Bluestar Puppeteers

Our group of puppet people have decided to become official.  We are in the process of creating a wonderful Halloween show, which we hope to offer as an annual event for our community.  This is an expensive ambition, for which we are hoping to secure grants.

Bill, our leader and teacher, is a professional puppeteer and has been for many years.  Because he is so incredibly talented and has such vision for the show, we are now in the reworking process for some of the puppets.  The ones we used for the first production weren’t fined tuned or were just put in to take the place of characters we actually wanted.   The puppets that were created for this production have some flaws due to the lack of time to prepare them.  We want to offer a very professional show, and that means hard work and dedication to details.

We have started our work schedule.  Monday, Wednesday and Sunday from 2 p.m. to whenever we quit.  Today we moved molds, set pieces and set up a portable puppet theatre Bill designed and created 40 years ago.  It is AMAZING!

He created a puppet theatre which folds down, then folds together into a 4′ x 2 1/2′ “box”.  This sets up to reach the height of 9 ft. high by 4 ft. wide, with sides that also fold out to secure it.  On top of that hangs a separate piece which lights up.  The speakers for the sound system were hidden behind a velvet screen, with Bill being ab0ve those as he stood upright to perform the puppet shows.

The front of this theatre is stunning.  Bill is a marvelous cartoonist and created a woodland  fantasy for the facade.  There are sparkling gems attached which catch the lights of the twinkling night sky, there are leaves leaping from the trees, flowers reaching out, begging to be touched by inquisitive little hands.  I would have been awe-struck to have such a thing show up in my school for an assembly.  Bill used this set up for years as he traveled to various venues around Chicago.

He knows so much about puppetry.  I could study every moment for the rest of my life and still not know as much as he does.  I hope he will have the patience to teach me.  It’s become a passion for me.  I want to learn all I can about this complex and fascinating art form.

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Theatre Camp Completed!

The past two weeks have been rather busy for me, because I have been teaching puppetry to eight 9-12 year old students.

Yesterday was the day of their show.  The children performed scenes from well known shows, sang songs and did skits.

And performed with their puppets!  I was so very proud of them!  We worked extensively on the manipulation of the hand and mouth puppets and they all did great.  It is a counter-intuitive action and takes lots of practice to master.

Before the performance, I spoke to the audience briefly about the puppets we had made and studied during camp.  The kids made:

a stick puppet

a hand or glove puppet

a box finger puppet

felt finger puppets

a dragon sock puppet

shadow puppets

I created for them:

a marionette

a hand and mouth puppet

We also discussed animatronics, CG and traditional puppetry in movies and on TV.  I gave examples of some of the cool movies that used puppetry, gave a sentence or two on the history of the puppets or any special note of interest about a particular type of puppet.

Then we began the skit, which was very brief.  It was narrated, so the children didn’t have to learn lines.  They were able to remain focused on their puppets and keeping them animated, as well as proper mouth movements.

Later, several parents came up to me thanking me for all the work I had put into the puppetry classes.  Their kids just loved it!

Which is why I do what I do.  It’s always about the kids for me and to hear they all enjoyed themselves…Well, it makes the long hours of hard work worth every second.

I was also able to use up some of my materials, which cleared out an entire tote.  This makes room for other things I need to pack up.

I have continued to organize my work space.  I have two peg boards I would like to hang and some curtains to hide the bookshelves, which are all organized and labeled.  There are a few things that need to be repaired or replaced in here, but I’ll replace only as needed.  I don’t want to add to the stuff in here.

 

The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee

closed last night after a three weekend run.

It was wonderful!

I was so impressed with the kids in the show.  They got into their characters and stayed there the entire night.  While they milled around during intermission, they remained in character.  It was terrific.

I was thrilled to be able to sit in the audience and enjoy the experience.  Usually I am back stage corralling kids, fixing broken props, finding lost costume pieces, putting on make up and doing hair.  I make sure the place is clean and make sure everyone has everything they need for the show.  It’s never a chance to see the show.

This was a pleasure to experience.  I’m so proud of everyone who participated in the production.  Well done, Saugatuck Civic Theatre!

Leak!

While we were at church, my daughter noticed a drip, drip, drip sound.  She found water dripping through my dining room light fixture.

I had all the puppet stuff on the table and she quickly cleared the table of everything.  She put bowls and buckets beneath the light and they collected a lot of water.

