Thursday, December 18, 2008

15 minutes

I forgot that my puppets are in some more hockey commercials.

The snowman is by furry puppet (or so says the ad agency)

The guy that's a guy & not a monster had his eyes replaced & I couldn't be happier with them It gave me an opportunity to give them a much-needed re-focusing. I'd like to sculpt their hands a bit, but I haven't been asked/paid to do that, so I didn't.

the only actual puppeteer they used (Don Kruszka) is for the Snowman. He funneh.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hybrids are the future

So a friend of mine is going to help me & do the costumes. She used to be a costumer at Disneyland, so I have a huge amount of confidence in her! She's actually a librarian/puppeteer. She's the one that's helped me with the library upstairs at the Puppet Theater. She's also developed her own shows to tour at the libraries in her circuit. (I wonder if that's like hitting the night club circuit at all...)

She showed me (in person, finally!) the two puppets she made from the Project Puppet Roly Poly pattern. I'm surprised that they're so small, but they're really nice puppets. Leave it to a seamstress to produce a friggin awesome puppet. Their costumes are all gorgeous too. She's just an amazing talent & awesome person & I wish she didn't live 45 minutes away. (I want to steal her)

It's also very tempting to just get some Project Puppet patterns & do it that way. There are two that I would need & the sizing seems about perfect for the project. Is that giving in? Is using a pattern admitting that I can't do it on my own? Do I throw away all of the awesome advice I was given & take the so very easy route? It just doesn't seem like something I should do.

I can, however, take elements from the super-rad-happy-fun-time-crazy-butt-Stacey puppets and from the super-traditional-build-a-foam-skull-&-face-then-cover-it-with-fleece puppets and make a hybrid. It will run on a charge & then use gas as a last resort. Go green or go home. Yes.

In 'real job' news. I'm learning a new show. I'll perform the show twice. It's a holiday show. Off I go to the theater to rehearse it for the very first time. Hooray!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scolding & Stories

Yeah, way to vote guys...way to vote. (I'm entirely disappointed with the views to voting ratio--poop, even the clicks to flickr are higher than duty guys, civic duty.)

Ok so after a good scolding I thought you deserved a story entirely unrelated to puppetry, but related to my sense of humor.

I have, in the past, spoken of my grandfather. Not the one that carved marionettes (although he was rad), but the one that had an awesome sense of humor. We inherited his car when he passed away, it's the car that was recently murdered by a large Dodge SUV. (blasted American cars)

My grandmother collected many things, which was convenient because my grandfather was an antiques dealer & estate auctioneer. When my grandmother passed away in January of 01, we each took some turtles, some Kewpie dolls and a gnome or 3. (I should photograph them, they're really awesome) 9 months later, my grandfather passed away. He had begun seeing a woman at his Synagogue. We secretly think grandma bumped him off before they got too serious.

My grandfather had an amazing sense of humor. I was told this joke around the age of 8 or 10:
A child on Halloween is out trick-or-treating. He is dressed as a pirate. Knock, Knock, Knock. An older woman answers the door. "Oh, well look at you! Aren't you adorable? But...where are your buccaneers?" The little boy looks at her, rather confused and says "What do you mean, lady? They're under me buckin' hat."

Now, being that my grandfather is from England originally, he had an accent, which make the "me buckin' hat" really adorable. Also, anytime someone asked where he was from due to his accent, he said Oklahoma.

Anyhow, one day, several months after we lost Grandpa, I had been watching Antiques Road Show on PBS. Yes, I watch Antiques Road Show. It keeps me close to my roots, okay? So I was sitting afterward in my quiet apartment, thinking about grandpa & his profession & how people received items from their relatives that they assumed were nothing, they flipped them over to see some amazing marking & find out the item was worth more than what they imagined. Now, I didn't expect anything to be worth thousands of dollars. I didn't even expect things to be worth more than $100, but my curiosity was such that I had to go in & flip over some trinkets from Grandma & Grandpa that were on the shelf.

I looked to the Turtles. The brass turtles. I grabbed them both in my hands & flipped them over at the same time. I found not a marking of "hey I'm super-valuable" or even a sticker that said "made in Japan" instead I found a set of shiny titties & a va-jay-jay on one turtle, and a little brass weenis on the other. Secretly (on a blog that at least 14 people read--Hi Irene), just as I think Grandma took out Grandpa, I'd like to think that Grandpa & Grandma finally accepted my adulthood & hazed me from beyond.

I got my warped sense of humor from them & I love that it's something that can be inherited. Like well endowed turtles.

I should note that my grandmother, too, was a crafty lady, having crocheted a schmeckle warmer for her little brother to give to him as a gift on his wedding day. Presumably unused (Oh man I hope so), her brother be-gifted it to my dad at his wedding. Then, (Please, oh please) unused, my father gave it to my dear husband at our wedding. Thankfully just at the rehearsal dinner when only families from both sides were there to enjoy the experience. We certainly left the darn thing in its box because "presumably" doesn't mean "definitely". It was blue & had a pink bow at the top. Cute. When my brother got married, we sent it to Australia with my parents (which is where my brother lives--we didn't randomly send it to Australia for giggles) to give to him. The next boy in the family will get it & thankfully it is my brother's responisbility to make sure that happens...assuming it remains unused.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blast this project!

Here's my dilemma: I've got this project to complete by mid-December. It's a big & scary one. I can take this big scary project down two routes.

Route One:
I can go the "look, I'm a professional puppet-builder, look at how my puppets fall in line with most other puppet builders' style of building!" Not the finished look of the puppet, but the building style, the process if you will--built up with foam underneath, covered in antron fleece, made in the same way & eventually similar to looking like a "professional" puppet.

Route Two:
Or do I do the crazy-butt-stacey way of doing things where they look as though they've had a stroke (see Little Red Riding Hood or the Coyote's fan as an example).

I have been asked by some awesome people to make some awesome puppets for them & I frankly don't know if they asked me because they kinda know me, or because they like the style of puppets that I make, or if they just asked me because I'm their "best" option (i.e. they don't really know of any other puppet-builders). Seriously, if you were getting a staceyrebecca hand puppet & it was not all wonky down by the mouth & had a foam head etc, etc, would you be upset? Would you go "oh, well this is good, but where is the campy quirkiness that she's had going on for the last 6-7 years?" Would you say "Oh wow, she actually made this one look really, really nice!"

A related story: I started making WAY less craptastical puppets than I had been for puppet slams. We asked for feedback at a slam like a year ago & they said "what ever happened to that really funny puppetry group with the crappy puppets? We liked those puppets." Well..they did see them. They just saw the really funny puppetry group with the not-as-crappy puppets. So..I mean, I can't make everyone happy, that's for darn sure, but..blast, I just don't know what to do.

These puppets are going to be given to some pretty well known & rad people. Like... I think a lot of humans on the earth know who these people are. And the people receiving the puppets don't necessarily know me or my style of building, so they might be really, I dunno...unimpressed with them.

I guess I can toss a poll up about it..But you'd better hurry up & answer the poll because, dude, I should start on these like hopefully tomorrow, but in all honesty it may not happen until Friday.

Blaaarrrgh in a bucket of wet apples! Me & my "Hey, can you hold my hand while I pee for a sec?" mentality about this whole thing! This is what holds people back. Fear is a nasty old lady with a cane & she makes you eat candy that tastes like canola oil that went bad like a month ago. Yeah. Her. She also has like 15 cats.

A friend suggested I use elves. I think my next slam piece will be called "The Elves & The Puppet Maker" which will be based on a true story, except the bit about the elves existing. And stuff.

After that's all done, I get to work on my slam piece. Wheee!
I suppose we could reprise Big Benevolent Wolf....hmm...I'll have to un-cross-dress-ify him.

Ok Vote...Also, select TWO choices & tell me if you build puppets or not. Not that I can see what you said, (unless you comment)...bah, yeah, just select two for giggles, then.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On kickeries

If given time with something, I am nearly convinced that I will kick it in the face with my awesome.

The lack of beginning that project is the fear that the previous statement isn't true.

What if I do fail?

What if I am not as awesome as I am in my imagined potential future stuck inside a bowl of sticky, oatmealy stagnancy?

What if I'm just incredibly awesome at organizing reference libraries? (Proven)

This causes procrastination and creation inside only blog musings with really big words like I went to some kind of school or something.

