Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Merridays!

"Mom! Wake up! The snow if falling from the ground!" This is what I was told at 7:30 this morning by my 4-year-old. Not "Mom, It's Christmas!" no "Mom, Santa brought me stuff!" not even "Hey, Look what I unwrapped for you!" My son knows what's important. His first white Christmas. It's also my first as well. My 30th Christmas & My son's 5th. The weeks leading up to Christmas he said "It always snows on Christmas in Colorado." We didn't want him to be disappointed, so we told him that, no, it doesn't always, in fact...it rarely does. So this morning, he saw it snowing from the ground & had to come tell me. It was much more important than the day that gifts are dumped upon his sweet head. We went downstairs to see the deck looking about an inch or two deep in snow and by now its about 9" deep 14 hours later. It's beautiful. I miss snow a lot. ( Toronto??)

So this week we're with just over half of the cousins. Imagine 10 children under the age of 7 running (and crawling) around the house. Of course Auntie Stacey is friggin rad because she knows all of these neat-o crafts and projects to do. So in one day we made sock puppets, paper-plate puppets, felt finger puppets & stick puppets (I feel wrong calling them rod puppets when they're made with Popsicle sticks). Yep, she's rad. I wish to meet her someday.

I realize this post has very little to do with puppetry or my journey to become a better puppeteer. Taking this break before I need to return home is, I'm sure, part of the journey. Not that the break should exactly be taken. I'll return home late on Sunday & I need 4 show puppets done by Thursday. Like I said in the previous post...baby-steps!

I remember the day when I had someone to help me build puppets. That day was nice. Someday I'll find another helper and I'll look back at this post and giggle and probably say "yeah, I'm still like that, aren't I?"

I feel like I need to end this post with some sort of "may your ___ be ___" statement. I'd sit here and think of a good one without writing in all of the stream-of-consciousness thought's involved in finding something witty to say, but then I'd probably just stare at the fish in the tank next to me in my Father-In-Law's office while they eat their Christmas flakes. And you be way less entertained because then you'd be done reading & you'd have to go back to doing what you were trying to avoid when you began reading this in the first place, so really, I'm doing both of us a favor. So let's stall just a bit more, shall we? Did you like what you got for Christmas? Did your ___ like what you got for them? What did you guys have for lunch? OK This seems one-sided & I tire of your silence.

May the last 6 days of 2007 be better than the best things that happened between January 1st and December 25th (Of 2007). Be well, and I apologize for being ridiculous.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Loving my meat

I've been really busy these past few weeks, but by far my greatest achievement happened yesterday and was the creation of raw meat.

Raw meat was more significant to me than anything else I've done recently. I think it's because I created a finger puppet that got me wanting to create more finger puppets. For so long I was creating for others. Previously I'd made something I liked, and naturally more than one person wanted a 'copy,' so I didn't have the time (or the creative juices) to create for myself anymore. Not for a long time anyway. So, I've stopped taking custom orders in my shop & now, if I don't want to recreate something, then I don't have to. Sure, I could have denied people before, but I'm one of those people who wants to accommodate everyone. If you ask for maize, by golly I'll give you maize...or squid Elvis...or bacon...or other personal-to-a-woman type puppets...

This break really came on the heels of doubting myself as an artist. I had stopped expressing what's inside of me (yes, raw meat is totally inside of me). I was creating what *had* been inside of me but was now put into a tiny felt sculpture. I hope this will also affect my hand puppets. I've lifted the pressure of deadlines & requests in some ways. Of course there area always deadlines for show puppets, but let's take baby-steps.
The workshop in Casa Grande went swimmingly. I had a wonderful mixture of adults and kids (ages 10+). Every time I do a workshop, I am absolutely floored by what comes out of the minds of others. I really can't wait to go back. It was lovely. Just being in that city makes me feel warm and fuzzy. The craft store closes at 3:30 on Saturdays. It's very similar to the town in which I grew up. Simply adorable. Granted, it's much larger than my hometown, but the main, downtown area is very similar.
First Friday's Artwalk at the Trunk Space was quiet and lovely. The rain kept most people away which, for me, is a very relaxing thing. I adore spending a few quiet hours in the company of friends, drinking an Izzie, surrounded by art & talking about...youtube videos.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I'm getting around!

I feel like I might be everywhere at once. This is a bit of late-night thought gathering, so it might be disordered & long-winded, but then again, when is my life not that way?

