Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Puppet Pie has a brand new home!

So for the last few weeks I've been slowly putting together this new project of mine called "making a proper website".  Introducing,!

On it you will find.... (insert drum-roll here)

  • A shop!  Both one ON the website with checkout through PayPal, and a link to my Etsy shop, if that still fits your fancy. 
  • A place to inquire about custom made puppets! I have a form and everything. You can fill it out, and I can read it. I'm pretty proud of the slidebar graphics at the top, too.
  • A place to get crafty! There's a section to inquire about having me teach a workshop with a little workshop gallery, and there's even a crafty blog with a crafty crafty craft that you can do at home! I'll try to post at least one of these a month. They should all be puppet-related.
  • An About section to complete with a place to watch videos I've done & a photo gallery
  • And a swanky little contact form so you can email me directly with any funny jokes you'd like me to tell! 

So please go visit!  I'm planning to keep the whole site family friendly so you don't have to worry about your young ones peering over your shoulder. If you want to see the more adult-type puppets, you can still find them in my Etsy shop.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentine Puppet Tutorial

My son also likes to impress his friends. He gets it from me. So every Valentine's Day, we try to come up with something creative & unique, instead of handing out the extremely run-of-the-mill valentines you find at the supermarket.

After wandering around Michael's Valentine's Day section for 30 some-odd minutes,  we came up with the idea of making a clothespin puppet that, when it opened its mouth, you would see that it is eating a tiny, white heart.  Nothing says, "I love you," like cannibalism! And no valentine would be complete without a witty pun, so we came up with something about eating.  (Earlier I had made the mistake opening my mouth before I thought things through and said, "I'm hungry for your love." To which my Aspie said "YEAAAH!"  without realizing that maaaaybe that's not so appropriate for 9-year-olds to be saying to other 9-year-olds to anyone. I convinced him this pun is way better. It's not. But I convinced him it is, and that's what counts.)

What? You want to make some, too!?  Well okay then!  It's a good thing I had my friend Jordan help me take pictures yesterday!  Otherwise we'd all be lost in a sea of not knowing what to do. Whew.

For 30-40 clothespin puppets, you will need:

  • 2 sheets of stiff, red felt.  We chose the glittery kind. Because shiny.
  • 1 sheet of stiff white felt for the tiny heart inside. We chose glittery. Because double shiny. 
  •  30-40 Spring-type clothespins
  • A metric ton of non-adhesive googly eyes (pretty sure 60-80 of them equals one metric ton)
  • White glue
  • A pencil
  • Your favorite pair of scissors
  • Pinking shears (These is optional. I like it because they make the hearts toothy)
  • Paper and a printer (or other writing utensil) for your special message.  
Step 1

Draw or trace your favorite heart shapes over, and over, and over again onto the back of your felt.
The white hearts should be about the size of a dime, or smaller.  You can use the template below that should be about the right size. (Template was an afterthought. Test it out. Tell me if it works)

Step 2

Cut out the hearts in both red and white felt.

Step 3

Cut the big heart in half with pinking (zig-sag) shears.

Step 4

Lay the clothespin on its side, and put a small strip of glue on the top and bottom edges of one side.

Step 5

Place the top & bottom half of your big red heart on the side of the clothespin, being sure that the edges meet where the clothespin opens.  Open the clothespin up while the glue is still wet to be sure they meet in the middle and that you haven't accidentally glue your clothespin closed. That would be a catastrophe.

Step 6

Turn your puppet over, and glue the white heart to the lower jaw of the clothespin puppet. 

Step 7

Slap down some glue & googly eyes any ole place you please. 

Step 8

Om nom nom nom nom

Step 9

Print up your favorite punderful Valentine's Day message and place it in the puppet's mouth!

Ta Da!  

There you have it!  Have fun & have a happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I got one!

Oh little blog.  Sometimes I wonder about you. I think about how you're doing. Wonder if you've made new friends. I don't call, or write for that matter, because I assume you're doing just fine.  But then I thought, what if you want to know what I've been up to? What if you, little blog, think that I haven't been doing anything for the past 10 months!?   I wouldn't want you to think me lazy, little blog.  I've been a little busy--in an extremely excellent way.

I was reading over my resolutions from last year and thought, "nope...didn't do that...nope--not that either...." And as I was going through my checklist of "wow, I make too many resolutions," I discovered one that I actually kept!  I've been making hand puppets. Hand puppets are pretty much all I'm making nowadays. Sometimes I squeeze a finger puppet in when my husband and I sit down to watch an episode of 30 Rock or Parks & Rec, but mostly it's been hand puppets.

So... I made a monkey. (He was originally for an art show in April about Monkeys, Typewriters, and Shakespeare.

And I made a couple of monsters that look a little like this:

And I made a giant lizard in a Zoot Suit (my talented friend, Brianna made the jacket) named Epstein (for a comic book store in Las Vegas)

And I made a sentient bowl of cereal.

