Saturday, 29 December 2007
Saturday, 22 December 2007
- It could be the promise that next year you have a clean slate again... the year is what you make it.
- It could be the feeling of optimism that seems to be in bountiful supply at this time of year.
- It could be that i am welcoming the prospect of closing the chapter on the year just gone.
Of course it's none of these and all of these at the same time. In some ways no one feeling is more important than the other... all are equally important. However before some of you look at my thoughts and think must have had a really bad year, that just isn't true. Here are a few of my personal highlights of the year so far:
- Seeing my brother and his family twice in one year, including seeing my nephew for the first time ever!
- I was able to meet up with my extended family to celebrate my Grandmother's 100th birthday! (that's something not many people can say)
- I made some great friendships at work, despite the fact that many of these friends have moved on.
- Thanks to the help of some great friends i have made some huge steps forward in my puppet building and i look forward to expanding my puppetry in the year ahead.
I would like to thank everyone who has supported my videos on YouTube, i know they are random and sometimes a little crazy, but they have come in very handy. In the past year i have been approached a couple of times by TV companies looking for new performers and new ideas... thanks to you all watching my videos! I am considering combining both my channels into one "super channel", but the jury is still out on that one.
Thanks for your support, have a great Christmas and New Year!
All the best - Dave
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Sorry i haven't posted in a while, it's Christmas soon which means the whole world seems to step up a gear. I worked at not one but two Christmas parties on Sunday, and i have a few more before i can finally put my feet up for the holiday.
This however is a quick note to say "hello" and "yes, i'm still alive". I have posted a little pic which shows the new character i'm working on with the ears i mention in the video added. I think there is a certain "Dennis the Menace" quality about him at the moment... not Dennis himself, but he looks like he could be at home in one of those cartoons for sure.
Take care - Dave
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
Saturday, 8 December 2007
I think the process of building puppets is fascinating... at what point does this collection of foam and fur stop being raw material and start being alive? The obvious answer is when the puppeteer picks it up, but sometimes that isn't true. I think with some characters you form and instant bond, you "know" them as soon as you see them. You are able to pick up the character and immediately start performing with them. I found this with Spam, the second i started to use a Scottish accent with him everything fell into place. Other times you have to work at developing a character for them. Wonnacott Wolf for me has been a "grower". You know those songs you hear which you don't pay much attention to at first, but after a week or so you think they are fantastic. It's not that the song has beaten you into submission and you are forced into liking it... you just needed time to get to know it. It's the same thing with certain characters for me. Pierre is so much a part of me that i don't even have to think when performing him. I never need scripts and it's all ad-libbed, Spam and Mooney are the same. Wonnacott Wolf will become like that once i have made a couple of videos with him and settled down into the character a bit more.
I have posted two videos below, one of Wonnacott Wolf's introduction to the crex81 channel and the second is a short piece of video which is me ranting at the camera between takes whilst making Wonnacott Wolf's first video.
All the best - Dave
Monday, 3 December 2007
"Wonnacott Wolf" will be hitting the small screen soon! the very small YouTube screen that is. Wonnacott is still awaiting some final details to his body, a tummy patch and a nice bow tie should finish him off nicely. Of course you will see him in action as soon as he is ready to roll.
I had hoped to get him finished off quicker but sadly i managed to break my sewing machine during construction so i have shipped it off today to the local repair man... hopefully it will return soon with a clean bill of health. I am now back to having 3 sewing machines which don't work. I was fortunately able to borrow my mum's machine to stitch up the last few odds and ends (not without breaking one of her needles off her machine). Sadly this has also had a knock-on effect on my next project which i have already started... let's hope the repair man is skilled and speedy!
All the best - Dave
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
So this past weekend i have the opportunity to see loads of great puppet characters which had been made by Phil from the Gluvets. You may have watched some of the videos of our meet-up which was a blast (as our American cousins would say).
I have not finished anything from the weekend yet - in fact i have just called the sewing machine repair man to get a quote for fixing my sewing machine. However as soon as that is fixed i will be posting pics of the new characters. One will be a wolf (that's an exclusive... you heard it here first) and the other i have only just started so even i don't know what it is yet!
