Going Beyond the Sock 2019 Day 10-12

Day 10, Monday 10 June 2019

Today was a really special day. A friend of mine who is a cast member of the Jim Henson Company’s show Puppet Up, invited me to join a tour he was running of the Jim Henson Company lot in LA. The main courtyard is very relaxing and beautiful. It has an air of an European village with outdoor tables, planter boxes of flowers, and close buildings. The studio was built by Charlie Chaplin in 1918, and there are references to Charlie Chaplin everywhere, including the statue of Kermit the Frog standing on the top of the gate dressed as Charlie Chaplin’s signature character- the Little Tramp.

We visited the reception area where I got to hold a real Emmy award, the Barn where the Creature Shop used to be housed, the Henson Screening room, and the Charlie Chaplin Soundstage where the tour group was given a demonstration of monitor puppetry. After the tour group left, I was given the opportunity to have a go at the monitor puppetry on the soundstage, using a REAL Henson made puppet! I am very grateful to my friend for allowing me to tag along on the tour and to have a go at the monitor puppetry!

  • With Lucy Green at the Company bench

Day 11, Tuesday 11 June 2019

Today’s adventure was taking the Warner Bros Studio Deluxe tour. Starting at 10am, the tour started in the Deluxe screening room which had very nice pastries and beverages for the guests. Arranged next to the wall were costumes from the main characters of the TV show Friends. After a brief video about the studio, and meeting our tour guide Thom, we boarded our own tram and started driving through the studio starting with the backlot jungle area. Highlight for me in this area was the now empty lagoon as it was the location where Kermit the Frog sang the Rainbow Connection at the beginning of the original Muppet Movie 40 years ago.

After moving from the jungle area, the tour moved to the Midwest Street and again, it was a place that had special significance for me as a puppet maker and fan of the Muppets. It was the shooting location for the song Life’s a Happy Song from the movie The Muppets (2011).

  • Lagoon where Rainbow Connection was filmed in the original Muppet Movie.

One of my favourite Warner Bros TV shows was the West Wing and it was filmed at the LA Warner Bros Studio! I got to see Stage 29 where the main set was located, but during the tour of the property warehouse, I got to sit at the President’s desk from the show, as well as find various pieces of set decorating and props from the show!

  • Sitting at the President's desk from West Wing

I highly recommend the Warner Bros Deluxe tour- you get to see much more than the regular tour, as well as touch things, go inside more buildings, and there is the delicious lunch in the Warner Bros Commissary Fine Dining Room. I do recommend bringing small snacks for the morning and afternoon break as there is no opportunity to purchase snacks while on the tour.

Day 12- Wednesday 12 June 2019

Today was my travel day home to Australia. Fortunately, the wifi in the hotel meant I could wait in the Lobby until the taxi picked me up in the late afternoon to take me to the airport. After treating myself to new noise cancelling headphones, I enjoyed a light meal in the One World Alliance Lounge. Once I boarded my QANTAS Business Class flight, I fell asleep virtually immediately, and slept for about 6 hours straight.

It has been a magical holiday- I am so grateful to my puppet friends in the USA for the kindness and generosity they shared with me that made it magical.

Going Beyond the Sock in 2019 Day 7-9

Day 7, Friday June 7 2019

The building session was once again the first session of the day. Our major goal was to completely finish assembling all the fur sections and ideally have our puppets sitting on stands. Once I had the fur sections ready for machine sewing, the group moved onto making the hand assemblies, cutting out the stiffened felt ear shapes, and selecting the fleece for the eyelids. I chose a cream/ tan fleece for my dog’s eyelids as Australian Cattle dogs typically have a tan coloured spot on their face right above their eyes. I did acheive my goal of graduating to a puppet stand before the end of the building session.

Puppet dog ready for grooming tomorrow!

One assembled puppet dog ready for grooming on it’s stand.

