puppetmaker: (Secret of Sherlock Holmes)
Ronnie Burkett is an amazing puppeteer. His shows are breathtaking to watch. He also is a fount of knowledge about marionettes and the history of puppetry. On his Facebook page he has a request I seem to have a lot of friends on here who are puppeteers, puppet enthusiasts, puppetry hobbyists or puppet smartypants-know-it-all-academics. So how about this: today, right now, Tuesday, you just all post a picture of something puppet related you are proud of, or a puppet that you find so gobsmackinglyfucking beautiful it makes your teeth hurt. And then on Wednesday we can all go back to inanity and sharing of angry political posts not of your own design, or GIFs of poop coming out of Trump's mouth. But let's make Tuesday a nice day of puppets. Come on. It's not that hard. copyright Ronnie Burkett 2016.

So I am going to, behind the cut because this is going to get photo heavy, show you some of the puppets I have made that I am proud of.

I am grateful that I have made so many puppets and amused so many people.

puppetmaker: (Secret of Sherlock Holmes)
Entitled as such since apparently I have used Crafty Tuesday: The Return before.

For new folks who are reading a little explanation, a number of years ago I started writing about various projects I was working on and issues that affected the artistic community from my perspective.

I decided that Tuesday was going to be my day to devote to this since Monday tends to be the New Who Review when Doctor Who is on or Monday Morning Quarterbacking in which I talk about sports. Wednesday still is Conventional Wisdom when I get back to that.

So Crafty Tuesday is back.

And it is post Dragon Con so I can look back on a creative year and try to figure out what I might attempt before the next Dragon Con.

Currently I have four puppets in the que. Three are commissioned pieces that the people who have paid me have been saints about the deadlines but I want to have all of it done before the end of the year. There is one puppet that I want to get done in the next two days for reasons I can say probably Friday unless I can’t then I can next Tuesday.

I have decided to build more girl puppets than boy puppets within the next year. Not sure if I am going to keep that promise but at least I am going to try. I looked back at what I have done and find that I tend to shy away from doing them so best way to get rid of that fear is to just do it. Also I found a splendid dress form that, with a little padding, will help me to be able to drape dresses properly.

Puppet Dress form photo 12002745_10206491164350661_4851147046491789760_n_zpschvilwrg.jpg
My new Puppet Dress form
(For the VI: This is a white Styrofoam female torso that looks like a dress makers form)

I found it at Joann’s Fabrics in the Halloween area. Apparently there is this new thing about taking these forms and dressing them up. I am a little fuzzy how it is used in crafting but I am very sure this is going to make my life easier. I just have to pad out the middle a little for a true fit.

As for the past year, I didn’t do as many shows as I would have liked including some I have done for years.

However my sales at Dragon Con were good so that’s a plus in my column.

Next year I would like to show my puppets in at least four art shows if not a few more.

Oh, I have decided that Dragon Con is the end of my creative year rather than Dec. 31st because then I have a little less than a year to plan for the next Dragon Con. And because Dragon Con does more to get my creative hamster wheel spinning than anything else I do during the year.

That’s a rough for the next twelve months. Let’s see what I can get done.

I am grateful for the creative charge I get at Dragon Con.
puppetmaker: (Caroline at Nasa)
It is in January that I take a look at the conventions that I will be going to and figure out what I am going to make for each leading to, for me, the big show at Dragon Con.

One of my usual conventions (LunaCon) may be a no go this year. I didn’t go last year either due to a number of factors including Peter’s health. This year I might not be going due to happier circumstances that I will talk about when things solidify a little more.

So that leaves me Farpoint, Shoreleave, and Dragon Con to show at. I have to see if there are any other shows that might be a good place to display my art. If anyone has any ideas, I would like to know.

Usually I use Farpoint and Shoreleave to motivate me for Dragon Con.

Also this year I am going to be building a costume for me for the workmanship contest. It is one of those labor intensive costumes that I contemplate and then discard so this year I plan on doing it. I see a lot of rubber floor mats in my future.

