I remember hearing about the Jabberwock in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. He sounded spooky and dangerous. Something I would never want to meet in person. Granted, I first heard of him when I was a little kid, so there’s that. Folkmanis made a puppet to honor the scary beast, though I have to say that this puppet is spooky and dangerous in all the best ways.
First, there’s the look of him. He’s a shiny silvery-blue, and the velour they used to make his body is soft to the touch. It also bends light, so parts of him are lighter or darker depending on his movements, and what catches the light. Velour barbels hang over a mouth lined in black, complete with matte vinyl fangs and a felt split tongue in bright red. All the better to eat you with, my pretty? You bet. His eyes are a clear, sparkling orange, with deep black irises. They may scratch if he’s manhandled, so be careful with this beauty.
The detail of the claws is astounding. They bend, curve, and slope just like real claws. I may have to double-check him after midnight. On second though, perhaps it’s best I leave him be at that time. One never knows. This Jabberwock has gossamer wings of black, with a soft but sturdy netting in-between felt ribs. (Not so sturdy this netting won’t rip, so again I’ll say be careful.) Then there’s his chest and horns, made of black fabric patterned with a silvery-gold. The fabric evokes scales, and with all the velour and shine, this is one impressive puppet.
There’s plenty of ways to maneuver this puppet, which makes for a whole lot of fun. The head, each leg and wing, and even his tail all have pocket for you to put a finger or two into and make each section move. I started off with all five fingers working the head and four limbs, getting him to bounce along with Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”. With his sparkly self, it seemed appropriate. He really got moving, so I’ll take that as an affirmative. Then there’s his tail, thrashing and slashing through the air if you manipulate it, though I tend to do that only when I have him “walk”. But with my thumb working his tail and the rest of my hand in his body, he’s not really walking. He’s strutting. And it’s glorious.
So glorious that I had a hard time putting him down. I played with him so much, my stone gargoyle became jealous. I rubbed his soft silver-blue “skin” on my cheek, sighing with happiness over the sumptuous feel of it. This is a puppet to play with, sure. But it’s also a puppet to treasure. It’s grand and glorious, and sits up perfectly on a desk, bookshelf, or credenza. As with their American Kestrel, Jabberwock can easily blend into a RenFest day. No, not blend. Stand out. So if you do bring him along, be prepared for many, many admirers. “Can I pet your Jabberwock?” But of course. But be gentle. He has claws.