What seems like a very long time ago, as part of my Model Making short course at Arts University Bournemouth, I created a marionette of the European folk monster companion to St Nicholas – Krampus. It felt only right that I should try and continue the monstrous Christmas tradition, and this year I have been working on a puppet of the Ogress Gryla.

Gryla features in Icelandic folklore – an Ogress with a taste for naughty children, and an example of the archetype of the monstrous mother. She has children of her own – the Yule Lads, who are all mischievous house spirits with particular specialisms in causing mayhem, and she also has an evil cat – the Yule Cat, who may end up being a future project.

She is still a work-in-progress, with a sculpey head and sculpey hands, and bodyparts made of air-dry clay covered in scraps of material. These bits of material look really bad, so I think I’ll have to come up with something to jazz it all up a bit.


The head is quite Orcish, and when I painted it a dark green she felt even more so, but this wasn’t really what I was going for, so I have brushed some red over the top just to break up the colour a little, and I am thinking of decorating her with black feathers to give a slightly more avian feel.




I really like her out-sized grasping hands, ready to grab her poor unsuspecting victims and crunch them up in her jaws. What I don’t like is how elongated her body has become because of the joins between the limbs, and I feel like the impact of her bulbous belly and pendulous breasts will be lost in the overall impression of her, and lose a little of her charm and character.

The final puppet will follow shortly…

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