I plan to introduce some new dolls this year. I haven’t done a doll in about two years and it is high time that I started again. Next March will be 10 years since I took the first doll course from Wendy Froud. Time to use that information to create art.

I am thinking that it is time to turn Holmes and Watson into puppets.

I still have the hand puppet Firefly idea floating around.

Also a soft doll idea that might work. I need to do a test or two. If so I don’t think it has been done in fandom and, if it works, it will be cute.

There has been a discussion on one of the doll groups about using one’s fabric stash before we aren’t around to use it. So this year I plan to work my way through the stash with minimal buying of new materials for my projects.

Monster puppets part deux are in the future as well.

I am grateful for things to work with.
puppetmaker: (Goatboy)
Ok it didn’t really go away but it did go quiet for a while.

Since I talked about it at Dragon Con this year, I thought I would do an entry on what Crafty Tuesday is and why I do it.

The why is simple. I had been talking about how I put things up on my web log at various conventions. Someone asked what day I did that. At the time it was kind of all over the place. I said rather glibly, “Tuesday” and Crafty Tuesday was born. I am not saying that Tuesday is the only day I talk about my artistic endeavors, it is just the most consistent.

So for the new readers, hi I am Kath the Puppeteer. I make puppets, costumes, masks, dolls, plushies and whatever else strikes my fancy. I have been doing this for more years than I will admit but the number is over 30.

I have made just about ever form of puppet that there can be but enjoy making hand and rod and hand puppets the most. I learned the form of doll making I like best from Wendy Froud so if you find a tip or technique that you love, she is the one who taught me. I learned about building puppets from working at the Center for Puppetry Arts and from my fellow puppet artisans. The costumes came out of the puppet clothing. The mask making from working with a number of artists who had learned from other artists and they passed on what they learned to me.

Because so many people over the years have been so giving with how they do things, I feel like it is my responsibility to pass on what knowledge I have onto others. I don’t have a “secret methods” on how to do things. (OK I do know a couple of magic tricks that I can’t tell you how they were done since I signed an NDA a long time ago but I don’t use them in my puppets and art.) I have what works for me. And people have taken what I have shown them and made it their own. No two people are going to do the exact same thing unless they are copying on purpose. I can teach you exactly how I make a Phluzzie (my signature puppet) and you could do what I did but your puppet is going to look different from mine. I take my role as teacher very seriously. I do consider myself as a student as well. I love learning how people do things.

I am working on figuring out how to create a website so I can show what I do. I have been saying this for a number of years (try over 10) but I think this year might finally be the year I get it together. I have enough photos to put into something like that. It would also be a good place to sell puppets to the public. If anyone had any ideas on the matter, I could use some help.

Next week, I hope, how I do arm rods for puppets.

Do you have a topic or trick you have seen in my art you want me to talk about? Please tell me.

I am grateful for all the people who have taught me over the years.
puppetmaker: (Mickey Christmas)
First a Treat Williams the Cat update: He got through surgery just fine. They kept him overnight to make sure there were no complications. He will be home later today sporting the cone to keep him from licking the stitches. The biopsy is going to take a little longer to process.

One thing I have learned very well in making puppets, dolls, and costumes is to make do with what I can find. It would be nice to have an unlimited budget and access to every crafty material on the planet, but it is not very practical.

For example I love Antron Fleece aka Muppet Fleece. It is a beautiful fabric that takes dye well and is perfect for hiding seams. But it averages about $18 US a yard. I can get fleece fabric from the local store for about $4 US a yard and much less when I find large remnants since I need less than a yard to make many of my puppets. So I make it work so that I can price my puppets in the range for most fans. Not the perfect fabric after using Antron Fleece but it works for what I need it to do.

I love Wonderflex which is a material that you heat up and then form into the shape you want. Let it cool and it holds that shape. Sort of like the old friendly plastic as a sheet of material. Even more that Wonderflex, I love Fosshape which is another fabric that you can sewing like felt and then apply heat which then fuses it into the hard shape. Both are not cheap materials at all. I have used paper mache, felt and glue, and buckram as my substitutes depending on what I need the material to do. Each has their problems, short comings, and extra steps that one must take to get the finished product to look accurate so it is labor vs. cost.