Seeing loads of different characters opened up my mind's eye creatively and has really made me think about making characters i would have possibly not considered before. Hopefully you will see this reflected in the next few characters that i produce. As for now take a look at the many different characters that were on display this weekend. Some you will have seen before on my videos but many of them you will not.
All the best - Dave
Monday, 26 November 2007
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
I have been to the states 5 or 6 times and i have always got on well with pretty much everyone i have met. There is absolutely no doubting that there is a difference in world view between Americans and the British, but that is nothing compared to the difference between our vocabulary. I was reminded of this very quickly when i heard Steve read out my email. I had told him that i had "been a puppeteer since i could remember, and i had recently started designing puppets. At the moment i am majoring on puppet design".... that's where the problem occurred. I am often very naughty and type as i would speak (in a conversational style). Steve now thinks i am studying for my Major in Puppet Design - when in fact i have never even been to university! I guess i could have used any number of words to replace "major". I could have said i was focusing, or concentrating... but sadly i didn't. I would like to clear this up and apologise right here to anyone who thinks i may have been trying to "big myself up"... that really isn't the case, i'm just a little lazy when i type (how many capital "i's" have you spotted?).
George Bernard Shaw is credited with having said: "England and America are two countries separated by the same language".
This weekend i will be meeting up with Phil Fletcher from the Gluvets again, so watch this space for collaboration videos and new characters around the corner!
All the best - Dave
Sunday, 18 November 2007
Below are Spam's first two appearances on YouTube, firstly on my vlog and secondly on crex81
all the best - Dave
Monday, 12 November 2007
You can see from the picture that the pieces of foam are not very large, one of the things i did to make this interesting for myself was try and cut the foam as little as possible. This pushed the design in a direction i would never have gone normally. All i did to trim them foam was to make the pattern symmetrical. As you can see here Spam gets his name from the vast expanse of forehead he has!
Despite the unusual head shape the mouth is very easy to use and is not restricted at all by the over sized forehead. Although at first this looks like a really unnatural shape... think for a minute about male Orangutan and they often have large folds of skin on their cheeks. I'm not sure if they get bigger with age... i'm not a zoologist (but i did want to be as a kid).
So this is what Spam looked at when i initially covered him with fabric. His face was a puzzle for me, it took me a long time to find eyes i was happy with... in this pic i have some half cut ping pong balls which i am using to experiment with eye placement. I basically finished Spam in 3 sittings. I made the skull and mouth in one sitting. The came back and worked out how to cover the head in a way which would give him a really nice unique look. Then finally this morning i completed his body and human hand.
I am very pleased with the outcome, i have experimented with some new techniques during the construction process. The most radical change to the construction process with this character would be the fact Spam is the first puppet i have ever made completely using a sewing machine! For most people this would not even be worth mentioning, but i have hand sewn everything in my puppet building career to date so it was a great relief to see the total build time decimated by the introduction of the Singer!
Let me know what you think of Spam, don't forget to check him out on the crex81 channel where he will be hosting a competition called "I Hear With My Little Ear".
all the best - Dave
Saturday, 10 November 2007
OK i need to come clean about something, i don't really speak any of the above languages... but Google Translate does! Well i studied some Spanish at school and college, but i am nowhere near good enough to be fluent. My comprehension is quite good, but i really lack the vocabulary to enter into any meaningful conversation.
Language is a great tool, comedians often use it to brilliant effect. I love good wordplay in comedy. Mispronounced words that are normally dull or mundane can take on whole new meanings and overtones. I will always remember a comedy sketch with Ronnie Barker when he apologises for "piss-pronouncing my worms". People always said of Peter Sellers that if he hadn't had such a good grip on the English Language he wouldn't have been able to distort it so badly with his character Inspector Clouseau. I love the Pink Panther, i bought the 6 DVD box set a couple of years back. The pace of the comedy is a lot slower than it is nowadays, but that's not always a bad thing.
It strikes me that nowadays we have taken a very definite step back into the kind of slapstick comedy which was all the rage almost 100 years ago. Harold Lloyd and Jackie Chan both share a passion for real, big action stunts, all performed by the artist themselves (no stunt doubles needed). Both are masters of their surroundings and their spacial awareness enables them to make the most of the set/scene they are on. Harold Lloyd died aged 78 in 1971, Jackie Chan would have been just 17 and already making a name for himself in the film industry. Jackie directed his first film in 1980, Shi di chu ma aged only 26.
