puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
OK I have four puppets I want to do by the end of the year. One has to be done before Hannukah. One before a Christmas party that I go to. And two need to get to foreign countries pretty much after the 1st of the year but it will take time for them to get there thus getting things done.

Two involved some engineering that I have finally figured out how I am going to do it for the most part.

One involves creating art on the puppet in several forms including paint, embroidery, and applique and that just on its little body.

One will involve patterning a totally new head shape, which I have a fair idea how I am going to do it but there is still difference between working the shape out in my head and actually working it out in the real world.

I am hoping to show the Holmes/Watson sets at Farpoint. I am going to rebuild Rathbone and Bruce for that one but that can be next year.

I also am going to give a go to at least one of the ladies from OUAT. Any requests?

So four puppets that have different interesting issues that I need to solve.

I’ll start with the bodies and go from there.

So photos next week of where I am with all this which will include a photo of an empty table if I didn’t get anything done.

Again keeping myself honest.

I am grateful for the ability to craft puppets.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
I did my paperwork for the DragonCon Art Show this morning. I figure I should get it done before I leave again.

(Side note: If you need to get in touch with me at SDCC, I have my cellphone with me. The number hasn’t changed since 1998 I think. If you need it, send me a message and I’ll get it to you.)

So here is the Class for the DragonCon Art Show 2012 (some will be showing at Shoreleave if I have a space there)

Nick Furry (Peter’s idea. I think it is brilliant.)
The Vampire (think Dark Shadows)
The Werewolf (think original Dark Shadows)
2 Phluzzies (since they are my signature piece)
The Beast (x-men first class blue version)
The Shape Shifter (think X-men First Class)
A Calot (John Carter of Mars)

Dolls
Steamed Dragon
Steamed Goblin
Steamed Lion
Steamed Tiger
Steamed Bear (had to be done)

I will also have Caroline’s costume for Shoreleave which is probably the simplest one she has wanted to do ever. And I will have some puppets to build for the puppet slam at DragonCon. I am still sorting out what I am doing for that. I am hoping that inspiration strikes soon.

On top of that are the various things I am going to need for panels and the like.

The build starts after I get back from SDCC so I am doing all my thinking and research now.

So there it is my goals for this year. I might have a piece or two at Peter’s table depending on what I do.

I am grateful for the creative spirit and the people who encourage me to use it.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
Puppets and dolls have been my doorway to some pretty interesting adventures and have lead to some great friendships.

So in no particular order except when it is in order

Because of a Sandman Puppet, I met Neil Gaiman and this time he remembered me. I had met Neil before during his first Sandman tour which was when the first graphic novel came out at the comic book shop, Whirlygig Comics in New Haven, that I use to work at. He remembers the shop because of an interesting story that happened there which I can confirm was true because I was there when it happened but I left no impression what so ever (which is a good thing during a whirlwind tour).

But this time it was a DragonCon back when I was the tech director. I had, for a lark, made a Sandman puppet with LEDs for eyes and feathers for hair. Jill Thompson saw the puppet in passing and asked for a closer look. She asked if Neil had seen it. No, said I. He must, said she. So we arranged a time for me to be where Neil was. He loved the puppet a lot. I made him one and promised that those would be the only two unless I rebuilt mine. I would not sell anymore. Not that I haven’t had requests for them but I promised Neil and I keep my promises.

The Doctor Who puppets have led to some interesting conversations and some adventures in their own. A number of the Doctors have their puppets and I owe Colin Baker his which I will get to him soon I hope. The most recent was the puppet that started it all which was the Paul McGann Doctor. Since that TV movie was the impetus for me even starting to make the Doctor Who puppets, getting the puppet to Paul just seemed like a good thing to do. I know he liked it. I got the same kind of bear hug I got from Neil when I told him that I could make him a Sandman puppet.