And I have lots of other large-scale puppets I'm working on, too!  So maybe I haven't started exercising, and obviously I'm really bad at updating the blog on a regular basis, and I totally don't clean up after myself right away (was I seriously drunk when I wrote that?), and my time-management skills leave a 5-year-old looking on-task & powerful, and I haven't done any craft shows far away from my home, but... I did get one. I made hand puppets. Lots of them. I didn't even post photos of half of the ones I made--and that, little blog, makes me extremely happy.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Be Aware!

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and I'm doing my job to make you, world, aware of Autism, and what it could look like. Because in my experience, some of you still don't know.

I (very often) hear, "Oh, your son has Autism? But he's so social & talks so much!" I run to defend his diagnosis, "Well, but his social skills with his peers!" I blurt out. I'm usually able to stop myself there.

I used to end up listing all of our daily challenges, because if I could prove his diagnosis, I could prove my competence as a parent! I'd point out the difficulty we had transitioning him to solid foods. ("oh, but my kids are picky eaters, too. You can't say he has Autism just because he's a picky eater...") His adult-like language ("oh, well he's an only child & is around so many grown ups!" ...he's been in pre-school since he was 3. Not all only-children speak like grown-ups.) The difficulty we've had with potty training ("Oh, well my sister's kid had problems potty training...boys are just more difficult. That's not necessarily Autism, though..".) The difficulty he has changing a routine. ("oh, my girls hate it when we skip a story at bedtime, too. Routines are good for everyone.") The hand-flapping, the echolalia (repetition of words), the monotone speech, the inability to cope with loss (even if that loss is "You already had your treat for the day" or "I'm sorry, we can't buy the $24,000 playhouse"). The anxiety, the inability to recognize sarcasm, the fact that he still doesn't know all of his classmates' names/faces (after being in the same school for 4 years).

And yet, I think that because my son is rad in so many other ways, people assume his life is a breeze. There can't be anything wrong with him, look at all of his talents! His improvisational skills on the piano, for instance. His ability to memorize almost anything. His thoughtfulness. His mature sense of humor (even if he can't recognize or cope with sarcasm, he's an incredibly witty kid). His reasoning when looking at things objectively. His math skills are stellar, and when you're a grown-up around a 5-year-old who is trying to teach you how to play the piano? You'll become enchanted. As humans, we like small versions of bigger things (like kids who act like grown-ups). But because he's so rad in so many ways, people want to think that there's nothing "wrong" with him at all. In one sense, there isn't anything wrong with him. His brain functions differently. He has a different way of thinking, and in some ways it's way better than yours or mine, and in other ways his way of thinking is more challenging. In the same way, you have just as many things wrong with you.

Do I get angry when people question it? I get defensive at first, but I realize that deep down they wish for him to be a neuro-typical 8-year-old (at least the ones that keep pushing the issue do), and they have hopes that this is something he'll out-grow. (It's not. He'll find ways to cope, but his brain will always have a certain way it works, and that's good!) And I realize that the people who don't push the issue probably just don't have an accurate picture in their heads of what Autism can look like. And I love the people who genuinely want to know what it looks like for us.

So I challenge you, dear internet, to change your perception of Autism. To trust parents, teachers, therapists, and developmental pediatricians. To lend your emotional and physical support to frustrated & exhausted moms & dads. Honestly, it's enough on my plate to try to convince the child that he can overcome having to wear a new pair of shoes, try a different brand of canned corn, or take a bath... parents of kids with Autism (particularly High Functioning Autism) shouldn't have to prove to friends, strangers, and family that their kid is struggling.

The next time you see a child flipping out in a store, or a child not staying in their seat at a restaurant, or a mom or dad not forcing their child to at least try everything on their plate, or if a child doesn't say thank you, or goodbye. Or if your kid gets a toy taken away by another kid who has no idea why yours is upset. Don't assume it's bad parenting. And don't assume it's a naughty child. This is where the support comes in. We need your support with your understanding and your actions. With your kind eyes, and your ability to censor yourself.

If you'd like to know more about how you can help, advocate, or just learn about Autism, you can visit Autism Speaks. Pester your insurance company/legislature to be sure that Autism therapies are covered by all insurance companies everywhere. Offer to help out when a need arises. Listen. And just, in general, be aware that Autism has lots of faces. Most of them are incredibly adorable, and all of them need your compassion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It's Pi Day!

Ok so even if I slack on most every other resolution, I know I at least need to post something on Pi Day.

After a round of fisticuffs with bronchitis (not to mention the near-constant disease our son has had since December), I'm back to updating my Etsy shop. I'm making a few projects for non-etsy clients, which have all been a lot of fun to work on.
The top two puppets have gone into the shop & the bottom 3 are for other projects. The Chicken & the Pig will go to my friends Lisa and Chris in Seattle & their children's band, The Bears Upstairs (who has chosen the same blogger background as I have, because we all like grass and making wishes).