They always say that nothing under the sun is new. In which case does that make our modern comedy tried and tested or old and boring?
let me know your thoughts
take care - Dave
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Monday, 5 November 2007
Anyway this first (fairly terrible quality picture) is of one of my favourite performers of all time. It is Judy Buch. Judy Buch is an award winning ventriloquist and all round brilliant performer. She has an amazing ability to bring her puppet characters to life. She is a master of a wide variety of ventriloquist techniques. I am no expert on these techniques myself, but i have seen many ventriloquists in my time and she stands head and shoulders above most i have seen. I took the liberty of pinching a better photo of Judy off her web site so you can see a good photo of what she looks like. The character she is posing with is "Daisy", my wife's favourite puppet character. I think ventriloquists can be received by audiences like clowns and magicians sometimes... you either love them or hate them. I think it's one of those skills that when done badly it is very bad, but when done when it is breathtaking - just like magic. Judy is definitely one of the best vent acts I've ever seen.
This second photo shows the main auditorium. It is a fairly bizarre experience to get a group of puppeteers together... but to get 600 together is very strange. I have been fortunate enough to perform and lead workshops at the EPMF for the past 10 years. I remember vividly leading my first ever workshop aged 16. It was about performing with puppets on the streets (something i did a lot at the time). I love the festival atmosphere, the buzz of excitement surrounding the competitions and the rush to get to "that" workshop you've been looking forward to. I have started thinking already what workshops and performances i could offer next year. If you're going... I'll see you there!
All the best
Monday, 29 October 2007
As this was the 15th annual puppet festival we were pleased to have a few special guests. Dale VonSeggen is the founder of One Way Street. Dale has played a significant role in my life as a puppeteer so it was great to meet up with him again. Dale with the help of Harry Barrett enabled me to take part in the puppetry Dream Team at I-Fest in 1998 and 1999. This was a great time of learning for me and it really stretched me as a performer.
Another American visitor who attended the festival this weekend was Debra Fader. Debra was the Dream Team director the second year I was on the team. Debra is a great director and puppet builder. She has a real talent for choreography and her workshops rightly attracted a lot of attention.
I enjoyed being back involved with the festival crowd, it's been a while since I was involved regularly with One Way UK - about 5 years to try and put a number on it.
Thanks for reading - all the best
Friday, 26 October 2007
I will take my camera so i will post pictures up on here as soon as i am back home. I am looking forward to meeting Dale VonSeggen again, i haven't seen him for about 6 years but he was a key character in my getting serious about puppetry.
In life generally the mood is subdued at the moment. Spurs seem to have sacked Martin Jol last night. I know our results have been poor so far this season, but i think he should be given more of a chance as we have had two of our best seasons since the 60s under his leadership! (brief football reference for those who are wondering).
Have a great weekend folks, all the best.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Like a lot of children I was given a glove puppet when i was growing up. I remember it well... it was a little beaver called Chippy. I remember learning the basics of my puppetry from my days as a Sunday school performer. Schools, local authorities and Sunday schools provide great opportunities for people to learn and grow in their talent and ability. An organisation that has helped me over the years is One Way UK. You may have already noticed me mention them before as a company I have worked for... as well as the company that will be stocking some of my puppet designs in the future. (Well done you if you spotted the links). One Way UK provide training for puppeteers almost every weekend of the year, in the past I have both benefited form this training and been a trainer for them. That's the case next weekend, on the 26th and 27th October I will be working as a trainer at the EPMF. The weekend is aimed at puppeteers working in schools or Sunday schools, but would benefit anyone who wants to gain basic puppetry skills. If you are going I'll see you there... if you're not going, I'll let you know how it goes.
All this reminiscing has got me thinking back a few years and I found an old photo you may enjoy laughing at. Here's me in the USA 10 years ago, meeting my puppetry hero Dave Privett. It's hard to believe but I was once skinny with good legs! What can I say - I played a lot of football in those days and short shorts were in fashion. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!) Dave is a great guy, If you check back to the first blog you will see that I met up with him last year for a puppet building tutorial day.
Below is another blast from the past. It is my old puppet team, the Unlimited Puppet Crew. This photo was taken just before a Christmas performance... we had just bought the lovely new shirts.
