Handmade by Computers

Terrible Comfort updates and thinks

Archive for internet puppet finds

Puppets out in the world of art

I’ve found puppets in education, obviously, and puppets in mental health and I’m currently focused on trying to find artists who build puppets. It seems blindingly obvious to me that puppets are these incredible works of 3d art/craft and yet no one seems to have noticed.

So at the moment, my artist list runs to four.

There’s a photo somewhere of Frida Kahlo performing marionettes for a child. I haven;t been able to find it yet, but it was mentioned in a book I’m reading (The Puppet Show by Ingrid Schaffner and Carin Kuoni. I’ll review it once I’ve finished reading it). Interestingly enough if you do a search of “frida kahlo puppet” you find heaps of people out there that have made puppets or dolls of Kahlo. Again it’s a example of fans making dolls and puppets out of the things they adore. Weird and worth looking into it further… But I digress.

IN that same book it talks about one of Jackson Pollack’s paintings has a figure cut out of it, he made a marionette and then cut a covering for it out of the painting. You can see a copy here.

There’s also Paul Klee, who made around 50 hand puppets for his son Felix over about a 9 year period, also Klee never thought of them as art and never included them in any catalog of his work. There’s a photo from the exhibition here and you can see the self portrait puppet Klee made here.

And I went to the Mirka Mora exhibition at Heide which had a couple of newspaper articles included and one mentioned her love of dolls and puppets. It’s very hard to find anything else about it on the net though. Her love of dolls is mentioned as fact but I can’t find interviews with her or anything talking about either. But then I find this site saying “For the 1988 Bicentennial festivities at the Sydney opera House, she designed 85 five-foot-high puppets on plywood, all painted with oil for the opera, “Bennelong,” about the Aboriginal man of the same name who befriended Captain Phillip” . I can’t find any photos of them though. However I did find this gorgeous photo of her clutching dolls she made in her studio with more behind her. I suspect since I can’t find anything else that she didn’t make a lot of puppets as her work, but nice to know she did make some.

That’s my list so far. But I look forward to adding to it further. Love the detective work!


Monster Attacks

Monster Attacks

Originally uploaded by multivac11

This was created by a friend of ours and we thought it was extremely good.

world wide collaboration

Surfing from link to link, as you do, I came across The Old Trout Puppet Workshop in Canada. They look like a bunch of fun guys with an open invitation for people to drop by the studio and check out what’s going on, which I wish I could, damn living across the world from all these interesting things…

But the thing that caught my eye was their world-wide collaboration on their next project, called Ignorance.
Ignorance is a puppet documentary about the blissful prehistoric origins of humanity, and how our brains evolved into the hideous bliss-sucking parasites they are today. Yes: it’s about how why we’re not happy. And how we might solve this problem without resorting to alcoholism, tranquilizers, frontal-lobotomies, or other forms of induced ignorance.
And the cool thing is that they’re doing the whole thing on this blog. You can contrubute words, images, songs, thoughts, anything that you like. And they may or may not use it (there’s a great disclaimer at the bottom of the page) but I love the idea of being able to throw ideas at people about something they’re working on.

So I made them an image. This is how some of the Terrible Comfort shows get designed. Rob will find interesting bits of text, which he sends to me, I’ll make images out of the ideas and send those back and then we use the images to design set or atmosphere in the shows.

Thinking about the ideas of neanderthals, I What if, before neanderthals discovered fire, they had fire made of rocks? So I set about making that image.

Once it was made I wondered if, instead of fire made of rocks, was it petrified fire in a museum setting in a display of neanderthal life? It could be either…

So head on over to the Old Trout’s blog and see if you’re inspired to throw something into the mix too!


Puppets out in the world

Ok, I admit it. I’m obsessed with knowing what people use puppets for. So I’ve started in on doing some research. I started with posting to our friends on our Facebook page, asking people if they have puppets at home and if so, what they use them for.

I got a number of responses that were all really interesting. A number of our artists contributed, which was great to read. One said she had finger puppets purchased as souvenirs of her travels around central America, and a marionette from her sister as a gift when her sister visited Mexico. Puppets as souvenirs was something that I’d never considered, but so that was interesting to know.

Another of our artists said she has a number of finger puppets that have been gifts from friends and family. She keeps them with her stuffed toys and use them occasionally when she’s baby sitting.