As that one news-guy's mom said: You should vote. It will make you feel real good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

All Matters of Happy

I decided to take a peek at the makershed today. And to my glee, I found this photo on the front page of the makershed! Hooray!

Also, take the bleatin' poll gosh darn you and your non-poll-taking-apathy! I am a pollster & I have the need for knowledge!

Also, how the shibidiboo do you make the entire photo show up?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Imagine That.

Our theater is doing an amazing project with a local school. Schoolchildren grades 2nd-8th have written stories that they think would make good puppet shows. 2 from each grade were chosen (plus one rad poem) and in a relatively short period of time (about 3.5 weeks), the shows were created & performed in the theater. The school brings their students to see their work & the 15 chosen authors are given awards this week. This has all been funded through an arts grant (of course).

I have to say I really enjoy all of the pieces. Each puppeteer has taken 3 stories to adapt. Everyone kept the voice of the child throughout each piece. Some shows are funny, some are very sweet & one makes me nearly cry each time I read the script.

And even the variety of puppets used gives a really great exposure to puppetry. It starts with a blacklight show (which brings on immediate Ooooohs from the kids) and moves into rod marionettes, rod puppets, scarf marionettes, mouth puppets, shadow puppets, overhead projector puppets (drawn & colored in rather than silhouetted shadows), and glove puppets.

It was a greuling process trying to put all of these shows together, but I'm really pleased with the result. In all, I think we kick patuchus.

I leave you with a lovely that I sent over to The Trunk Space not too long ago.

It makes me happy.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Librarian In Me

I'm working on several things at the theater, one of which is organizing, cataloging and shelving more than 250 books about puppetry that have been collected by or donated to the theater over the years.

Boy golly howdy is that a challenge. Just in trying to decide what book goes in which genre is a mighty mountain to climb. Dewey and the LOC aren't exactly my friends on this matter, either. They can disagree with eachother on a lot of things. Genres, order on the shelves, who's turn it is to do dishes this week. They're really terrible roommates. I should recommend they see a counselor.

So I ran across a book that was signed by the author (Helen Haiman Joseph) in 1938. Another book that was owned by Olga Stevens before it was donated to our theater. Another box of Tom Tichenor puppets (yes, puppets--pristine, amazing puppets, with a record and script to go along with it). All of it is just incredible.

It's really been a fascinating education into the history of puppetry. Someday I'll read at least 13 of those books.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We're all okay!

Just in case you weren't one of the 87 people I called yesterday looking for sympathy, or you're not on the loveliness that is twitter, I and my family were in a minor car accident yesterday. One month & two days after Todd's accident & 5 weeks after I bought my new car. Yes, in my new car. New car. 1,620 miles on the car. My beautiful, blue, new Rav4.

It wasn't our fault, the other guy was issued a ticket, I was checked out by a doctor today & have been told to take it easy. The boy-child and husband are all okay. Todd's a little sore, but the boy is completely fine.

We were rear-ended. I was driving (my new car). I exited the freeway to make a right (north) onto 7th avenue to get to the puppet theater to pick my show up to go to the bank to deposit the check from Todd's car accident. The person behind me failed to see that a large blue object was in front of him and not moving as that large blue object was yielding to oncoming traffic. Identical to Todd's accident, just a different freeway/street.

Our bumper is smashed in as is the back door. We can't open it. Today I pulled everything out through the side..which makes me glad for the fact that it has a wonderful set of fold-down seats. I still really love my car.

My NEW car! We didn't have the plates on it yet! Or the proof of insurance in it because they didn't have time to issue it to us...because the car is so new.

If you can't tell, I'm still a touch frustrated. I still also have a screaming headache that I've had since the accident. I was hit on the side of my head, rather than the back because I was looking to the left (to yield to traffic..) at the time of the impact.

In other news, and news that makes me happy, I got a tomtom today for work. We'll see how it goes when I'm going out to schools.

Friday, October 3, 2008

clunky typing makes me happy

So on average I think I've figured out that I do 7-9 shows per week. A friend asked how long this run is...This run has been going on for about 18 years, I imagine it won't stop. The show I do was commissioned by the city water department in 1990 and the city pays the theater to go to schools to teach kids about the evils of wasting water--with a rapping cactus.
Will I get bored with it?
I doubt it. It's a very challenging show. Meaning, at the beginning of each show I hope I do everything right & at the end there's always something I think "ugh" over. The only really bad part about it is the driving. Granted I haven't unloaded a show in 117 degree weather yet...I'm sure driving will have nothing on the heated load/unload next May-September.
Today I'm driving out to East Mesa...And when I say East mesa, I mean that about 12 feet past the school is the "Welcome to Mesa" sign coming in from the other direction. I know this because I accidentally drove past the school yesterday.
The beautiful thing about going way out there is that it is so amazingly quiet. you realize the only thing you're hearing are your footsteps and the wind. An occasional child in the distance or scorpion playing in the school-yard...but there just aren't cars. Its absolutely beautiful. If I didn't really despise plants and arachnids that could hurt me, I'd live out there. I do love living in the city though. If it was farm country in N. CA I might be more tempted to live far away from places with sidewalks....not that my neighborhood has sidewalks...hmm.

Anyway, I suppose this is now warning that if you buy something from me, you've given me free reign to talk about you...I always think about the people who buy my puppets. They're usually getting them for their kids or their co-workers or friends. I usually imagine these people to be teachers or people who work in IT, in just regular ole, ya know, jobs. I found out yesterday that one girl who has bought from me a few times now is a puppeteer! Yay! Not only that, she just made her Sesame Street debut (congratulations!) Anytime that sort of thing happens (i.e. encouragement by someone who does what I do) I think "oh let me at my piles of felt! I want to make more crazy-butt puppets"

So I guess, with that, I'm off to turn some polyfoam into chunks of flesh & gore for tonight's Frightfully Funny Puppet Slam.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Aye today be international talk like o' pirate day. And t'celebrate me young landlubber of a son be having his 5th birthday party and havin' T' Monkey and T' Pirate puppety show in a belated sort of piratey way.


This here image was taken last year on International Talk Like O Pirate Day. This year I be a terribly busy girl, sailing my mighty vessel (Rav4) far and wide to the likes of places like...Chandler, Arizona to tell t'sprogs about fine causes like savin' water through the art of a rapping cactus. Aye and Yar indeed.

Friday, September 12, 2008

problems solved!

Nothing like solving today's problems by adding problems.

My husband left a message during my 2nd show saying he had been in a car accident. It was true, he had been. He was rear-ended as he was exiting from the freeway and turning right. At that right-hand turn you have to yield. He yielded. Apparently the guy in the dodge SUV behind his small suzuki esteem didn't think either one of them should have yielded.

He is OK. He feels like he was hit by a car...a large SUV to be exact...

The force smashed in the back of our car several feet. The rear bumper now brushes against the back tire. The two back seats are bowed out so there is a goodly gap where the seats are separated for folding-down-purposes. The back passenger door won't close, the back driver's side door won't open. The back hatch won't even think of opening. The trunk area is raised up a good foot and a half. The force of Todd's body hitting the seat after he had been jolted broke his driver's seat. It's now permanently reclining. He had just gone grocery shopping (!) and picked up a 5-gallon jug of water that had been resting in the front-passenger seat. The contents were afterwards covering todd and the rest of the car. The milk in the back was leaking out...we took the jug out later and it had been cut in half with the force. not that its all that difficult to cut a milk jug in half, but our car was peeing milk the whole way home.

The SUV didn't even break a headlight. Just minor scratches.

The car was very sentimental to both of us. My grandfather died in it. He had a heart-attack while driving. (He had come to a stop & his foot fell off the brake, a semi-truck driver saw him and parked his truck in front of grandpa's car so it would only gently hit the truck. A nurse was in the car behind the Semi.) He died September 13th, 2001. Tomorrow is the 7-year-anniversary. I've always felt very comforted anytime I thought about it. In fact, when I got the new car I told Todd to take good care of my grandpa's car and said that he had to use the moon-roof for me. We both respect and honor it very much. He was an amazing man. I got a lot of my sense of humor from him. (dirty old...) One of the first things Todd said to me was "why did he have to hit that car...out of every car in the world, that one should have been kept safe" So yeah, it's hard on both of us.

It's sitting in our driveway. I'll take the "Elkhorn Country Club" plate-holder off before they tow it away and I'll put it on my new car. I also think I have his original license plate somewhere. It was personalized with his and my grandmother's initials.

