Puppets. A Profession and a Passion!

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I’m a puppet artist. They are a life long passion of mine and an adulthood profession. I’ve been making these fun friends since I was three. I remember taking scraps from my mother’s sewing room garbage. I would stitch together marionette birds with a needle I’d found and short pieces of thread. Bits of yarn would be tied to them before I dangled them from sticks. My greatest creation before I was 9 years old was a dinosaur. I never got to finish him because he vanished when we moved two states away. After that my puppets got bigger and better. By the time I was 14 I had an order for a 6 foot dragon who probably still lives in Canada. He was a gorgeous green fellow with a full mouth of long, white teeth.

One way or another I have been a storyteller since I was little. Puppets are one of the oldest styles of storytelling. I wanted to work for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop so I could make movies like The Dark Crystal. If I’d known about Wetta and The Lord of The Rings films when I got out of college I might have hopped a plane for New Zealand without even thinking!

It got harder to make puppets and be involved in theatre after my children were born. I eventually found a way to make simple puppets that I can sell at events. Also the coloring puppets I make are good for children to color themselves with crayons or markers. I do dream of making my big, fancy puppets again some day. In the meantime I write plays, puppet shows and novels. The novels are a challenge. Despite how long they are to write and perfect, I love the work. Most weeks I only get a few hours to write as I run kids around. The rest of the time my mind is roiling with ideas, dialogue, action; all the things I need to write fast in the moments I get… and puppet to go with them! More recently the same thing is happening with ideas and plans for puppet films.

The puppets I make tend to be complete characters with voices and lives that jump back into them when a human helps them. What a union, the puppet and the puppet master! A living moment of creativity! Someday I want to have a puppet theatre where humans and puppets perform together like Jim Henson’s The Frog Prince or Labyrinth for stage.

Ah, the great someday. In the meantime I get to enjoy watching my kids perform such characters as SteamPink, Ambrose (who was only a head for awhile), Seal and Zephyra The Vermillion Assassin.

SteamPink Seal, Me and FiShannon and Vermillian

Fake Fandom Or The-Green-Thing is more interesting than a football

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The Green Thing

I live in the Northwest so you can imagine that there is a lot of green, blue and silver/white everywhere I go. We never watched sports on TV while growing up. In my home as an adult we no longer even have anything other than streaming sources. My only child who is sporty is my adopted son! I’m a geeky, book reading, movie watching, puppet making, cross-stitching, artistic, animal adoring, self sustaining mini-farming, mothering writer.

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Seahawk theme puppet #1

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Seahawk gal puppet

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Seahawk puppet #2

After the Superbowl last year the sense of joy and elation around the entire Puget Sound was so high we kind of felt left out. My daughter had a wonderful idea of making para-cord bracelets in sport team colors. Para-cord bracelets are one of her hobbies though she rarely sells any so we are trying to do better.

I decided I will support her and my own chances of selling things by making some puppets using team colors. I placed three blue puppets and three of other colors on my in-progress rack. I started picking eyes, accessories, features, etc. Now a week later two of the other colors are done and make me smile.

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During the same weekend the Seahawks again won a chance to go the Superbowl, I still feel nothing about the three blue puppets in their varied stages of complete.

Ahhhh! Fake fandom. You can’t fake being a fan. But I don’t have to feel anything for these puppets because someone will still love them.

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I have an event in 30 days. MythicWorlds! I need puppets to sell along side copies of my book. If three puppets get homes because other people are fans then I have succeeded in bringing them joy. Which means no fake fandom for me. I’m a supporter of fans!

I will just keep making fun puppets!

Be a Dragon

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I love these sayings going around about being yourself. My favorite, naturally, is about being a dragon. Maybe it’s a good idea to just be a dragon rather than yourself. Honestly I don’t advocate hiding from yourself… unless you’re actually a big scary dragon. I’m a big scary dragon and a big scary wolf. This whole post is getting a bit crazy maybe!

I love dragons. The red guy above is one of my soft sculpture dragons. I’ve been making them since I was fourteen. This is a fancier one with beaded wings. Would you be a dragon if you could have scary teeth and beaded wings?

