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!
When we left the makerlab, we went up to the beautiful Winter garden on the top floor of the Library.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is what all the puppets looked like at the end of the monitor night!
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.
It was a very long, but happy day of puppet building and performing!
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.
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.
The Dining Room- Wright designed the chairs, table, art glass ceiling panel and the art glass window pattern.
The children’s playroom on the top floor of the house- with Egyptian/ Aztec influence mural on the wall.
Wright’s drafting studio for his employees- taken from the upper gallery level.
Wright’s Conference room known as “The Library” where he would show his designs to his clients.
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
Arthur B Heurtley House (1902)
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.
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.
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.
On our way to the show, we passed the famous Yankee Baseball stadium where the New York Yankees play.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventure!
Lucy and Miss H
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!!
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!
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.
Day 17: Wednesday June 15, 2016
Today was our last day in America and we spent it at the happiest place on Earth- Disneyland! 2 years ago, Miss Hannaford and I visited Disney World in Orlando Florida, but this is our first visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
Our first impression of Disneyland was that it was much smaller than Disney World but it was also backwards. The Town Hall is on the opposite side of the town square than in Disney World. While we were in the Town Square we had the chance to meet Mickey Mouse himself!
Then we caught the horse drawn tram up to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle and had photos taken in front of the castle.
After our visit to the castle, our next stop was to visit Miss Hannaford’s favourite attraction from Disney World- The Haunted Mansion! The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland is slightly different especially on the outside and at the beginning of the ride but otherwise it was just as fantastic as the one in Disney World!
After the haunted Mansion, we had lunch at the Three Bears, followed by a climb of Tarzan’s tree and a visit to the Enchanted Tiki Room- this was Miss Hannaford’s favourite place in the park because of all the great animatronic puppets that were even the columns that held up the roof!
On our walk back to the entrance of the park, we visited the attraction called Great Moments with Mr Lincoln- an audio animatronic presentation about Abraham Lincoln.
For the afternoon, Miss Hannaford and I went to California Adventure which is opposite the entrance to Disneyland. This park feels more like Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida. The ride we both wanted to go on was the Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel has two kinds of cars- stationary cars and swinging cars. Miss Hannaford didn’t want to get sick, so we went on the stationary cars.
We wandered around the many shops looking for Muppet merchandise for Miss Hannaford’s collection. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any but it did fill in some time while Miss Hannaford was waiting to meet up with one of her American friends, Steve Swanson from the Muppetcast. The Muppetcast is a podcast about the Muppets and Miss Hannaford has been listening to it for 9 years. Steve is the host of the Muppetcast and he wanted to interview Miss Hannaford for the podcast about her experiences last week at Beyond the Sock.
They met at Carthay Circle Lounge in California Adventure and the interview took 2.5 hours! Steve thought I was really pretty, told me I look like a real Muppet with my golden triangle facial features and he got to hold my new friend Professor McCluckagall! After the interview, Steve and Miss Hannaford went to watch the fireworks in Disneyland and we all went on the Haunted Mansion ride together followed by visiting the inside of Sleeping Beauty’s castle!
You can listen to Miss Hannaford’s interview on the Muppetcast here: http://muppetcast.com/show-285/
Day 18: Thursday June 16, 2016
Today we flew home to Australia after our amazing 3 week trip in America. Miss Hannaford and I were so tired that we slept for about 8 hours of the 14 hour flight home to Sydney. We will be arriving in Sydney on Saturday, because we are going to be flying over the international date line. I am looking forward to seeing all my classmates in Macquarie Blue, Green and Gold when I go back to school next week.
Today Miss Hannaford had the incredible opportunity not only to meet, but have lunch with Matt Winston, co-founder of the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. Miss Hannaford has attended many of the classes in creature and puppet making as well as in special effects that the Stan Winston School offers. Some of those classes were live and held in the middle of the Australian night and some of the classes, Miss Hannaford watched the library of recorded videos that she could watch anytime she liked.
After lunch, Matt took Miss Hannaford on a very special tour of Legacy Effects to see how they make costumes, creatures and props for upcoming movies! Legacy Effects is also where many of the Stan Winston School Lessons are filmed, so the various workshop spaces felt very familiar to Miss Hannaford. Here is a video of what Legacy Effects makes for movies since Miss Hannaford did not take any pictures to protect and respect the confidentiality of the movies currently being prepared by all the amazing artists and craftspeople Miss Hannaford had the honour to meet.
Tomorrow is the last day of this amazing puppet adventure across the United States of America!
Day 15: Monday 13th June 2016
Today was our first full day in Los Angeles, California and the day Miss Hannaford and I spent at Universal Studios, Hollywood!
Universal Studios Hollywood is both a theme park but it is also a working film and tv studio. Miss Hannaford booked a VIP Experience for us to go on for the whole day so that we could go behind the scenes, walk on real tv and movie sets as well as enjoy the theme park. The VIP guests wait in a very comfy lounge above the entrance to Universal Studios until their guide joins them.
Then we walked through the park to a special bus that drove us into the movie studio.
The first actual movie and to set we got to walk onto was New York/ Chicago Street. All the buildings are fake- some are completely flat but this street is used a lot in movies and tv shows especially when things like cars and buildings need to be set on fire or blown up!
Some of the buildings the bus drove into turned into special effects spaces where the bus was put on hydraulic platforms that shook and bumped the bus. We even got a little bit wet when we drove into a special effects room that had a subway set around us flood with water!
The next set we visited was the Bates Motel from the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie Psycho
Then the tour moved to one of the largest standing sets on the Universal Lot- the devastated suburban street from the Tom Cruise film War of the Worlds. There is a real, wrecked 747 plane! Everyone on the tour had the chance to get off the bus and walk through the set and we got to have our photo taken in front of the plane!
The last place we got to tour was the prop warehouse. This building is like a huge library where set dressers and production designers can borrow props and set dressing for tv shows and movies. Everything is barcoded just like library books!
After touring the sets and stages, the tour returned to the theme park where the tour went on several rides. Miss Hannaford doesn’t like scary rides so the only ride we went on was Jurassic Park- that was scary enough with the big drop over the waterfall at the end!
After a very yummy lunch in the VIP dining room, our next stop on the tour was to see the Waterworld Stunt Show attraction that uses many of the special effects that we had seen on the tour.
The last stop on the tour for Miss Hannaford was the village of Hogsmeade! This is when her new puppet, Professor McCluckagall made her official debut outside Hogwarts Castle and the Hogwarts Express train experience!
It was a very interesting day seeing how movies and to shows are made!