No Strings Attached

The Life and loves of a Puppetmaker

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The company's tagline is "Follow the World's Creators".

puppetmaker40·8 days agoText

I use a contact cement for parts of my puppets. It has been a bit since I use it.

Apparently, I did not clean the top off properly before I sealed it and the cap was glued shut on the top of the can.

It took me 40 minutes to get the cap off the glue.

It also cost my injuries on both thumbs right at the bottom joint. I didn’t realize that I had blisters there until they popped as I tried to force the cap to screw off.

I did, eventually, get the cap off and put together the bodies. I made doggone sure that I cleaned the top correctly.

It is interesting how much you use your thumbs in your daily life.

My grip is almost non-existent at this point. Holding utensils is hard. Writing is painful. Even typing on the computer is uncomfortable. I haven’t tried tools, but I don’t think that will be much better.

I am figuring out how I can use my hands and what my limitations are right now.

This is going to take a bit to heal and I am going to have to be careful that I don’t expand that time by doing something stupid.

Washing hands also get interesting.

Just a PSA about taking care of your limbs from me to you.

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puppetmaker40·13 days agoPhoto

Credit to @lindsaybramane (sp?) for the this.

It is a graphic that give voice to something that I have not been able to articulate.

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puppetmaker40·13 days agoText

I have been working on a recreation of one of my favorite Muppets for me. It is an experiment that lets me play around with things and try some new shapes and figure out how the original puppet was built. I never sell these because I am a firm believer in Intellectual Property.

I put together the body and was working on the face when I asked Peter about the nose. He asked to see a picture of the puppet and I pulled it up. He took one look and said, “The head is wrong.” He showed me what he was talking about and sure enough it is wrong. I am going to go back and remake the head now that I can see what I need to do.

Failure is part of the creative process.

Sometimes you can turn those failures into successes. Other times you scrap it and move on.

Not everything you create is going to be a success. Sometimes it is a success in your eyes but no one else seems to get it. Other times you think it is a failure, but to others it is the most amazing thing they have ever seen.

It is through screwing up that we learn and get better at what we do.

Caroline and I were talking about success and failure on our walk the other day. She talked about how some people give up after they can’t succeed the first time they try something. The idea that if you are not an instant success then you are a failure not realizing that instant success can be 20 years in the making. Instant success is a rare beast indeed. Many of those successes are built on years of hard work and failure.  

People saying No or finding reasons not to allow you to present your work to a larger audience.

You keep going and honing your skills until someone says Yes, I like that.

I have failed spectacularly. I have also succeeded beyond my wildest imagination.

A big part of it is just trying.

Or as a friend of mine put it. There is no true failure rather lessons learn and applied to the next time.

I am grateful for my successes.

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puppetmaker40·15 days agoPhoto

I have been lucky that I found my tribe in my younger years and they have encouraged me to be my best me I can be. There is a tribe out there that will accept you and make you what you should be. Yes, I did have a lonely period where I wondered if there was anyone out there that could accept me for me. But I am better for it because I discovered in the quiet who I was rather than having society tell me.

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puppetmaker40·16 days agoPhoto

Jim Henson meant so much to so many. I don’t think I would be doing what I do if there was no Jim Henson.

I would like to quote from the Rainbow Connection

Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
And look what it’s done so far
What’s so amazing
That keeps us star gazing
What so we think we might see

Someday we’ll find it
That Rainbow Connection
The lovers the dreamers and me

Keep Believing Keep Pretending Keep Creating

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puppetmaker40·16 days agoText

May 16, 2020 Saturday Day 62 of the Homebound Saga

Thirty years ago, the day was a Wednesday. I was at the Yale School of Drama finishing up my third year. My last work study assignment at the Yale Rep was on the rail for Pygmalion and we had a Wednesday matinee of a shortened version of the play for an audience of school aged people. The rail was going to be a bit trickier and I went in a bit early and made sure everything was in order and ran my changed cues with my fellow crew members to make sure it was safe for the actors.

I came back down to the green room and sat down to eat my lunch when the one crew member I did not get along with came in for his call. He saw me there and said, “I didn’t expect to see you since Jim Henson just died.”

I chose not to believe him since he had tried to get a rise out of me before. That quickly crumbled when my stage management mentor came in and asked if I was okay.

I went up to my rail position, sat on the floor, and started crying as quietly as I could. Richard, who was playing Higgins and I had become friends with, came up to check on me. He gave me a hug and told me he was sorry for my loss. A number of the cast and crew checked in with me that day. I made it through my cues, went home, and just lost it.

For many puppeteers, Jim Henson is their spiritual godfather. His body of work has influenced so many. I know many people who owe their careers to Jim.

The puppetry world is not that big. It is probably three degrees of separation rather than six. If I don’t know someone, I know someone who knows them.

The number of people who met Jim is getting smaller along with the group that worked with him. There are practically two generations that did not have Jim Henson in their lives the way I did.

He will never be forgotten. He and his work has become a part of our lives and our culture.

Today at 4:00 pm EDST there will be a tribute to Jim on Muppet Guys talking plan on watching it.

The rest of the day I am putting on various Jim Henson projects to watch as I work on puppets today.

Even after thirty years, it still hurts that he is gone. But I take comfort in the Rainbow Connection that he forged between us.

I am grateful for Jim Henson.

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puppetmaker40·18 days agoText

Thursday May 14, 2020 Day 60 of the Homebound Saga

Right now, we are both overwhelmed with information and frustrated by too little information.

As to when the stay at home order will be lifted for our areas, it seems like Russian Roulette in more ways than one. That is still the unknown as we still do not have the testing in place to trace the path of the virus among other issues.

