The Puppet Challenge: Firle The Giant

Ta da! Here he is folks. Our puppet, Firle the Giant.


When we constructed our puppet (see previous Puppet Challenge posts to find out about the story and the make) we imagined him in the final scene of the story – Firle the Giant with his sad eyes, broken and heavy heart looking back at the landscape he loved and his dead giant friend, Windover,  just before he began walking away from the Sussex Downs.


We have used maps in our art practice for some time but have never thought of using them in our work at TheBigForest which tends to be more playful. We experimented with older maps of the Wilmington and Firle area but in the end settled for a pre Second World War map (around 1932) that we photocopied on to flip chart paper which is the right consistency for papier mache work and we liked the image in black and white rather than colour. The lines of the contours, tumuli and barrows make up the front of the giants face so he is truly rooted in the local landscape. The back of his head is pasted with map fragments of the  ‘modern’ Firle area – the railway lines and roads of the 1930’s map and on the hands the map is blurred as we had moved the map away from the copier.


This is the first puppet we have made and the first time we have used papier mache. We learnt a lot and have enjoyed the process. We are going to experiment further with both puppet forms and using papier mache so the Puppet Challenge has been a really enjoyable experience for us.

The puppet is constructed with a papier mache head, safety eyes, a wooden pole that enables the head to move and card hands with wooden poles. He works well as a puppet (there was only me in the studio when I took the photos so we couldnt put on a play for you) although we would now construct his body in a different way having learnt about puppet making during the project.

From early July you will be able to see other responses to The Puppet Challenge brief over at Clive’s blog, Artlog.

About TheBigForest

TheBigForest. A silly artist maker creating in felt and paper construction. Like us on Facebook: TheBigForest. Find us at Twitter : twitter/TheBigForestuk


  1. Susan Bruce

    Brilliant . Loved the map paper mache .

  2. He’s so sad and beautiful! Using the map is such a brilliant touch. Ace!

  3. It turned out so great! I love him, and the map detailing just gives his expression such charm. He also does look sad, so well done.

    • Thanks Leonor. He has given us lots of ideas for further work. Of course finding the time to move it beyond the sketch book to actually making is quite a different matter!

  4. He’s just wonderful–so sad and evocative. I think the decision to use the map was brilliant–love the symbolism.

    • He is currently perched high above our work space and he is rather good company. We like to think he learnt from his experience and became a better giant as a result.

  5. Brilliant , I love the whole concept , especially the use of the ordnance survey map, bravo! Liz.

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