Highlight of the morning session was during the break. My performing teacher found me in the corridor, and showed me that the interview we had both given the reporter the day before, had been published online! It was really exciting to appear in the same article as my dear teacher, and I had been waiting the previous day for the newspaper photographer to come and take my picture, but the photographer had taken a lovely picture of me while I was performing with my friend from North Queensland, Ros Campbell from Wild Puppets. Here is the article.

The physical newspaper that my interview appeared in.

The performing session for the advanced group was really interesting as the group got to experiment with using intense emotions and the whole depth of the frame. This was followed by a very challenging activity of creating our own scene where the audience has to work out who, what, when, where, why from what the characters are performing on the screen. My highlight of the session was being able to return to an exercise I had last tried in 2015- working with blank scripts. I didn’t quite find the character development I was looking for where after multiple run throughs with feedback, I had gotten to the point where I was a character, but it was wonderful to come back to this exercise after 4 years.

The evening was spent working with my performance partner Ros working on the script for the big show, and finishing making the ears. I wish I had brought my bag of sewing cottons with me from Australia. It was tricky catching up on homework, without sufficient supplies back at the hotel.

Day 8, Saturday June 8 2019

Today is the last day of Beyond the Sock 2019. It is also known as mega Saturday as the puppets have to be finished, performances honed, and the whole thing ends with the big show that night. My goal for the day was to have my puppet finished by lunchtime so I could use it in the afternoon studio session. The big excitement of the whole week was learning how to trim furry puppets using a device called a Flowbee. The Flowbee is a device connected to a vacuum cleaner that trims hair and fur to a consistent length. The vacuum helps manage the trimmings. I have heard about the use of Flowbee’s in puppet making for many years, but I had never used one myself personally.

The rest of the session was a sprint to finish all parts of the puppet. I still had to add the ears, the arms, the tongue, add the eyelids, eyeliner and pupils of the eyes, and then the trickiest part, installing the eyes on the puppet so that the character appears. I did achieve my goal, my puppet dog Jill, was the first one out of the build room, and being performed with that afternoon.

The performance session was time to work on rehearsing the sketches for that night, as well as continuing to perform and playback the 5 minute scenes we had been practising all week. Playback and feedback is always the most anxiety inducing part of the sessions for me. I can see all my mistakes, and even though the feedback is always given kindly, I always feel uncomfortable. The unfortunate part about playback this year, was that we never really got to go back and redo the scene to implement the notes and see if there was any improvement.

Every year, at the end of the big show, is the whole group performance. This year, our song was an adaption of a popular song that was rewritten to focus on different kinds of dogs. Various attendees got to have a line in the song, and the whole group joined in with the chorus. What was new for me, was that the whole group was brought together in the morning to pre-record the vocals. This meant that the advanced group lost 30 minutes of build time. Prerecording the song, did take some of the stress out of the final night, all we had to remember was the choreography, even though there was some confusion as to the number of bounces and right lefts. The performance night was fun as always. Most attendees had a song, poem, or spoken word piece. I got to perform with fellow Australian Ros Campbell on her own piece about translating Aussie Slang into a form of words that the Americans could understand.

  • Inserting the doll joint backings into the arms.

Day 9, Sunday June 9 2019

Today was my travel day from Texas to Los Angeles. The plane was amazing! For the first time in my life, I got to turn left as I boarded the plane, instead of turning right. The new American Airlines plane Business class was superb! It was almost like having my own suite! So many cubby holes to store things, a giant screen to watch things on, couldn’t see another passenger! It was like a dream!

Business class on American Airlines newest planes

 

Going Beyond the Sock in 2019 Day 4-6

Day 4, Tuesday June 4 2019

Today was the first day of the Beyond the Sock course. The day started with a briefing and a tour of the University of North Texas Radio, TV, Film and Performing Arts Building. We got to see the set in the TV studio, and it 2 years ago, the set told me instantly what the puppet was, but the strange purple and blue tones did not help with the guessing game of what is the puppet we are making?

After the tour, we went to lunch at our favourite BTS lunch spot- Crooked Crust.