I always look at packing material and cardboard with an eye towards what I can I make out of it. Little plastic doo-dads can become eyes or parts of a puppet. Spoons can be converted to eye blanks. Plastic Easter eggs of different sizes are great to kit bash into part of puppets and dolls. There are places I can buy the blanks but they are not cheap.

I have created my own wigs with yarn hair, which is time consuming but cheaper than buying a wig. Feather boas on sale are great for me because I can get a couple of puppets out of one boa. Proper doll wigs are great but expensive. I do use them when I can because it saves me so much time but it adds to the cost of the final product.

There are times that one can’t find the right fabric. Trying to get browns once the spring fabrics are in is close to impossible. And if I am trying to recreate a costume on a human or a puppet, I have to be very clever to make it look right. I have gotten very good at this. If I wanted to, I do have access to the fashion district fabric stores in NYC but that can get very expensive very quickly so I have learned various tricks to make it look right. I think my proudest moment in this are the 6 Snape coats I made with 50 cent a yard fabric. The trick was that I used the “wrong side” of the fabric for the coats and lined them so you couldn’t see the sequins that were all through the fabric on the correct side.

I take pride in making do with the materials I have and creating something that looks like what I am trying to create. It can be extra time but in the end it is all worth it.

I am grateful for found materials.
puppetmaker: (Fluzzies by Kathleen David)
Technically I am done with Art Shows this year. I think my first one next year is Farpoint. Next year are my usual shows of Farpoint, LunaCon, Shoreleave, and DragonCon if I jury into each. I might have one or two others to add.

In doing so, I need to figure out what I would like to do next year. There are always a couple of things I sort out during the year that get added into the mix.

I have been thinking about doing a Firefly puppet set for quite a while. I think I might have it all figured out. But after I heard the comment about “puppet show in the backyard” now I have to make them. Deciding whether to do a set of hand puppets or the large ones.

I am working through my head some new monster type puppets that I think I am going to introduce along with the usual Phluzzies.

The dolls are going to make a comeback this year. I had mostly puppets last year but after a talk with Wendy Froud at NYCC, I have an itch to do the anthropomorphic Victorian dolls (Not calling them Steampunk because I don’t know if I am going that direction.)

Might make a puppet or two based on anime characters. Or maybe some dolls.

Am working on the geometry of what is know as a chibi sort of doll. Same for some stuffed animals that are not puppets which will be a first.

I might have to finish up a few critters that I found in the not quite done box. I have about half a dozen bodies that are only so far along. Some of them are fail experiments at the time but I think I can salvage them.

My goal for the next year is NOT to be rushing right before the convention.

Also I do plan to put some stuff up for sale on Esty this year to see what might happen there.

I open the floor to you my dear reader, based on what I have done before, what would you like to see me do? Remember this is blue skying so just about anything goes except recreations of established puppets.

I am grateful for ideas that work.
puppetmaker: (Default)
There are events that one goes to that give you a creative surge. Dragon*Con this year was a big one for me. I spent four days with people who gave me ideas, input, solutions, and encouragement. It was wonderful. But eventually we have to go back to reality and things like empty fridges and full cat boxes. And that surge can fade into the background as one deals with the noise of the now. But occasionally I take that feeling out and examine that feeling I got and what came with it to inspire myself to get creating.

I am very proud at how well “A Lord of Time” went over. I thought it was a good idea when Peter and I came up with it. I didn’t expect it to take on a life of its own. I tip my hat to my fellow performers without whom I would have never been able to care it off. Now having done that, I have to start figuring out how to top it next year. And that’s a lot to top. So building will have to start soon or I am never going to get it done in a timely fashion.

