My journey creating and producing puppetry... trials, tribulations, inspiration and contemplation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Workshop Round-up and New Creations

The past couple of weeks have been a welcome creative boom. After the success of the puppet manipulation workshop with the younger students, my friends at Just Off Broadway, Inc. asked me back to repeat the 2-hour workshop for their teen students. They end their 2-week intensive with a showcase of their class-work and the creative director, my friend Joyce, asked me to make the puppets available for the evening showcase to perform one of the group numbers that we practiced in class. Since it was only the first verse and chorus, I suggested adding a couple of the solo pieces to the beginning and crafted a short, almost two-and-a-half minute montage for their puppetry performance. The students made me so proud and the energy at the showcase definitely reached a high for the performers and the audience when the stage filled with puppets. It was a wonderful testament to the magic of puppetry. I absolutely adore this photo Joyce took of me and the students.
While doing the workshop for the younger class, I had cleared 8 of my puppets for the 13 students to use. Some had to share, obviously. For the older kids, I was more trusting and went about readying more puppets so that each student could have one in class. I got 13 ready in my stock and had 2 more to build. I had new build ideas brewing for a while and started some basic forms. One was a tentative rebuild of my first puppet Benny. In the process, I wanted to give him different eyes and when the ideas started to take shape, I was building a whole new puppet all together who turned out to be Helga. Complete with real wig, crazy eyes, wonderful blue nail polish and matching earrings and, of course, her crowning glory, a hairy mole on her face. She was truly an inspired creation. The dress is size 2T from JC Penney clearance rack and the bolero-style sweater was an ebay find, size 3T. Double sided tape is a great fix to keep sweaters clinging to puppet shoulders. Helga is the Project Puppet Rotondo Pattern with the Rotondo Fleece Covering Pattern.
My second puppet I wanted to finish for the students was a simple, Glorified Sock Puppet Pattern. I started out with this shaggy turquoise fur aka Punky Muppet from Mendel's. I first started with the nose and thought I would do a hedgehog style character. After trimming the fur and getting the larger eyes in place, I thought I might have a nondescript monster puppet but, I already had a similar one in darker blue. If I could find a good turquoise fleece, I would do ears and hands in that color but, knew my selection at the fabric store might be limited. I liked the idea of using a terry cloth towel so, headed to my local Target instead. As I made my way through bedding, I found a fantastic twin-size fleece blanket in turquoise for only $12.99. The color-match was almost perfect and Douglas the Demented Bunny was born.
Lastly - yes, another puppet! Some friends in the puppet community were conducting a 'top secret' puppet building workshop over the weekend. I really hope it rolls-out soon so I can shout it from the roof-tops. I had a fantastic time building with a group of passionate builders and puppet peeps. We spent two days diving into all of the puppet building basics - character development, proper stitching, working with fur and trimming, contact cement, hot glue, arm rods, and all the details that create the final product. It was 2 solid days of creative work, 9-5. Whatever they charge for this class will be well worth it. The class instructors are there for every question and guidance needed, not to mention, a lot of fun. The final product was a monster and, oddly enough, the next script my writer is working on for Up In Arms is about monsters so, this guy may actually make his debut in one of my shows. For inspiration and creativity, this is one of my best works to date. Tentatively named Russel [or Rusty for his fur.] Yes, that's a mohawk.

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