Lucy in America (Again!) Day 12

Day 12: Wednesday, June 7th, 2017.

Today is the first full day of performing and building for Miss Hannaford. In performance class with Peter Linz and Noel MacNeal, Miss Hannaford worked on revising the important fundamentals of television puppetry including:

  • Lip sync- making the puppet look like it is talking.
  • Focusing the eyes of the puppet on camera so that it is looking at the audience.
  • Utilising the puppeteer’s hand’s full range of motion to achieve a full range of emotion.
  • Tilting the puppet’s mouthplate so that the puppet can look at other characters or places.
  • Learning to create the illusion of a puppet walking in and out of the camera’s frame.

Miss Hannaford got very excited when after she practised with my travelling companion Molly, the puppet walking exercise in front of her teachers, and one of them said “perfect”! It was the first time in two years of learning puppetry for television and film that she had gotten that kind of feedback. Miss Hannaford has been practising at home and at school a lot, hoping that one day she would hear from her teachers that she is improving.

My new puppet friend Yoop, who we made last week in New York, was picked up by Miss Hannaford’s teachers as an example of a sock puppet with a flexible mouth!

Towards the end of the lesson, the students got to play a really fun game of moving the puppets as a group around the frame without tripping over each other as puppeteers. The rules were that the puppets were not allowed to touch the edges of the tv frame and when freeze was called, the puppet had to look directly at the camera.

After lunch, Miss Hannaford’s group moved to the puppet building room to start construction of her pirate. The first step was to open the boxes of supplies and start cutting out the materials.

Miss Hannaford’s puppet building teacher, Pasha Romanowski demonstrating how to insert the puppet’s mouthplate.

By the end of the day, Miss Hannaford had the entire body and head of the puppet’s skeleton assembled.

After class, many of the students had dinner together at the steak house restaurant next to the hotel.

It was a really fun day!

Lucy and Miss H

Lucy in America (Again!) Day 11

Day 11 Tuesday, 6th June 2017,
Today was the first day of Beyond the Sock Puppetry Workshop in Texas! Our day started quite early with the bus collecting the workshop students at 9:45am from the group hotel. Once we completed registration, the students were taken on a tour of the workshop facilities including the puppet building workshop and the real television studio! While we were in the television studio, we got to see this year’s set! It’s a pirate ship!

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This means that the students are going to be making Pirates!

After the tour and a lunch break, the students got to meet our 3 teachers! It was truly wonderful to meet with Noel McNeal (Bear in the Big Blue House, Sesame Street), Peter Linz (Muppets, Sesame Street), and Pasha Romanowski. All the students then went into the design classroom for a presentation on puppet design from Pasha. We learnt about the importance of designing a full character which meant we had to design around the following points

  • Main Characteristics- what does the puppet look like?
  • Personality Trait- is the character happy, sad, angry, grumpy, friendly, mean?
  • Attitude to go with the personality.

This year is really exciting because there are 2 puppet shapes to choose from! Shape A has a big, round head, and shape B has a tall narrow head. The building teacher Pasha, had two sample puppets for the students to try on.

Students then had to put their hand in an envelope for a lucky dip of the fleece and fur colours they were going to use. Miss Hannaford got number 9 which was a light green fleece and bright blue fur!

Students were then handed design sheets to start sketching ideas for their pirates. Miss Hannaford had the idea of making a ghost pirate because of the fleece and fur colours she was given!

Here’s what the design lesson looked like!

https://youtu.be/t95xj6ynwLw

After class, there was an informal dinner for everyone attending the course.

Tomorrow, construction of the pirates and learning to puppeteer commences!

Lucy and Miss H!

Lucy in America (Again!) Day 9 & 10

Day 9- Sunday, 4th June 2017
Today we went with our friend Connor to the Field Museum near the shore of Lake Michigan. The Field Museum is hosting the Jurassic World Exhibition. Both Connor and Miss Hannaford wanted to see the exhibition because of their interest in animatronics and Stan Winston Studio/ Stan Winston School of Character Arts. The Field Museum is a museum of natural history, so when we entered, we met Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex!

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The dinosaurs inside the Jurassic World exhibition are truly alive! They are such amazing animatronic creatures and they are constantly moving giving the illusion of life.