We have New York Comic Con coming up in about three weeks. I plan to take some puppets with me to that. Vincent will be there and probably Barnabas and maybe Quentin. And maybe Mystique if I can get her done by then. I am also toying with a jacket I might get done by then but I would have to find all my pattern pieces for my x-men first class jacket which might not be an easy thing to do. Organization post show can be a bit of a problem. I know where I have most of it but not all of it.

And I have those dolls I have been talking about. Sorry Jeri and Nan, I feel like a real heel and I promise if I don’t get to them this week, I will next week.

The other nice thing that happened was that I have groups on facebook that are still thinking about things to do at Dragon*Con next year. We are working out still everyone’s skill set and it is amazing the skill set that we have among us. It was interesting listening to the convention goers and what they wanted to see in the future at the convention. They gave me ideas for things I could do. Mechanics seemed to be a big part of it. How do you build puppets? How do you make the foam puppets? (I recommend the Grey Seal “The Foam Book” which has all the basics.)

I went to the fabric store yesterday to get the fabric for Caroline’s costume. Most fabric I think I have gotten for a costume ever. She has designed a dress she wants to wear and I can make it using a pattern (rather two patterns I am going to Franken-pattern together). The hardest part is going to be the bustle for it. There will be pictures when it is all done. I have to line the skirt, which is going to be a real pain.

I have the Halloween decorating pretty much in hand. I am going to have to do some planning and some digging this year to make sure nothing falls down.

I am grateful for all the people who gave me good ideas.
puppetmaker: (Boy Wizard Puppet)
I am a day off. I woke up thinking this was Tuesday but I know it is Wednesday because I have class today. Convention time is not normal time and it can take a day or so to get back to the norm.

I finally think I have my puppet slam piece in hand. Now I need to review the puppets that I have. Figure out which I need to make or in this case remake or repair. And that will be done.

Right now I am at the gathering stage of my process. I am making sure I have the things I need to complete my projects. Or at least to get them much further along. Today is going to be “find those things I know I have in my storage area”. I also need to clear out some stuff and move a lot of stuff around for the next day or so. This will allow me to get everything I need where I need it. It got a little more complicated because I have the puppets put somewhere and I don’t think they are even all together any more. Well one problem at a time.

Next is to start at the top of the list and work my way through as efficiently and I can with minimal mess. I am going to be cleaning as I go so once one project is done, I can pull forward the materials for the second one and go from there. I also need to find my box of puppet wigs and see what I need to get. I also need to restock my eyeball box.

It is 22 days to DragonCon so this blog is probably going to get a little quiet or going to be a lot about building and making things. So I declare the rest of this month, Crafty Month!

I am grateful that I have figure out what I am doing for the puppet slam.
puppetmaker: (Default)
OK here is what I have been doing for swaps this past month. It is very picture heavy.

lots_of_photos )
puppetmaker: (Goatboy)
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: (Boy Wizard Puppet)
So this year I will be attending and showing at
Farpoint (Feb 17-19)
LunaCon (March 16-18th)
Shoreleave (Aug 3-5th Note date change)
DragonCon (Aug 31st to Sept 3rd)
Or that’s all I know at this point.

In terms of costuming, Caroline is going to do Cheshire at Farpoint. I am sure we will come up with something for Shoreleave. And I have a couple of things I need to do for DragonCon. So that’s the costuming end of things.

Now we will be attending a couple of conventions in addition to those but those are the ones I know I will have art in.

DragonCon has you tell them what you are bringing way ahead of the convention so that they can plan for where the tables are and generate barcodes that work for their system. So DragonCon is sort of the end of my season with things like New York Comic Con in as a bonus for showing stuff.

Most years I start thinking about DragonCon almost right after DragonCon but I tend to plan for DragonCon in June so this year I am going to start planning now and get stuff done in a timely fashion. My goal is to get everything that I say I am going to bring down to DragonCon. This is barring the unforeseen like last year’s hurricane which really put a crimp in my plans.

