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.