We'll say goodbye to the car after 7 years. It has kept us safe. That's the most important thing.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First logistical challenges

Ok, so I'm doing the map-questing of my FOUR shows tomorrow (2 schools)....

The show I do is 1 hour long.

Challenge one:
One show booked at 8:45am and one right after at the same school is booked at 9:30am--giving me 45 minutes to do the first show and reset the stage for the second show. (I can probably cut down on post-show questions--I'll have to.)

It takes me 45 minutes from the time at which I arrive to the point at which I can do a show.
It takes me roughly 30-45 minutes to tear down/load my car, before I am on the road again. If I start a show at 9:30, I have been leaving the school's parking lot at 11:00, sometimes 11:15am.

I have a third show scheduled at another school at 12:00pm. That means I need to arrive at 11:15 in order to check in, unload, and set up before I can do the show.

Challenge two:
The two schools are 25 miles away from each other on busy freeways during a Friday afternoon lunch-hour rush. Mapquest's estimated travel time: 29 minutes.

I have my fourth show scheduled at the same school at 1pm, meaning I'll get out of there at 2:45.

Challenge three:
I'd like to eat. Preferably between shows two and three--with the 15 minute gap & 30 minutes of travel time.

Thankfully I'm leaving from my house and not the theater which cuts down on the day's total travel time, however I'll still be going 83 miles tomorrow, round-trip. It's okay, I love my new car. I also just got an ipod jack so I can listen to my ipod in my new car.

I'm going to start map-questing two-schools days as soon as I find out about them to ensure that the person booking the shows gives me enough time to travel between the two. And maybe eat as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Smoothing out.

Rav4, Blue, 3 rows of seats, fits my show, completely AWESOME. And it drives like a car. AND it has tinted windows (a must in AZ) AND its awesome AND that has nothing to do with puppetry...except that I did my first four shows monday and yesterday. let's just say the 2nd one went better than the first one....a lot better. Let's also say that I don't like hooded shows due to bad lighting and not being able to find my foot-switch for music cues. Let's also say that I almost fell on my face due to poor balance.

2nd day went well, though. like..I'm really pretty darn amazing kind of well. which means today i fail! I'll go do show #5 in a bit here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's becoming a bad stress

So we had our breakfast today with a friend who used to sell Hondas and Chevrolets. When he sold Chevys he'd send his friends over to buy Hondas. He's a Honda advocate--which is good--from what I hear, everyone who owns a Honda is a Honda advocate.

So basically I was unconvinced that I should get a Honda...we spent some more time with it in the afternoon (friend went with since he's a former salesman--really, you need one of those if you shop for a car). Lateron, after a good long test-drive, I was more comfortable & decided that if they can get the car for me in green, then it's mine. They bend over backwards out their bungles to try to find me a green car--they can't get it today, so we can't sign paperwork, but they gave me a loaner so I could go to work tomorrow with the new car (otherwise I'd borrow one from Gwen or Nancy). Sweet, so I take it down to the theater to get a final rehearsal in and then--much later than I wanted to--loaded up the show. It barely fits. just barely. Like..there's no way I can use this car for the next however many years I'm going to be doing this show & still be a sane human being. The playboard for other shows won't fit down the center and blah blah STRESS.

So after these guys have bent over backwards for me I get to say "oh hey, you know that green one that you had to get from another dealership? yeah that's not going to work for me, but thanks!"

I ended up calling our salesman on his cell phone at 10:30 at night to explain the predicament. I also offered that if he can somehow get me into a RAV4, then that'd be ideal. I will make them cookies. Apparently the dealerships all in a row on Camelback are owned by the same guy, so they can get a car from the other dealership for me. But they don't get as many points? or something. I'm not sure. Either way, I can hopefully get into the Rav4 by tomorrow night? if not by tuesday. Dag nabbit I feel like a dweeb.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's a good stress, right?

My first show is Monday.

I've been car-shopping all weekend.

I think I'll do okay for the first show. I worry nonetheless.

I'm pretty darn stressed out, but I look at the reasons & think Ok, this is because life is good, right? Still, stress is there. (I need to get a car by Monday, by the way.)

Can't decide between a pre-owned Rav4 (Toyota) with 11,000miles (bottom of the line, but drives like a car & has great space inside) and a CR-V (Honda) with 17,000miles (higher model, higher price, drives more like an SUV--but not much more--and is just in general, prettier.

Ok just so everyone can tell me what I should do (please tell me--even if I don't know you or you don't care--just tell me)

Rav4 is good for the: Driveability, cargo area is flat (a plus when loading in puppet stages/boxes) 11,000 miles, back door opens from the side (not sure if/why that's good or bad), better gas mileage by 2mpg (which gives you a free gallon of gas per tank in comparison), Airflow of the A/C is better in the backseats (I have an almost-5-yr-old), parking break is in a better location for me (I like them where a passenger can use it in an emergency), better Consumer Reports rating from the 07 Rav4, Slightly more spacious than a CR-V, it was a reposessed car--so it's practically new (cupholders are in plastic). (the 2007 Rav4 was rated the least depreciated vehicle in its class by someone--not kelly blue book.) Rav4 wins in the cool "push a button and it makes things open/close" category--their 'extra' glove box is pretty cool like that.

CRV is good for the: Exterior looks are better than a rav4 (let's face it , that's important), Cargo area is easy to fold back, mileage is 17,000, It's a certified pre-owned, which means it comes with an extended warranty, back door opens up like a hatch-back (again, not sure which is better), Hondas don't depreciate--dude..really, they don't--ever, it's all "upgraded" n' stuff, it has an mp3 player BUILT INTO THE CAR! (it records your cd's onto a chip in the car & you play them that way...WOW), Its light blue (better than the gold option for the Rav4 as I am not yet 65), gear shift location is pretty cool, although it will take getting used to, kelly blue book is higher on this model by about $3,000...the price we buy it for is going to be close to the Rav4, but its a car that's worth more...and then there's the cupholders. CR-V wins in the cupholder department,

Salesmen: Have been awesome at both places, however the girl that showed us the Rav4 was really, really nice. If its a matter of people to give my $ to, she'd win. Honestly, to the point that if we don't buy the car from her, I'm going to make her cookies. super-uber no-pressure. (The nice folks at the Ford dealership lost the no-pressure round of Sell Todd & Stacey A Car.)

Neither car comes in green. This makes me sad. Very sad indeed.

Ok, so if you don't mind, please leave me your opinion. pretty please. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Vote because you love me

Ok, apparently it's not obvious to everyone reading the blog that I have a poll. That you can vote on. Unless its the same 14 people coming back to visit the blog to find out if there's a new poll...I'm just sayin'. You can also choose more than one option when you vote. its amazing.

So I'm starting to pick the show up little-by-little. Very little. Every time I pick up a puppet to perform for an audience of nobody I transform into a human ball of nervous energy that can't settle. And then heaven forbid I need to do the show for the director--or anyone else in the theater! So they sit there & it's just some puppets, a solitary folding chair and me...ready to rap my little heart out.

It was brought up to me that as long as the music isn't going that I can rap okay, but if you add a beat then I'm lost. This I knew. Need not point out--thanks. So then I was advised to tap my foot to the beat. Its helping a little, but let's think about this....when you hear ragtime, or polkas, or some big band you have a tendency to want to tap your feet....but rap? Do you tap your feet to rap? Not so much--so it's either sound like a fool or look like a fool. Which I should be used to already. I am somewhat of a dingus. (Somehow the word dingus is in my web-browser's dictionary--that makes me happy.)

Ok so this is where I make excuses for my bad puppetry skills:
I'm using a style of puppet that I've never performed with before(which is neat!). They're mostly table-top rod puppets. They're controlled by a rod going through the back of their head or body with a string and elastic for the mouth control (all but one anyway). So first off, I need to keep my derned feet on the playboard. Not something I've ever had to worry about before. Second, I'm so used to moving a puppet's mouth with syllables in a word that I am moving my puppet's body with every syllable which is terribly distracting and uncool. I'm also doing 4 characters in one show..not something I've ever done. I'm usually only one or two characters in a show and they're very seldomly on stage together, so I've never had to worry about vocal distinction in characters. I also work with a male puppeteer most of the time, so I'm never really doing any boy-parts. So in this show 3 of the characters are boys. OY VEY!