So right now I am trying to sort out what kind of things I want to bring to the shows. I know there will be new dolls and puppets. I am wondering if I should do a mask or two ala the Cheshire mask I made for Caroline. I don’t want to add to much to the mix but it is always good to add something new. I am feeling another set of hand puppets ala the Boy Wizard set I had a couple of years ago. Firefly is still my thought on that.

I have another idea that is rolling around in my head that I might do or might not. I am still on the fence about it.

Puppets are going to play a big roll this year especially since DragonCon will be having a puppetry track for the first time. So I plan to promote puppets this year. I am thinking maybe a marionette or two.

I am grateful for art shows that are great for my kind of art.
puppetmaker: (Goatboy)
Crafty Tuesday is a place for me to either talk about the process of my slightly twisted creative mind, show a step by step on some project I am working on, talk about things in the art world esp. Science Fiction Art Shows, or anything else I deem part of the subject.

I think I am going to be mirroring this in a couple of other blogs that I have to give some content to them all. On Dreamwidth I am Puppetmaker and on Blogger I am Puppetmaker. Puppetmaker was taken on Live Journal when I joined so there I am Puppetmaker40. All are entitled No Strings Attached as is my web log that runs off of Peter’s web log.

This year I plan to have more process pictures since a lot of people seem to like that. I am even going to go ahead and try to make an Instructable for the papier-mâché masks that I learned from a mask maker back during my college years. Some of the costuming stuff I will show after we use them.

In terms of what I will be making, I think I see more dolls in my future like the Steampunk Animals and the Spring Rabbit I did last year. I also have a couple of puppet ideas I want to execute. One of them is going to take me into some electronics I haven’t done before so that should be exciting.

For learning I am sticking to knitting and crocheting as my new skills for the year but like every year, I expect I am going to pick up a thing or two that I am not expecting because I need them to complete something.

I am opening this up for suggestions of things you would like to see in Crafty Tuesday or what you have liked about Crafty Tuesday.

I am grateful for creative days.
puppetmaker: (Default)
A couple of different things I have been thinking about.

DragonCon heads the list because I need to figure out what I am going to show there because that needs a lot of lead time.

In this mix I need to put things for Shoreleave including costumes for Mystery Trekkie Theater (And they have picked a good one this year). Costumes for the girls for Shoreleave if they want to which I would rather figure out now rather than at the beginning of July which has happened a couple of times.

Also for DragonCon I want to get one spiffy costume done for me. I haven’t made myself a costume in ages. I have a couple of ideas but nothing really jelling right now.

In other time commitments I have the DiscWorld dolls, my ATC doll commitments, and a few other potential projects.

It is a good idea to know how much space you have in a show and try setting up your display before hand. See if you can figure out what is going to go wrong and what looks appealing to the customer.

I have one idea that would take up most of my table and I am trying to figure out if it would be worth my time. The WOW factor would be up there but I have to get permission from the original artist to sell it. I do have permission to create it. Also there is the economic question of sales and price points.

There is a discussion in an artist group I am part of about pricing and how scary it can be to raise prices. The assumption is that if you raise prices, your customers will go away or constantly complain about your raising prices. And maybe it happens on occasion but you should have such problems. And, in my experience, raising prices will weed out those who wanted cheap stuff rather than your work in particular. I decided a number of years ago that I would price my stuff at a reasonable cost point so I would make back materials and something for my labor. I also know that those who have bought my pieces really wanted them. Making things shoddier because it would be cheaper is not the way to go.

I do need to make a list of what I want to get done by DragonCOn since I am going to have to submit my paperwork soon.

I have a wacky idea for a plushie that might have to be made to get it out of my head. I do know that I will be making a Ship from Ben 10 this year. There will probably be a Phluzzie or two in the mix. Maybe a Sarah Jane puppet in honor of Liz Sladen. Plus I want to give a go at Steampunk dolls again.

So that’s where my brain is at right now.

I am grateful for a plethora of ideas.
puppetmaker: (Default)
I am on a double deadline this week with two projects (photos next week I promise both in process and final product)

So I am throwing the floor out to questions for crafty questions. They can be business questions (although I offer no legal advise), how I do something, where I learned things, have I tried to do _________? Favorite things I have build. People I have met through my art? Floor is open.

