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I have always been playing alone with stuffed animals when I was little. I think most of the reason is because I had ear infections and no one could understand what I said until I started taking speech class at age 3 to 6. Once I entered that 4 year old art phase, I never grew out of it and continued drawing, sculpting animals out of Sculpey clay, and acting out certain movies with stuffed animals or plastic toy animals, like Bambi, Dumbo, and Wizard of Oz. I was in ballet for 8 years and finally quit at 10 because I kind of lost interest and didn't have the stamina to keep up with two classes a week. When I was 12, I don't really know what it was, but just thought I'd try making a sock puppet. I grew up watching Sesame Street, Lambchop's Play-Along, and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I started using socks and then jumped into puppet productions that summer because I volunteered I'd put on a puppet show for a summer frolic at an 1840's museum. I had no idea what I was doing, but it went fine. Found/forced kids my age to help me, made the puppets, wrote the scripts, made the props, and planned rehearsals. Loved this so much I did it for 5 years until I found Puppeteers of America and went to my first Puppetfest in 2005. Every summer I have to do some sort of puppet project to make up for the summer frolic.
As long as I can remember I loved children's stories especially Beatrix Potter's Tom Kitten. My family is amused by my weird artsy ideas. They are not artistic at all but they have supported everything I do by buying me supplies, letting me trash the kitchen and living room at once and giving me character ideas based on their personalities (whether they like it or not). I mean, I am a middle child and only girl. I'm sure to have some wacky characters/stories from living with two brothers. My family still don't get my ideas a lot, but they are a little more understanding now since my mom went to Puppetfest with me the first time. My dad is finally getting into more of my puppet building since I am using more tools and mechanical things, which is his expertise.
Besides being a sculpture artist building puppets after college I also want get involved with movies, animation, stop-motion, animatronics, writing children's stories and TV shows, puppet performing for TV, and performing as a ventriloquist. No idea where I'll end up, guess it depends on what offers I get.
When did you discover puppetry?
When I was about ten years old I took a weekend puppetry course at a local theatre, the Prairie Theatre Exchange. I ended up going back for a few years in a row, and that's where I learned to carve foam-rubber. After that I pretty much forgot about puppets, though there was one year where I ended up as the TA in that class. The years passed by, until I was in my third year of university. That's when I discovered a book about the Bunraku puppet theatre of Osaka Japan, and my interest in puppetry was rekindled.
What did you do when you were little before you decided to go into puppetry?
I was pretty crafty, of course. I liked to draw, and I also liked to design games.
Also, what did your family think of your art projects?
I have a most excellently supportive family. My father has bought me several books on puppetry, as well as being being an excellent sounding board for dramatic ideas. My mother has maintained a website for me and helped me with sewing in times of desperation. My brother was my production carpenter for the two fringe shows that I did, despite the fact that he was employed as an English professor at the time.
When I discovered puppetry - was as a child PBS and local Chicago WGN television - in addition to the well known puppets on PBS - Chicago had some others - Frasier Thomas with Garfield Goose and Friends. Looking up info on Garfield Goose today he may be one of the most high value almost a sock puppet can be - selling at $1,000 range for bid if there are any bidders - and not for an original, just a toy version that has a tag "WGN Television" and missing the crown. As he was self proclaimed King of the United States.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garfield_Goose_and_Friends The originals sit in the Museum of Broadcast communications in Chicago. And also another show Ray Rayner - had Cuddly Dudley - which I actually had the stuffed animal version, sadly it got thrown out when it's metal rod frame started poking out the legs. Even thinking present of trying to create something similar with a Folkmanis Puppet I have and a dog house seen at Build a Bear. Can't copy the real thing, but can try to create something similar with a different name.
Thus I had stuffed animals that did shows when young - and did "radio" versions with a tape recorder.
Art Projects - wanted to design houses - thought all would be done by computers now.
ADVANCE to getting in real puppets 2008 to present, puppet one purchased 2010 - started with a convention knowns as MidWest FurFest, a spin-off convention from a SiFi convention in the area - I discovered it by accident and thought it was interesting where people liked to gather and dress as like animal mascots - and anything similar - as I grew up with the same stuff of Bugs Bunny and Friends (part of Ray Rayner show)- and many others to current day Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks and others who produce such films today. Always liked the animals better than with people.
Ended up discovering the puppet part - of the Furry Variety Show - sort of trying to recreate an old Muppet Show type show of the 1970's - and the Pawpet Show - unique name in the Furry Fandom for animal puppets - as I have found comes from an old Peanuts Comic with Snoopy doing a puppet show (thus the name). And part seeing the CBS Late Show - some of the better puppet bits. Attending the puppetry panels at the convention in 2010 - and purchasing an awesome looking Folkmanis Collie puppet - which more accurate is a Sheltie.
Next purchase of a low cost video camera to be able to do more than an old digital camera could in video to practice. AND creation of videos - mostly of the puppets sing the song sync to the words. Talking as the puppets sort of experimental at this point, as have not done much of that type of thing since high school the last try - one person alone is hard to come up with at least two distinct voices for the puppets to talk - and my flop in trying to do two voices in high school for a class project, without using another person.
Present 2011 performed at the convention, though only at the smaller puppet show and not the variety show as originally planned. Though - looked good on the video for only the second attempt with the convention puppet stage - which is a unique challenge itself. The stage is high and the puppets must be held high - you watch the performance on video monitors from a tiny camera that I put my video camera next to for the video to see the other side in third person later - after the convention was over.
Performance is on decent video-
I performed my two puppets Scampster Collie and Ralph Omega Wolf - intro with Vixie - who is a Puppet Hub member, and one who I learned from this year at MFF.