My first two shows are Monday, back0-to-back. So today is Wednesday. I have--not that long. Keep your fingers crossed, people. Otherwise some first graders at an elementary school in Chandler are going to be very disappointed.

So I'm thinking about the next puppet fest & what kinds of workshops I'm going to sign up for. I'm thinking a manipulation workshop for sure, and probably a vocal one as well.

Growing in your artform is sometimes a very difficult thing.
(Also, I wish people wouldn't smoke in the basement--just sayin')

Sunday, August 31, 2008

No really, vote over there...with the poll.

The day after I wrote the last post, the director at the theater where I work called and asked me if I want to go full-time with them as a puppeteer.

Sadly, one of our puppeteers is leaving us, but the good news is that he gets to support his wife and see her during her last semester of her Master's program. Hopefully they'll come back when she's finished and life will return to normal.

In the meantime, the theater is in need of a puppeteer for their touring shows in schools. I've been asked to alleviate the burden of the school-year shows while they either find a replacement (they really need a male puppeteer) or our puppeteer comes back to us. Honestly, his return would be ideal. He's a very good puppeteer & he brings a bit of silly sanity along with him.

So, that leaves me learning one of the most difficult shows the theater does. I was told this was one of the most difficult shows right off the bat. Thankfully I had almost a full 2 weeks to learn it. I'm down to having a week exactly.

It's about water conservation. I'm getting the part with the rapping cactus (yes) down pretty okay--which is really not my strong suit. I'm the clumsiest, whitest, most awkward rapper that ever fell over her own two feet. No really, I'm friggin' white. I have barely any rhythm at all. And this is just how bad it is...I can do the rap kind-of okay..I mean..I'm getting it---but then you put a beat behind me and I'm incredibly lost and have no idea what syllable to put emphasis on. I can hardly clap to when you're happy and you know it let alone rap. And as much as I'm stumbling in my attempt at showing you how inept I am at rapping--imagine my rapping--it's worse.

So now that I've convinced you that I'm not qualified, you will fully understand my fears for memorizing this show (and the rap plus 2 songs) that this show entails.

This job also is going to require that we become a 2-car family--which will be nice, since currently I drive 3 hours every day in a 10 mile radius of my home. I did also request that instead of doing 40 hours, that I only do 32 per week. That will give me one day out of the week to still (hopefully) create.

Anyone have any advice on shopping for hatchbacks/wagons/minivans?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Two days in a row? I'm craaazy.

No really, I'm crazy. I've been people.

I wanted to share some of the puppets that I made recently. Hooray! I'm really excited to love finger puppets again. For awhile I was feeling as though that was a sub-par type of puppet to make. Now, honestly, I think--for me--it's better. I'm a tiny girl and I like tiny things. I'm embracing just how awesome something little and made of felt can be. I think I struggle with believing this is a skill anyone can do (which I still mostly believe) and they can make it look the same if not better than what I do. And I see tons of handmade artful finger puppets that go beyond the flat"oh look I'm a monster with one eye, Whooohoo!" that I see a lot of. (No offense if you make those--the world needs that kind of puppet as well.) So maybe not everyone can make anthropomorphic garbage cans and dapper mustachioed bacon. Maybe it takes my odd little brain to come up with a happy little piece of feminine hygiene, emo pancakes, or conjoined bunnies. And don't worry, I know, the over-use of bacon is waning on all of us, however I've been doing bacon for years now and I'm not about to give it up because its gone all mainstream. I commit to making my bacon weirder and googley-eyed-er than any other bacon out there. I pledge this to you, America. (Sorry, Canada.)
Anyway, enough with the talking words.

Ok so because blogger seems to lack the wonderful formatting previewerage that would be so helpful in times like this...I'll say what the puppet is, and you can guess which title goes with which puppet. It will be a great challenge. Alright here we go.
*Mustachioed Rain Cloud....see, I didn't realize the felt was green until I got it into better lighting....when it was finished. Ah well, acid rain it is.
*Mustachioed bacon. I actually made this puppet on the plane going into Missouri. I just haven't photographed it until now. I really like it. A lot. I think this is one that will stay in my own personal collection.
*Rabbit of Makershed fame. Yet another bunny that I made back in May at the Maker Faire in San Fran (I can call it San Fran because I'm native to California and it makes me sound cool). I'll remind you now that the kits are available at the makershed online. I hand wound each spool of thread that's in those kits (No really, I did). Indie kit all the way, baby! Support the indie artist! Or don't, it's cool. (I can say indie because I'm on the tail end of gen-x and it makes me sound cool.)
*Googly Eyed Strawberry. I was at my friend's house while she was making dough on Saturday and she gave me a pile of felt, a needle, thread and scissors. Also she gave me a straw for my drink. Wendy's failed. This (and the acid rain) came out of the felt. With my help.

Side story: our children (age 4--but collective age of 8, so they should have known better!) were hanging out in her backyard unsupervised, because really, what harm can two four-year-olds do to a backyard with a playhouse and a swing-set? Let me answer: They threw rocks over my friend's fence, apparently hitting her car, putting dings in the paint as well as breaking the windshield. That's right, my son is a vandal. Hooligan. (I feel terrible about that, by the way.) When asked if there were things on the other side of the fence that could get broken, his response was, "No. We couldn't see what was on the other side of the fence."
So you know how when you go out of a baby's line of vision, they freak out because to them you don't exist anymore? Apparently fences have the same effect on four-year-olds.

Ok, finally I have to tell you about an artist whom I stumbled across today on Etsy. His name is Dean Kendrick and he does amazing shadow boxes and has some beautiful hand-drawn and stop-motion animation on his website. I dig.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

dude, don't forget to vote.

I went to New York for 5 days and this is the only proof that I have that I was ever there. It's me and Mr. Craig Hunter from Cubistliterature. We were in Red Hook, Brooklyn, which is really pretty darn awesome. Anytime I visit Brooklyn, it makes me wish I lived there. Granted, it's pretty darn smelly...I couldn't quite get over that part. And there are many other reasons I'm glad I live where I live, but for the social aspect I wish I lived there. Craig and I went out to lunch & it was lovely.

I stayed with Jen from Sweetestpea and Goobeetsa from Goobeetsa while I was out there. They were such kind hosts! Their apartment, the largest in Brooklyn, is adorable! They're also both really great artists.

The improv festival prior to my goings-outs-to-lunch went pretty well. Our show was okay, but eh, it's improv--at a marathon-style festival, sometimes you're not going to have your best show. I totally missed Josh and Tamra's improvised puppet show! I caught bits and pieces of another improvised puppet show out there that was done with Sunny puppets...The humor was there, but the puppetry made my tummy feel icky. Like..ugh. eating words, no focus (really how much can you get out of a Sunny puppet anyway?). standing there looking at the ceiling, as talking heads and biting words. It was not done by puppeteers...

Am I being harsh? Of course I am! If an improviser watches non-improvisers do improv--and do it badly-- they cringe and ask why in the world would someone just pick-up and try to do an art-form without any training? You're telling people that that's what improv is? You're lying to people and they're just believing you. You're hurting the artform! You must hate your audience and improv! Go take a workshop, foo'! (Which I hear a lot from improvisers) So yeah, I don't feel bad calling improvisers out on botching another performance art. Yah--eat it. With a spoon.

I really really want to get this longform puppetry troupe up and running. I want it to be GOOD improvised puppetry! Not the stacey-drunk-em-ups style, but involve thoughtfully good scenes. It will happen. I hope.

All summer my creating of things has been down a lot. I'm driving 2.5 hours every day, which eats into creating...a lot. I listed a puppet on Etsy that I made in June..which weirdly helps put the creative bug back into me. I finished two finger puppets this morning. My son is helping me price things. "$1,000 for a raincloud." DEAL. "$20 for a raincloud getting a strawberry fresh. $13 for a raincloud lifting a car up." I think I need a better agent. Prices are only going down at this point. Hopefully I'll take pictures of the $.02 puppets today and get them posted to flickr so your magical eyes can see my magical puppets. Magical.

A 2nd bird today has just hit my dining-room window.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Del Close Marathon

If you plan to stalk me, go to New York this weekend. I'll be performing with Apollo 12 at the Del Close Marathon (Improv festival) on Saturday at 4pm at the Hudson Guild Theater. This will be my 2nd trip to New York. It will be amazing.