I am grateful for the creative muse and hope that she gives me the inspiration to finish these projects in time.
puppetmaker: (Fluzzies by Kathleen David)
Or don’t under sell yourself. Your time and talent is worth something.

Something to think about, minimum wage in the United States ranges from $5.25 in Minnesota to $8.67 in Washington with most states around $7.25 per hour. Not a whole lot of money but if it takes you 4 hours to make something and you price it at $20.00 then you aren’t even making the minimum in Minnesota and you aren’t even taking materials costs into account.

Pricing should be a simple formula time + materials cost = price. But there are so many factors that are in there. Can you figure out how long it takes you to make one of something or do you do things in sets? If you do things in sets then divide the total amount of time to make the objects by the number of objects to get the amount of time you should charge for one. Is there drying time before you can do the next step in the project?

Trying to break down exactly how long it takes you to make something is not an exact science so we tend to ballpark how long it takes to make something. I know it takes me 4 hours to make a basic puppet from cutting fabric to final product with eyes and hair.

I know that my materials cost is approximately $10 to 14 per puppet including hair and eyeballs. The fabric is ½ a yard of fleece and ½ a yard of fuzzy fleece which is about 8 dollars not on sale and about 6 on sale. Half a long feather boa is 2 dollars when on sale and about 3 when not. Ping pong balls run about 25 cents a piece. Velcro is about 20 cents a patch. Rhinestones are about 5 cents a stone when not on sale but a bag can last you a while.

So we have (4 hours X $7.25 (since I live in New York)) + $10= $39 per puppet for a basic puppet which I should round up to $40.

(For the VI: This is a picture of two puppets I call Phluzzies. The one on the left has a blue head and arms with a lighter fuzzy blue tube shaped body. The hair on top is a blue fuzzy boa. On top of the head are two ping pong balls with black Velcro circles in the middle of the ball and a single blue rhinestone in the middle of the Velcro. The puppet on the right has a yellow head and arms with a shaggy red body. The hair on top is a red fuzzy boa. On top of the head are two ping pong balls with black Velcro circles in the middle of the ball and a single red rhinestone in the middle of the Velcro.)

However I tend to sell these puppets for between 20 to 30 dollars per puppet at conventions because that is what the market will bear. So I am selling them at a bit of a loss for my time. I will not sell for less than materials.

Don’t undervalue what you do because once the price is set then trying to raise the price can be very hard to do. I found that out with the phluzzies. I didn’t take my time into account before pricing them and now people expect them to be 20 to 30 dollars depending on materials.

I am grateful for being paid a living wage for a puppet along with materials.
puppetmaker: (Default)
Sometime I feel like I chase my muse around the house and she stops at points that will distract from my pursuit of my goal. There are days that she hides very cleverly in my head and blows raspberries at me when I go to grab her. And other days she sits around sipping whatever muses sip to unwind and dares me to catch her because she is right there and not going to move but I have other things that need to be done so she knows that she is safe.

We call the lack of an idea or the next step in an idea being blocked. I never lack ideas in fact I have too many running around in my head that I know that I will never get them all done in my life time. A number are shelved because they need a skill set that I don’t have or haven’t mastered yet. But I have enough to work on that I want to make in this world.

The process from idea to product can be a difficult one. Getting the vision in one’s head to the actual working world can be a challenge. This part of the process is where I wish I didn’t have negative drawing ability. I can draft something to show what I need to have built but that’s about it. My skill seems to be bringing my ideas out in 3-D rather than 2-D.

And then there are days that I pull out the clay and just can’t get the shape in my head to come out in the clay. I end up doing and redoing more times than I care count. At some point I realize that the character in my hands is not going to be the one in my head so I put that idea in the box and start to play with what I have in front of me to see where it is going. Sometimes I like it better than the original idea and other times I just go with the flow on it. I have a box of things that might never get finished or will be finished when I am in a crunch. I am not entirely happy with them but there is something there for me to work with.