After the amazing T-Rex encounter, we came into the next part of Jurassic World and came face to face with a Stegosaurus!

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We were then rudely interrupted by Indominus Rex in the next paddock!

Here are the feet of Indominus Rex!

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On our way out of the exhibition, the Tyrannosaurus Rex tried to eat me!!!

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Fortunately, I wasn’t very tasty, so the T-Rex spat me out. Miss Hannaford and Connor spent the rest of the day working on building the monster puppet. It is nearly finished. Connor just needs to add the legs, the horns and permanently attach the teeth.

Tomorrow, Miss Hannaford and I fly to our last stop on this trip- Texas and Beyond the Sock!

Day 10: Monday 5th June 2017
Today we flew from Chicago to Dallas Fort Worth in Texas. The Beyond the Sock Puppetry course Miss Hannaford attends, is held in Denton Texas, which is 30 minutes from the airport. We got to our hotel, unpacked all of my fellow puppets who are travelling with us, and met up with 4 of the other students who are attending the course for dinner at the local Italian restaurant. 3 of the students have never attended the course before, but Miss Hannaford was really excited to catch up with her friend Mike, who has attended the course since 2015 with Miss Hannaford!

We stayed up late talking in the hotel lounge and met several other new students! One lady has travelled all the way from Israel, another lady has come from Sri Lanka and one of the other students has come from Atlanta, Georgia here in the USA! This year is a very international mix of students and we haven’t met everybody yet!

Tomorrow it all begins….

Lucy and Miss H

Lucy in America (Again!) Day 8

Saturday, 3rd June 2017
Today was a really interesting day! Miss Hannaford and I enjoyed a tour of downtown Chicago led by our friend Connor Asher. Our first stop was the Harold Washington Library. We visited here last year while we were in Chicago, but Connor had not seen the amazing Maker Lab that is open to the public. Miss Hannaford model’s the school library maker lab on the Chicago public library maker lab. They have four 3D printers, 2 Laser Cutters, 2 vinyl cutters and a desktop cnc machine!

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The maker lab staff gave us a tour of the machines and the following links to useful resources for making cool things.
Maker Lab Resources
Photos of things made at the Chicago Maker Lab

When we left the makerlab, we went up to the beautiful Winter garden on the top floor of the Library.

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We then showed Connor where to find all the wonderful puppetry books on the Library shelves. We even found a copy of Miss Hannaford’s favourite book Jim Henson: the Works which has one of the best photos of the Muppet Pipes we saw a few days ago.

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Our next stop was the Disney store since we don’t have Disney stores in Australia. Unfortunately there was no Muppet merchandise on sale that day. We then walked down to the Navy Pier which is a very famous local attraction in Chicago. We went on the Ferris wheel, which gave us a lovely view of the Chicago skyline.

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Lucy in America (Again!) Day 7

Friday, 2nd June 2017
Today Miss Hannaford and I spent the whole day assisting our friend Connor at his workshop. We spent the day working on fixing puppets including my travelling companions No Name (a purple live hand monster), and Joop the sock puppet. No Name needed her fur trimmed, and Joop needed new hands. Miss Hannaford kept working on the large purple monster. One of things we got to do was go to a local fabric store to buy supplies. Joann fabrics is one of the many places in America to buy puppet building materials. It is similar to Lincraft and Spotlight in Australia, but it has a much better range.

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That night we were invited to attend a tv monitor Puppetry evening for other local puppeteers and puppet enthusiasts. This gave Miss Hannaford a chance to practise her puppetry skills ready for next week’s workshop at Beyond the Sock.

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This is what all the puppets looked like at the end of the monitor night!

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Miss Hannaford was really excited to meet another local puppeteer and puppet builder – Frank Cesario who had built a Terry Angus Dog puppet like Miss Hannaford’s dog Coco. The dog’s name is Dante Morty.

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It was a very long, but happy day of puppet building and performing!

Lucy and Miss H

Lucy in America (Again!) Day 5 & 6

Day 5
Wednesday, May 31st 2017.
Today Miss Hannaford and I flew from New York to Chicago. We left the hotel at 7am and our flight left Newark airport at 11am. It took 2.5 hours to fly to Chicago. Once we got to our hotel, we were both very tired after our long day yesterday, so we had an afternoon rest until dinner time.