If you do stalk me, please tackle me after the show. (I want to be tackled to the ground. Do it, I'll give you a nickel.) I would be very sad to find out that someone I know came and they didn't tackle me afterwards.

I'm hoping to get over to the marionette theater to see--marionettes. If I do, I'll have hit the two oldest puppet theaters on both coasts in one summer. Is it a little bit sad that I even know that? Or is it more sad that I feel as though it's an accomplishment. *Pushes up nerd-glasses*

We had our Puppet Slam this last weekend & my cohort finished the script for me. He did a great job, too. So our Friday show had a great crowd as usual, and the Saturday show had a larger, but quieter crowd, as usual. Saturday crowds are weird.

Before the show I was able to fix Little Red Riding Hood's arms up in a really cool way Nick Barone taught at the workshop. It emphasized how different her arms are in proportion, but it makes it so they're not all floppy-floppy at the side. (Note the before shot to the right & after below.) Here, when I've been thinking almost every arm like this has some sort of armature in it, all it took was some soft-sculpture techniques. Yay that!

Goal: This time next year I will have a set of human puppets for shows that I will have spent a goodly amount of time constructing. (Meaning not 4 puppets in 5 days as per the usual)

Hold me to it, blog-world.

Monday, July 28, 2008

8 posts worth of posting.

So the few of you that check in on me every now and again are probably sick of seeing the same bit about the silly rhinos. Sorry about that. And then again, who am I writing for, you or me? Probably more me, otherwise I wouldn't do it. But hey, at least when I get the bug in me to write, I give you a week's worth of reading.

On the puppetry front I went to PuppetFest Midwest and made the most amazing puppet I've ever made. Keep in mind that I have had a child. The child did not have yellow eyes and I did not use The Ultimate non-toxic contact cement to make him. I took Nick Barone's workshop. Yay for that whole shin-dig! Very patient and willing to put up with attention-loving kids like me. I'll post photos soon. I haven't quite finished his arms. I'm afraid I was too eager to slap them on and sewed one to the body a bit early (before I finished the 2nd one--bad call). So I've realized the fallacy in this and now I'm kind-of sad to take the other arm off, fearing that I'll leave a big-ole frasty mark on his side. I'm very impatient. I need to get over that.

The workshop was only half of the loveliness that was Puppetfest Midwest. I also got to know quite a few amazing puppeteers. Can I be thrilled that this is what I do? I make friggin puppets and I work at a friggin puppet theater. I meet and get to talk with heroes of puppetry. I do shows for grown-ups and I'm basically doing what I wanted to do when I was 5. Nobody grows up and does what they wanted to do when they were 5. If you challenge me then you are a liar. You didn't want to grow up and be a grown-up. When you were 5 you wanted to be a Snork and you know it.

So while at the festival I had forgotten that I signed up for something called Bits & Pieces. Its a late night show that's basically an open-mic night. I had brought a handful of finger puppets (only because they were in my sewing bag) & I grabbed a pig & a hamburger before I left--very last minute, too--just in case I wanted to sign up once I got there. I saw my name on the list when I arrived & freaked out a little. I hadn't prepared a darn thing. Nick was in charge of the evening performances & wouldn't take my name off of the list. Thankfully I had wonderful people in my life (Thank you Drew Allison) who made sure I had 3 glasses of wine in about 30 minutes before I went on. I don't drink terribly often. Drew was, by the way, the first person to actually get me drunk. Enabler. So because I had prepared nothing, I knew I'd be improvising.

A word on improvisational theater. (Yes, I spelled theater with an ER, not RE--eat it.) Doing a show with multiple people is one thing. The fewer people you have in your show, the more "on" you need to be. A two-person show is intimidating to me. It can be for a lot of people. In fact, I'd say it is for a lot of people. You just have to be flat out on top of your game. I had no other experienced improvisers upon whom I could force to perform with me. I have never before done a one-person improv show. I had no one to bounce ideas off of but my forced-split-personality self.

I also have never done a solo puppet show. Also an intimidating thing for me. I'm sure most puppeteers are completely comfortable with such an idea. But if my ship is sinking, I want someone to hug on the way down.

So I mustered up my gut (aka Drunkie McDrunkicide) and went on with just me, two hand puppets and a fist-full of finger puppets. The suggestion was singing sausage. I do longform, by the way, so it was one continual scene and nothing jokey-gamey-gimmicky. I honestly think I did a very good job with it! I had many, many compliments post-show. People laughed about when I thought they should, and I had fun (which is the ultimate importance). I'm sure it was a mixture of "hey I think she's funny" and "hey look at Drunkie." But even that bit of a mixture is okay with me. Causes me to really want to kick some Bits & Pieces tuchus if I'm able to go next year.

I came back to a busy Crafty Burrito week & even more puppetry. Last weekend I participated in the 48-hour Film Challenge, sponsored by IFP & the Phoenix Film Festival. We were 2 hours late turning in our film due to some technical problems. Ah well. we had a lot of fun making it. We used paper puppets. Something I'd never done before & thought it would be easier than it was, and then it ended up being easier than I'd been making it after lots of failed attempts at both moving eyes & mouths from flat paper. I didn't have too many materials or tools available to me and we made more than 20 puppets for the 3 minute film. I mean, that alone we should be proud of. We'll screen it on Thursday for a $10 a ticket. That's right, it's a STEAL!

I have a puppet slam coming up next weekend. For anyone in the area who wishes to go, its $8 if you call & pay in advance & $10 at the door.It should prove to be an okay slam. Its called the Sweaty Butt Puppet Slam. Being in Phoenix, I can attest to the sweaty buttification. I've not finished writing our piece yet. bad, isn't it? I suppose I'm just not married to the idea, so its hard to get behind it. I feel like maybe the premise has been over-done & will cause the show to be predictable, which automatically makes things boring--for me. And with all of the creative juices flowing out of me so much in such a short amount of time (festival followed by 48 hour challenge), it's just difficult to make myself write something that I can't get fully behind. I feel some sort of creative stifleifity going on and I'm not a fan. Boo.

I'm hoping that getting back into Etsy a bit can cure that. I haven't made anything new (excepting a head of lettuce at the festival which someone wanted to buy before I cut the final thread--that was a nice feeling.) But I have been listing some things I'd already made. I actually sold 4 things just this week, so that's really exciting. One being Gloria, my zombie. One of those things that I question whether or not I'm making puppets the "right way" and rethinking how much my labor is worth when I employ only a certain set of skills. (I actually went back and changed that sentence from using the 2nd person (You question, you're making, your labor, etc) and decided to own those gross feelings as my own.) Anyway, just being in a general funk. Everyone goes there, and it's not a bad place to be's just a place. So anyway, I'm hopefully coming out of that funk. I'm hoping once swim lessons are over in the child-boy's life, that I can get back to making things hard. I can't see it not happening.

(The photo is of a puppet I made for an awesome kid named Elliott who designed the puppet all by his lonesome.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

PuppetFest Midwest Tomorrow!

I leave tomorrow bright and early for PuppetFest Midwest in Trenton, Missouri! I was awarded a scholarship & I plan to use it to the fullest! This festival sneaked up on me. ("Sneaked up" doesn't sound correct..but really it is.) I think I was so excited about the release of the video this week (Yesterday it was a feature story on yahoo! YAY!) that I completely forgot about packing. So today is all about getting my ducks in a row before I leave!

Things I doubt you care about: Swim lessons with the boy-child are going well. If I were a newspaper I'd say something about them going swimmingly. Which causes me to ask why newspapers are still using puns after at least 100 years of readers groaning at them in agony.

He also got into the school we were hoping for! He'll actually be in the kindergarten classroom this year. They stay there until they're about age 7 because it's a hippie-school. How hippie you ask? The 3rd graders are in charge of taking care of the farm animals. They encourage the kids to jump off of the swings, catch frogs, and climb trees. (As long as the tree doesn't bear fruit.) They keep the same teacher from the 1st-8th grade. They spend a lot of time outside while they learn. They all learn to play instruments & paint. They make stilts, learn how to felt, and put on plays. What's even cooler? Puppetry is huge at this school! HUZZAH! (That's a dork's way of saying amen.)

This is where I preach:
Encouraging children to move while they learn and using music to teach math, and art to teach science, and dance to teach language causes children to learn effectively. It's well-rounded and it makes learning far more fun than sitting at a desk. Stupid desks.

Preaching done. Look at a picture of rhinos to flush your brain.

