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)
I do get asked a couple of questions that I can now answer with this project.

This one is photo heavy so I am putting the photos behind the cut.

This project starts with some bad behavior by fans towards Michelle Gomez who plays Missy on Doctor Who. Apparently some people can’t separate the role from the person and she got all kinds of weird hateful messages.

Fast forward to about a month ago when Peter got an email from one of our BBC Cymru Wales buddies to keep date clear if he could with more information to follow.

About two weeks later through a BBC America tweet, Peter figured out what might be in the pipeline.

The week of we got conformation that Peter was to be on the guest list for the BBC America preview of Doctor Who and Michelle Gomez would be introducing the episode.

“So do you think you can do a puppet by then?” came the question.

“Sure,” said I.

I looked at Missy’s costume and figured out what I needed to do. A trip to my local fabric store and I found all the fabrics I needed. While looking at the photos, I realized that the shirt was not white but lightly striped. I debated and decided to go with the detail. I found something to use for the cameo and something to use for the trim.

And in about a 48 hours period, I assembled Missy the puppet. The final touch was the hat that I went back and forth on about half a dozen times and then decided that she really needed the hat.

Peter went to the event and managed to get the puppet to Ms. Gomez who, by all reports, adored it.

Onto the Photos

The_Missy_Project )
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: (War Doctor)
Do I take commissions?

Yes. In limited number but I do. The base cost of a hand and rod puppet is $140. Depending on what it is and what I have to do to make it (materials cost pattern drafting etc) there may be additional cost (Example the X-men First Class puppets were 180 because of the materials used for the uniforms and the wigs).

Phluzzies are 60 due to the cost of materials going up unless I can pull it from stock and then I can quote 40

If I can’t do it, believe me I know someone who can.

Can you teach me how to make puppets?

Yes. I am more than willing to show anyone how I do it. I would like this sort of information to be out there so others don’t have to re-invent things that have already been discovered.

However I am still working out how I can do that

And I know I owe the how I do rods for puppets tutorial. That is on my list.

How long does it take for you to make a puppet?

Depends on what the puppet is but a basic puppet takes me four hours including a simple shirt.

There is really no physical way to get it below 4 hours because that’s the amount of time it takes to get it done and done right.

This is down from my original 8 hours for a puppet.

Do you sell patterns?

No. Sorry I don’t. I can show you how I make my patterns and some of the math. I just don’t have the skills to create the book that would have to go with making one of my puppets. A lot of it I just do and don’t think about any more.

I will say that I found The Foam Book: An Easy Guide to Building Polyfoam Puppets by Drew Allison and Donald Devet very useful even for beginning builders.

The clothing abilities for puppets is just a skill set that I learned over time and from making costumes for humans as well. If you can make doll cloths, you can make puppet clothes.

What’s the most fun you have had with a puppet?

Ooooo hard one since I have had so many adventures with them over the years and met so many people through the puppets.

The look on Neil Gaiman’s face when he realized I had a Sandman puppet on my arm is a special memory.

Getting Jeremy Bullock to yell at the puppet on my arm while we were having a conversation after I told him by the end of the conversation he would be yelling at the puppet. He was impressed.

The crowd reaction to “Lord of Time” at the Dragon Con.

Giving a puppet to various people I have admired over the years. Made for some good friendships too.

Meeting Peter David after he bought one of my puppets, which came with a half hour lesson. I taught Peter and Shana how to operate a rod puppet. 7 years later we were dating. I think that was probably the most important encounter.

Any other questions?

I am grateful for all the puppet adventures I have had.
puppetmaker: (War Doctor)
I think some of the biggest lessons I have learned over the years have come from mistakes. Sometimes the mistake was the better solution to the problem, other times it got me off one track of thinking and back to the drawing board to figure out another way to do what I need to do.

Failure is an option and it is what we do with that failure that allows us to move forward or stay in neutral or go in reverse. Sometimes I think I define myself more by my failures than my successes.

It is in failure that I have learned patience. It is in failure that I have learned time management skills and exactly how long it really takes to do something. It is in failure that I get some of my best solutions to the problems I have created.

Doesn’t work all the time but enough for me that I find myself working forward rather than abandoning what I am doing. With a few exceptions which were spectacular failures in their own right and I knew those projects had to be shelved until I learned other skills that would allow me to do what I want.

It is frustrating especially when I make the same mistake more than once (like sewing a seam backwards three times in a row) but I haven’t had that happen since.

When I show my work to others, I have learned to accept praise and compliments rather than pointing out all the flaws within the project. I can see them and know how I would do better and I do next time.

One can’t be afraid to fail. I think we are conditioned to be so but I also think that it is possible to change one’s thinking about it.

I am grateful for all I have learned through failure.
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: (Angel on my Shoulder)
31 Days until Dragon Con! Yikes!

At this point this blog is probably going to mostly change over to what I am doing for Dragon Con for various things. Blogging about it keeps me honest about what I have done and what I have to do.

I also have Caroline’s Costume to do for Shoreleave (this weekend kids) and I would like to bring the beginnings of the next set of puppets I am working on.

So that’s a bit to do but I am going to start now and just work it. My brain seems to be firing on all cylinders now and my muse knocked on the door with her suitcase in hand so I am going to assume she is going to stay a while.

Here is the Master List of things I would like to get done before Dragon Con

Yes, I am leaving the titles as is. I figure part of the fun will be figuring out what I am going to do with them.

