My journey creating and producing puppetry... trials, tribulations, inspiration and contemplation.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blue Boy Puppet

I had a nephew very interested in owning one of my puppets. This started me on the simple idea of just making one of his very own as a gift. I decided to stick with a simple enough character using the Melonhead puppet pattern from Project Puppet. This still gave me the opportunity to test some other simple building techniques. It was the first Project Puppet design that I incorporated using a black sock as a sleeve attached to the inside of the mouth plate. It makes your grip more solid and mouth control easy. I also used pipe cleaners attached to the 'palm plate' to give articulation to the fingers. I'm leaving it up to my nephew to give him a name but I think he kind of looks like a Max or Oswald.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody

This was just too amazing not to post. The Muppet Bohemiam Rhapsody features 70 Muppets!! For Muppet purists, the voices of Dr. Teeth AND Scooter are sounding pretty spot on. No complaints here. It's a Muppet party of GROOOOOOVY proportions fer sure!

Rock on my Muppet friends. The future is looking bright. I'm stoked!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

A new beginning and a Russ Walko creation

I recently had a flicker of inspiration and started work on a new puppet. I never know exactly what the puppet will be but, this is intended to be a puppet skull for a dog.

After the passing of one of my idols, Michael Jackson, I thought it would be great to have a puppet likeness of MJ. I didn't have the patience to realize it myself and I really wanted someone to work it that I knew could deliver. Russ Walko is an amazing talent in the puppet building world and he was receptive to working on the project and delivered an amazing puppet. He even looks better in person. Thank you Russ!

Saturday, June 27, 2009


The video I made of the Ming & Ping puppets has recently debuted as part of the new "Ming & Ping Spicy Show".

Thanks again to my friend and fellow puppeteer Rich Hotaling and Bao, Ming & Ping for making this possible. Keep it Spicy!!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Ming and Ping - the process

Ming and Ping are one of my favorite synthpop groups - They are twin brothers from Hong Kong presently residing in LA. I was inspired to make these two puppets of them. Ming prefers black and has been known to wear purple make-up while Ping is more into wearing white with blue accents. I was thrilled with the almost 'manga' look of this duo and quickly started plotting an idea to capture them on video.

I chose a catchy, upbeat tune called Electricity from their last album Causeway Army. I enlisted a friend and did a few takes of the 3 minutes tune in no time. Although we had a few interesting ideas, after starting the editing process, it just felt flat. All these other ideas then started to flow. I created a quick storyboard in InDesign and worked out scenarios for at least every count of 16, if not, more. It took me no time and, in another week, I had my fellow puppeteer back to video again. This time it was SO much easier to talk about each shot, set it up and shoot. It felt much more organized and allowed the creativity to flow a bit more. While sitting down to edit this time, I knew I had something and the video looks great for a first time puppet shoot. Obviously, story-boarding is a mainstay in the video/film industry for a reason. The initial time it takes to lay it out is SO worth the feeling of being organized and ready for shooting day... but, even the first disorganized shoot was worth it to help understand what I was going for and where I needed to focus my attention. Enjoy the process folks! ... Video coming soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Matt Ficner Workshop

Matt Ficner, of Creepy Puppet fame, lead a puppet making workshop in Ottawa, Canada on May 16 and 17 which I attended. It was a 2-day creative workshop making a hand/rod puppet of your choosing. It was after the weekend that I realized it had also been the anniversary of Jim Henson's passing. What a wonderful way to honor one of my childhood heroes. Matt is an incredibly creative puppet builder and all-around artist. His fun, inventive approach is perfect for learning a new way of puppet building and I came away with fresh ideas and filled with inspiration. Thank you Matt!!! My big furry cat [puppet] is Harvey. Photo by Matt Ficner.

Cheers to my fellow workshop builder Candice and her beautiful puppet Dot. It was a blast to see Harvey and Dot come to life in our two [short] days together.

Three of my original test workshop participants may finally be returning this weekend to work on [hopefully complete] their puppets. Hoping for more progress images. I'm also working on a new, small puppet project that I hope to post soon. The final images from the puppet making workshop I did with the children's museum were also posted to

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Website Update

The website for my puppet company Up In Arms has recently been given a fresh look and new logo. Check it out at

I just completed day 3 of 4 of my puppet making workshop series. It's been very exciting, exhausting and rewarding. It's been a great learning tool for me too - like realizing we could have used more than 4 days. Still, the results are going to be incredible and I can't wait to share the final creations with everyone on my blog and website.

Monday, March 09, 2009

First Test Workshop Successes...

Being generally busy, celebrating occasions with family and friends and a nasty little bout with the flu, kept me from completing the test workshop until yesterday. I didn't get my full 6 test puppet builders back but, I spent a nice early evening with my sister and niece Rachel and nephew Ronny to complete their 2 puppets. Both had chosen the Roly pattern.

After they took their puppets home, they dressed them in some temporary Build-A-Bear costumes but are eager to find some more permanent clothes that match their puppet's personality.

Raul ~ made by Ronny...