Friday, June 27, 2008

This is it!

So....this is what I worked on that was all super-secret. Released mere moments ago (I was the 12th view!) and YAY!

For those of you who don't know, it's a Canadian band called the Barenaked Ladies and they're not bare or naked...or ladies. But they do sing some pretty rad music & they released a children's album called Snacktime. I got to go to Chicago in a fancy airplane and ride in a fancy car to a fancy apartment in Boy's Town. Then I got to ride a fancy train and a fancy bus to help finish the puppets up, then I got to sit under a fancy table & play with puppets for 19 fancy hours! FANCY! (Thank you Moxie, for bringing that word back to the forefront of my life)

One of the most wonderful experiences! I loved every minute! I got to work with some amazing puppeteers, as well! WOW. Noah Ginex is the man responsible for most everything you see on screen. From construction and animation to editing. He had a good set of folks around him that helped him work on a fairly tight budget (when it comes to puppets) and an even tighter schedule to make it work.

I could go on for ages. I won't.

Monday, June 23, 2008

This wasn't it....But it's Exciting!!!

The big thing I was awaiting wasn't this, but this is one thing I was awaiting! My finger puppet kits have arrived at the Maker Shed! (Craft: & Make: Magazine's online store)

They said that the kit is by Stacey Rebecca...implying that either I have no last name or that Rebecca is my last name. I think people have a problem with my name. Poor Stacy Wolf. I'm not sure if I should ask them to fix it. I'm just kind-of excited that I have a product ID number. Although the free-art non-consumer in me is saddened by that...although the desire to pay mortgages and eat food and send my child to school is again excited about it. Hooray consumerism!

So go buy my hard work from someone else! And then they'll buy my hard work from ME! Hooray for the man!

Very Little Time

The story of having "no time" continues, however if you look at my facebook profile, it seems as though I've found a lot of time for scramble. (a game like boggle) Anyway, it feels like I don't have much time. I possibly procrastinate slightly when I do. However it being midnight-thirty, I'll accept that this is time I can properly waste.

I did get to do a workshop in Gilbert for teens. They had 12 sign up, but only 6 girls came. They were a quiet, but fun group. Wow, some of them got really creative. I love seeing that! Teenagers don't get to play very often. Puppetry is entirely a way to get them to act like idiots--I mean, children.

I've been anxiously awaiting the release of that super-secret project. There has been an announcement on a certain website saying that it would be released at the end of the week. Until then, I play Scramble.

On Friday I had a show that started at 10:30pm (insane), but prior to that, I attended the Cancer Fandango, an event that raised money to help a local improviser pay for his cancer-bills. Lovely insurance doesn't pay for medication, so at 29, Alexander has to worry about debt, cancer, chemotherapy, seizures, boredom, and everything else that goes along with having cancer. Well boo that I say! If you'd like to donate to help an awesome guy out, give him money. Give him all of...or at least some of your money. If a dollar is all you give, then that's one less dollar he has to worry about. Seriously. Or youse can use your computer for the folding at home dealio. (yes, grammar is my strong suit.) You can download that via the linkiedoodle under "give him money."

The next day at the same venue we screened our *cough* award-winning film, Big Benevolent Wolf. First with sound, second with live commentary from the directors. We ACTUALLY had people that enjoyed their evening. I hope it's because a couple that spins plates came on after us. No naked magician last night, but one can only ask for so much.

That's all for now. When the magical future secret project gets released, I'll pee my pants and then announce it here. Our guess is within the next few days.

I leave you with a photo that is near and dear to my heart. You can guess where he was.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Caution: Spoilers

This is Larry Bignose. The Larry on the left was created by a 9-year-old boy who shall remain nameless for awesome's sake. The Larry on the right was adapted to puppet by me. I have had the extremely good pleasure of adapting four more of his designs into finger puppets. Keeping in mind that I'm plunking these guys down into under 3" of felt, it's not exactly easy. Larry's biggest challenges were in making his hands and his hat. I made the hat separately, and now I think I should have made it least the brim. To get the full-on excitement of the hat, you'd have to look at the side view. Nothing will ever be perfect, right? If you know the recipient of this puppet...SHHHH.

We got home last night to find nothing stolen. I'm only mildly disappointed, although I know many of you are very busy with the end of the school-year and all. The only thing missing was our mail, but we knew about that so it doesn't count. A good friend stopped by to get our mail for us while we were out of town & we went by his place on our way home to pick it up. We only had him get our mail after hearing that another friend got a scholarship to PuppetFest Midwest in Trenton, MO* this summer. I also applied for a scholarship, so I was really anxious to find out. I called Bill to see if the letter was there and if so, in what type of envelope, and whether or not it was thick, etc. I had him open it over the phone and read it to me. I got the scholarship! Hooray!

For those of you who don't know, puppet festivals (unlike a lot of improv festivals) cost several hundreds of dollars just to attend. There's no taking just one workshop or going to just one show. It's either all or nothing. So with transportation, I think it bumped this festival up over $1,000 for me...which is completely not-doable. They scholarship pays for the festival, room and board for the week and the workshops. I have to cover transportation, but I can do that!

I only get one real week out of the year to learn from other people and this is it. This festival is unlike a lot of others, in that it offers a full week of classes with only one instructor (most festivals offer that as an option, but not as the only option). And then there are shows in the evenings, and dinners together. You stay in dorm rooms with other puppeteers and it's pretty okay to geek out over something like an arm-rod or a ladder stitch. For my some of my other crafting friends, consider it like going to the bead store with someone who knows what a crimping thingie-doodle is, or to a knitting store where they have bamboo fiber to spin. The nice thing is that all craftsmen are brought together under the love of a dremel. (yes..all)

I still can't believe Maker Faire was only a month ago and that the music video was only 2 and a half weeks ago? wow. A lot has happened recently. Thankfully it's not going to slow down! I have a workshop that I'll give at a Library toward the end of June, and lots of puppets I'm making for people who want puppets. And not to mention that I get to go on vacation next weekend for 8 days at the beach starting next weekend. And thrown in there is Disneyland! Yay!

*Trenton claims to be the world's largest producer of Vienna sausages. World..You have NO idea! None! I will gain 47 pounds in sausages. 45% of those pounds will be sodium. Oh sweet baby hot dogs that come in a can, you will be in my belly. Soon.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Boo for dead batteries

I'm in California again, but this time on vacation. Hooray! Yesterday we headed into Oakland to visit Children's Fairyland, a small theme-park built in 1950 (pre-Disneyland). They house the oldest continuously running puppet theater in the country. It's full of adorably dated rides and sets and wonderfully updated rides and sets. This was the place that I saw my very first puppet show in either 81 or 82. This was also the place the left me terrified of twisty slides for the rest of my life. My shoe got caught in the tower. The dreaded tower of doom. This dreaded tower of doom is the tower to which they send the kids under 4 years of age because they're too little to go down the big-kid dragon slide of not-getting-your-shoe-stuck.

So at one point we had to take the wee one to the wee-wee room & I saw that the side door was open to the puppet theater...a Yoda poster hung on the wall inside (adorable since Frank Oz used to work there). I saw a man eating a hot-pocket (ohhh delicious hot I miss your cheese-goo) & I decided to muster my woman-balls and ask if he was the resident puppeteer. Indeed it was puppeteer, Randal Metz. He invited me in and we talked about puppetry and building and marionettes and shows and well..puppetry for a good hour until it was time for him to start the show. We geeked out so hard that Todd & the boy-child had to leave to do less geeky things.

Their audio is all prerecorded, so he invited me to watch the show from backstage if I wanted to. I wanted to. I brought my mom back (she adores puppets) & we watched Pinocchio. It was an interesting thing to watch. His partner for the show had only done the show with him 3 times, so she was fairly fresh. But the idea of having prerecorded dialog and music meant that he could give her instructions during the show without missing a beat. He also carried on a fairly uninterrupted conversation with us during the show without missing things. It's so ingrained.

I've stolen some video from etsy seller, headexplodie, for you. Go buy stuff from her out of guilt for having watched stolen video.

Then we got to play with the puppets. That was good fun! Lewis Mahlmann made the puppets years and years ago (I don't want to be specific because I don't remember exactly, but Randal did tell me) and some of the costumes (in the show) were made by Frances Oznowicz. It was really an awesome theater to visit. And the park is pretty lovely as well. It's getting refurbished and there is fresh paint everywhere! (Even on the boy's shirt...whoopsiedoodle)

We head back into town tomorrow morning, so if you plan on stealing something from my house, now is the time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's a long one...sorry.