Another of our artists is a puppeteer and a mum, so she has heaps of puppets around the house, some from stores but most made by her. She had a puppet show in the works a few years ago and made a number of types of puppets for that, but the show didn’t happen due to a family illness and so her son plays with the puppets now instead.

The fourth respondent is a teacher and a mum, she says that she has a number of store bought puppets but that her kids don’t really play with them.

That was all really interesting to learn, and thank you to those that participated! I had a look around our adopted puppet collection and this is what I came up with.

1 lion – given to me by one of my students, used in the classroom
1 Max (Where The Wild Things Are) – bought and used in the classroom
12 assorted animals – bought for but not used in the classroom

24 assorted knitted animals – bought and used in the classroom

2 bought as a gift by a friend from Bali

1 dragon bought as a gift by a friend from China, hanging as decoration in the loungeroom

But that wasn’t enough. I know my adopted puppets, I know some of our friends adopted puppets, but I want to know more. I want to know what the world uses their puppets for.

So I started a Flickr group called Puppets We Own to see what other Flickr users have lying around. I went off and did a search on PUPPETS to find people to invite to contribute, and in doing so I found out a bit more about people’s puppet habit. There were a number of fans of things, star wars, transformers, George Lucas, that had made puppets of their obsessions. This wasn’t something that I’d put together as uses for making puppets before this search.

I found that very interesting too.

Love learning things!

Hand puppets

Monster Puppet

Originally uploaded by Jaz Harold

So I’ve gotten to a point in the making of Owl In Spotlight that I need to make a couple of hand puppets. We’ve got a number of finger puppets in the style of the guys I’ve been making for Dave’s Vlogs (you can see them at our flickr page here) and now I’m onto the hand puppets.

But I’ve got a problem. Although I like the idea of the hand puppets to tower over the finger puppets, I’m not a fan of the way conventional finger puppets bunch across their bellies when you put their hands together. I’m also not a fan of the “hands up!” look that most hand puppets have, which stems from the placement of fingers on the human hand., Damn evolution.

So I went to have a look on Flickr for other ways to do the ol’ handpuppet idea.

After wading through quite a number of not-great puppets and a couple that were awesome but not right for this project, I came across this guy, which is sort of a mix between a conventional hand puppet and the hand and rod puppets that I’ve built in the past. It’s a simple and beautiful way to make a puppet, although it does require two hands, unlike the conventional hand puppet which only needs one. Because the show is big and we only have two puppeteers, how many hands each puppet takes is certainly needs to be take into account.

THe other type I found which I haven’t seen before is this one

Squirrel Hand Puppet

Originally uploaded by Handmade Goodies

The pointer finger holds up the head, the thumb and third finger are the arms but in an intriguing twist, the ring and pinky arn’t hidden but left on display. A little odd but kinda elegant, the puppet isn’t all lumpy to accommodate the hidden fingers. Not sure how this kind of puppet looks while being performed, but certainly a different idea for creating a hand puppet.

Eco-Friendly Handcrafted Hand Puppet

Originally uploaded by Uptown Puppets

There was also this guy, who is a little Muppet like for my tastes but a great design. It’s basically the monster puppet above but without the rods to use the arms. So the arms’d just dangle there, unless manipulated by the puppeteer’s other hand, which I worry would look a little clunky due to the size difference in the skinny arm and the puppeteer’s hand, plus it goes back to my original problem of the puppet being then a two handed puppet to manipulate rather than a single hander.

So I’m not sure any of those have solved my problem, but it’s always good to go outside and see what other people are doing and how they solve the problems we all encounter…


Paper Puppets from last century

I was just looking for quick and interesting paper puppets to make with children and I came across this page: http://www.barnaclepress.com/list.php?directory=Papercraft It’s a number of items of papercraft printed by the New York Times around the 1920s. They’re all single page PDFs with suprisingly detailed figures that are articulated, including photographers, blacksmiths, carpenters and a guy listening to the radio that can be coloured in, cut out and constructed. They’re wonderfully arcahic, and I’m figuring that some of the stuff in the prints will have to be explained to the kids, but still none the less I think they’re a wonderful resource.

I’ve printed a few out and I’m going to be putting them together at home. Rather exciting!

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