I met the Frouds through a doll making course that a fellow puppeteer informed me about. I met Wendy and Toby and was introduced to Brian at San Diego. Since then I have taken Wendy’s course a number of time when it is in my area. I always learn something and Wendy pushes me as an artist. She knows what I have done and believes I can do better. I remember once I tried to slide some hands by her and she made me go make them again because she knew I could do better.

I have been introduced as a puppeteer to others which leads to all kinds of interesting conversation with all kinds of interesting people.

Last year I participated in the Puppet Slam at DragonCon and had a blast. I hope to do so this year as well. I just got the most twisted Idea…..

And finally and most important, if I hadn’t made a set of Klingon Puppets back at the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this. Those puppets introduced me to my husband and led me to the life I have today which I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I am grateful that puppets and dolls have lead me such interesting places.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
OK I am falling further behind on several things so I am writing this out in the open so that I can hold myself accountable for what I need to do over the next two weeks and beyond.

Here is what I owe people and am behind on

Two Victorian Paperdolls part of a ATC swap. I did these once and I got back half of the envelope in the mail with no dolls. Looks like it got caught in something and dragged all over the place. This is an evening project I can do while watching TV, I just need to get the pieces together and do it and send it off to the poor person who has been waiting about 2 months for this doll.

My part of a three way doll swap. Sorry Nan and Jeri, I have totally fallen down on this one. This is next after my show on Thursday. I will get things out to Jeri by Monday.

Also by Monday I want to finish my Chamber of Secrets Swap with Lisa. I have it more than half done.

Chamber of Secrets Swap, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
It is a glow-in the dark Basilisk Tooth with a smaller tooth to be worn as a charm. It is on top of a chest that will house the tooth.
(For the VI: this is a picture of a large tooth that I made to look like the Basilisk Tooth from Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets. It is an off white. Below it is a smaller “tooth” with a hole to run a chain through. These are on top of a chest that I have painted to look aged. It is a brown chest with bronze strapping.)

All I need to do is the interior of the chest and I am done and this can go off to its new owner who I hope likes it.

The BIG PROJECT is Field Day (Yes, it is that time of year)

We are doing an ocean themed variety show.

Here is what I have completed.
I'd Like to Be, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
One Octopus in Orange and Yellow
(For the VI: this is an Orange and Yellow Octopus puppet set up on a bunch of boxes to show off the arms)

What I need to do is

3 little Fishies
2 Clams
Outfits for 5 puppets
2 more fish puppets
Scenery

Make sure I have my clip lights and bulbs in place and everything else I bring to the party.

After I catch up on all that, then I will be full tilt into DragonCon.

I am grateful for what we did get done yesterday.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
I am taking this from questions that I got at the blogs, by e-mail, and from a conversation I had the other day with my bowling league.

1) Why do you share so much of your work?
Probably because I was raised by teachers who believe that teaching others is a calling and I have that calling.

I know there are people who carry how they do something close to the vest. I figure, especially for the puppets, that I would rather have that knowledge out there and growing rather than all to myself. I have learned so much from so many and I want to share that knowledge with others. I think the only things I don’t show are things that I learned that I promised not to show and I respect the people who taught me to keep their trust by not telling. I figure if what I do inspires someone else, then I have done something good in the world.

2) Have you ever built a full-body puppet (like Sweetums)? And how long did it take?

Yes I have several times. Most of them are for costume calls at various conventions. I made a Stitch in an Elvis costume for a Buffy sketch. I made a Disney Beast for Beauty and the Beasts. I built a dinosaur and rebuilt some full body dino puppets. How long did it take? Well depends on when it was in my build career. I have learned tricks that over time makes it easier to construct. But I would say a couple of days if that is all that I am doing.

3) How do you decide what to work on next?

It starts with the most pressing deadline and goes from there. If there isn’t a pressing deadline then it is whatever won’t go away from my head. This past year I made the Chuck and Eric puppets because they wouldn’t go away. Sometimes something just strikes my fancy and it gets made. Other times I try things I haven’t done before just to see if I can do them.

