Watch “Puppet Wizard, Shepherd and Sheep” on YouTube

We’ve managed to get our first Puppet Wizard tutorial video up onto utube, before helping the year 2 kids in Ashley Down Primary school make some clothes peg puppets tomorrow. This is partly a response to the teacher Charlie Baughan telling me that sometimes kids take in the information better from a video, than from being shown in person. So now this is available to them to have playing in the classroom during the puppet making activity.

We’ve actually been planning to start making regular puppet making tutorial videos for a while now, it’s just taken rather longer than anticipated to get them started. I have to confess that we’ve got a way to go before we reach the kind of production quality we are hoping to achieve, but  the best way to improve, in my experience,  is to get started.
Please have a watch an let us know what you think. I think Tula makes an excellent presenter, and Rufus is already a handy little editor. A family team!

Nativity Puppet Patterns

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Here’s some nativity character clothes peg puppet characters. Each one is printed twice, looking to the left and right so each character can have a conversation with all the others, while looking directly at them.

Tula and I filmed a video today demonstrating how to make them. Hopefully we’ll get it online tomorrow.

The Cubestar project

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One day this week I realised as I pulled our front door shut that I had forgotten my house keys and a couple of hours later, on returning home from school, Tula and I found ourselves locked out of the house.
Fortunately, I did have my shed keys with me, and the one for the gates to the back lane and so Tula came and joined me in my little shed based studi

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o.

We then spent a really enjoyable bit of time revisiting a project we had started, at probably the peak of Tula’s illness. At that point she could hardly get out of bed, and having read about M.E. sufferers being bed bound for years, I insisted that Tula should walk with me down he garden path to the shed each day, which at points was excruciatingly hard work, and sometimes I would have to carry her back to the house. We never spent any time in the workshop back then, it would have been too much for Tula.
However,  I did sit by Tula’s bedside and model plasticine characters and things, in an attempt to keep a level of creative positivity alive, and hopefully not loose Tula entirely to the horrible looming depression that was inevitable during such a chronicly painful period.
Tula was mainly unimpressed and certainly didn’t want, or have the energy to join in untill one day I made this very simple

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chap.

Back then, he didn’t have a hat, but Tula loved him! After very little debating we came up with the name ‘Cubestars’ and so they were born, and a much needed creative focus materialised. I then insisted that Tula do at least 30 mins Cubestars with me each day. She didn’t even have to model, if she wasn’t up to it, but day in, day out we would at least discuss the project. As we talked about the characters and what they got up to, I would sketch ideas into a pad.

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We then moved on from plasticine to fimo and started to build a little world. To begin with, I did the modeling,  but as Tula became enthusiastic about what was happening, she joined it too. We did
We made loads of characters, gave them names, created scenarios, and the props and costumes they needed to enact them. Tula vetoed my idea to give them arms, so we made sure they had feet big enough to carry things on. (Tula is with me as I write this and she has just told me she has unlimited vetos and I have only 3!)
The storyline I remember most fondly is Oasis’s; Because he is made from plasticine, we decided he would go on an expedition to live in the freezer so he could be hard too. That’s why he’s got a fimo hat now. We also made him 3 thermos flasks, for tea, coffee and chai, fishing rods, fish to catch, a fish storage box and chilli sweets.
We then froze a tub of water and drilled a hole in the centre which we filled with vodka so the fish could swim in unfrozen liquid.

Eventually, Tula got a bit bored of doing Cubestars every day, so we boxed them all up and we moved on to something else.
On getting them all out again we were surprised to remember just how much we had made. They deserve a properly lit photo shoot.
Two characters, a brother and sister called Bronzo and Bronzer who have a table they sell Bronze Biscuits from still needed chairs, so on this session we made them, and also made their mum, Bronzetta.

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At the moment they are all still spread out on my workbench, and Tula has been down on her own to play with them, so in my opinion,  it’s been time well spent!

Buffalo Bill clothes peg puppet

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For the short bit of time Tula was in school this morning I did these clothes peg puppet templates for Charlie Baughan to use with his class. They are studying Brisol local history so obviously Brunel is there.
Less known about is Colonel Coney who when to North America and brought back to Bristol with him Buffalo Bill and his tribe who formed a huge circus. According to Charlie there were 4 train loads of people involved and 500 horses. It must have been pretty impressive! I’m going to do him and his class some more characters to help their learning.

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Make a Clothes Peg Puppet.

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Here is a great way to make a simple mouth puppet with a clothes peg and some card board;
1; Sketch a head with the bottom jaw separate from the head.

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2. Whack the sketch onto a light box and transfer it onto card and ink. If you haven’t got a light box then either make one (I’ll show you how I made mine in a later post), or sketch the head in pencil straight onto card and then go over in ink and rub the pencil out. The beauty of using a light box is you can make duplicates and have them facing left and right.

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3. Cut the head out, find some double sided sticky tape and get your clothes peg ready.

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4. Paint the clothes peg black. I used acrylic paint. Leave to dry.

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5. Attach the double sided tape onto each side where the head and jaw are going to attach. Peel the paper bit off to reveal the double sticky side.

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6. Attach the cut out cardboard head and jaw.

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7. Play with it and make more characters. Maybe write a play and act it out!

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Welcome to Ancient Greece Cori.

The Tongue in cheek performances I am working on consist at the moment of lots of little sections. Some need more work than others, some probably need chucking away but they are heading in the direction I think they should be going. So many ideas and sections that need to be amalgamated. But devising a show can be a confusing process. Does the end result need to be seamless? Maybe the seams are interesting and are something that help to make a performance great. But how then should those seams be displayed? A discreet, carefully pressed apart hidden seam? Sturdy French seams or maybe more like something from Vivienne Westwards ‘Cut and Slash’ collection? I have started to find it very difficult to make decisions such as these on my own. Even with the help of a video camera (which as I mentioned in a previous post is great for figuring out technical issues) it is very difficult to really get an idea of what the audience will be experiencing.

So I count myself as very lucky to be able to welcome the involvement of the amazingly talented Cori Bona to help with some direction. I have worked with Cori before on a show called ‘Fishwife‘ which was great fun to make and I know that having Cori’s input will add a whole new dimension to the production. Will it be seamless? I can’t answer that yet. But if there are seams, they’ll be there for a reason and they’ll look good.