We had a big storm blow through last night and apparently it blew shingles off my roof causing a leak.  My husband will be going up into the attic to try to locate the area where the rain is coming in.

And it is time to put a new roof on this house.

Today’s Creative Adventure

As I have mentioned, I am working on a product line.  One of my products is watercolor jewelry.  Here are some pictures of my latest creations, still drying and not completed yet.

Watercolor pendants and earrings.

Everything is drying.  They will all need a coat of sealer on the back and a second,  possibly third, coat on the front.  Then they will be attached with nickle-free findings and will become very hard-wearing jewelry.

Each piece is four layers, with a great deal of fiddly hand work.  These earrings took approximately forty hours so far.  Each layer is cut by hand, adhered to the next, painted and shaped, metal work attached, sanded, buffed, sanded again, edges painted, then sealed.   And the process is done this way for each shape and design.  There are only three shown here.  I have eight different designs made so far.

You really cannot see the beauty of the watercolor painting in these photos.  The depth of color and gorgeous shine that’s produced is really remarkable.  I am thrilled with these earrings, and wear the prototypes all the time.  They are very light and I wear them all day without even noticing they are in my ears.   I’ve received many, many compliments on them-which is wonderful to hear.  My hope is they will be well received in the shop, Possessions, as well.  If these are a success, I will be selling them here on my website too.

My next projects for sale will be arriving soon.  I have been working on a Christmas line, which I think will be quite fun, and have been working on digital artwork for downloads.  Really, the best option for designers is to sell their work digitally.  It is a much easier method in which to work, and the people who purchase the designs are free to use them as they desire-as long as it’s not commercially.  The original artist retains ownership of their work and it is easy for others to access.

A win-win as far as I can tell.

I hope you have been enjoying your weekend, and I will continue to share my work and my progress with you all.

Tornado!

As I was coming home from theatre camp, there was a huge storm rolling in.  As I was driving I noticed really odd looking sky.  I was actually saying out loud to myself,”That looks really bad…”

As the words were still hanging in the air, the sky shifted.

Hail hit my windshield.  Wet soppy balls of slush.

One part of the sky began moving one way, the other part-a completely different color-began turning in the other direction.  Before my eyes I watched a tornado form.

It was not a huge funnel cloud, but it was definitely a funnel cloud.

A moving, twisting funnel.

I don’t know what happened with the funnel after I saw it form.  I just knew I had to get home to my kids and turned off that road.

I raced home, driving through some funky weather.  In one spot all the trees where whipping around like crazy, not an eighth of a mile later-calm and absolutely silent.

We did have quite a storm out of the thing, but almost no precipitation.  Just wild winds, limbs down, that sort of thing.

And it was over in 20 minutes.

Puppets, puppets everywhere!

My current project:  Puppets.

I made (sewed) 5 hand and mouth puppets this morning, with four more to go.  That is the number of kids in the show.  Of course, since I picked a show with 12 characters in it, I have more puppets to create.  I will be working the extra characters while my student helper will read the story.

Narrator = no puppet required.

Some of the puppets have turned out just darling.  Some I’m not crazy about.  Nevertheless, the kids will love them all.  They all have their hearts set on a marionette.  These are complicated to build.  I came up with a solution to the issues I am facing.

Begin with beanie babies.

These are small, easily manipulable, should be easy to string.  I have a case of paint sticks which I will use as the controllers.  This way each child will have their own marionette, as well as: their hand, mouth and rod puppets, the finger puppets, the stick puppets, the sock puppets, the shadow puppets, the hand-or glove-puppets, and the multi-finger puppets.

I have had the students for two days, an hour each day.  So far we have made 5 different and distinct types of puppets, we went over the script and became familiar with the props each will use in the story.  I have to say, I have kicked butt on the puppet making front!

It’s so great to see the kids responding to the puppets.  They have really loved making them and are practicing with their hand (glove) puppets at home over the weekend.  We will have a bit of a discussion with the audience before the performance to let them know what the kids have been learning and making during camp.  I think it’s fantastic the kids have shown such an interest in puppetry.  I think I will have a lesson on the puppets they see in movies and on T.V.  How the use of animatronics is a huge thing in cinema.  That sort of thing.  They are clearly interested in the subject, lets give them some real information on the arts and sciences aspect of theatre.