So I was thinking about where my puppets are as of late...
I may or may not be sending puppets to Everette, Washington (just waiting on a contract) to be sold in a bookstore/gift shop there.
My work will be not only seen, but for sale at The Trunk Space's gift art show for the next two months, the opening is this Friday night.
Commercial is still running. That's exciting.
I'm also doing a workshop at the Paramount Theater in Casa Grande, AZ on December 8th! Same as the other one, but further south & $5.00 more (if you want to go, 520-316-9290 or email michelle@paramount-theatre.com).

I feel extremely happy with myself regarding all of these "goings arounds"

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm apparently bad at blogging

I keep meaning to write something of great importance, but I put it off, then I forget about it. It was so important, right?

I've been taking these last couple of weeks to actually be productive. That includes making puppets, listing puppets on etsy, taking pictures of puppets, updating bad pictures of puppets & giving puppet workshops.

Speaking of workshops, the workshop on November 10th was amazing! Thank you to everyone who not only showed up, but showed up with enthusiasm and an open mind to discovering their puppet. Yes, it sounds like a hippie way to build, but sometimes you just have to let go and let puppet...or something like that.

A bit of an amusing story...So about an hour and a half before the workshop, as my husband and I were on our way home from grabbing some last-minute supplies, I start to feel a bit under the weather...the car ride wasn't helping. I just barely made it to the toilet & had some diarrhea of the face. I climbed into bed with the usual post-barfing shakes & called the venue. Basically we decided that if I could do it, I'd do it, but if I couldn't, the people who signed up are all very understanding & some might not mind a postponement. I didn't want to leave anyone hanging, so I decided I'd go as far as I could. If that was 1/2 way through the workshop, then so be it. Thankfully the more I got to thinking about puppets, the less I got to thinking about vomit. The ginger ale helped, too.

There seems to be a trend in my puppet workshops & vomit coming out of my body. 3 hours before I was to leave for New York to give a workshop at the Etsy labs in June, I got the stomach bug that had been going around our home. I decided to still go & had a great time. I think I need to give at least one more workshop for adults to see if this theory holds up.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Contest Winner Announcement!

I hearby officially declare and decree:
Yesterday, in the midst of trick-or-treaters, a young Godzilla reached into a bowl and pulled out the number 19. What does that mean? Well, the 19th transaction of the 20 transactions eligible to win the puppet from the drawing post in, oh gosh, was that back in August? was the winner!

Who made that transaction you ask? Well by golly it was Megan Mucci of http://muttsywonder.etsy.com! Congratulations Megan! I wish I'd thought of sending your fluffy puppet today when I was at the post office...Oh well, look out for him soon...and by soon I mean sometime before Christmas!

My sad, sweet condolences to everyone else who did not win the puppet. But don't lose hope, there will be more contests like these! Misfit puppets need love and support, and the only way to give them what they need is to have people win them. You love something if you win it, right? So keep your eyes peeled both here and in my shop to see what the next little bundle of fluff might be up for the winning!

In mild other news, I have a puppet slam tomorrow night at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater at 8pm. I'm in at least two shows & am pretty darned excited as this will be my first performance venture into shadow puppetry. oooOOoooo

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wayne Gretzky & Puppets & Me

I saw the commercial today. Its pretty good. I, of course, wish the manipulation was better on my puppets, but that's OK. I'm kind-of weirded out that my puppets have now been on television. yah

Anyway, here's the video:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Me and the Other Guy

Well, the other guy is done and there are some good pictures of him, now. I really had to begin both puppets on Sunday. I can't believe I got two done in one day! It helps when you have a lot of motivation like that.

Don, the hired puppeteer, came to pick them up this morning at 7am. These are two puppets I wish I didn't have to get rid of. But if I watch TV, I'll get to see them! (*squeee*)

So it's a bit after 10:30 and I haven't heard about whether or not they'll need me. I'm thinking they won't. Oh well. I'll only be disappointed if some extra on-hand person does it and is a bad puppeteer.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy them. I can't believe I did both in a single day! I feel so productive.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Me and the Monsters

I finished one of the puppets and sit with an un-stuffed arm in my lap and fluff all around me right now.

I have to iron some Coyotes logos onto some onesies and stuff and sew two arms onto the other puppet, but after that I'm finished!

I hope to take some great pictures of him before they leave tomorrow morning.

Here's your sneak-peak. He's going to wear a jersey-style shirt with a Coyotes logo. It will be spectacular.

Me and the Commericals

I was very recently asked to make puppets for a local commercial.

My life is weird. I enjoy weird.