Alexandra ~ made by Rachel...

It was a wonderfully rewarding process for all of us. My sister got a big kick out of seeing Alexandra's hair take shape as she helped Rachel through the process.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Creative Process & My Upcoming Workshop

I love the creative process and the evolution of a puppet. I had an idea for some hair on a new puppet that changed into something else and the character started to inform a new direction. I have a spark of an idea and see where it takes me. I wish I could be one of those people who draws a sketch and follows it through to some amazing puppet likeness but, I'm not there yet. I've played around with some different eye shapes [above] for the new character and have revisited it at least 3 times already and feel like I'm closing in on something soon but, I appreciate where the process has taken me and the new things I discover along the way.

My puppets caught the attention of a friend who works for a local children's museum and he asked me to consider doing a workshop with the kids who might be interested in building puppets. With permission to use the Project Puppet Simple Series patterns, I gathered some friends this past weekend [below] to see how much we could get done in a certain amount of time with just me doing the sewing. With six participants in the 'test', they got all of their patterns traced and cut and the head and body sewn. It was enough to gauge how many kids I could handle in the workshop, volunteers needed to assist, additional sewers, etc. The first workshop at the children's museum is scheduled for March 14 and I'm equally nervous and excited.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The MuppetCast & Sesame Street at 40

Thanks to Steve over at The MuppetCast for the mention on his 1/25/09 show. Steve has been providing a great service with his regular podcast on all things Muppet and is one of the entertaining resources that I regularly turn to.

I attended the Sesame Street at 40 lecture at William Patterson University in Wayne NJ on Friday [Jan. 30]. The whole team did a great job and it was wonderful to see Frank Oz, one of my first puppet heroes, involved with something Muppet-related. The event was moderated by author Michael Davis and included writer/composer Tony Geiss, Bob McGrath, Fran Brill, Marty Robinson, Kevin Clash, Sonia Monzano, Caroll Spinney and Frank Oz. It was cool to hear stories about how they came to Sesame Street in their careers. Who knew Bob had a huge fan following in Japan?? He was quite the famous singer in his earlier days. The best part of the evening was the improvisational conversations with the puppets themselves as they brought out Oscar, Zoe, Telly and Elmo. No matter how old you were in the audience, your inner child was in awe to see these well-known childhood heroes live. Even those of us who are not exactly Elmo's biggest fans, really appreciate how Kevin performs him for the adult set - there's a little more 'knowing' behind that soft, red exterior and Clash is a fantastic performer and puppeteer.

I'm working on my next new puppet. I'm really enjoying the process. You think something is going to go a certain way and when it doesn't, the work takes you in another, interesting direction.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Geraldine gets some upgrades

First, Geraldine's earrings were from a little girls dress-up set and the plastic clasps did not grasp her ears tight enough and kept falling off while storing her or if she moved around too much. The clasps were removed and where they sat was ground off the back of the earring. I then glued on these great 1/4 inch ProMAG magnets that I found at Michael's [craft shop] and backed her ear with a 2nd magnet. The grip on these little magnets are super tight and I have every confidence they will hold with even the most spastic puppet performance.

Continuing in the spirit of passing along puppet building tips, I should mention I'm a little reserved when it comes to making certain features permanent [ie. glued on] so, when considering how to attach the ribbon in her hair, I found these mini hair clips perfect for gluing the ribbon to first and then clipping into her hair.

Geraldine was in need of a fresher look for her shirt. A friend suggested something in yellow and since I love the contrast of purple and yellow, Geraldine was outfitted with a new yellow shirt with a big, beautiful purple flower on the front.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lone Wolf Tribe Workshop

I recently joined the online puppet community Puppet Hub and came across Lone Wolf Tribe whose website I had seen some time ago and was happy to be re-introduced to their fantastical form of puppetry. I noticed they were giving workshops on foam sculpting the puppet head and quickly signed up for their class this past Wednesday, January 14 at their Brooklyn, NY studio.

I had such a great time learning a new, creative process. Kevin Augustine, Lone Wolf Tribe's artistic director, is an encouraging and inspiring teacher. As someone who can get a little too precious about my own creative process, it was nice to let go a little more and still be impressed with the outcome. Starting with a simple sketch or idea, you draw the image to a large block of upholstery foam. The face front and profile were drawn to the appropriate sides and used as guides. Much slicing and carving later reveals a pretty cool puppet head. Although my figure looked to be more Native American or African, his name came to me as 'Boris'.

If you are looking to learn new technique or would just like to get your craft on for an evening or afternoon, I highly recommend this workshop. Lone Wolf Tribe stages fascinating, avant-garde puppet/ theatrical shows. Check out their website for upcoming shows in the New York area or see them at this year's National Puppetry Festival in Atlanta.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Puppet Build ~ Geraldine

Over the last couple of weekends, I worked on my new puppet Geraldine. I had fun with the hair and found some great costume pieces to complete her look. She's a girly girl who loves the color purple. I'm thrilled with the way she turned out. She was made from the Project Puppet simple series pinhead pattern.