BTS group lunch at Crooked Crust

After lunch, back at the design studio, all was revealed- the 2019 BTS puppets was going to be Dogs! We had a session on what makes a successful character. It is important to consider that can the character be read by just looking at the puppet. We also had a discussion on successful character design vs marketable character design.

Design sketch of Jill the Australian Cattle Dog

Next came the exciting part, designing my character. Each attendee had the opportunity to take a lucky dip and select a card with a letter on it. That was our main fur colour. After some trading with other attendees, I managed to get a fur that inspired my character design- an Australian Cattle Dog. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to cutting out the cardstock puppet pattern, and refining our designs.

A Friend in Need 1903

While we were working, the mystery of the set design was explained. It was a representation of the famous painting “A Friend in Need” 1903 by American artist C.M. Collidge. Over the next few days, set dressing will be added to complete the picture.

Day 5, Wednesday June 5 2019

The attendee group was divided in two first thing in the morning. For the first time, the groups were divided by experience- a group of first time attendees, and I was placed in the multiple time attendee group. The first time attendees went across to the student union for their first performance lesson, and the experienced group went to puppet building first. The first step was to cut out the fur for the paws so that they could be sewn together by the sewing assistants. Once the paws were taken away, the next step was to cut the foam of the head. In building the foam head, there was a unusual twisting motion that had to happen to allow the muzzle to sit correctly to the head.

  • Ingredients to make a dog puppets.

After lunch, the two groups swapped locations. The advanced group went up to the student union for the first performance workshop. It was a wonderful experience for me, because after 3 previous attempts at Beyond the Sock, many of the elementary puppetry moves came back to me naturally! I was given the feedback that my skills were solid, especially walking onto camera, talking and walking off. I am still finding here/ there exercise tricky, but we were also given new exercises to start extending our skillset.

Day 6, Thursday June 6 2019

As soon as we arrived at the university, the advanced group went straight to the building room to start work on cutting out all the separate sections of fur. The head of my puppet was made up of 16 separate pieces. I spent most of the morning session sewing the pieces together. During the session, a reporter from the local paper came through the room with the director of the program. The reporter asked me questions about my experience over my four years at Beyond the Sock and how I have used the experience in my puppetry and teaching practice. The interview did slow my work down, and I had a particularly challenging build with the sheer number of fur pieces I had to put together, but I enjoyed talking about my work with the reporter.

  • 3D printed mouth plate grip designed by Project Puppet.

In the afternoon performing session, the advanced group had the opportunity to learn how to puppeteer live hand puppets, and the concept of performing a right hand for a main puppeteer. I had the good fortune to right hand for my teacher. The exercise involved passing a roll of tape between each of the three characters. It was very challenging because I could not see a monitor, and my teacher is significantly taller than me. Many of the people in the advanced group, including myself all pulled up sore in the upper arm after the right handing exercise.

We had a casual get together in the hotel that night after dinner. I spent the evening sewing more of the pieces of the head fur together so that I could catch up to the rest of the group with my work.

 

 

 

Going Beyond the Sock in 2019 Day 1-3

Well, once again the puppets and I are travelling to the USA to attend Beyond the Sock Puppetry workshop in Texas USA, but first, we are making a little stop in Atlanta, Georgia. We left Sydney on Friday, May 31 on an Airbus A380. I travelled in QANTAS Business Class, and the puppets had their own party down in the hold just like Kermit, Fozzie and Gonzo in the Great Muppet Caper movie.

Muppets in the hold of the plane back to USA in the Great Muppet Caper

Muppets in the hold of the plane back to USA in the Great Muppet Caper

Day 1- Saturday, June 1, 2019

I spent today at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta USA. Since the Center was between puppet shows in their theatres, the Center was holding a Jim Henson Fantasy Film weekend focusing on the Dark Crystal (1982), and Labyrinth (1986). My day started at the Make a Puppet table, where I got to make a Fizgig paper hand puppet, followed by a Dark Crystal Shard hunt around the Dark Crystal exhibition and atrium, a tour of the Jim Henson collection permanent exhibition, and assisting with a Labyrinth jigsaw puzzle.