Day 6
Thursday, June 1st 2017.
Today we went on a tour of the home and studio of famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright as well as a walking tour of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in the local suburb of Oak Park. Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867 and is famous for innovative use of materials, spaces and interior decorations. When a client commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home, Wright designed not only the house, but the art glass windows, skylights, furniture and wall decorations. The client only needed their clothes and tooth brush to move in. The first Frank Lloyd Wright building we ever visited was the Guggenheim Museum in New York back in 2014.

There is a connection between Frank Lloyd Wright and Australia. Two of Wright’s architectural employees were Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony who together won the competition to design Canberra- the national capital of Australia.

The whole tour of the home, studio and the buildings in the rest of the suburb took 3 hours.
Outside the entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home.

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The Dining Room- Wright designed the chairs, table, art glass ceiling panel and the art glass window pattern.

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The children’s playroom on the top floor of the house- with Egyptian/ Aztec influence mural on the wall.

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Wright’s drafting studio for his employees- taken from the upper gallery level.

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Wright’s Conference room known as “The Library” where he would show his designs to his clients.

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Then we started on the walking tour to visit the other Wright designed buildings in the neighbourhood.
Foreground Moore- Dugal House and (Background) The Hills- DeCaro House

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Arthur B Heurtley House (1902)

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This house was initially designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, but because he went overseas before it’s completion, the house was completed by Marion Mahony, the wife of Walter Burley Griffin.

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After the tour around Oak Park, Miss Hannaford and I visited our friend Connor Asher who is a Chicago based puppet builder. He invited us to visit his new workshop and assist with building a monster body puppet he has been working on for the last few weeks. Miss Hannaford provided assistance with solving problems with the arms and helping the puppeteer to see out of the mouth of the puppet.

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Lucy in America (Again!) Day 4

Tuesday, 30th May, 2017
Today was our last day in New York. We had to be up early as myself, along with my puppet friends, and Miss Hannaford were invited to see a puppet show called Helping Drew at a Primary School in the Bronx. The Bronx is a suburb of New York City found in the Northern end of Manhatten Island. One of the puppeteers was a friend we made last year at Beyond the Sock- David Manley. My travelling companion, Coco the Dog , got to have her photo taken with David and Drew- the star of the show.

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On our way to the show, we passed the famous Yankee Baseball stadium where the New York Yankees play.

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After the show, we caught the subway to Central Park so that we could go back to the Jim Henson Bench for lunch. Both Miss Hannaford and I visited the bench in 2014, but this time we brought our new sock puppet friend Joop.

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After lunch, our next stop was a return visit to the Puppet Kitchen. On this visit we had a tour of the whole building including the real theatre next to the workshop where Joop was made.

It has been a wonderful 3 days in New York. Tomorrow, we fly to Chicago.

Lucy and Miss H

Lucy in America (Again!) Day 3

Monday, 29th June 2017
What an amazing day! Miss Hannaford and I went on the tour of NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Center, also known as 30 Rock.

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While we were waiting for the tour, both of us got to sit at the Today Show desk. The Today Show is similar to Sunrise on Channel 7 in Australia.

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We got to visit the studios of NBC Nightly News, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but while we were on the same floor of the building as the Tonight Show, Miss Hannaford achieved a major life goal in puppetry- to see the Muppet Pipes in person!

The Muppet Pipes are a very creative piece of Muppet History. They were originally steam pipes that helped to keep the building warm during winter, but in December, 1964 while waiting hours to go on television, Jim Henson, Don Sahlin, Jerry Juhl and Frank Oz were bored, so they used paint and fur to turn boring pipes into Muppet characters.
The whole story can be read on the Muppet Wiki

Until 2010, the pipes were inside a dressing room, so no one could see them. When the area of the dressing room was renovated, it was decided to turn the Muppet Pipes into an exhibit that people participating in the backstage tour could see the pipes.

I also got to see the new Muppet Pipe Wrench on display adjacent to the Muppet Pipes, which was presented to the host of The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon by Kermit the Frog!