4) What do you make your puppets out of like the Purple People Eater?

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
The puppet I am talking about
I use fleece over ¼ to ½ inch foam. The foam allows me to create a structure to put the fleece over that maintains the shape of the puppet. I used pretty much the standard fleece that you can get at just about any fabric store. The holy grail of puppet fleece is Antron Fleece which can be dyed just about any color you want and hides the seams beautifully. However it is very expensive about 25 a yard rather than from 8 to 3 a yard depending if you have a coupon. I love it but it puts too much cost to a puppet that I am selling to the general public. It is a little different on the commissioned pieces. The horn was made out of white Crayola model magic which I then painted to make it look more like bone (picked that trick up at the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA) and refined the trick due to things I learned from the Frouds. The “fur” is a feather boa which has made my life so much easier in terms of puppet hair. The mouth is thick cardboard covered by red cloth. The one eye is a piece of craft foam and a black sharpie with a piece of purple fabric for the eyelid.

5) What did you learn over time that you wished you had known when you started?

For the puppets it was that unless I was going to redress the puppet, I didn’t have to make all the buttonholes for the clothing. That took a long time and really don’t add anything to the look of the finished puppet.

Most of the rest have been things that were more valuable because I learned from them so I know why I don’t do it another way.

6) How long does it take you to make a puppet?

Well the Purple People Eater was done in less than 8 hours and I had to pattern part of him. But that was an extreme example. For a basic puppet including a t-shirt and the hand rods, I have it down to 4 hours but that is after a lot of practice. Things that can slow me down are having to create patterns from scratch, having to go get more fabric to finish up, or not being able to find that one thing I need to finish the puppet properly. So I don’t start until I have all my pieces that I need to do the whole project so I don’t get frustrated half way through.

7) Which is easier, costumes for puppets or people?

For me it has to be puppets but then I was building clothing for puppets way before I made anything for people. There is the matter of scale and puppet details can be very very tiny but it is worth it for the whole effect. I have gotten good at people sized clothing but it takes a lot longer to do a shirt for a human than it does for a puppet. I do enjoy the challenge of making a costume and figuring out ways to recreate the look of something.

8) What are you working on next?

This would have been a different answer a week ago but right now it is puppets for Field Day where we are doing a show that takes place under the sea. I need to make and refurbish a number of puppets for it. Fortunately I had done a show like it many moons ago so I know how I am going to build everything. Two weeks for all that. So that is going to be my next couple of Crafty Tuesdays.

I am grateful for all the questions I was asked. It gave me things to think about. (I am still taking questions if you got them)
puppetmaker: (Boober Laundry)
What do you want to know about my work?

I really am interested in what people find interesting about crafty Tuesday (or if anyone is reading this at all)

So ask me a question and I will, if I can, answer it.

I am grateful for growing plants.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
DragonCon is 114 days away. Yikes!

There are things before that including Shore leave which is August 3-5th this year because San Diego Comic Con moved its dates.

Now in thinking my way through what I am going to bring I also have to start thinking about displaying the objects I am going to be selling.

Presentation is important in an art show as the objects themselves as I have learned over the years. The customer has to be able to see what they are buying clearly. And tables are not exactly set up for that.

This is something that I have learned over the years.

When you get a table at most Art Show at Science Fiction Conventions, it is 6 ft. x 30" with a white table cloth or possibly a plastic table cloth with some form of cover all around the table(s). There are variations and it is good to consult your Art Show Director as to the size of the table you are getting so you can plan.

A trick I learned a while back was to measure out with masking tape the area I was going to be putting my objects d’art. Then try to put them all in there and see if it works. Too crowded can be as bad as too few items.

Also remember that you need room for the bid sheets and for the customers to be able to mark the bid sheets. If they are so smack against the front of the table, it makes it hard to bid. Also makes sure that it is very clear which bid sheet goes with which object. I had a problem one year in that I was not clear which Phluzzie went with which bid sheet. Now I tend to put the number on the puppet so it is pretty clear which sheet they go with.