  • Lucy and Miss Hannaford outside the Centre for Puppetry Arts

Puppet highlights included seeing Topthorn- the black horse puppet from Warhorse. It was the closest I have ever gotten to the horse puppets.

In the evening, I attended a workshop called Creature Features with Professor Mark from Cartoonyville. we learnt about different kinds of materials that can be used for puppet eyes, where interesting puppet teeth can be found.

Day 2- Sunday, June 2, 2019

Today I felt very tired with the jet lag, so I spent the morning resting. In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit one of my puppetry teachers BJ Guyer. I have been learning with him through his classes with the Stan Winston School of Character Arts since 2014. It was so special to sit with him and talk about puppets for a few hours.

Day 3- Monday, June 3, 2019

Very early start today- had to be at the airport for my flight to Texas at 6am, so it was necessary to get up at 3am. The best thing about where I stay in Atlanta Midtown is that it is only 2 blocks from the MARTA train to the airport. The flight left on time, and arrived early in Dallas Fort Worth! I met with my good friend Pam who is a building assistant and Beyond the Sock, and we chatted while we waited for another attendee to arrive, so we could travel to the hotel together.

Later in the day, I went with a group of attendees on a shopping expedition to the local craft stores, which are within 10 minutes walk of the hotel. I was even able to purchase a book I have been waiting a long time for- Adam Savage’s “Every tool’s a Hammer”. Tomorrow, Beyond the Sock begins…

Teaching Puppet Making to Drama Teachers

Over 2 days, I had the opportunity to co-lead a Puppetry workshop for Drama Teachers at the Arts Unit NSW. The aim of the workshop was to give Drama Teachers from Primary, Seconday and Special Education settings the opportunity to make a mouth puppet (aka “Muppet” Style) and experience different strategies of teaching puppet performance in the classroom. The Arts Unit is part of the New South Wales Department of Education, and they promote and support all of the Creative and Performing Arts in NSW Public Schools. For me, this was an opportunity to show leadership skills, share how I use Puppetry daily in my school library, as well as showcase my school’s Puppetry class.

There were 15 participants in the workshop from a wide range of primary schools, high schools and special education settings. My role in the workshop was to teach the puppet building part of the workshop, and share the learning I have been doing in monitor puppetry over the last 3 years at Beyond the Sock. One really interesting thing I noticed about how 21st Century Teachers take notes. I cannpot recall any of the teachers taking written notes. Most of the teachers wanted to film my explanations on their phone or tablet. I had to remember to allow a few moments for the teachers to get into a good position to film the explanation.

What went well:

  • All the participants had fun! We could not get them to go home at the end of the first day, and the participants arrived at the workshop early on day 2. All the puppets were unique and special!
  • Having all the kits pre-cut and pre-sewn did save a lot of time and hassle. However, some teachers indicated on their feedback forms that they wanted to see the whole process from the beginning including cutting out the foam and fabric using the patterns. Perhaps I can accommodate that part with a video showing how to cut out the foam and fabric.
  • Using the dome eyes from Out of the Box Puppets worked really well over the traditional Spoon eyes. It does mean that in potential future workshops, I don’t need to take my whole folding crate of eyes.
  • Everyone used my 3D printed nose forms, as well as my plastic easter eggs. A few people also used the small dome eyes as nose forms. The participants also enjoyed using my box of precious Antron Fleece scraps to make the eyelids and noses for their puppet.
  • During the performance side of the workshop, doing a conga line to practise sharing the frame was a great deal of fun. It meant that the participants did not have to worry about their puppet standing straight and maintaining eye focus into the camera. The participants could just have fun with the frame.