Secret Project #1 (Hand and Rod Puppet)

Secret Project #2 (Hand and Rod Puppet(s)) aka Puppet Slam project

Secret Project #3 (Hand and Rod puppet)

For the Art Show
1) All Magic… (Hand and Rod Puppet)

2) Comes at a Price (Hand and Rod Puppet)

3) Blue Phluzzie (Sort of my signature piece)

4) Yellow Phluzzie (Signature part 2)

5) Grrr (Monster hand puppet)

6) Argh (Monster hand puppet)

7) Goat Boy (Doll)

8) Lioness (Doll)

9) Lion (Doll)

10) Lizard Wizard (Doll)

11) Can’t take a sky from me (Hand puppet set of 9) {This is in my iffy category}

12) Bite my Shiny Metal … (Hand Puppet Set of 9) {Again iffy}

13) Not the Doctor (Hand and Rod Puppet)

14) The Shape Shifter (Hand and Rod Puppet)

And that’s my insane idea of what I can get done in the time allotted time.

I am grateful for my muse showing up even with her baggage.
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)
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)

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: (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.
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This past weekend I was at New York Comic Con. I had with me a couple of puppets for sale and a couple of puppets to play with out of my collection. I sold the X-men First Class puppets along with one of the Ben 10 ship-ships I made. And along the way I talk to a lot of people about puppets I have made and puppets that they might want to commission me for.

I was asked a couple of times whether I would make replicas of Muppets for them. I had to tell them nicely but firmly no. I have made a couple of them over the years but they are all in my possession and I build them as a learning exercise not to sell. I will not build Muppets unless I am working for Disney or Henson being whichever owns the copyright to the thing I am building.

Now I have puppets close to looking like Muppets but that is the nature of the beast when you are working with a set of geometric shapes. My Phluzzies are often compared to Fraggles probably because the head shape is close to each other but they are different too. My people puppets do have a similar head shape to some Muppets but again that’s the nature of limited number of things you can do geometrically to get a head to look like a head and size right for the body. But there are differences between them and I did that on purpose.

I know some doll makers that have lost business due to others copying or recreating their designs at cheaper prices. The doll world does police itself pretty well. A pattern was printed in a magazine that was recognized by a number of people as belonging to another doll maker. Within 24 hours of the magazine’s publication, the magazine put an apology up on their website and paid the original maker of the pattern for the use of the pattern.

Now some of the things I make are puppets based on characters in TV and Movies. Charles and Erik are prime examples of that. I also have a complete set of Doctor Who puppets that I have made. These are copyrighted characters by Marvel and the BBC respectively. However both companies have turned a blind eye to the sort of thing I do because I am not mass manufacturing the puppets for profit. Sort of like when an artist draws Batman in someone’s sketch book and gets paid for their drawing ability. If I make another Chuck and Erik, it will be for me not to sell.

I have been asked not to make more of a puppet that is a copyrighted character. I made a Sandman puppet. There are two on the planet that I have made. One is with me and the other is with Neil. He asked me to leave it at two so I did. It’s his character so it’s his call. (OK I know that is technically DC’s character but Neil did create that incarnation of it so I think of it as his.)

Now Ship from Ben 10 is a copyright character and I have made more than one but I got permission from Dwayne McDuffie to make and sell them in a limited number. I was working on one for him when he passed away. He knew how long it took to make even one of them and he thought they were pretty neat.

My dolls are my own creation. I make their clothes and create my own patterns for the clothes so there is no chance of infringement on anyone’s patterns because I freeform them. My dolls do have a Froudian influence but that’s because Wendy Froud taught me most of what I know about doll making so some things are going to look a little like hers because who taught me but the characters are my own.

Now all of this is my personal code of ethics for my work. I am not condemning anyone else for what they do. I don’t expect everyone to work by my rules. I just thought I would put this out there for conversation and also to give people what my lines are in creating and recreating.

I am grateful for the ability to create and recreate things.
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I have decided that for DragonCon I am going to make, for the first time in a long time, a hall costume. I am going to be a judge on the Friday Costume Call like I have been for a number of years now. That one is put on my dance card pretty early on by the convention and I am more than happy to do it.

In the past I usually wear whatever I am wearing that day which tends to run to jeans, a t-shirt, and a bowling shirt. I do tend to bring a puppet with me. My fellow judges spilt between wearing things that they created and street clothes.

So this year I am going to go off the deep end and recreate a costume for DragonCon and, if I work it right, to be used as a jacket in the fall and winter. Even if that doesn’t pan out, I plan to make it for more than one convention.

So that’s where I am coming from.

What have I decided to do?

An X-men first class uniform

(For the VI: There are 5 people standing in an airplane hanger in front of a jet engine. They are all wearing yellow and blue uniforms but each is a little different. From left to right we have Professor Xavier (played by James McAvoy), Sean Cassidy aka Banshee (played by Caleb Landry Jones), Alex Summers aka Havok (played by Lucas Till), Erik Lensherr aka Magneto (played by Michael Fassbender), and Raven aka Mystique (played by Jennifer Lawrence). Raven skin is blue and she has red hair.)

So Dear Reader here is where I need your help.

I have pretty much figured out and bought the cloth for the coat and a chuck of the pants. The rest of the cloth I can fake my way through.

I need help with two things.

1) Patterns. I am going to do this as a two piece rather than a one piece jumpsuit but I need to find some patterns to give me the clues I need to recreate this. I am thinking Motorcycle jackets or racing jackets and pants for the basic pattern. Whatever I find, I am going to have to Frankenpattern the heck out of it.

2) The hardware on the harness and the jacket itself. I need to find the buckles and the clips somewhere for not a ton of money. I don’t think I can build these out of another material and make it look like I want. So any help you can give me in identifying what the hardware is and wear to find it would be very very helpful.

I am going to put some of my research photos behind the cut.

I plan to blog the whole process on this one if I can find the parts.

I am very grateful for any help I can get in this project.

Reference_Photos )
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.


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