Then there is the information and misinformation that is just about everywhere and sorting it out can be mentally tiring.

When I can’t even watch the late-night shows or the comedic takes on the news without feeling my stomach drop to my knees, I know it is time to take a step back to give myself some time to process things and calm down.

And I give myself permission to do so.

Taking a break from the noise of the world is not a bad thing to do. It is not cowardly to take some time to recover from the trauma of what is going on around us.

It is not selfish to practice a little self-care.

There is a lot I am worried about that are consequences of the virus and the lock down and taking some time to sort through those feelings without adding more things to worry about is what I need to do for me.

My walks with Caroline are a must every day to get out of the house and spend some time in the sunshine. Those walks have become very important to me and to Caroline because it gives her time to talk to me about what is bothering her or something that she found funny or whatever comes to mind. I have been telling her about my time as a stage manager and the other jobs I worked over the years. The two things we don’t talk about is the virus or politics. This is an agreement between us that has worked well.

Typing an entry a day in my web log has also become important to me. It gives me a place to talk about whatever is on my mind. I try to help others through my writings, so they know they are not the only person who feels like this. I talk frankly about depression and mental health because I believe, strongly, that it needs to be talked about out in the open. It is not bad to talk about how you feel. And how you feel is valid.

Working on various creative projects is an outlet for me. I am hoping to do more of those shortly. Writing is another thing that I am using to get my anger and frustration out. These works will probably never see the light of day but getting them out helps me.

My back deciding it hates me has not helped my mood. I do get frustrated that I cannot do more in a day on a regular day. When I can do little to nothing, my squirrel brain goes into overdrive bring up each and every failure it can come up with. The ‘you should be’ voice rings loud.  And when I cannot seem to find a way to relieve the pain and muscle stress, that voice gets even louder. I am not a good sick or injured person.

Today I have to venture out for my weekly visit to the grocery store to get us the things we need for the week. This will include a post office stop and CVS run with a possible hardware store stop. That will take most of my morning. This afternoon Caroline and I will walk and talk. I also have a copy edited manuscript to read over of my next short story.

That’s my day. Hope yours goes well for you.

I am grateful that I can vent to my husband and he knows that is what I am doing.

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puppetmaker40·20 days agoText

Day 58 of the Homebound Saga aka May 12, 2020

This Wednesday at 7:00 pm I am making my debut as a member of the Social Distancing Players as we perform Julius Cesar Beware the Ides of March of the Penguins.

Let’s take this back a bit as to how I got to joining the group.

A couple of years ago we went to the New York Renaissance up in Tuxedo New York. There was a playboard for Shakespeare approves in front of one of the venues. Among their offerings was Macbeth Death by Fluffy Kittens which we all agreed we needed to see. Peter was in his Tim the Enchanter outfit and was picked to be one of the three witches in this very audience participatory romp through the Scottish Play. Afterwards we got to talking to Shakespeare and introduced ourselves. Shakespeare is a fan of the works of Peter David.

Flash forward to last September and we saw the Tempest A three hour tour A three hour tour. Afterwards we caught up with Shakespeare and chatted about this, that and the other.

(For the VI: This is Shakespeare and my Aziraphale puppet. Shakespeare is on the left looking like a classic Shakespeare with a red shirt and a dark red and brown doublet with a pewter pin on his left lapel. He is pointing at Aziraphale who has blond hair, a cream colored coat, blue shirt, plaid bow tie, and light brown vest.)

Our next encounter was at Farpoint with Shakespeare in his civvies and we got to spend some time with him and his lovely wife getting to know each other outside the Ren Faire.

With COVID-19 and all the cancellations of so many events, Shakespeare decided to try something new to him and present his plays on-line for everyone’s amusement.

I got involved in the current production because I have puppets and we are using a puppet for Octavius. I am taking a puppet I used for another show and putting a toga and laurels on the puppet.

It is a rare chance to see me perform.

They are running an Indigogo campaign to play the players which can be found www.indiegogo.com/projects/caesar-beware-the-ides-of-march-of-the-penguins?fbclid=IwAR3PexfPF6P-4ubLqG7XlD3sduJSn50ZJc0mxDuILuwgjUUKueAnjDgjK1s#/

The production will be streaming on Facebook and you can find the information  https://www.facebook.com/events/229919438327820/

It will also be on Youtube on Shakespeare approved channel. More information  https://www.youtube.com/user/ShakespeareBrdOfAvon

Come on by and have some silly fun watching Julius Cesar: Beware the Ides of March of the Penguins tomorrow.

I am grateful for opportunities like this.

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puppetmaker40·23 days agoText

Today is the day that Muppetologists have agreed is Kermit’s Birthday. It was the premiere of Sam and Friends in 1955.

I have said before that I consider Kermit my spirit animal. I can relate to him on so many levels.

(For the VI: On the right is the original Kermit puppet. The puppet is green and doesn’t have the ruffle around the neck that the current Kermit has. His body is tube shaped rather than slightly round. On the left is a current Kermit on a box.)

(for the VI: I am standing right of the case that holds Kermit sitting on a director’s chair.)

(for the VI: This is a black and white photo taken at the opening of the Center for Puppetry Arts. In the center surrounded by people is Kermit with Jim Henson right behind him.)

Kermit has been part of my life since Sesame Street debuted in 1969. He was the voice of reason in the chaos of the Muppet Show.

I will never forget how I felt when I saw the Muppet Movie and heard “The Rainbow Connection” for the first time. It moved me and continues to do so.

Kermit and his wisdom have been there for me in dark times. His silliness has amused me over the years.

He is such a part of my life that I cannot image it without him.

Happy Birthday to Kermit the Frog.

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