There are ways of getting more out of your table. You can choose the cloth that you put your art on and use that. You can have stands that allow you to present the objects at different heights so it is visually more interesting at a casual glance. You need that first look to make the person want to take a closer look. I tend to do that by having something that people find amusing so they have to take a closer look. It is one of the reasons I put the Phluzzies in every year. One caveat I would put on the display, remember that it is traveling with you or your art and it is returning unless you are selling the display with the objects. So think about weight and packing when piecing it together. I have found the cardboard can be your friend in this and you either take it back home or recycle it at the convention.

Assume at some point your table is going to get bumped into and make sure that nothing topples over. Also assume breezes as people walk by.

It is good to have a business card available for people who might not buy right then but down the road they might want to get in touch with you. I need to redo mine since some phone numbers have changed as has some of the other contact information.

The presentation is important but one needs to create the objects to show first.

I am grateful for what I have learned over the years about presenting my work to the public.

And since I am still learning, any clever ideas I should think about?
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
So here is a picture of Fig in her Ennui pose to make up for it.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
(for the VI: This is my black and white cat stretched out on the sofa. At her head you can see the backside of Caroline’s stuff moose. She has a blue pillow behind her that she is using for support. On the pillow is Caroline’s copy of the graphic novel of “the Last Unicorn”. Her front right paw is across her face.)

Maybe it is the rain, which I am not complaining about because we really need it, but I have been staring at a blank screen for a while now. I did my usual tricks of poking around the internet to see if something causes me to come up with a topic. Nada.

I have two projects in the hopper right now that I am hoping to have done by the end of the week. First one is replacement ATC dolls for the ones that I got half the envelope back but no dolls from the post office. Looks like it got caught in something. Then I am doing a dolly round-robin so I need to get my blank doll ready to rock and roll. And onto either dolls or puppets.

Part of it is that I have too many ideas and but at the same time my mind is a blank. I think I need to just sit down and sort out my ideas. I do want to stretch myself as an artist but I also need to get stuff done rather than just think about it.

Short version not feeling very crafty today.

I am grateful for distractions that turn into useful ideas.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
I can’t currently find my old portfolio that had all the photos I wanted to scan. But when I do, I’ll post them here.

Anyway, Saturday is a National Day of Puppetry. I plan to take that day and build some sort of random puppet. Also Caroline and I are going to pull out our What-nots and improve with each other.

Puppets are an art form and a very varied art form indeed. All cultures seem to have some form of puppetry within them. Puppets can be as simple or complex as one would like to make it. And they are only limited by your imagination (and physics but even then you can cheat a little).

So to get ready celebrate National Day of Puppetry, I suggest building a puppet.

Here are some links for some puppets that are easy to make and can be a spring board to so much more.

Crayola has a page dedicated to NDoP with a number of links to some pretty cool puppets that are print, color, and go. Crayola NDoP page

The Disney Family Fun site has a lot of puppet ideas and patterns. I like this one because it is really a jumping off point for the imagination. Paper Finger Puppets

Instructables has a number of people who have put up tutorials on how to make all kinds of puppets. Instructables search There is a lot to poke through there.

Legends and Lore have a pretty good site for both parents and teachers with a couple of puppet ideas and links Legends and Lore site

As to Puppets as Art, here are a couple of places to go look at puppets and puppetry.

Center for Puppetry Arts Museum page with its virtual museum

Puppeteers of America have a site with lots of information and lots of links to all kinds of puppets and puppeteers. Puppeteers of America>

The Jim Henson Foundation is a great way to keep up on all things puppets. They have all kinds of information on their site and the photos are quite lovely. The Jim Henson Foundation website

And one of the best link sites for Puppetry is maintained by the Barones. SageCraft Puppetry Page

So there are some places to start.

I encourage all of you to do something on NDoP. Let’s keep this art form alive.