This month has been insane! Maker Faire, Mother's Day, last month of teaching, first trip to Chicago, music video, 8-year anniversary and Hobo Soup! Crazy.

I've been meaning to post about the Maker Faire since it happened! I asked permission to use this photo, but for some reason its not uploading to Blogger or downloading to my computer. SO, you'll have to click the link to see me in action at the Maker Faire. I was a very busy girl. I auditioned for Make:TV and did a demo/talk on the Craft:magazine stage and spent hours upon hours showing kids and grown-ups alike how to backstitch and whip-stitch their way into a finger puppet.
See that pile of puppets there on the workbench? Four of them were taken right out from under my nose! Isn't that terrible? If I believed in karma I'd say it'd one day bite them in the tuchus, but since I don't, they'll probably just play with the puppets for a little while, and enjoy the fact that they stole my hard work without me ever noticing. I guess it affirms that people like what I do. It also affirms that the bunny & carrot set are more popular than the steak & dog set, as the bunny/carrot set were swiped twice. Someone also took a Sakura tool-belt full of awesome pens & markers AND a few puppets, but at least I was off doing something else so it was left unattended. That's enough lamenting, I suppose. Lesson learned: Trust no one.

The trip to Toronto was postponed, but I really didn't mind because it meant that I could spend Mother's Day at home with my family. It's also always nice to stay in Phoenix when it's not roasting-hot outside. I'll hopefully get away to Toronto when it's 118 here in the desert.

Last weekend I was in Chicago doing some puppetry on a music video, but I'm not sure how much I can share. I think I can share a production photo and if I can't, I'm sure the right people will contact me and ask me to take it down. The photo is courtesy of JP's cell phone. You can see me tucked underneath the table. I was puppeteering a butterfly that I had been asked to make about 10 minutes prior. I think I whipped it out in less than 5 minutes with only a t-shirt, wire, hot-glue & a marker. I felt like McGuyver.

In a way, that butterfly was very important. At least performing it was. As a kid I watched Sesame Street (of course I did) and in the Bert & Ernie segments especially, there seemed to always be a butterfly flitting around. I can't tell you how much I wanted to be that little butterfly. About 6 years ago I saw a purple Folkmanis butterfly puppet at the Great AZ Puppet Theater (my first trip there) & bought it right away only because it helped fulfill that little space in my dreams. So I made this puppet & went onto the set and basically said, "I'm performing it." There wasn't any way that anyone else was going to do it. A little dream was actually fulfilled with that t-shirt. Hooray for little dreams!

Doing that project was amazing. It was hard work, but I wouldn't mind more hard work like that at all! We got there at 8:30am and left at 3:30am. I'm really thankful that I was brought in for the it and I worked with some amazing puppeteers! This was my first professional video and my first experience with monitors. I was not only intimidated by just the project alone (and the monitors), but I was surrounded by experienced puppeteers. It really was an honor working with them & watching them perform. I'm sure my performance will be picked out easily as mine will be the puppet slowly sinking and hardly emoting.

It certainly pushes me to try to improve those skills. Not that I'll ever really have an opportunity like this again, but just in case I do, I want to be prepared.

I'm leaving with my family on Friday for a much-needed vacation together. We'll return home for 5 days and then leave again for another much-needed vacation together. I'm pretty excited & busy making puppets for people in the meantime. Tonight for dinner we're having Hobo Soup.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Maker Day!

So here I am in California. I was able to attend Maker Day for the Maker Faire yesterday, and met a LOT of wonderfully geeky guys and gals. Mostly guys! The makers are into programming and hacking into things, making things with gears, soldering, and dremeling which is lovely. Someone had a machine that was a tongue to lick a lollipop with the turn of a crank. A gentleman who goes by the name of Doc was telling me about his boy on a bicycle and his next goal being to animate his face. The boy's, not his own.
Another guy I met, Simran, has made (to the best of me being able to describe things) an application that uses the wonder of virtual gravity and boxes and things crashing together in pretend-space to create a symphony of music. It's a very cool app & reminds me a lot of Electroplankton by Nintendo. (Which is a lovely little "game")

When I talk to most any of the makers--especially the ones who make baby arms move by sensors in the feet, or people who are exploring using ventriloquist dummy parts to create robots-- I think about how these things can merge in the world of puppetry. Puppetry overlaps to nearly every art-form. Hackers, programmers, visual artists, fiber artists, welders, woodworkers, actors and vocalists all have their important and vital roles in puppetry. WOW. I can't wait to talk about puppetry on Sunday and how each and every person there should become involved with it in some way.

Want to see a picture of me at Maker? Yes. So silly I am. I took a trip to the Maker Shed to see my kits displayed and they were sitting right next to John Kennedy's Puppet Planet. That's pretty darn rad, if I do say.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Frogs & San Francisco

On the day before yesterday, I was asked by the good people at Make:/Craft: Magazine to go to the Maker Faire to be a demonstrator & possibly speak. Wow, what an incredibly awesome honor & opportunity! I bought my plane tickets yesterday and will go have a weekend on the town in San Francisco. Hooray! I also got the most amazing amigurumi frog in the mail from Italy yesterday. It was a little birthday gift to myself. I love it. WOW. Rosy LaWood is the artist who made the frog. The card inside the frog's messenger bag says, "please take care of me." Gosh, this frog is just so much fun! She's just begging to go to San Francisco with me!
So, really this week has been pretty darn rad.

Phillip Huber arrives to our theater next week. I think next week will also be rad. I'm in awe of marionettes and particularly his marionettes. He has really worked hard to preserve the history of puppetry. I admire him a lot.

I decided to celebrate all of these things by making myself a Shirley Temple. Mmmm delicious.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Congratulations, Stacy Wolf!

Last night I attended the screening & awards ceremony for the Independent Feature Project's 4 Season Short Film Challenge (yes, mouthful). Our film was up for Best Feature, Best Writing/Story, & Best Director. We didn't expect to walk away with anything at this point. We'd already won the Winter Challenge, but we were competing against 15 other filmmakers & their films.

While our film didn't win $1,000, we did take home a lovely Plexiglas award, given to Stacy Wolf. Ya know, usually my first name gets misspelled. This I am used to. But my last name, not so much. But they did get one letter in my last name right, so that's good!

So I suppose, to get it fixed they either need to get me a new one. I did consider finding someone with the last name Wolf & marrying him/her. Or I suppose I could have just had it changed legally without marrying anyone. Considering I'm already married & have business cards with my name on them, I decided to ask them to send me a new award. The nice thing is that I get to keep the old one, so that means I get TWO!

So I guess I'm here being ridiculous & people are liking my ridiculous. Yay for that.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I am a serious grown-up

About a half-hour ago I watched the clock change to midnight. I'm 30.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to eat cereal with no character on the box. For lunch I will eat a sandwich on whole-grain bread. I also plan to discuss my goiter with several people at a grocery store with whom I share no real connection. I'll retire to bed at 7:30pm and get up at 4am, go to the IHOP and ask for an early bird special. I will use the word elderly well more than I should.

I tell lies & that makes me happy. No. I'm happy because I immediately tattle. On myself. I'm meta.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

You People Deserve To Read Something

Good golly, how many times have you checked back & nothing new had been posted? I keep feeling as though I'm on the edge of something, so I hesitate in posting because, well, something significantly rad might come up tomorrow, whereas right now nothing definite is going on & reading about maybes is boring and difficult to follow.

I've been asked to go to Toronto in May to give an improv workshop to puppeteers. Oh, man, you have no idea how excited I am about this! I geek out over both of these things so hard. I love teaching improv to people who don't really know how/what it is. The fundamentals of improvisational theater are so lovely! Anthony Fama, of Tucson's Streetprov, has often said that the fundamentals of improv would solve a lot of people's problems (to be fair, I'm sure many people have said this, however I associate it with Anthony). I believe it to be true. There are some great foundations for life. I think everyone should be required to take First Aid/CPR, Driving Lessons & at least one improv workshop from the right person. I suggest Joe Bill.

The other half of that geeking out is that I adore seeing other puppeteers doing wonderful things & I'm rarely around puppeteers that I haven't known for 6 years! Oh man, and there's another side of it: Toronto! Yay that!

