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Ludek Burian, wood carver

Ludek Burian, wood carver

My name is Ludek Burian and I am a wood carver and marionette maker from Southern Bohemia (The Czech Republic). I used to love the smell of wood as a child. I made little wooden boats out of it… Do you believe me? Ok, now for the truth:


I occasionally dabbled in art as a child, sketching, doing watercolours or ceramics, I wasn’t so skilled though. If somebody would have told me back then,”You are going to make marionettes one day” I would have laughed out loud. It is not important which schools I went to, they were definitely not art oriented. I am self taught, this is a very important point. I would like to encourage all of those who lack self confidence – this is all about being determined – just do everything the best way you can.

Little Prince and Fox

So how did I start with puppetry?

My marionette journey began slowly. Imagine you are at work, filling in forms doing paperwork and you are bored and frustrated. This is when I realised that I was not feeling satisfied and I needed to make something and feel more rewarded by my work. Because to be honest I am still a child at heart, I signed up for a marionettes-wood carving workshop where I made my very first clown marionette. The only marionette I still have – the others went on their own journeys and I always like to hear where they end up.

Vampire Dracula

What does woodcarving give to me?

Marionettes I make are all originals, I do not like making the same marionette over and over again, actually I do not even know how to as there are so many different characters I can create. I always intend on making every single marionette just for me and I say to myself “this one is the best, I must keep this one”, and when I am done with it I get a new idea and inspired I start working on a new piece. Therefore, I am happy sending them around the world because the next marionette always brings something new to me. I find this journey to be very inspiring with regards to my wood carving. I like making marionettes without sketching them first, I just like to wait and see who comes to life. It is like a form of meditation – you can just switch off and let your hands create. It is probably not the best example for beginners, it works for me though.




And where do I draw inspiration from?

From my home and the countryside where I live with my family. I get the inspiration from what I see and my surroundings. This explains my series, human-animal marionettes. They are humans dressed as animals, or is it vice versa? Who knows. I would like to thank my wife Monika Novakova who helps to clothe them. I also like to make devils because there are no rules, I can give them a long nose, crossed eyes, anything I feel like. In fact, most of them represent misbehaving children.

Ok, that is probably all…

…I can say about me and my work. I just realised that I am a better woodcarver than writer, honestly it was really difficult sitting down to write all this. I like to talk to people, writing about myself is not easy at all. To all of you thinking about joining me in the world of puppetry, I hope my story has been of some help, I look forward to meeting you. For now look at my work :)

Have a nice day everyone

Ludek Burian

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