I am grateful that I have puppets in my life.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
Ariel needed a puppet for her Chorus Concert to be used in a song. She knew I had built one before but I honestly couldn’t remember where it was or what condition it was in when she was home for break. I think I may have sold it since this was about 5 to 6 years ago. So I agreed that I would build her another one for the concert. I had a bit of a brain slip and found myself looking at a 48 hour window to complete the critter.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
(For the VI: This is a photo of a one eyed, one horn flying purple people eater puppet. The purple puppet is sitting on a black stool. There is green foam behind it. The puppet has one eye in the middle of it’s face. The horn is yellowish and on top of the head surrounded by a purple feather boa. There are pieces of the feather boa on both wrists. There are wings that attach under the arms and to the body.)

More Photos and Process behind the cut.

OEOHFPPE )
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
I believe the paperwork has been turned in or will be turned in today that will declare that we are coming to DragonCon.

DragonCon is really my end point of the year for making my kind of art. All things (conventions) lead to DragonCon for me. I am crossing my fingers that I will have room in the Art Show this year. I think I have everything sorted out on that front but not positive yet.

I have one and half projects to do before diving in. I am making a One-eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater for Ariel and I have to remake a piece that got destroyed in the mail.

I have a number of things I am thinking of building for DragonCon. I think a plush calot is a must probably with maybe a baby Thark puppet since John Carter of Mars came out this year.

So here is my question gentle reader, out of all the stuff you have seen me make, what do you think I should make for DragonCon this year?

I will give you a couple that are being contemplated.
Beast and Mystique are the next Xs to be thought about as in First Class outfits.
The Calot
The Thark Baby
A couple of Fluzzies
Another type of stuffed animal that is an experiment that will either go in or drop out.
The Steam-punk Anthro-animals
And may be that set of Firefly hand puppets I keep thinking about doing but never doing.
I have also been thinking of mask making and a couple of fleece hat ideas that are totally worked out yet.

This will be on top of a couple of costumes that are still solidifying and whatever I am doing for the puppet slam this year.

However, I do want your thoughts on the matter.

Pictures of the Purple People Eater will probably be posted next week.

I am grateful for feedback and ideas that others give me. It really does help the thought process.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
There are times when, in the creative process, you just draw a blank. (Actually I’d love to see what some of my artist friends would do with the prompt draw a blank). The creative muse sometimes just wanders off for a pee and a smoke before the next act (obscure Monty Python reference kind of sort of). Or your motivation decided to get up and leave for a play date with another motivation that is a friend of theirs.

My suggestion is step away for a little while but only a little while. Don’t give up on what you are doing but take a breath and let it out. Go do some dishes or some other task that needs doing to give your brain a break.

Put down the thing that is frustrating you and pick up something else you are working on. Or start something else. I have a number of pieces that are in various stages of done and there are one or two that are my go to when I get frustrated or feel I have nothing left in the tank. These are my anything goes pieces that will probably never be shown but allow me to practice various techniques. Call them my Franken-pieces.

I find that if sculpting is driving me crazy then try pattern drafting or sewing something else or even knitting. Sometimes if pattern drafting is driving me daft, I sculpt whatever to shake my brain loose.

And then there are the times when there are deadlines and one don’t have the leisure of a blank. Those are the times where one just buckles down and keeps going until the project is done. Might not be perfect but it does what it needs to do. And some times just muscling through is the perfect way to get rid of the blank.

So what do you do to get rid of the blank?

I am grateful for the ability to just do when it needs to be done.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
Consider this sort of a book review of random books I am using for my next couple of projects and some books that are in print and useful to me and I hope to you as well.

One general sewing book that is new to me and I have found very informative is Sarai Mitnick’s The Colette Sewing Handbook. It has very clear direction for pattern making and how to think about the shape of a garment. The information on darts is worth its weight in gold to me. The book’s author assumes that the reader is a beginner but don’t let that stop you from taking a look at this book. She also has some good advise to think about how you view clothing and what works for you. It is also one of the clearest explanations of what all those strange markings on a pattern pieces are.