What could be improved next time:

  • Give the participants 2 pieces of wire each and use florist wire instead of galvanised wire. Florist wire is easier for inexperienced puppet builders to bend, but the fingers of the puppet will not be as strong.
  • Need to have at least one pair of pliers per person as it was too difficult to have just 5 pairs of pliers for 15 people. Many participants had to wait a long time between steps because there were not enough pliers.
  • Have just the instruction portion only of the pattern from Project Puppet on the Smart TV/ or as printouts for participants to follow
    • if they are running behind the rest of the workshop,
    • didn’t listen to the verbal instructions or missed the demonstration.
    • It would also be helpful for people who have a gift for building to move ahead of the group.
  • The puppets to only have one arm rod. The other hand could be safety pinned/ stitched to the body of the puppet. It would make manipulation easier for beginner puppeteers
  • The neck and body join could be pre-sewn. It would save time during the workshop. It would mean that the only sewing for participants would be the mouth felt and the hand slits.
  • Drama Teachers hand sewing parts of their puppet's "Skin".
    Drama Teachers hand sewing parts of their puppet's "Skin".

Building Peter Pan

My favourite thing to do in the world of puppetry is build puppets. I have been building puppets for 15 years, mostly out of foam in what is known commonly as Muppet style. When Lucy Green and I attended Beyond the Sock¬†Puppetry for Television and Film Workshop in June this year, one of the special features of this year’s workshop was that attendees were given two puppet patterns to build. Pattern A was a round head pattern, and pattern B is a tall, pill shaped head. Both patterns were designed exclusively for Beyond the Sock by Pasha Romanowski, who runs the amazing Project Puppet and teaches the building side of the workshop.

Each year, the overall theme of the workshop is different. My first year was 2015, which was Monkey puppets on a tropical island. My second year, 2016 was Chicken puppets on a space ship. This year, 2017, the theme was pirates! My puppet travelling companion Lucy blogged about our pirate experience.

During the workshop, I built pattern B as it was a new head form for me to explore. Once I got home to Australia, I wanted to build puppet pattern A before I forgot all the special instructions for that pattern. The tricky part was trying to decide what character I wanted to make, but unpacking all my puppets and putting them back where they belong in my house and on the tree at school, I was struck by an “apostrophe” to quote one of my favourite movies. I would make Peter Pan to be a great and worthy opponent to my best ever puppet, Captain James Hook!

I wanted my Peter Pan to have the same level of detail and workmanship that my Captain Hook has. I built Hook in early 2014 and I built everything from scratch except for his wig. Sufficed to say, I am very proud of my Captain Hook. I consider him to be my best ever puppet, and I took him with me to America this year so I could show him to my puppet building teacher. For the record, I had no idea that the theme for Beyond the Sock was pirates, it was just an incredible co-incidence! My Captain Hook is even featured on the Project Puppet Gallery

So design and construction began, I used screen shots of the 1991 movie Hook to design Pan’s costume based on the costume worn by Robin Williams. I wanted to include lots of leaf detail but avoid any reference to the stereotypical costume of Robin Hood which is also a green tunic and tights. I also wanted to make the ears more elf/ fairy like, and use the same technique for making the realistic eyes that I had used in 2014 when making Hook.

Peter Pan’s skin was made using Nylon Fleece from the amazing Puppet Pelts by Dewey Street. It is skin tone 7.

I used Premium Linen suiting for the main fabric of the shirt with cotton velveteen for the dark brown yoke under the collar, and dark green sheeting for the shorts. I was aiming for a colour pallette that reminded me of eucalyptus leaves. The pattern of the shirt was based on the shirt and pants pattern that came with the puppet pattern. The biggest headache in constructing the shirt was that the edges of the leaf detail keep fraying. I tried to use iron on interfacing to resolve the issue, but in some places, the interfacing hasn’t bonded with the fabric, and I don’t like how the white interfacing is showing up on the underside of the fabric when the puppet moves. If I could remake the shirt, I would try using visy-fix and glue the same fabric on the underside.