I used a pattern for the bases of the two on the top. It's nice to use an easy pattern when making non-specific projects, just because it gets the puppet done quickly & I know what I'll get from it...and I can get it done quickly without much troubleshooting. I know a lot of other puppeteers on Etsy are using the same pattern, but hey, there's a reason. It's a good, solid pattern. I don't use it for the hands. At this point I'm rambling. Does anyone really care why I don't use their hand pattern...or even that I use a pattern?

So the 3 patterns on the bottom are mine. The pig is done in my typical hap-hazard way, but the Chicken and the Sheep are more elaborate. I'm taking more time with some of the bigger pieces, and I think it's paying off. The chicken and the sheep are both fully lined, which should help them last longer. That and their heads are constructed in a different way than I normally do. I'm also getting more & more into arm rods. While I've been a puppeteer for quite some time, for the last 10 years or so, the shows I've done usually have had me use 1 puppet on each hand, so instead I just sculpt the arms. (It also makes shipping them a lot easier if you don't have to account for giant stick). But rods are fun (sex truck!) & it's time I bite the bullet & use them in my live shows more.

I'm hoping to spend time making some more larger puppets. I've still got a lot of projects in my queue, but I think with the deadlines, it will allow for making some extra puppets for me/Etsy/Comicon. Should be fun!

Note to self: Next time I'm going to post about puppetry manipulation & workshops... Wheee!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

From the time I re-opened the shop mid-August, up until now has been awesome! I'm so thankful for all of the support of all kinds I've received from everyone. Friends, strangers, and family have all been cheering me on, and that's so incredibly appreciated.

I've got a few New Year's Resolutions to go over, and this is probably one of the first years that I've been serious about them, which means it all may last a week and a half, and they may not go into effect until mid-June. I'll list them here (they don't all have to do with Puppet Pie).

1. Get a bit healthier. I slack. I totally slack. I don't exercise beyond...well, anything, and that should probably change. I bought some jeans that had a "tummy panel" in them. I decided maybe I should return them for the ones that lift my tuchus up a bit. Unfortunately they didn't have any left when I went to exchange them (good to know they're in high demand), so I figured I'd have to do it all the old fashioned way. That being said, I hope to ride my bike more (yay Phoenix weather!), and maybe do a sit-up or two (tummy panel be damned!). I should also probably cut back on the soda and Spam.

2. I want to try to clean up after myself right away. My son and I were cleaning his room & I discovered that one of his science project went awry-- in that it spilled all over his bookshelf--and from the looks of it, it happened a long time ago (whee!). I sat scrubbing chunks of yellow...something... off of the darn thing and thought "hey now, this boy could be doing something useful, too!" I set him up scrubbing some..."gook" off of his wall near his bed (gotta wipe it somewhere!). It's also been there awhile. So with various cleaning supplies in hand, we were off to scrub. It took us each probably about 45 minutes. I commented about how long it was taking and he replied, "There's a year-an-hour rule. If you leave something gooey up for a year, it will take you an hour to clean it." My 8-year-old has wisdom. In my work-space, I tend to just go-go-go with projects, and then clean up when I realize I have no work-space left, and it takes much longer to clean. Much like the Mayan calendar, I hope for this to end in 2012.

3. Time management. I think a little Ritalin-type substance could help out with this, but let's just say I don't currently have a prescription for Adderall... I think a full-on schedule is in order. Monday: Making
Tuesday: Making, packaging, post office
Wednesday: Photographing & listing
Thursday: listing and making, and maybe a little blog posting
Friday: Packaging & post office

4. More hand puppets. I miss making them. Specifically I want to make some excellent ones. I know I can do it, I just rarely dedicate the time necessary to pull it off. I'll do a few and see how they do in the Etsy shop. I need a few more wow pieces, that's fo' shizzle.

5. Long-distance Craftiness. I wish to do a craft show far away from my house. One that requires a road trip with a friend or two.

6. Write more here. Yes. That.

That's about all I can think of for now. We'll see how I'm doing in 5 days!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Om nom nom

I had the neat experience of setting up as a vendor at the first ever Maker Faire here in Phoenix. In 2008 I participated in the San Mateo Maker Faire & had a super fun time doing it. But as Phoenix usually goes, this was more intimate &...sweatier.

Lots of puppets found new homes, which means I'll be adding lots of new puppets to my shop soon! (I came home & made 36 more!) Before I went, I resolved to make a few puppets that were incredibly rad, (instead of focusing on "what can people afford to spend right now & I'll spend my time accordingly") & I think it was a good decision. I made a crocodile that I so totally want to keep. Then I made an owl & a fox, because I've succumbed to being trendy. Somehow or other it led down the path of "they're all predators...they need prey!" & thus the "Food Chain Friends" series was born.

Keep your eye out for them, & let me know if you think 2-puppet sets would be appealing. Downside: they're elaborate puppets, so they cost a little bit more than the average one. A set could be pricey. Upside: They'll be together! Forever!...unless the person who buys them gives one away.

Also, there's a poll on the facebook fanpage if you want respond to it. It's just one question. Let me just say the business side of running a business is totally all businessy & stuff.