In the realm of men’s fashion, I found The Victorian Tailor by Jason Maclochlainn very useful but it does assume a certain knowledge of patterns and pattern making. It is also interesting in the historical context that it presents. Again not for the beginner but if you have put a couple patterns together, this book is an interesting read.

If your interest goes towards steampunk but you haven’t a clue or a little clue as to how to make the gadgets that go with the look, I can recommend Steampunk: Gears, Gadgets and Gizmos by Thomas Willeford. These projects are great jumping off points for bigger ideas and the “where to find your gears” section is very useful. The author is a first class scrounger but also gives modern alternatives that you can find in your local hardware shop or fabric store.

In the realm of puppetry I really like 10-minute puppets by Noel MacNeal who is better known to many as Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House. The puppets are simple but the principles can be used to create more complicated puppets. Most of the materials are easy to find and this is a great book for teachers looking to put puppets in the classroom.

John E. Kennedy has two books out that I find useful but you have to read them in order since one builds on things from the other. Puppet Mania is a great book for the beginning puppet builder. He lays out a lot of the basic techniques that you need to make more complicated puppets. His follow up book, Puppet Planet builds on the first book and gives more advanced techniques to be used.

These are books that I know are still in print. Next week I think are some treasures that are out of print but I use all the time.

I am grateful for books that I can currently get my hands on.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
Rather busy the past couple of days but I thought I would get this one in before the end of the week.

I had two new pieces in the Art Show at LunaCon this year.

One was a griffin and the other a Calot.

The griffin was at Caroline’s request. She wanted a griffin baby based on the Skylanders’ character Sonic Boom’s babies. After drafting the patterns, I decided to make another one for sale. It took me a bit to get the legs the way I wanted them so that the critter would stand up without help or plushie flop.

Photobucket
(For the Visually Impaired: This is a griffin. It is blue with a yellow beak. The tail has a little black fur tuft to give it a lion-like look. The wings are blue as well. The eyes are green with large pupils. It has long triangular ears on top of its head.)

The calot (which is from John Carter/Barsoom) was put together pretty fast but I used what I have learned from other stuff animals, I was able to make the pattern in good time. The skin was a lucky find at the fabric store. I thought about adding fangs but I am still of two minds about that. It has 6 six legs rather than 10 because I tried 10 and it was way too crowded so I understand why Disney used 6. I think the purple tongue makes it work.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
(For the Visually Impaired: This is a calot. Its skin is a brown sandy color with some slightly darker splotches at random places. He is “sitting” up on a plexiglass stand. He has 6 legs and a horseshoe nose. He has a purple tongue sticking out of his mouth)

So those are the new characters to the group.

This week was regroup week before I start on the next set of projects.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
By professionalism, I am talking about client/artist interactions which needs professionalism on both sides even if it is your bestest bud.

I am a former moderator in a community on Live Journal called Artist Beware which states the purpose of the community as a place to voice positive or difficult experiences with commissioners or artists. This includes both paid transactions and art trades. Customer and artist reviews, lost contacts, and reports of art theft (as long as there are commissions/trades involved!) are welcome. Positive reviews are in a monthly format; a moderator posts and members then comment regarding their positive experiences. Separate positive review posts will not be allowed.

This community is also open to discussions and questions on how to conduct business between artists and their customers.
(copyright the owner of Arist Beware 2012).

There were a lot of problems that could have been solved or not even occurred if there had been even a modicum professionalism on one if not both parties parts.

When I have a client, I have a contract as to what is expected of me and of them. There are due dates for various things including approvals from the client and also points that there are no more changes allowed unless agreed to by both parties. There is also a schedule of payment(s) for the project. I expect a certain amount of professionalism be it a company or a person who is commissioning me to make something for them. Honestly I have had more problems with companies than people in terms of this but I have had some clients who were never going to be happy no matter what I did.