I did learn a new technique while making the shirt. I needed eyelets, but I didn’t want metal. I remembered that in the 16th-17th century, corset eyelets were hand stitched. A little bit of research later, I found that the best approach for puppet scale was to baste the fabric around the inner and outer margins of the eyelet, pierce the shirt with an awl, and use a satin stitch in green embroidery wool.

Peter Pan’s belt is made from a old narrow belt I found at a charity shop. I changed the buckle from gold plated to an old galvanised buckle, shortened the length to fit the puppet, punched new holes and wrapped it at the front so that it looked like the screen shots I had collected of the original costume.

I have recently been experimenting with 3D printed puppet parts as an alternative to carved and polystyrene foam understructures. I used ABS plastic to 3D print an oval nose form and covered it in the same Antron fabric as the rest of the puppet using hot glue. The form was then stitched to the face of the puppet.

The eyes were a big challenge. I used realistic taxidermy eyes from Van Dykes Taxidermy in the USA. I inserted them into ping pong balls from behind, but the challenge is that there is very little surface area to glue the eye to the ball because of the difference in curved profiles. It is also a big challenge to not have any glue get onto the iris of the eye! The eyebrows were made from the same Mocha cotton Velveteen as I used on the yoke of the shirt. The hair is shaggy brown fur that I laid down in particular directions to get the fur to stand up.

I am very happy with how Peter Pan has turned out. I think is a great and worthy pair/ opponent to my Hook.

Check out the build progress photos in the gallery below!

  • Watching Hook while preparing pattern A

 

 

Lucy in Texas: Day 6 & 7

Day 6: Friday, May 22 2015

The timetable for today’s workshops is the same as the last 2 days which made knowing where to be and what to do much easier! During the morning session puppet making workshop, Miss Hannaford learnt a new way of attaching arm rods to the hands of the puppet. This method involving gluing the metal arm rod onto a piece of plastic called Sintra, then gluing the plastic between the 2 foam pieces of the hand. The rest of the workshop was devoted to sewing all the pieces of fur together to finish the skin of the monkey! There are many pieces of fur so some of the students chose to send the sewing to the other room where there were volunteers with sewing machines but Miss Hannaford chose to bring the pieces back to the hotel and put them together by hand stitching for homework.

After lunch with all the other students, it was time for the performance workshop!

Today’s lesson focussed on using the Camera’s depth of field. This meant that the puppet started at the very back corner of the set and walked diagonally across the screen. The trickiest part was that the puppeteer has to not only stop moving when the puppet is at the middle and make the puppet look at the camera and say hi before walking off the screen at the last possible moment but the further away from the camera the puppet is the more the puppeteer has to bend their body out of the camera shot!

After a few more small group exercises in telling stories and making the puppets look at the puppet who is talking, it was time to start rehearsing the final show! Each student is asked to create their own short performance of less than 3 minutes as well as participate in a group song which has all the workshop attendees plus the instructors in it! The song chosen for 2015 was “We’ve got a dream” from the movie Tangled. 20 puppeteers and puppets had to squish into a very small space to learn to move together. The good part is that no one had to sing! All the puppets were lipsyncing to the song! The homework from the performance class was to learn the puppet choreography and the words of the song! So once Miss Hannaford and the other attendees got back to the hotel, everyone had so much homework that they organised their own dinner and went back to their rooms to finish their homework.


Day 7: Saturday, 23 May 2015

Today was the last day of Beyond the Sock 2015! Miss Hannaford finished all her homework but she was worried that she didn’t quite have the choreography of the song quite right. The timetable was the same as the last few days, so in the morning, Miss Hannaford nearly finished building her Monkey puppet by inserting the foam head into the skin and she nearly finished creating the eyes when she had to stop for lunch. No one was allowed to stay inside the workshop room on their own because of all the dangerous equipment around!