Dragons definitely have an easier time cooking things, but it wouldn’t work well if you prefer a veggie based diet. Roasted veggies anyone?

What would you be if you could be something else? Being a Unicorn is a popular choice, but dragons often have prehensile talons. I like being able to open a door. And I would be a nice dragon… most of the time. If I was a unicorn people would want to touch me, pull out my hair and ride on my back. No one would do any of that to a dragon. So yes. I’ll be a dragon.

What will you be?

“I wanna be JUST like you!”

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Father and Son Nigerian Dwarf Bucks. Blue eyes, Identical markings and their tails even curl the same direction.

 

Many children have turned to a parent at some point or another and said, “I wanna be just like you.” They copy us and follow our example–until the teenage years when things can go quite opposite! We mimic to learn. We mimic to improve, but eventually we have to start emulating other people and become our own person.

Mimicry or Emulation? This very topic was brought up on The Voice. The judges said that they seek singers who are emulating their favorite singers and styles, not mimicking. Emulation allows for creativity and individuality.

When I was young there weren’t people that I want to just meet and shake their hand (then never wash it again), but there were people who I wanted to work with someday. I wanted to learn from their skills. I wanted to watch them create the magic I loved. Then I wanted to go out into the world and do the same.

A fairy created in a workshop taught by Wendy Froud and Brian Froud.

A fairy created in a workshop taught by Wendy Froud and Brian Froud.

Many years ago I had a rare opportunity to take some workshops from the Froud family. Wendy Froud was the second to top person I wanted to work with as a child. She helped give life to Yoda, Jen and Kira of the Dark Crystal and many fun creatures from Labyrinth. Brian and Wendy Froud are amazing artist in both 2-D and 3-D mediums.

I sat across from Brian and next to Wendy as they guided us through the making of a clay fairy figure. Amazing is just not enough to describe the experience. I learned so much from them in the handful of workshops they did in my region.

Mowquin, the water Fairy. A rod puppet created during a Toby Froud workshop

Mowquin, the water Fairy. A rod puppet created during a Toby Froud workshop

Their son, Toby, is another great artist that I also got to take workshops from. One of my favorite puppets is from the rod-puppet workshop I took from him. I keep waiting for them to do another one in driving distance of my life, but I do have to keep trying to expand my skills from what I learned already from them. I have tons of ideas that mesh my novel writing and puppet work together. Now if only the kids would learn to go to bed at a realistic time!

The top person on my list of people I wanted to work with… He’s not available. Jim Henson taught me many things without me having to meet him. In losing him just before I reached adulthood and headed to The Creature Shop to knock on the door and ask for work, I learned that I had to pace myself. I was prone to overworking and ignoring problems. I wish he hadn’t. I wish he could still be here to enrich our lives with his magic. I regularly watch his works and through them develop my own skills of story telling and puppetry.

I was lucky to get tickets to a showing of Toby Froud’s Lesson’s Learned. They are doing a showing of Labyrinth with it. It is bound to be such fun. I’ve wanted to see his new show since the Kickstarter information about it led me to donating all I could at that moment: Five humble dollars.┬áToby’s friend, Sam Koji Hale, is creating a puppet film called “Monsters of the Sky”. Between the two of these films I feel a resurgence of my dream to create films with puppets that emulate “The StoryTeller” and “The Dark Crystal”. I really hope that getting to see this showing will add to my inspiration that may take years to lead to this dream. I know I’ll talk about it more. My biggest dream was to work for Jim Henson in The Creature Shop. Someday I will live a measure of that dream by creating puppet films of my own.

So the point of all this is that mimicking is okay, but emulation is the goal. Emulate the people you admire and become someone that others will wish to emulate someday.

What do you aspire to be? Who do you emulate to become that future self? What is your biggest dream?

Whirlwinds

Wow! I hadn’t realized the passage of time. We ended up moving two hours away from everything we know followed by two trips out of state in a row. Only in the last two days have I been able to sit down and think about more than the list of what needs to be done–NOW!

