Puppets. A Profession and a Passion!

IMG_7419

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

“I wanna be JUST like you!”

cc8si

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. Toby’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?

In the beginning…

IMG_5240Born during a severe snowed in week in the Northwest while dancing the line between Chinese New years.A dragon like mom and big sister or a rabbit? Quite the beginning

What is the best beginning you have ever read, watched or heard?

A beginning can make all the difference or it can just be a place to start. We all have our own beginning. We have many beginnings throughout life. But what beginning have we seen, heard, read or watched that moved you or you related to or affected you deeper than others?

Leave a comment! I want to know what kind of beginnings are the best to everyone else.

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!

IMG_3526

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.

IMG_3634

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.

IMG_4014

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.

IMG_4174

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

IMG_3694

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

Really! No Joke! My book is finally out there in the world!

 The GearMaker’s Locket

By Shannon L Reagan

Mechanical prodigy, Copper Rose, discovers a locket while cleaning out her grandmother’s attic. Inside it, gears turn of their own accord. She flips it open to investigate the inner workings and is swept away to a world of airships, huge buildings and massive plant life. She becomes a reluctant guest to Bromin Shere, the cruel leader of half of the land. He claims to be a living machine and he believes she is capable of making more living machines. It’s a life she never imagined. But will she survive?

http://www.amazon.com/The-GearMakers-Locket-GearMaker-Legacy-ebook/dp/B00JE32JIU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396366459&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gearmaker%27s

final cover

 

I’m so excited that conversations about the characters and story elements are already happening. Today is the first time The GearMaker’s Locket is available to the book reading, adventure loving, steampunk adoring public! I’m also excited that a between-books novella will be available in a few months!

Enjoy this story inspired by a locket belonging to my best friend and thank you for following my adventures here on this blog.

When it rains it pours… Or rather It Snows!

IMG_0417

The holidays did not go as planned for our family. Yes, that is a hospital in the photo above. The week before Christmas I wasn’t at my house. After waiting in a dark waiting room until midnight to hear about how my husband’s appendectomy went (scenarios of widowhood dancing in my head), I drove home to my wide awake and wired toddler and my exhausted teenage built-in babysitter. I fell asleep knowing I didn’t care if the kids made it to school the next morning.

Low and behold, morning came and what before my bleary eyes should appear?

IMG_0408

But two inches of snow making retrieving my husband more difficult than before. The good thing was school was canceled. The bad thing was the entirely white and barely traveled main road we live off of. I let my now well rested toddler enjoy this new phenomenon for a moment. Then I bundled up, gathered supplies and slowly, edging inch by terrifying inch, drove my massive tank of a van through the unspoiled snow. Going down the hill was nail biting. Or would have been if I could pull my clenched fists off the steering wheel. The closer I got to the hospital, a half hour away, the less of the nasty white stuff I encountered. Finally I arrived, retrieved my husband, sans his appendix, and we made the trek home–after picking up milk since getting out of the driveway the next day was an unknown.

My husband is doing well now, better than he has in nearly a year. How much of his general poor health in the fall was the appendix sneaking up on him? This led to us changing our diet for the better. Both he and I plan to leave an entire person’s worth of our bodies behind when we leave the rental house we live in and already the new lifestyle is working.

He got a needed wake up call for his health. I got him home.

We all go through things. They dredge up our soul and leave us to put it back into a better place. If occasionally my life keeps me from charming my readers with my dulcet tones, I ask your forgiveness. This is quite the ride I’m on!

When have you found the rain turning to a downpour or… snowfall?

Loss vs Potential Loss

mirishana 6th

    Today our dogs got out. We searched all over and couldn’t find them. Imagining the worst we went to school, running home between classes in case they came home. Finally on the third trip home I called out their names, sadness weighing me down and the possible loss hanging over my head. I called out again and our small dog, a smile on her silly face, came running towards me from the neighbors house. Sure enough our big dog was close behind. We’ve had our little dog for eight years. Our pets are members of our family. I locked them up and hurried back to the school so I could give my daughter a thumbs up through her classroom door. I can’t imagine she could concentrate with the fear and worry for her canine friends.

This had me thinking about Loss verses Potential Loss. My main character is facing the possibility of losing a loved one in the chapter I am currently revising. I spent the morning considering what do to if the loss of either of our dogs occurred. We are human. How could we not imagine the worst, but pray for the best? When we experience loss we mourn, we come to a place of acceptance and keep going.(at least we hope to do that much) If the loss is something that might happen, if we don’t know if or when the loss will be definite, we can get stuck in a horrible place of fear, anxiety, premature sorrow…

IMG_1714

My character actually ends up having the potential loss end well only to discover another loss is eminent. We read books with both these situation all the time. We can feel for the characters because our dog did run away a time or two, a friend did quit being our friend, a person beloved to us did pass away. My heart goes out to anyone that is currently experiencing a loss. Which do you think is worse? Maybe both are just as bad. What is your experience? What did you feel when you didn’t end up having to mourn?