    the music was as haunting as the story and the medium you choose to present it by....i was literally stunned and later wanting MORE...more...more. i will have to revisit again & again and when i think i have finally got a grasp of it i would love to place the video in my blog & share to mt readers. thank you for creating images & music that will be with me for a long, long time.

  • designlab443

    designlab443 said 10 years ago

    Oh, I love this, I want to make one, they are sooooo lovely... you have a great talent! I love the soft clicking sound they make when they move. I noticed your white eyelashes, so unique.

  • FrancesPhotography

    FrancesPhotography said 10 years ago

    I will GO to Portland to see this - another excuse to visit. I was blown away. Such INCREDIBLE talent and passion. I really cannot say enough. It was BRILLIANT. I will share it as much as possible.

  • darcyfriesen

    darcyfriesen said 10 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your process and beautiful work! I am in awe and reminded again of how many different forms talented artists, such as yourself, come in.

  • lovisetto

    lovisetto said 10 years ago

    Just wonder, have you ever heard about Philippe Genty? If not you might find interesting what they do, it is the most beautiful Marionettes theatre! The marionettes are amazing! Here is the link for Philippe Genty! http://www.google.co.uk/images?hl=en&q=Philippe+genty&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=1ldATaLJHtOChQeL3ODYCA&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=5&ved=0CEcQsAQwBA&biw=1003&bih=597

  • dykes4000

    dykes4000 said 10 years ago

    OMG - that was wonderful. How beautiful to see her come to life. Truly a gifted artist. Thanks Etsy for sharing this story.

  • staceyrebecca

    staceyrebecca said 10 years ago

    Absolutely beautiful work! & hells yes for adult puppetry! COME TO PHOENIX PUPPET SLAAAAAAAMMMMSSSS

  • YesterdaysTrashArt

    YesterdaysTrashArt said 10 years ago

    How beautiful! Wonderful that you are keeping this artistry alive.

  • StoryOfASeed

    StoryOfASeed said 10 years ago

    Very inspiring, thank you!

  • kmariedesignz

    kmariedesignz said 10 years ago

    Great work!

  • kmariedesignz

    kmariedesignz said 10 years ago

    Very inspiring!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 10 years ago

    Hauntingly beautiful & a fascinating glimpse into an almost lost world of artistry.

  • BoondockG

    BoondockG said 10 years ago

    Awesome craftsman and wonderful video. Enjoyed this so much and keep up the good work!

  • SciFiKnits

    SciFiKnits said 10 years ago

    His work is beautiful and I love this video. It's such a great marriage between the music and the puppetry. Just fabulous!

  • joycookie

    joycookie said 10 years ago

    this is absolutly incredible; i watched most of the video gasping! so beautiful and inspiring, well done to this chap!

  • bluedogrose

    bluedogrose said 10 years ago

    Wonderful work, very interesting.

  • bluedogrose

    bluedogrose said 10 years ago

    Wonderful work, very interesting.

  • eastbaycalifornia

    eastbaycalifornia said 10 years ago

    This was absolutely beautiful. Im making one right now but its my first and I didnt even know what I was doing! This is brilliant and inspirational!

  • froufroufrilly

    froufroufrilly said 10 years ago

    This man is a true artist - such a beautiful process.

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 10 years ago

    I just watched it AGAIN! Marvelousness going on.

  • sushipotparts

    sushipotparts said 10 years ago

    Truly fascinating! Thank you. I'm sure I'll watch this over and over.

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage said 10 years ago

    Obviously a lot of love go into your little ones, Geahk. I've been fascinated by marionettes since I was a child, and yours are quite simply wonderful. Thank you for sharing your amazing talents with us! (And y'all, given the chance, DO visit the puppet museum in Atlanta--it's filled with brilliant sights and experiences!)

  • WalterSilva

    WalterSilva said 10 years ago

    Fascinating! Keep up the wonderful work!

  • ArchetypalTheatre

    ArchetypalTheatre said 10 years ago

    Amazing! I have tried to make marionettes and never come close to this kind of subtle movement!

  • AlissaRose

    AlissaRose said 10 years ago

    LOVE. The amount of time and skill that goes into puppetry never ceases to amaze me. I've always had a huge interest in the background/set designs... True art. Thanks for sharing!

  • AlissaRose

    AlissaRose said 10 years ago

    I had only watched the second video at first. Now that's I've watched the first one - WOW. Love Love Love Love Love.

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 10 years ago

    dark crystal forever

  • mooshoopork

    mooshoopork said 10 years ago

    amazing how much work goes into these dolls! i must confess marionettes have an eeri-ness to them for me... but at the same time i am drawn to the detail and how real they can seem at times. nice work

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage said 10 years ago

    wow! how moving. It really changed my perspective on on maionette dolls.