Thanks for visiting again folks... all the best
Saturday, 13 October 2007
Following feedback from the first pictures of Sketch he has been re-dressed and is looking much more "at home" as a cowboy. My brother commented this on the video that I first showed him in and grudgingly I have to say I think he was right :)
Friday, 12 October 2007
So what's going on in the workshop? For the last couple of days I have been working on an experiment. Following a conversation about the merits of different kinds of glue with a friend of mine I decided to change the glue i used when i made my next puppet to see what difference it made. Normally I use a contact adhesive (contact cement for our American cousins), however my friend uses hot glue. I had always been under the impression that hot glue wasn't as strong as contact adhesive but apparently that isn't the case. So I have made a puppet using (almost) only hot glue. I will post pictures later this weekend when he is finished... the head and body are done but I haven't made any arms yet. It's been great fun and quite liberating in a funny way. There is far more ceremony involved with using contact adhesive as you have to apply it in a certain way in order for it to work, this can sometimes slow you down. I found myself really getting on a creative roll with the hot glue because it I far more immediate.
So the big question is which glue will I use in future? simple - both!
So why was this post called "Germany - welcome to the party"?... yesterday I noticed that we had our first blog reader from Germany! Willkommen, wie geht es Dir?
thanks for reading folks I will post pics of the new character very soon.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
The target for the launch of the new look website is the end of this month. I will doubtless make more of a song and a dance about it nearer the time. One of the very important features that will be added is the links to One Way UK's shop where from next year you will be able to purchase puppets I have designed!
I am really excited about all the changes, we hope to have "characters" and "gallery" pages. One will details all the different characters which have come out of the workshop, and the gallery will show you some behind the scenes photos and also performance shots. All in all it's going to be great fun to re-launch and hopefully it will be open for browsing very soon!
Thursday, 4 October 2007
Monday, 1 October 2007
Last week I had two really important meetings for the immediate future of HPW. Firstly after a meeting with One Way UK I am 99% certain that by the new year i will have my first puppet design in commercial reproduction. It's crazy, that's taken 2 years of hard work and its so close to becoming a reality i am getting nervous.
Also I met with Vivid Broadcast who host my official website. They're a great bunch of guys who really are switched on... they're going to re-launch the HPW website to improve the links between the main website and the various social network sites (as well as sites like this). If you look long and hard you may be able to spot me in some of the promo videos or pics on their site.
So two years after the initial concept by Christmas HPW will have puppets in production as well a professional website and lots of hope for the future.
On a personal note i went to London at the weekend to meet up with Phil Fletcher from the Gluvets. Phil is a great puppeteer and all round good bloke.
Thanks for your support
Friday, 28 September 2007
Thanks for taking the time to read this. My name is David and i'm a puppet designer. I started Hellyer's Puppet Workshop a couple of years back when i first started experimenting with building puppets. I have been a puppeteer since I was about 10 years old, but prior to two years ago I had never made a puppet (except one or two half-backed efforts).
At the moment I work part-time as a puppet designer as i am just finding my feet in this area. Like I said before i have about 16 years worth of puppetry performance experience, but relatively little construction experience. I have been fortunate enough to have worked for One Way UK full time for a little over a year when I left college. That really stretched me as a performer, but it also gave me an insight into how puppets are made. I was able to feedback from a performance point of view how I would like to see the puppets they sold improve.
Well that was about 6 or 7 years ago now, I have taken a break from performing for a couple of years. Last year my brother Matt introduced me to YouTube. It was an instant hit with me. I got hooked on the likes of Renetto, Geriatric1927 and tlg847... so I started my own YouTube channel: crex81. For the last year I have been posting little performance vlogs on there and trying to intergrate with the YouTube community. That really have been the limit of my recent performance as my focus is becoming a designer.
Last October I attended One Way UK's annual European Puppet Festival and was fortunate enough to meet up with Dave and June Privett. I had met Dave in the states about 10 years ago at a puppet festival over there (I-Fest). Dave is a great puppeteer and puppet designer. Dave was kind enough to spend a couple of days with me passing on some construction tips and hints to me... two days i will never forget! My wife (Shelley) and I learnt so much during that time, it really was priceless.
Yesterday I met with Harry Barrett from One Way UK and started discussions about his company taking on some of my designs... i'll keep you posted!