It can be frustrating to say the least but I know that eventually my muse will finished sipping her fine beverage and get off her toadstool and help me. I just need to give her the time that she needs to revive herself so she can help me.

I have learned over the years that when push comes to shove, there is no time to get blocked. You just keep moving forward and get done what you can get done because you are on a deadline. Sometimes the muse cooperates and other times you just go on the skills you know you have and fake your way through a project and hope that she pops up later to see how you did.

I am grateful for muses that hang around.
puppetmaker: (Fluzzies by Kathleen David)
Yes, it is Tuesday and I am talking about the creative process, art and crafting.

But first I hope everyone who is celebrating today does so in a safe fashion. This day can get pretty crazy in some cities in the world.

On the To Do List for me this week.

Top Priority are those post cards made out of Fabric. I am going to get a bunch done on that today. I have the materials I need now just design, cut and sew.

Next is sorting out the calendar with a new added component since I need to fill out my application for the DragonCon Art Show. And you have to show current work. My photos are more set up for recording what I made rather than juried art show.

I also have a Steampunk Doll, a Rabbit, and a re-furbish on the Weird Sisters to do for various doll conferences and swaps and I need to see what the time-table is on these.

And I have this feeling that I am forgetting something in the back of my head.

Some Random Thoughts on Crafty Stuff

Not a particular topic this week. I am still getting my brain back from vacation.

But if you have something you want me to talk about, please tell me. I am still feeling my way through this.

This week Caroline has a project for school that has a crafty part. We have worked out how this is going to be done. Now I am working on how she can do it rather than me. I have more skills and practice but this needs to be her project. She needs to make a mask of a Leopard Seal that will be part of or attach to a paper plate. I figure I’ll make her a template that she will use to make her seal head.

Sometimes deconstructing how you do something so you can teach it to someone else can be very hard. You know how you do it but stop and think how you would explain to someone else how to do it. When writing up a set of instructions or a pattern, you have to think that the person trying to recreate what you did doesn’t have you right there to explain what you meant so you need to make sure that you don’t need to be there for the instructions to work.

Depending on the level of instruction, you can assume some basic knowledge. Like a dress pattern assumes that you know basic sewing skills along with basic measurements and some math. So if it is an advanced knitting pattern, you can assume that the person has the basic stitches down along with how to read the pattern. If there is some new stitch or tricky turn that is not normal, you probably explain that with more detail than the basics.

Trying to teach someone how to do what you do can be hard but it also can be very rewarding. Passing knowledge on especially for crafts that are not done as often (like tatting) is very important because it is part of our collective heritage.

I am grateful to my teachers over the years that have shared their knowledge with me so I can share it with others.
puppetmaker: (Goatboy)
Today’s topic Believe in Yourself

This can be hard to do. You look at one of my puppets or dolls and see the whole thing. I can see all the flaws and imperfections in the piece. Kind of a forest for the trees thing.

It took me years to be able to say that I was an artist. I called myself a craftsman for the longest time. It was an artist that I respect who changed my thinking by calling me an artist rather than a craftsman. He told me that he was in awe of what I could make because even though he could paint for days, he couldn’t sew to save his life. He was impressed at what I could make fabric do. And, for some reason, that changed my thinking.

Everyone creates art in one form or another. Some draw, some sculpt, others cook, and there is even art in the ability to organize a drawer or a closet. We start creating when we are small. Give a child a pencil and paper and they are off to the races making pictures of things that are important to them. Then our inner censor starts up and for some we don’t feel anything we draw is good enough. It goes even further when our peers jump in and tell us we aren’t good at something. We figure they are right and go from there.

Caroline sometimes gets frustrated when she can’t get what is in her head out on paper. I tell her that part of it is practice. The more you do something, the better you get at it. I can make a puppet from fabric and foam to finish puppet in about 4 hours but I have been doing it quite a while and I have had a lot of practice. Everything isn’t going fall into place at once.

