Puppeteer Pınar Akpınar decided to work behind the stage after she studied Stage, Costume and Puppet Design at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.
Greatly influenced by her puppeteering class, the 33-year-old began to make puppets with strings and opened a workshop following her graduation. “Your imaginary character is brought to life when you combine wooden pieces, design its joints, dress it and finally put the strings on it. The puppet looks like as if it was real. This is what fascinated me,” she said.
There is something that distinguishes her from few other puppet artists around Turkey. Most puppeteers are interested in making puppets for children, yet Akpınar makes the puppets of celebrities and her own imaginary characters. Her first puppets featured Madonna, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and Elvis Presley along with renowned Turkish actors Sener Sen and Ilyas Salman. She later captivated herself by the magic of her own characters and now designs custom-made puppets for adults. “Puppets draw you into a mesmerizing world,” Akpınar said. The passionate artist has designed so many puppets over the past six years at her workshop in Istanbul’s Maltepe district, that she does not remember how many puppets she has made.
You feel as if you have opened the door to a magical world when you step into Akpınar’s small but beautiful workshop. Waiting in silence, puppets are hung on the wall in a line. However, their appearance whispers something to visitors. From Michael Jackson and Pinocchio to a belly dancer, Akpınar’s favorite puppet, all the characters welcome you with joy. Akpınar said she never goes into her workshop without first saying hello to her puppets.
When any custom-made puppet is ready for shipment, Akpınar feels sad when she has to say goodbye. “My workshop is reminiscent of a birthing center. Puppets are born into my hands. Sometimes, their fingers are broken or arms injured. Then I treat them and return them to their normal state,” she added. Nonetheless, each day a new character is born. “I spend days working on my puppets and then send them to their owners. I feel sorry, but I received a new order the other day. My sorrow is relieved when I am filled with the excitement of designing a new puppet,” Akpınar said. She thinks her puppets are alive and that their strings give them soul. “There is nothing like playing with them.” Akpınar turns her back on busy city life and finds peace in her workshop, which she describes as her “puppet world.” There, she does not understand how fast time flies, and says that the workshop is the only place she can relax. Akpınar is always thinking of her puppets, whether she is at home or out and about. She says, “I do not even hear a storm when I am busy making a puppet.”
There are many projects on Akpınar’s mind as well. She wants to establish a puppet theater with her own characters, and her dream is to create puppets of the Yesilcam actors. “I previously made the puppets of the characters acted by Sener Sen and Ilyas Salman in Cicek Abbas. Soon, I will begin to make the puppets of all the Yesilcam characters,” Akpınar continued. She truly loves Yesilcam films, but “Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalım” (The Girl with the Red Scarf) has a special place in her heart. “I will make puppets to the likes of Turkan Soray and Kadir Inanır. Later, I will design the puppets of other Turkish actors including Hulya Kocyigit,” she said.
Akpınar said that she does not make the puppets of children because they grow so quickly. “Children change every week and every month. I do not design custom-made puppets for customers under 18. While she loves her work, Akpınar also exerts great effort to make each of her puppets. “I do not replicate the face of a person who has placed an order on the puppet I make. I introduce them to an artistic approach and exaggerate their facial expressions,” she said. Akpınar’s workshop is surrounded with various types of wood including olive, chestnut and walnut. “Wood from the lime tree is the best type with which to make puppets due to its soft characteristics. It is difficult to engrave wood, and if you shape it excessively, then it’s ruined. It takes one week to make a puppet,” she emphasized. The length of a puppet ranges from 60 to 100 centimeters. They cost between TL 500 ($211.60) and TL 1,000 ($422.96). She receives custom-made puppet orders for birthdays, Valentine’s Day and anniversaries. Recently, there has been an increasing trend for bride and groom puppets as well. Akpınar said that there are many people who want to learn about puppet making and puppeteering. “I will do everything to teach people how to make puppets in the future,” she said.
Source Daily Sabah