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Two days after we moved I had the first promotional event for my book. I sold three paper copies and had a lot of interest in the e-book. I love that event filled with people being whatever they want to be; faeries, mermaids, lost boys, ogres, pirates, etc. If you can dream it, you can be it when you are in the Realm.

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After that we headed out to a family reunion. My children grumbled and groused as we packed and drove. What could there possibly be to do on the Oregon Coast?! We got there as the sun was setting. They ran through the sand with joy on their faces no matter the age. This may have been the first beach experience for most of my kids. The next day they wouldn’t leave me alone until we went back out to the sandy expanse. The days went by too quickly.

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Now it is time to unpack, organize and get the kids registered for school. Interestingly enough the mascots for the Jr. High and High school are the Whirlwinds and the Tornadoes. Living in the Northwest this holds no local significance. But looking back at the last few months I see my life! Spinning, spinning, spinning around me until it finally settled back down leaving me to figure out which way is up.

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What has thrown your life up in the air? How did you re-balance your days afterwards?

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This beautiful night flyer loved my book! Or maybe just didn’t like being disrupted by my customers.

Steampunk

Putting out three posts a week has been difficult. With sick family, parent/teacher conferences, cars needing repairs and life in general, days go by and I realize there hasn’t been a post. I am trying to figure out a way to deal with this.

Steampunk me with wings

Our local Steampunk convention was this last week. For years my husband and I have wanted to go, and next year is the year! That is if the convention happens which is up in the air. I was imagining dressing my kids in Steampunk clothing. My one year old Fairy Changeling would be adorable in anything Steampunk! Most of my children are no longer little. Teenagers would need fancier clothes like adults. There are so many things I could do though. Some of my kids could be mechanical beings. Others could carry around some of my puppets. SteamPink loves to go to social events. I make mini-goggles for my puppets. Maybe I could make some baby safe ones for people who bring their infants along to their steampunk adventures. That would be fun.

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SteamPink the hand puppet

I have a fondness for the late 1800’s clothing. The silhouette is so graceful. I even made a Victorian era ballgown for my college graduation (one kid wore a graduation gown that year. That made him unique for a Cornish graduation! The joys of private art colleges.) After five babies, I have modified it for my less svelte figure. I threw a bit of mechanical into it and my own twist on Steampunk faerie wings and it has been my steampunk costume for a few years. I think I need to work on some new ones for future years.

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Puppet goggles

The goggles have been the hardest part of my Steampunk accessories. I am very picky about what goes on my head. I spent years rejecting perfectly good goggles until the day I found the Valkyrie goggles. Part of my blogging problems has involved the failing of my faithful camera. It shouldn’t surprise me since it is older than two of my children. By the end of the month that problem will be solved with a glorious smart phone with a camera stronger than the one I have now. I will get a picture of my lovely Valkyrie goggles and post it around Thanksgiving.

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So keep an eye out over the holidays and send me your favorite stories and photos. I plan to share my cool creations, our family adventures and thoughts about what ever occurs to me. I love your comments so please respond when ever you want.

Halloween!

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Costume: Bad Case of the Stripes

This week is Halloween! During the weekend many groups already had harvest and haunting fun. We participated in a Halloween chili cook off, trick-or-treat and activities at church. We haven’t done something like that for years because of the types of allergies in our family that made it hard to control the foods. We make sure we have fun. We watch movies and make safe treats. Halloween doesn’t necessarily cooperate with convenient days in the calendar so we can keep it small for a school night or do something bigger for a weekend.

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My Sweet witch

I have a favorite Halloween movie that I haven’t gotten to watch for years. My oldest child found it disturbing when she was little and hasn’t liked it since, but really, who wouldn’t like Jack Skelington?

The past few years there are a ton of remakes of old horror and scary films. Obviously they are favorite thrillers if people go to the effort to make then anew for our modern generations. I like the ones that are fun and interesting. I have a weakness for the stop motion films since I’m a puppet artist. I bought Coraline before we moved so it’s still missing in the unpacked boxes. Maybe I can find it before Thursday!

What is your favorite scary movie? What do you do on Halloween? What ever you do have wonderful, safe fun!

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Tip your hats for Halloween!