It makes me think, well, maybe they were desperate...maybe I know the right people.... maybe I'm not that bad of a puppet-builder. Maybe I'll get more work from this...maybe this is just a fun jaunt...maybe I'll meet Wayne Gretzky.

All of these things could be and probably are true. A combination of talent, who you know, and dumb luck.

I will post photos of the puppets as soon as they're finished. Until then, I'm off to make some monsters for television!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Puppet-Making Workshops

I'm going to be giving a make-and-take puppetry workshop at The Trunk Space on November 10th. I hope lots of people sign up.

I'm also giving a puppetry workshop in Brooklyn, New York on October 12th. Oh, and I'll hopefully also be giving a kid's workshop in Brooklyn as well! I hope more people sign up for that one because it costs a lot to fly across the country. That and I love teaching. Especially kids...and adults. Man, that's a tough call. It's a really neat experience watching adults turn into little kids when they make puppets and at the same time I love to see a child with that overwhelming power of "OH MY GOSH I MADE A PUPPET!"

Either way, I'll get to see what this strange phenomenon, "Autumn" is. You see, New York has things called "trees," and those trees have "leaves" that actually change colors when it gets cold outside! Its like a hyper-color shirt from the 80's.

Hooray 80's.

Also in the exciting world of me, I'm attempting to develop my website. Not much there right now, but I have a friend who is going to help me. And unlike when most people say, "I'm having a friend help me," I think she'll actually help me. You can check out her stuff here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Drawings are for artists.

As much as I love participating in contests, I love holding them, too.

The first contest I held was to explain to me why you deserved a free finger puppet and I'd arbitrarily choose a winner based upon the answer I liked the best. Sort-of like Apples To Apples, where its not necessarily the *right* answer that wins, but rather the answer that appeals to me the most. I think I chose the girl who lied about her grandma and her dog dying in the same week and then quickly admitted that it was a lie and that she really just wanted the finger puppet. I applaud outlandish tales when repentance is so quickly achieved.

So I made a little hand puppet. This shouldn't shock you. I tried lining it. This also shouldn't shock you. I failed at lining it. Now you can be shocked. He turned out pretty good, I just felt like he was worthy of giving away. Not that he's terrible. He has personality. I'm sure he'd make a great friend. And hell, who doesn't want a free puppet, right? I know, I know... that's what they say about having to take the ugly kid to the prom. But, even the ugly kid needs love. I know, I was the ugly kid. I need love, dag nabbit! Love me!

So I have this little drawing going to happen in my shop for the next 20 orders that I get. Their names will get put into a bag, and upon receiving the 20th order, I'll have my (by then) 4-year-old son whip a name out of the bag. Adorable isn't it? We'll make it a big ceremony. Hopefully I'll remember to take pictures and post them to flickr.

I figure if, by having the next 20 orders, rather than the next 20 sales, that guarantees that the odds are 1-20 of winning. Unless, of course you're order #1, 4, 5, 9, 19, & 20. But at that point, seriously, if you're going to buy that many puppets, you're a little more deserving of your odds being increased, right?

I don't exactly expect this to boost my sales any. OK, maybe I expect it to boost them a tiny bit. Maybe someone who wasn't exactly going to get a puppet *right now* would consider getting the puppet they've always dreamed of having a little sooner. (Because the doors are pounding down with people clamoring to get a puppet by Stacey Gordon, right? hehe) AND they'll get a pretty adorable and easy-to-manipulate puppet to boot. If they win, that is. Everyone else will just get the ugly, difficult-to-manipulate puppet that they ordered. (muhahaha)

Right now I'm just wondering how long it will be by the time I get my 20th order in this little race to win a puppet...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Project Puppet Project has been put on hold until all of the bad workmanship on our electrical has been fixed. That's a saga for another blog.

I can't get to my sewing machine. Ah well. I thrive on pressure. I also thrive on forgetting to take pictures of what I have completed.

I *do* have pictures of some new puppets I managed to make while sitting in a car. I thought I'd share. It's a new direction for me, be it ever-so slightly new.

I begin teaching at a new school in a new school year tomorrow. The school seems very open to the arts and puppetry. I'm pleased. We'll see what that's like, too. Not sure that this journal entry is all that entertaining. Ah well, at least you know I have electricity!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

I haven't exactly been at home for the last few days. We're having some unexpected electrical work done to our house. I.E. The entire house is getting re-wired & we're getting a new panel and circuit breaker. Sadly, that means I can't work on my Once Upon A Puppet project. My home has no electricity. Last night we had partial electric in the kitchen and the bathroom & kiddo's bedroom, but try to set up a sewing machine on the toilet and you'll just annoy those who need to go. They said it's going to be "a few more days."

