Last fall, Erik called and arranged to come out to see us along with his family. He works full time in the package shipping industry and his hobby is puppetry.
Needless to say, Erik was speechless when he saw our inventory. He spent about an hour going through our rows of stock and left with a wide variety of safety eyes and noses for future projects.
I was talking with another puppet expert recently for a future blog article and I thought of Erik. I wanted to know how things were going with him and his puppet making hobby. I reached out to Erik and not only is he busy making puppets; but he shared his fascination with puppetry and some great resources for puppet designers, creators, and performers.
Erik: I've always been interested in puppets since I was a kid. It was Puppet Shows that got me interested in making puppets.
I went to a Creative Ministry Arts Festival in Anderson, South Carolina a few years ago. It was a weekend conference with seminars, classes, and creative arts competitions.
One night was devoted to puppetry skits. There were classes on set building, character development, using arm rods, mouth movement and such for puppetry. The next Creative Ministry Arts Festival is in the Fall in Atlanta, Georgia.
I'm also a member of The Sanctuary, in Evans, Georgia. Our church has a Puppet Team called "Black Out" We do mostly black light shows. There are 5 adults and about 26 kids ranging from age 8 to 17 years old participating on the puppet team. We use puppets to tell stories with a moral theme or a bible story. The puppets are also used to perform songs mostly by famous christian music artists.
Erik: I've made about 12 puppets. That is about one a month mostly for our puppet team.
Erik: I have bought patterns from a couple of sources. I have also made my own patterns. I've made two patterns that I can go back to and use to create more puppets. Making a pattern is very difficult and time consuming for me. It's all by trial and error.
Erik: I taught myself how to sew and use anti pill fleece fabric, any material that stretches works well, fake fur, batting for the arms. I use your plastic joints, safety eyes and noses, and some household items.
Erik: Yes, I have performed with puppets I created. I envisioned and created this one character; but I felt like the materials I used at the time made my character too animal like so I decided to make some improvements to the first one. I gave the original puppet to one of the kids on the team to practice with and I recreated my character.
Erik: Yes, I really want to make a monster puppet.
When I went to the creative arts show; I had saved $180 to buy a good puppet. I did not see any puppets that I liked; but I saw one puppet that was not for sale. I learned where to buy the puppet. It costed well over $300. I decided that I could make that puppet for less money so I did not buy it.
It's funny looking back because I have spent way over that amount of money learning how to make puppets through trial and error! I am working on getting better at making puppets before I make that monster puppet. That is my goal right now.
Erik: An inspiration for me is Frank Oz. He is famous in the puppet world. He collaborated with Jim Hensen on the Muppets characters. He performed Bert, Miss Piggy, Grover, and Cookie Monster. Frank Oz was also very important in the character development of Yoda in Star Wars.
I also recommend ProjectPuppet.com for affordable puppet patterns to anyone interested in making puppets and Creative Ministry Solutions website.
Next week, I will be talking with a Marina Tsaplina, founder of THE BETES Organization. She is a puppeteer and performing artist that uses these skills working with people with chronic health conditions like Diabetes and Health Care Providers.
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