And don’t be afraid to fail at a piece. There is always another piece of paper or fabric or clay that you can try again. Failing is how we learn to succeed. That method didn’t work so now we try something else. I have a box or two of puppet parts that didn’t make the grade but I figure I will use them for something else down the road.

So believe in yourself. There is an artist within that is willing to come out and play if you ask them to.

I am grateful my inner child and I get along so well.
puppetmaker: (Default)
A week from Friday is Farpoint. I have a lot to do between now and then. This week I managed to get a majority of Caroline’s costume done and a part of Ariel’s

So we get into how many hours do I have left and how many of those hours can I devote to the projects and how much is everything else that need to be done.

The postcards are on the back burner for the time being.

I have a few things I have to shop for to complete the looks I am creating. Once I have those items, the costumes will be pretty much a snap.

Here is how I am looking at the next couple of days. Mondays are not great days to get things done due to all the other things I do.

Today-Make a list of missing pieces and go and get them

Tomorrow-Finish the headpiece for Caroline’s costumes and sew either snaps or Velcro to get the pieces to fit together. Finish Ariel’s tunic which is taking a little longer than I thought it would and her wig is going to be a two to three day project but it can be done in between other projects.

Thursday-Continue Wig. Start doll 1,2,3. And Ship since I have permission from one of the creators to make one.

Friday-Finish all costume pieces and clean up.

Saturday and Sunday-Wig finishing and doll making

Monday-My busy day in the real world

Tuesday-I hope to be at clothing the dolls having painted them on Sunday/Monday (and do another Crafty Tuesday with an update)

By next Wednesday I want to be basically done so I can spend the next two days getting ready for the convention.

So that is my time management plan for the next week or so.

I am grateful to be able to see my pieces of lawn again without snow on top.
puppetmaker: (Caroline Ninja or Pirate)
Out of the things I planned out for the week, the only things that fell by the wayside were the postcards. I did a test one and didn’t like it so I am doing some more research on them to see where I went off track.

I got the puppet bodies done and have the cloth for the costumes along with how I am going to make the rest of the costumes.

This week is mostly going to be costumes with some postcards sprinkled in.

I have been asked how these costumes come about. It is real simple. Someone comes up with a crazy idea and we execute it. This time we are finally getting around to a costume that we came up with about 7 years ago and a costume that Caroline wants to do. There are complexities to each but over all they are pretty straight forward.

Here is how I go about figuring out what I am doing for a costume. If it is a recreation, which most of mine are, I look at pictures of the outfit I am making. I sort out what is most distinctive about the piece. What has to be there to make everyone say, “Oh, that’s so and so from such and such.” ? Those are the must haves in the costume. After that I look at the details of the outfit and see what I think would add that extra level to the costume. The details really can make or break a good costume.

Color is important too but it can be hard to figure out what color a costume really is because of the lighting. Do you go for the color you think it is or do you go for the color that the garment actually is? I tend to go for a blend of the two. There is also the problem of finding the right fabric once you decide what you are going to do. I am lucky that I have the New York fabric stores to peruse for the perfect fabric but that is a double-edged sword because that can make the garment pretty pricey.

Make-up is another thing to consider. I am a fair make-up artist. I know all the basics and have done foam-rubber latex. I also know my limitations and work within those. Currently I don’t have a life mask that I can use for me or anyone else in the family so I fake my way through things.

Shoes can be a problem. Again I have a number of ways of faking my way through shoes including covers and finding something close that I can change to what I need. Also sometimes finding out what the footwear looks like can be a real pain because there are few to no full-length shots to work from.

I will say that the internet has made it much easier to research costumes and techniques. I can find much more information rather than trying to work off of a few blurry pictures in a Starlog. Also with the ability to freeze-frame and get a clear freeze rather than the jumpy blurry video tape freezes is amazing and very helpful.

As I will do every week, I am opening the floor to questions. So what do you want to know?

I am grateful that I can break things down into smaller pieces.


puppetmaker: (Default)

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