Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
I love the creative process. It’s amazing to me to see how creative the human mind is — especially when it’s about ideas and exploring our imaginations. The images below aren’t really puppets, but they involve hands and images…so it made me think of puppets.
A friend just shared with me a very disturbing Newsweek article, “Creativity in Crisis.” For years, researchers have been studying and measuring, in quantifiable ways, creativity in children and adults. (They actually call it measuring your CQ as opposed to IQ.) Apparently, creativity scores are a better indicator than IQ scores for future success — something that should make everyone in academia sit up and listen. For years, the CQ scores of each generation has been higher than the previous. The disturbing news is that, according to a study done at William & Mary, for the first time EVER scores for American children have gone down.
It’s a long article but worth a read over a cup of coffee or tea.
I say: Let them build puppets! And puppet shows!
We are up in DC this weekend with performances at the Smithsonian Discovery Theater. We’ve been here the past four years for the week of Thanksgiving. It’s fun — except the whole traffic thing. This year we are doing something a little bit different by staying in DC for Thanksgiving.
In the past, we’ve commuted to Jersey or Richmond for family gatherings, but this year we wanted to just stay. My mom will be commuting instead and coming up here for our fabulous hotel Thanksgiving. We have an oven. I even packed my Dutch Oven. (Not kidding.)
After my two performances today I played tourist. I wandered around, sort of aimlessly, and found myself in front of the Natural History Museum. I was once a docent there and gave tours to Kindergartners in the dinosaur hall. (That was fun — such small children with such big dinosaurs! We even did a puppet show!) But the wow? The “wow” comes from the surprise of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef.
Backstory: I have been having a love affair with fibers — specifically wool roving and raw silk — of late. Don’t worry, Sam knows all about and puts up with it. Now I’ve known about this Crochet Reef for years. I stumbled on this knitted and crocheted coral reef on a you-tube clip and just loved the idea. It’s a giant, behometh of a coral reef that has been knitted and crocheted by people all over the world. It was started by two sisters who had a concern for the oceans and nimble fingers. I can’t explain it, but I was so excited to just stumble upon it today. To see it all in person. I even called some friends. Nobody was home! My family was off at the zoo for the day — it was just me!
My family, for some reason, did not seem to share in my ecstatic joy. Oh well.
I could hardly contain myself.
This just confirms my fiber addiction problem. I need help…or shopping fiber therapy, perhaps. I think that would work. I could just live in my studio in December…maybe my family wouldn’t notice? Hmmmmm……….
We had a great time last weekend at the Chesterfield Berry Farm where we performed puppet shows and ran a craft table. For the craft table, we had the children making their own unique chicken rod puppets. My youngest daughter was out (she is three), and even she made one of her very own chickens. She picked out the colors and, of course, the number of eyes!
The festival was a lot of fun with a hayride, tractors, a pig race, pony rides, face painting, craft table, and (yes!) puppet shows. Plus you could pick a pumpkin or two (or three or four!) to take home. ‘Tis the season, right?
There was also a wasp.
A wasp that was hiding on our stage.
A wasp that I sat on during the performance.
Yes, it totally hurt. A lot. But I kept smiling and going. My partner in the show (Sam, my husband) did not even know it had happened. So I am here to brag about keeping my composure, because I still (five days later) have a lovely, bright red welt on the back of my left leg. (I wear a skirt as attire in this particular show.)
We will be doing shows at the Chesterfield Berry Farm at the end of the month. I am going to look very carefully at the stage riser before I sit down…
“Project Runway” is something I feel rather guilty enjoying. I love to see the creativity of the designers — especially when they have to do something crazy like design a couture dress from things in a hardware store. Fabulous. I even love the haughty fashion moguls who come on as guest judges. I love the outrageousness.
But…I sometimes have dreams of “Project Puppet.” I could even host it (I mean, my name is Heidi). I can see it now…puppeteers are given difficult tasks. Each puppeteer is assigned a random dumpster in NY and they have to design a puppet from contents of that dumpster. Working as a team, puppeteers have to develop a ten minute piece using a specific style assigned at random. Or maybe (to show their adaptability) they would have to each build a birthday party show for a celebrity child or perform in an underfunded inner-city school? Or they have to navigate the treacherous waters of a venue that did not read the tech rider for their black-light show…and they are forced to perform the show in a gymnasium with tons of natural light!