Recently I have seen a trend that I find a little troubling. People who are OK to decent at something that decide that they are going to do it professionally. They have all this energy going into it and more power to them but they quickly discover that moving a hobby to work is not easy. For one thing they find out that their window for getting their project completed is probably a much shorter window than the leisurely way that they have made things in the past. Work is work and it is great if one enjoys doing it but it is still work. One is being paid for product they are to create. And, much to these people’s amazement, their clients would like to be (or insist upon) being informed where their project is and what is going on. They have invest money in you and expect results.

And throwing up one’s hands and having a temper tantrum on the Internet is not going to endear one to new clients. Also constantly complaining about not being able to sell one’s wares while person X, whose work is not as good, just sells and sells and sells. Well person X is getting product out to their clients in a timely fashion in a professional manner.

How one presents one self on the internet is important especially if one is considering making their hobby a business. I would suggest researching who is doing what you want to do. See what the market is for what you do. Is there something that you bring to the table that is totally different/unique that is a sellable point to clients? And you do need to think of your customers as customers no matter if they are your best friend. And develop a thick skin especially if you succeed because there are others out there who are going to pick you apart because you succeeded. Act professionally and you will find yourself in a stronger position when things do go wrong because you did.

I am grateful for the lessons I learned early about professionalism which have served me well.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
And I have LunaCon in a week and a half. *sigh*

Not at my best on that one.

I am part of the Harry Potter Crafts. I have been for a number of years and done swaps and challenges over the years.

This past swap was making 4 ATC (Artist Trading Cards: Which are cards that are the size of a baseball or trading card and given or exchanged not sold).

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
(for the Visually impaired, there are four cards here. This will be a short description of each because I am talking more about them in the entry. The one to the left is a furry Monster card with eyes and teeth. The top card is a willow tree with a Beware sign to the right of it. The right card says “Qudditch Rules” and has two broom sticks crossed, a snitch at the top, two quaffels on either side of the broomsticks. The bottom card says Bernie Botts on the top and Every Flavored Bean on the bottom of the card with colorful jelly beans in between)

The theme was Hogwarts’ students so I decided to try a number of different things.

The first card, the one on the left, I did was the second version of a card I did a couple of Valentine’s ago. It is the Monster book done as a card. The interior of the card is a lovely blood red paper. It is glued to two pieces of cardstock the size of the ATC. I put brown fun fur on the outside and glued some googly eyes on top. The teeth are made of watercolor paper and I almost got them to fit into each other.

The second card I did was the one on the right. I used watercolor paper and used watercolor paint for the background with one color to represent each house. I then used paper to create the two brooms, the snitch, and the two quaffels. Watercolors are pretty new to me but I like how they look.

The third card is the bottom card. I took a Bernie Bott’s box and carefully cut the logos off the box. I made the beans with a new set of flair color pens. Yes, Flair is back again and they are pretty nifty to use. I like the thin lines I could do without bleeding between the colors.

The fourth card was the top one and was the card furthest outside my comfort zone but I thought I would give it a go. It is the Womping Willow that I did all in watercolor. I learned a lot about watercolor by doing it including that I really like playing with watercolors. The sign that says “Beware” is a separate piece that I made and glued onto the card.

So that’s the ATCs. I am working on stuff for LunaCon and Caroline’s science project so I have to be twice as creative in totally different ways this week.

I am grateful for having such a good time painting.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
I had a good weekend at the Art Show at Farpoint. I sold a Phluzzie and a Ship Ship.

Next show is LunaCon in March 16-18, 2012 so less than a month to get new art done.

I have several ideas for what I want to bring to the show. Now I need to start moving these ideas out of my head and into this dimension.

Here is what I am figuring I will get done by then.

Griffon plush
Tiger Doll
Lion Doll
One other animal doll (probably a big cat type)
Phluzzie (Signature piece)
One other puppet

On the Maybe list: Masks and fairy in a bottle

Griffon is first. I have to make one for Caroline before I make one to sell. These I do have the materials for. It is a matter of drafting patterns and constructing.