The good news is that I've finished the body of my puppet. It looks great! I'm thrilled with the hands, and the mouth-plate. Although, in the future I'll probably add another digit. I'm a fan of 5 fingers. The other good news is that all this time at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, with nothing else to do (I did all the work last week), I get to sit and make finger puppets. So when I can upload pictures to my own computer, expect a lot of pictures!

Friday, August 3, 2007

It begins...

After finishing up a large custom order, I've decided to reward myself with starting on the project puppet project. It starts with printing off the pattern (easy enough) and cutting it all out. I got the head cut out and decided to blog about it. Not sure why. Vanity, I suppose.

So far, so good. The directions seem easy enough to follow. So here I go...backwards into the realm of following instructions!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Me and the Contests...

So I'm the kid who is always up for a challenge. Especially when that challenge has the potential for a gleaming, shiny prize at the end of it turning it into a contest. I always put a lot of myself into these projects, and whether or not I win, I always grow as a builder and artist. Two puppets, of whom I am very proud, were both products of contests.

Little Pepe Fleece For Eyes was built for Craft Magazine & Etsy's contest to do something amazing with the Craft Logo. So that was one of my ideas (I also made finger puppets of the letters, but I'm less proud of them). I really liked how Pepe came out, and how he manipulates. He's just one of the most comfortable puppets I've made. And I gave him his own tote bag full of things with which to make finger puppets. Brilliant, I know.

Peaches was another contest participant, again through Etsy. This time the rules were to use items that were intended to only have a single use before they went into a dumpster and bring new life to those things that wouldn't have had a life otherwise (broken things..). The idea is called "Upcycling." So I rummaged through the garbage and found egg-crate packaging from our computer, spoons, forks, an old sweater that had a hole in it, a torn bed sheet, and even pink dust from a kool-aid packet. The only new things used for her were staples and glue. Of course she didn't win, but again, I love a challenge. And I learned how to turn literal garbage into something that I felt was worth something. So instead of taking up space in a landfill, she's taking up space on my top shelf in my craft room.

So today I heard about Project Puppet's annual contest. Immediately I thought about how I *should* have bought the pattern when I saw it available at Puppet Rampage! Then I thought about how much I could learn from actually following a pattern to begin with. I know I need to improve my building skills, and I've done the innovating with materials around me thing. Next is to go to the territory in which most people start: Following instructions. So tomorrow I'll buy the pattern. I'll download it, print it and do my best to follow it. Hopefully I'll update my progress here with my frustrations, successes, and photographs of how its all going. The deadline is August 31st, so I know I have some time. I'm very excited to do this. I don't think I'll win, but really, it's a great excuse to not only buy something I've kind-of wanted for a bit now, but to also push myself into being a better artist.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I make puppets.

It's true. I make them. Now, I make blog posts, too.

This is one of the first finger puppets I made. Super Chicken.

It started when I was asked to put my hand puppets into The Trunk Space, a local art gallery here in Phoenix. I had mono and couldn't get up to the sewing machine to make any more hand puppets, so I grabbed my piles of fleece and started making finger puppets. Hamburgers, penguins, whales, mushrooms, lions, cats, dogs, giraffes, monsters, ladybugs, etc. all made it over there. I think I gave them about 35 of them.

I discovered making finger puppets was addictive. Instant gratification. Unlike a hand puppet which takes a lot of time before you get to the fun part of giving it a face, hands, tongues and the what-have-you, with a finger puppet you can add all of those things in about an hour! My living room was covered in thread and fleece. My bedroom was covered in thread and fleece. I think I actually broke our vacuum cleaner because of all the thread that wound around the brushes (really, it was on it's way out anyway...I just finished it off).

A friend of mine was urging me to join a website called Etsy. I figured I had my hands full enough with trying to keep the Trunk Space supplied, so I didn't do it for several months. She finally came over to my house and set up my shop for me. She took me outside to take pictures of my puppets (that picture there is one we took that day) and then we came inside to list them. That was about a year and a half ago. If Etsy has done one thing for me (other than give me some money to fund my puppetry habit), it has been to force me to better my artwork.

By no means do I know a lot about puppetry or puppet building. I have been fortunate enough to work with and for the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, who has one of the most kind directors you'll ever meet. They have done nothing but encourage me and guide me in my less than mediocre puppet building over the last 5-and-a-half years. Because of them, I'm doing what I dreamed of doing as a child. I only regret not having done it sooner.