  • littlesister2

    littlesister2 said 10 years ago

    Process was beautifully put together and you, Geahk, have an extraordinary talent. Thanks for letting us watch one of your characters come to life.

  • pinkbijou

    pinkbijou said 10 years ago

    Wonderful

  • NangijalaJewelry

    NangijalaJewelry said 10 years ago

    I have tons of respect for your craft and the skills and creativity it takes to do what you do. I am in awe and this piece of film is magnificent. Congratulations!

  • JMcCormickDesigns

    JMcCormickDesigns said 10 years ago

    Absolutely amazing work! Loved seeing your design process and the story behind your craft. I'll have to head down to Portland to see a performance!

  • Merveillesenpapier

    Merveillesenpapier said 10 years ago

    amazing!! the movements of the marionettes are stunning so real with such precise and accurate details ,to see it come alive is wonderful a beautiful portrait !!

  • CharismaArtGallery

    CharismaArtGallery said 10 years ago

    Amazing artwork! Magnificent! Congratulations, and best wishes in your artistic career. You artwork will absolutely live beyond our time. I use to enjoy the marionettes shows as a child, and you have brought all those beautiful memories back to my life. Thank you for bringing this almost forgotten art back to a new generation.

  • MissMossy

    MissMossy said 10 years ago

    wow

  • GeahkBurchill

    GeahkBurchill said 10 years ago

    Thank you everyone! I really appreciate all the kind words and commentary. I know Eric Beug does as well who put so much effort and art into making me look good! :) He really has to take a major part of the credit for being such a talented film maker and documentarian. Those of you who are interested in knowing about future shows can find them at the website: www.castironcarousel.org. You can sign up to receive email notifications about shows and classes. Of course, anyone is welcome to contact me here on Etsy, as well. --- THANKS ETSY!!!

  • namasteyworld

    namasteyworld said 10 years ago

    This is a great post... thank you for sharing...

  • Mireloom

    Mireloom said 10 years ago

    Enchanting and surreal! A great creativeness!! I was captured bythe beauty of the images!

  • Vanessa Admin

    Vanessa said 10 years ago

    This craftsmanship is unbelievable.

  • GoSho

    GoSho said 10 years ago

    The way in which these marionettes move is so real and has all the subtleties of a real human being. I think you should dedicate yourself to making a short animated film and I'll look for it on the nominated list for short animated films at the Academy Awards one day.

  • zerocivico

    zerocivico said 10 years ago

    That's so great!

  • JeanineDesigns

    JeanineDesigns said 10 years ago

    Absolutely amazing! It is very exciting to see work of this caliber. I can’t wait to see one of the theatrical performances. Wishing you fantastic success to match your heart and ability.

  • hebo Admin

    hebo said 10 years ago

    What a beautiful craft.

  • LorenaTinajero

    LorenaTinajero said 10 years ago

    Your work is breathtaking. Beautiful!

  • LaurelCanyonBeads

    LaurelCanyonBeads said 10 years ago

    wow- absolutely awe inspiring! Hats off to an amazing artist!

  • crankbunny

    crankbunny said 10 years ago

    oh lord - this is made my day.

  • Greenerica

    Greenerica said 10 years ago

    totally. freaking. amazing.

  • Pazinktum

    Pazinktum said 10 years ago

    LOVE this! Amazing!

  • PAPADIAKO

    PAPADIAKO said 10 years ago

    beautefull musik... very hard work video... very well done .. thank you i apreciate a lot... BRAVO.....

  • goodintent

    goodintent said 10 years ago

    Your work is perfection. Subtle gestures make rich the character..thank you for allowing us to observe your creative process. Just great.

  • loraxxmrf

    loraxxmrf said 10 years ago

    Thank you for highlighting puppetry and such a talented artist. Beautiful work! I now have a burning desire to get to Portland to check out the work in person.

  • LisaKaser

    LisaKaser said 10 years ago

    wonderful! I live in Portland and had no idea this troupe existed. Beautiful craftsmanship. Can't get over the beautiful gestures achieved in the hands. Superb.

  • HawaiianEye

    HawaiianEye said 10 years ago

    Awesome work, Geahk! I loved the video and the special care you took in developing the whittled legs and dress for the old woman. I wasn't aware that Marionettes could turn their hands in and out. What a creative soul you are. Good job.

  • NetWorth

    NetWorth said 10 years ago

    I am transported. The painstaking craftmanship and attention to detail are beyond stunning. How encouraging to have dedicated souls like Geahk to continue and expand a wonderful old art form.

  • DeathofaDame

    DeathofaDame said 10 years ago

    Wow.. i VERY much enjoyed this!

  • bfhughes

    bfhughes said 10 years ago

    Marvelous! Fantastic puppets and movements! I really enjoyed that adult themes are handled so entertainingly! Much dedicated work involved! Barbara

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