Things would be made interesting by having a mixture of marionettists, rod-puppeteers, shadow puppeteers (etc…) and pushing them beyond their comfort zone. Imagine a shadow puppeteer building a marionette with at least 40 strings or a marionettist forced to do a piece completely sans strings!
And I could host it! I would wear blacks. We all would. And we’d get Miss Piggy to be a judge on one of the episodes! And Statler and Waldorf would provide witty commentary! Wouldn’t that be fun?
Or maybe I should just to the Eugene O’Neill Conference? Probably…
What’s in a name?
Perhaps you do not know the agony I experience when “naming” a character in a show that I am writing. All the meanings of names…and children (my audience) always remember the names of characters. The name is so important to them! They actually become upset when I do not name a character: the hippo that I call “Hippo” is, I’ve sensed, a bit of a disappointment.
So I made a few changes to my script this week — most notably, I’ve done some gender bending (it’s a painless process with puppets). I am always careful when selecting the gender of puppets. (You can do it with almost 100% accuracy when you’re a puppeteer!) I feel it’s important to have gender balance in a show for many reasons. Young people watching the show need to have characters they can relate to, and gender is one way of doing this.
In my new show, “Little by Little,” I have lots of animal characters. Two of the main characters are a young squirrel and a hummingbird. They are friends. I’ve always had the hummingbird as female and the squirrel as male. Now I’ve switched them…for a number of reasons.
I can go into the reasons later (if anyone is interested), but I need to rename the hummingbird. It’s a ruby-throated hummingbird. I’m looking at names with meanings that relate. The show is set in Appalachia — in a forest.
Here is my list so far: Rufus, Russell, Rusty, Gilroy, Roy, Flynn, Flannery, Rupert, Gilbert, Jasper, and Rudy… Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions?
Inquiring minds (well, mine, anyway) want to know!
Wow. You can spin along with the Tour de France racers…just spin wool instead!
I found out about this from my friend Lynne, who has her own spinning wheel (the envy of my daughter who wants one — please, oh, please, oh, please??? — for her birthday or Christmas). (Please?) Lynne spins, sews, felts, and everything. My daughter loves playdates with Lynne’s daughter.
I’m not a spinner, but my nine-year-old daughter is. She has a spindle and will just spin away while listening to an audiobook or music. It amazes me that she can get into it so much. I looooove wool, but I am definitely a felter. (A felter who is happy to use her daughter’s 100% wool yarn in her work!)
There is a flicker group with pictures for the Tour de Fleece — and there are already nearly 2,000 photos posted!
Wish there was a correlating Tour de Felt (or Tour de Fibre), but I understand the whole relationship of spinning wheels and bikes. There is even a way to use a bicycle wheel to make a spinning wheel! Perhaps my daughter will want to build her own spinning wheel… This one looks pretty awesome!
So, I won’t be doing this particular tour — too busy doing the puppet tour! BUT, I will be spinning my own wheels as I work on puppet mechanism designs for the new show…coming soon to a venue near you!
Everyone needs to do a “sunny-day” dance or something to hold the rain off for just a bit longer…tomorrow must be sunny and dry!
I’ve been trying to go out to Black Twig Farm to see about helping with the shearing of the sheep and processing of the wool for a few weeks. The weather combined with family commitments has been thwarting my plans!
I first picked up some Navajo-Churro fleece at the Fiber Festival in Montpelier, Vermont last Fall. At Black Twig’s booth, as I looked through the bins, I chanced to glance up to notice a felted wall hanging of a tree. I was hooked! The fibers are more coarse than, say, a Merino or Cormo, but the staple is long (but not curly like a Lincoln, which is also love!!). When I played around with the wool, it felted quickly and had a lot of structure to it. I don’t know if “lots of structure” is a technical term used to describe wool, but it’s a characteristic I am looking for! This is one of the wools I see has having great potential for scenery for puppet shows. Lincoln has a similar quality, but it’s curlier (and makes neat whorls when felted!).
Black Twig Farm is in Crozet, Virginia; just a few hours west of Richmond. Rachel is a weaver (and fabulous gourmet wedding cake maker!) I love the idea that I’ll be able to have some local, Virginia wool as part of the puppet show. I’d like to find a local flock of Lincoln, too!
I’ve been working on lots of samples for different breeds. I have done Navajo-Churro, Lincoln, Leicester, Merino, Mohair (goat), and Cormo to date. I think I have a bit of Coopworth to do today! It’s really fascinating for me to see how the wool felts up with different textures. I’ll post up some samples soon!
Meanwhile, pray for clear skies and sunshine!