At the end of the tour, the tour group got to film their own tonight show video and both Miss Hannaford and I were the guest star in the video!!
You can watch our video here!

After our tour, Miss Hannaford and I went to visit the Lego Store opposite 30 Rock. Miss Hannaford loves Lego!

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More excitement tomorrow!
Lucy and Miss H

Lucy in America (Again!) Day 2

Today is our first full day in New York City.
Our first activity was to catch the subway train from where we are staying in Brooklyn to Astoria so we could visit the Museum of the Moving Image. There are a great many subway lines in New York. They are all labelled with letters of the Alphabet and a few are labelled with numbers. The subway can be very confusing to use, so it is important to plan ahead so you can follow the signs to the correct platforms. Sometimes it is necessary to go down flights of stairs and up other flights of stairs to get to the platform you need or to reach the exit.

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When we were walking from the train station in Astoria towards the Museum of the Moving Image, we passed the Kaufman Astoria Television studio! This is where Sesame Street is filmed! It is wonderful to be so close to the actual Sesame Street. Miss Hannaford used to watch Sesame Street twice a day when she was a little girl.

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Next door is the Museum of the Moving Image. The museum is dedicated to the history of radio, film and television. They are also the home of a collection of puppets, props and artefacts from the history of the Muppets and Sesame Street. Unfortunately, the museum did not have any of the puppets on display as they are developing a new exhibition space, but they do have a wonderful collection of other objects on display.

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We did get to see a couple of films from Muppet history that both of us had never seen before. The first film was Jim Henson’s experimental film Timepiece. Premiering in 1965, Timepiece is a short film at 9 minutes long and features many surrealist segments including Jim Henson painting a real elephant pink, animated shapes and colours, and Jim Henson flying past in a home-made flying machine.

The next surprise we enjoyed was seeing a special Jim Henson Legacy screening of The Muppets at Walt Disney World. Hosted by Craig Shemin, the president of the Jim Henson Legacy, the screening started with an episode of the Muppet Show that Miss Hannaford has never seen because it is not on DVD yet! The guest star Wally Boag was a Disneyland Legend who performed in the Golden Horseshow Revue for almost 40,000 shows. He was most famous for his Boagaloons- balloons twisted into animal shapes and for his slapstick comedy spitting out endless fake teeth.


The next film was the advertised screening, The Muppets at Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, we had to leave during the screening so we could get to our next exciting appointment.

Our biggest highlight of the day was a puppet making workshop at the famous Puppet Kitchen in New York. Having made many, many puppets, Miss Hannaford has never made a sock puppet from an actual sock!!! Miss Hannaford has wanted to visit the puppet kitchen for many years, but this is the first time she was able to visit the workshop. Over the 3 hours of the workshop, taught by Weston Long, Miss Hannaford added a red mouth, big eyes and arms to a purple sock. The original intention of the design was to make the puppet a cyclops with a big, single eye, but where the eye was placed, was turned into a trumpet-like snout.

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Can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventure!
Lucy and Miss H

Lucy in America (Again!) Day 1

Saturday May 27 2017,
I am so lucky that Miss Hannaford is once again taking me, and several of my puppet friends with her on her next adventure to the United States of America while she continues her studies in puppetry from the world’s best puppet makers and puppeteers. Our itinerary includes 3 days in New York, 5 days in Chicago, and 7 days in Denton Texas.

To make our long journey across the planet easier for all of us, Miss Hannaford arranged for us both to travel in Business Class! I got to sit in a seat that turns into a bed!!

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During the flight, we watched a couple of movies including the classic movie Singing in the Rain, and a very new movie called Hidden Figures. Both are wonderful movies!

We also enjoyed very fancy, restaurant quality food on the flight. The flight attendants laid a table cloth on the tray table with cutlery and wine glass. Then the amazing lunch was served- rack of lamb ribs on a bed of couscous. It was delicious!

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The flight from Sydney to Fort Worth Dallas was 15.5 hours long. We then had a very short amount of time to change planes for the flight to New York. In the end, it took 28 hours to fly to New York. By the time we got to the hotel, we were both very tired but glad to be here.

Lucy and Miss H

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