After lunch was the performance workshop where the focus of today’s lesson was learning to read scripts taped beside the monitors but to read the script and perform the puppet as a character. Students were paired together but each pair was given a different script to perform. The goal of the exercise was to be bold in terms of character choices as the script that Miss Hannaford and her pair named Will was given could be interpreted in many different ways! After all the groups performed their scripts, it was time to rehearse the group song a few more times!

The performance workshop ended at 4pm because everyone had to run back to the build workshop to finish their monkey puppets! All Miss Hannaford had to do was attach the nose and eyes to her puppet. What really interested Miss Hannaford was that the nose shape of her puppet was printed using a 3D printer and that while she was at the performance class, the volunteers in the build workshop had glued on a safety stem from a doll joint so she could attach the nose to the puppet and it won’t come off! Once the puppet was finished, Miss Hannaford had to take her puppet to a photo shoot back in the theatre and race back to the performance studio so she could rehearse her performance piece and the group song with her new monkey puppet called Matilda!

At 7pm, the audience for the show started to arrive. The audience was made up of friends and family of the attendees; Professors, Lecturers and students from the University; and people off the street who had heard that there was a free puppet show! Everyone did their little performances that included songs, scenes and jokes. The two performance teachers Noel McNeal and Peter Linz used puppets to act as hosts for the show by introducing each act but they also helped the workshop attendees perform their characters by moving arm rods or bits of scenery! You can see a panorama photo of the TV studio and set we got to perform in at the bottom of all the pictures! You can even see the 2 real tv cameras that recorded the performance!

The show was really funny and the group song was a huge success! At the end of the show, it was time to take the big group photo and for everyone to say goodbye. Miss Hannaford’s highlight was to have a picture taken with the teachers Peter and Noel but she also got a hug from both of them! I was really proud of Miss Hannaford for being brave and performing in front of a TV camera and studio audience!

Tomorrow we fly home to Australia. I can see how tired Miss Hannaford is after such an exciting week so I expect that she will sleep most of the way home. I had a wonderful holiday with Miss Hannaford!

Lucy, Miss Hannaford and Matilda Monkey.

IMG_4022 IMG_4024 IMG_4027 IMG_4028 IMG_4029 IMG_4030 IMG_4035IMG_4036

 

 

Lucy in Texas: Day 4 and 5

Day 4: Wednesday, May 20 2015.

Second day of Beyond the Sock! Many of the workshop students including Miss Hannaford are staying in the same hotel so we ended up having breakfast together which gave us a chance to learn each other’s name and where in the world we came from. Miss Hannaford and I are the only humans and puppets from another country. Everyone else lives in the United States of America. The hotel has it’s own little shuttle bus and everyone going to Beyond the Sock caught the bus over to the University of North Texas.

The University’s theatre building not only has the workshop rooms we are using but also a huge theatre for performances. Everyone met there before we were split into 2 groups. Miss Hannaford was in group A along with 8 other people. Group B had 10 people in it. The reason we were split into small groups was so everyone could get individual attention and help from the teachers but also to be safe inside the two workrooms since there was lots of machinery and cables around us. Miss Hannaford was given a timetable which showed Group A did Puppet Making in the morning and Performing for TV in afternoon after lunch while group B did the opposite.

All the students were given their own special box of supplies based on the fur and fleece they chose the day before. The main task in the puppet making class was to cut out and glue the foam together for the Monkey head as well as trace the hand template onto the fleece fabric so they could be sewn together ready for class the next day.

Box of puppet supplies

Foam underskull of the monkey head

Profile view of the underskull

Lunchtime was at 12:45pm so all the students and teachers walked down the short street from the building to a wonderful pizza restaurant called Crooked Crust. This gave Miss Hannaford a chance to talk to students from Group B to find out what they learnt in their morning session.