I have the materials for most of this but I have to double-check my clay supply.

I am pretty sure I am fine for armature wire.

So update next week as to where I am in these projects.

I am grateful for materials that I can find easily.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
OK here is what I have been doing for swaps this past month. It is very picture heavy.

lots_of_photos )
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
Or sometimes one can be one’s own worst critic.

Constructive criticism is a funny set of words. One is about building and the other is deconstructing. It is also funny what people think constructive criticism is and isn’t.

For example, hearing “your anatomy is off” isn’t very helpful. But hearing “You need to look at the back leg of your figure. Legs don’t bend like that unless broken” is of much more use.

Honestly I am my own worst critic. I see every flaw and shortcut I did to get to the final product. I see the materials I substituted because I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I see every blemish and missed brush stroke.

But what I have learned over time is that there is a point that one just needs to let it go and let others see it.

I use Peter a lot as my sounding board. He has a good eye for things that I didn’t even think about. I trust his opinion about my work because he doesn’t sugar coat things for me.

But occasionally I do get someone who doesn’t like my work and they tell me that they don’t. I ask why and they give me some answer that doesn’t make sense or they give me something else to think about in the final product. I remember one guy didn’t like my work but it turned out that he didn’t like puppets at all and didn’t understand why they were in an art show. I have had to fight the puppets as art battle more than once in my career.

Today I am going to work on a griffin that I have had in my head for a bit. I think I finally have all the pieces sorted out and now can draft it.

I am sure there will be parts that I don’t like but there are always parts that I don’t like or know how I would change them next time. But that is part and parcel of being an artist and a craftsman.

I am grateful for the constructive criticism I have receive over the years including Wendy Froud sending me back to my table to redo my doll’s hand because “You and I know that you can do much better than that”. Thanks Wendy.
puppetmaker: Spring 2009 in front of FAO Schwartz (Default)
Except for my professional costuming work, most of what I do is recreations of other people’s designs or I take a 2-D drawing and bring it into three dimensions. This is because most of the conventions we do these sketches at are media conventions.

Before the Internet, yes children there was a time before the Internet, it was pretty challenging recreating a costume. You had the movie or TV show to go on and for photo reference, if you were lucky, a couple of fuzzy pictures in a magazine like Starlog. If you were really lucky there might be a book on the making of with photos you can use for reference.

Now we have the vast resources of the Internet and there are more magazines with photos. Also more films have making of books, which I would have killed for earlier in my career. But we still had ways of figuring things out and making it look right.

Historical patterns is something else that has changed a lot. Even Halloween patterns didn’t really exist until the late 1980s in standard pattern books. If you wanted to create some shapes, you would have to draft your own, Franken-pattern from existing looks (hard for the fashion of the 80s) or hope that Folkwear had a pattern for it. Now we have all kinds of patterns and patterns that can be used for other things.

I remember a time before fleece when trying to make puppets was the never ending hunt for the right kind of velour or another kind of fabric that was fuzzy and stretched the right way. Antron fleece is still the gold standard for puppets but you can use the fleece for them.

Fabric is always a challenge in costuming. You have to decide if you are going for screen accurate or costume accurate. The lighting used television, stage, and screen changes colors a lot. For example the 8th Doctor’s coat reads different colors under different light in the TV movie but is, in person, a greenish brown or a brownish green depending on who you talk to. I, for the longest time, thought it was brown. My X-men coat is a prime example of trying to find fabrics to fake the look from the film which was made from UK materials. (Honestly I am still jealous of your stretch fuzzy furs.) I think I did pretty well.

I find costuming a heck of a lot easier now then when I started. New fabrics and new building materials have made things much easier. Patterns are easier to find now that the big pattern makers realized that there is a market for historic costumes and it is a large one. There are still a lot of challenges in recreation which is why I enjoy it but it is nice that I have more of a shot at getting it right now.

I am grateful for everything that has made it easier to recreate costume designs.
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