Creatures Under Construction - Atlas Obscura

Glendale, California

Creatures Under Construction

These fascinating characters aren't born—they're built.

Join Field Agent Sandi Hemmerlein on a visit behind the scenes at Swazzle, the puppet studio where fantastical creatures and characters are constantly under construction.

This is where the puppet versions of The Simpsons characters were designed, assembled, and brought to life. They've also created puppets for the first season of the Showtime series Kidding, staring Jim Carrey and directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); the Amazon Prime animated series Little Big Awesome; and The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway.

There's a special skill involved in animating the inanimate—to create the illusion of life in an object that is very much not living. And it's not just the way the object moves: it starts with how it's made. These guys can puppetize anyone and anything—from gingerbread men and blood-thirsty plants to animals of every shape and size.

During our visit, we'll discover the art of puppetry, which starts with a design and building process that uses a trove of colorful materials. You can even show off your own puppetry skills (or lack thereof) on camera! The masters behind Swazzle, brothers Patrick and Sean Johnson, will show us how the gift of life is in the palms of our own hands during an interactive on-camera puppetry demonstration.

This is an Atlas Obscura Society adventure that makes fantasy a reality. 


  • Exact meeting location will be sent to confirmed ticket holders.
  • No children under 12 years old. All minors must have a ticket and be accompanied by an adult.
  • Plenty of free street parking.
  • Please be respectful of this active production facility. No food/drink, large bags, or touching. Please be careful around fabrication tools, paints, dyes, and glues.
  • Bring your cameras! Just be advised that there might be a couple of top-secret works-in-progress that we won't be allowed to photograph.


Email Sandi Hemmerlein at

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Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final. No Refunds or Exchanges.