The afternoon session started at 1:45pm promptly. The first exercise was to hold your hand in the air as if there was a puppet on your arm and learn how to move your hand properly so that the puppet eyes were looking directly at the mirror. One of the teachers is Noel McNeal and he gave us practice puppet eyes made of paper with a pipe cleaner ring. We did the alphabet as well as counting to 20. The big challenge of the afternoon was to use actual practice puppets and stand in front of a TV camera so that the puppet is in the view of the camera not the head of the puppeteer! We learnt to centre the puppet and make it look directly into the camera then make the puppet walk into the ‘shot’ say hi and walk out without moving our feet! The workshop day ended at 6pm with a bus ride back to the University. Miss Hannaford did go with some of the other students to a local craft store to buy some costume elements for her puppet and we all had dinner together at one of the restaurants next door to the hotel!

Here is a video made by the staff at Beyond the Sock made about some of the activities we did during the first 2 days of the workshop!

Day 5: Thursday, May 21 2015

Today’s timetable was the same as yesterday. Puppet making in the morning, Puppet performance for film and TV in the afternoon. In the making workshop, Miss Hannaford started to cut out the purple fur of her monkey. Very quickly all the worktables, floor and people’s clothes were covered in the different fur we were all using! Everyone had a different colour of fur and when fur is cut, it becomes really messy! Then it was time to start to sew it together. Student’s had the choice of sending the cut out pieces to the expert sewers in another room, but Miss Hannaford wanted to sew the puppet herself so she ended up taking the puppet pieces back to the hotel to sew together for homework.

In the afternoon workshop, Miss Hannaford started working with other students in group performances. The lesson was to get the puppet to look at each other while another character was talking. Another exercise was to get the puppet to use it’s head to describe directions. The puppet had to walk into the shot, look at the camera and say “Hi, I was over there and now I am going over here”. On the word “there” the puppet had to look in that direction, then face the camera again and turn the other direction when saying “here” When performing a character for TV, the puppeteer looks at small tv screens around them to see what the puppet is doing. The challenge is that if the puppet walks right, on screen, the puppet is moving left so it is very tricky to work out which way the puppet is actually going when the puppeteer has to move as well.

In the next picture, Miss Hannaford is performing the pink puppet with 2 other students. The man at the end with the blue puppet is famous puppeteer Noel McNeal! You can see one of the tiny TV screens we used while performing next to his shoulder.

IMG_4001Here is the video of today at the workshop created by the Beyond the Sock Staff!

 

Can’t wait for tommorrow’s excitement!

Lucy and Miss Hannaford

Lucy in Texas: Day 2

Day 2: Monday May 18 2015

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Today was our first full day in Denton Texas. Denton is a small, spread out town 30 minutes away from Dallas which is a big city. Since today was the only day Miss Hannaford has free to explore the town before she attends the puppetry workshop for the rest of the week, I decided to let her choose what places we were going to visit. Miss Hannaford is working on some puppet and robotics projects and she wanted to visit local fabric and hobby stores so we walked down to the local train station, caught the train into the transport interchange, waited for a route 6 bus to take us to a fabric store called Jo-Ann Fabrics.

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Miss Hannaford was really excited to find some puppet making fabric called micro suede she has always heard about but never actually had the opportunity to see or touch! She asked me to pose in front of the fabric before we took it over to the cutting counter to buy!

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We caught the route 6 bus back to the interchange and changed to a route 2 bus to go to a local shopping mall- we call them shopping centres. Both of us wanted to visit Barnes and Nobel bookstore as it is larger than any book store we have in Australia. I wanted to check out the DVD section and Miss Hannaford wanted to look at all of the books but especially the comics and graphic novels to get ideas for new books in the school Library.

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We had lunch at the Mall before walking across the street to a hardware store and a Hobby Lobby store to look for more puppet and robotics materials. We only found one thing on Miss Hannaford’s list but since it was very hot outside, we walked back to the hotel.

We had dinner at a real Texan Steak House Restaurant. Texas is famous for it’s cattle farms called Ranches and real cowboys work on those ranches.

Miss Hannaford’s workshop starts tomorrow afternoon but she has been told that there is one more hardware store near to the hotel that she can visit in the morning. So we need a good night’s rest before all the fun begins tomorrow!

Lucy and Miss Hannaford