(Allison, did you hear gunshots around 10:30 on Sunday night? Yeah, me too..just now)

Also, I made a cabbage. I like him.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pie Day!

I declare today the best day of all!

Second best: International Talk like o'Pirate day

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lessons from the Muppets

The Muppet exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth closes on Sunday, so I did one last trip today with a friend. I looked for specific things today & how I could apply them to my own work. I did find techniques that I might use, but more importantly, looking at the puppets & Jim's doodles, I realized that there's a beautiful lack of perfection to most of it.

While the puppets are well more than what I can muster, they're not the models of perfection that I had built them up to be in my mind, from television, or from the initial exhibit visit, at which I was just amazed to be in the same room as these great works of art (not to mention Dave Goelz).

This time around I was looking for imperfections and I found them. Just like I can for anything in life, especially my own work. While I won't ever be content with my work, seeing all of these wonderful imperfections from people so highly revered encouraged me to go a little easier on myself.

I think the perfection that has been built up in my mind was due to the excitement & energy that Jim Henson & his cohorts put into it all. I've got that...holy crap, I've got that! So I'm just going to go with it. I'm not going to worry about what so-and-so might think....My own style & better building will come with time & with practice. I don't need to be perfect, I just need to do what I'm doing with the joy that it brings me. And if that doesn't make me successful, then I'll be having too much fun with what I'm doing to know that I'm miserable, right?

Just because I like to throw in photos, my carrot army is at the top there...its me..having fun with what I do!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Puppet Pie has found a mascot.

I present to you....


It's a finger puppet. Part of Pie-Pact '08, however I decided that since I have so many things actually named Puppet Pie, that maybe I should keep this one. However *ahem* if you would like your own piece of puppet pie in any flavor of your choosing (most taste like felt), then just let me know & maybe I'll invest the time into making more for Etsy.
Also....Tonight our short film project for IFP's winter festival took home 3 awards:
1)Best Story.
*ahem* I'd like to thank Mack Duncan for our lovely brainstorming session & a lack of sleep for providing me with lines so hilarious that I shouldn't write them in a public space.
2)Best Use of Puppets
*ahem* I'd like to thank the panel of judges for making up an award specific to our show. I'd like to apologize to each film that did not get an award tailored to their piece. Specifically, I'm sorry film with the fat-suit. I really thought you should have had the best fat-suit award.
3)First Place (and a cash prize!)
*ahem* um..are you sure? You watched it, right? The one we submitted........Really? Wow. um...thank you? I think. Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much.

They took our picture. On the first one I thought, "oh lame, I get my picture taken & I smile like a 3 year old..that's great." On the second I thought "I get a second shot at the photo!" By the third photo I was really just a tad dazed.

The film will be presented at the Phoenix Film Festival on April 7th.

I want to make more films.

Friday, February 22, 2008

being proactive instead of reactive

Of all of the puppets that I've made, I think this frog might be my favorite. I think one of the reasons for that is because I didn't get to keep him for very long. He was shown at a local art gallery in '06 and I wasn't expecting him to sell. I'd made him out of the leftover fabric from a dinosaur costume that I'd made for my son for Halloween that year. At least I think that's where the fabric came from....

I was telling a friend of mine how I am sad that I haven't kept a few key puppets in my building career...the frog, the Phoenix Coyotes Puppets, and a bunny or two. My friend said, "Well, why can't you just recreate the frog?" I thought of a long list of unreasonable reasons to not remake him, one reason being, "I don't have the same fleece." Then thought that I should at least try it no matter what color he is. Green is still the goal, here.

So I've embarked on a make-a-puppet-for-myself adventure. I am not going to post this one to Etsy and I'm not going to use it for any shows (that I know of). I'm taking my time, I'm starting over with things when they don't work right, and I'm allowing myself to put him down without being finished with him. Leaving him alone when he's not finished is actually the hardest part of this project. A) I want to see him done! B) there's a lingering fear that if I put him down, I might never find the time/motivation to pick him up again. So far, I've gone back to him. And, I'm really excited about the whole thing.

I give another workshop to another library for teens & tweens tomorrow..and then again on Thursday & the following Saturday & that ends my library run of workshops. By the way, if you live anywhere near Phoenix, just let me know if you want to know about the workshops in more detail...the Library is paying me to teach, so it's free to anyone ages 12-18.

There. I've updated. Are you happy?

Friday, February 8, 2008

The title was so lame, I changed it.

Now, I told myself at the beginning of this journal that I'd not write about my boring personal life. I justify telling you about both my bronchitis and pink eye (at the same time) because I'm relating it to puppetry somehow.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about interrupted plans..."I'll take January off (HAH!) & hit February really hard...." So, here it is, 1 week into February. I've been sick for nearly 2 weeks. All of my plans for February have been halted. Even January's plans didn't go according to plan. I prepared two shows, gave one workshop, met Dave Goelz & saw Kermit the Frog & Rowlf the dog (& Bert & Ernie & Cantus & Gobo & Gonzo & others...) for the very first time, filmed two puppet videos, taught classes, hosted an out-of-town guest and took at least one shower. All of this despite my wanting to take a little break.

Sometimes it feels like our plans are constantly interrupted. I'm not so sure that's true though, even though it seems to happen a lot. We silly humans remember abnormalities more-so than good ole regular things. So anytime a plan planned, then we just assume that to be a normal thing. Anytime it goes down the drain, we remember it... This is something I have to remind myself of. Hey self, remember that time when I had 1 week to make 4 puppets and I did it? That was cool. That was a complete & utter abnormality. Maybe that's why I remember it. Oh the theory works! That makes me clap.

Life events always teach you something if you let them. What have I learned? Maybe it's to be flexible in my plans. To allow my plans to change rather than to be sad that they're not fulfilled. To be accepting of the changes & alter things accordingly. And that my eyes will scream if I forget to use their special eye drops.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Puppeteers Aren't Born

I am learning how to do puppetry for film. Not so much by taking classes, but by filming, then messing up, then filming some more. I'm pretty excited about some of the shots we've gotten & pretty darn upset with myself for other shots.

The director at our theater always tells my students, "Nobody was born knowing how to do this. Everyone has had to make these mistakes and everyone has had to learn how to correct those mistakes."

Sometimes I think I was born knowing how to do all of these amazing things, and then when I do them for the first time (or the 89th time) and it's not perfect, I get frustrated because, dag nabbit I should have gotten that right the first time. I should have known, etc.

I'm making beginner's mistakes & just wish I wasn't a beginner.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy New Puppets!

Since I last wrote anything here, a new year has begun, a puppet show has been created, and 4 show puppets have been built. This show was a collaboration between a fellow puppeteer & myself. It was the first show that we've done together in 5 years without another puppeteer whom we regularly performed with. I wasn't sure if we could pull it off. I wasn't sure if our humor would be of the same caliber, or if I could make the amount of puppets needed without his help. I'm so very pleased with how everything turned out. There's a sad empty space where the person in our group used to be, but we've survived our first round of shows without him there. I've passed the test I put myself through. I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of the other puppeteer. We work well together.

I'm going to now go into a mom thing....I can't help but record this little moment. I'm on the laptop in my bed...the boy asleep next to me. His tiny little hand stretched out and relaxed & his fingers are so soft. I keep grabbing them & he clenches them up a bit more. They remind me of his baby hands. I love that he wants to grow up to be an artist. Even if he choses math or sports, I'll be OK. For now, I'll enjoy that he reminds me of his newborn puppy-boy ways when he sleeps.

OK, back to puppet-talk.
With all of the puppets I made this time around, I experimented more with using halves of ping pong balls, instead of whole balls. I think I'll need to be more patient with attaching the ball to the face, so there are no gaps. Filling in the empty spaces with foam is common sense at this point. I love that I'm at a point at which some aspects of puppetry are common sense to me. Not so much for things like arm-rods, or even foam body construction. And a friend did come in and save me with advice for saving a beak.

What's next for puppet building?
I'm going to take my time with some puppets. I'll neglect my Etsy shop just a little bit. I'll spend some serious time with a puppet or two in February. I thought, if this chicken is what I can do in 4 hours...then what could I do with 14 days? Of course, my immediate response is, "well, I can mess around for 12 of those days, think about making the puppet for 2 of those days, then in the last 4 hours I can whip out another one of these." But that's instinct & I'm attempting to go against my instincts.

Oh those little hands on my tummy.....